It’s the most wonderful time of the year, even if Singapore is not quite a “winter wonderland.”
Without the backdrop of changing seasons to herald the year-end holidays, Singapore has made an annual tradition of bedecking the city in glitter during the run-up to Christmas—all while letting its innate spirituality shine through.
From Yuletide music and performances to merrymaking activities that will warm hearts and bring cheer, follow Pan Pacific Singapore’s guide to an authentic and unforgettable Christmas in the Lion City.
1. The Sounds of Christmas
Concert Hall in Esplanade. Photo by Afur Wong / STB Content Hub
Have A Kaleidoscopic Christmas at the Esplanade Concert Hall, where your festive spirits will be roused by the rhythmic thrum of jazz, swing, the blues, and bebop. Led by Singapore jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro, the line-up includes Grammy-nominated vocalist Steve Lippia, Italian organist Alberto Marsico, and many more.
If you have never sung along with an orchestra, here is your chance: the Singapore Symphony Orchestra is holding its Christmas concert at the Victoria Concert Hall, where there will be ample opportunity for the audience to chime in on familiar holiday tunes.
Of course, no Christmas would be complete without the dulcet tones of carollers. Choose from Britten: A Ceremony of Carols (Victoria Concert Hall) or The Joyful Chimes of Christmas (St. Andrew’s Cathedral, free)—two choral performances guaranteed to help you begin Christmas on the right note.
2. Lights, Christmas, Action!
The Nutcracker by Janek Schergen – Photo by Justin Koh (Singapore Dance Theatre)
Seeking a secular experience that is “as quintessentially Christmassy as mince pies, fir trees, and carols?” Watching The Nutcracker ballet has become a cherished Christmas ritual across the globe. While in Singapore, let the Singapore Dance Theatre whisk you into the fairytale of a young girl and her phantasmagorical adventure with a valiant Nutcracker prince. The local production is in its seventh year running, and it promises to be a night of euphoric entertainment.
For something less traditional but equally enchanting, catch the highly acclaimed Circus Abyssinia in their presentation of Ethiopian Dreams—don’t let the fancy footwork and gravity-defying stunts distract you from the soul-stirring (and Christmas-appropriate) tale of a talented troupe with an unwavering vision, who worked their way up from the streets of a country without a circus tradition.
Circus Abyssinia will be staged at The Meadow in Gardens By The Bay, Singapore’s largest outdoor garden venue. While there, take the chance to revel in the Gardens’ Christmas Wonderland; highlights include 80 larger-than-life light sculptures spread across the garden (making this one of the most beautiful places in Singapore for photography at year-end), an outdoor ice skating rink, and a tantalising array of Christmas stands, featuring award-winning restaurants and up-and-coming vendors.
3. A Season of Faith
For many in Singapore (almost a fifth of the population), a Christian faith underpins the Christmas celebration. To find out more about Singapore’s Christian community, book a walk with Jane Iyer of Jane’s Singapore Tours, which specialises in off-the-beaten-track experiences. Her Christmas walking tour will take you through Protestant and Catholic churches in the heart of the city, where you will learn about the origin of each church and the community that it serves.
Also worth a visit is Novena Church, a 67-year institution that recently reopened following a S$54 million overhaul. With its grand arches and ornate interior (which includes 18 large stained-glass windows), it bears more similarity to European churches than the utilitarian church architecture that defines the local landscape.
The architect behind the rebuilding project, Melvin Gamayot, was particularly inspired by the walls of King Solomon’s temple, which are believed to have been etched with palm tree carvings.
“I clad the columns of the main sanctuary hall in curved segments of limestone to create the appearance of a cluster of thin palm tree trunks with ribs, reaching for heaven,” he told The Straits Times.
All visitors are welcome at Novena Church, which conducts complimentary guided tours throughout the week. However, larger groups should call ahead to ensure availability.
4. A Time for Feasting
At Pan Pacific Singapore’s award-winning buffet restaurant, Edge, food preparation is akin to performance art. From 13 November to the end of the year, diners can enjoy an interactive Christmas experience at the restaurant’s seven open kitchens.
Look out for the house-crafted Christmas charcuterie, which includes Foie Gras Torchon and a Christmas Cured Meat platter.
To order festive treats with a touch of local flavour, visit Pacific Marketplace.
Another award-winning buffet restaurant with a hearty Christmas spread is Pan Pacific Orchard’s 10 At Claymore, which ranks among TripAdvisor’s top-rated restaurants in Singapore. Its Tropical Festive Delights buffet is a medley of crowd-pleasers, such as Baked Oyster, succulent 1855 Australian Beef, and Alaskan Crab Claws, a new addition to the season’s menu.
5. Jingle and Mingle
Funzing bills itself as the “Airbnb of experiences,” and the activity portal’s mantra is that life is for living. Its Singapore site features activities that you can join on any given day, ranging from tree climbing to pop-up fitness classes. It also has Christmas-themed activities such as craft workshops and a Yoga & Movie Under The Stars event, where you can get fit, meet new people, and enjoy a screening of The Polar Express in the comfort of a private open-air rooftop backyard.
Credit: Andrew Tan/STB Content Hub
If you are feeling particularly sociable, join the throngs at the city centre to marvel at the annual Christmas light displays, or gather at Christmas Village (Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza) for the Christmas Eve Countdown Concert.
New in Singapore? Find out where to go in Singapore at night, and what some of the best places to see in Singapore are. Or speak to our team at Pan Pacific Singapore for travel tips and accommodation advice for your Singapore holidays.