Here in Singapore, the Chingay Parade started in 1973 as a street parade to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Since then, it has evolved into an annual iconic event that showcases Singapore’s rich and unique multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan cultures.
The first formal Chingay Parade in Singapore was mooted by the founding Prime Minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who was also the former Chairman of the People’s Association (PA). The celebrations, with all its colours and gaiety, compensated for the ban on firecrackers that was once a customary Chinese New Year practice to ward off evil spirits.
The annual event is characterised by vibrant performers in elaborated costumes from different ethnicity, cultures and backgrounds; dazzling display of floats; huge intricate props and structures; and cultural performances from all around the world. Chingay now owns the reputation as one of Asia’s largest street performance and float parade, a colourful epitome of the country’s multi-cultural society.
Held on 4th February 1973, the first Chingay saw PA teaming up with the Singapore National Pugilistic Federation to put up a grand parade. The main elements in the inaugural parade included various aspects of Chinese culture such as dragon and lion dances, martial arts and street opera performed in local dialects. The inaugural parade was so well received that PA made it an annual festival.
Chingay took on a multi-cultural flavour in 1976 featuring different ethnic communities joining in the celebrations through the showcase of their vibrant and celebratory cultural performances. The multi-ethnic elements brought Chingay to another level as a showcase of different communities living harmoniously as one united people.
International flavour was injected first in the 1987 edition when the main English newspaper, The Straits Times, sponsored four pop artistes from Tokyo, Japan to be part of Chingay. Since then, it has become a norm for Chingay to invite international artistes and troupes to participate in the celebrations every year, further elevating the event beyond a localised celebration.
Chingay is now a uniquely Singaporean tradition that is usually held during the second weekend of the Chinese New Year and celebrated by Singaporeans and Singapore residents from all ethnicities - Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and many others. For Chingay audiences, the event offers a treasured glimpse into the dynamism of Singapore’s vibrant multi-culturalism and exciting global cultures.
A dazzling extravaganza of colours and cultural diversity, this signature and iconic event is proudly created by our people, regardless of age, race, language and creed, as we welcome everyone to come together to celebrate as ONE.