Want to know the highlights at this year’s Christmas Wonderland? Here are the best kid-friendly spots worth hitting up, mama!
An old medieval castle ablaze with thousands of fairy lights, festive market stalls reminiscent of the Champs-Élysées, and children squealing in delight at being covered in snowflakes – was I really in Singapore? Yes! Christmas Wonderland within the Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay, spans 57,000 square metres and is every child’s (and many a grown-up’s too) dream come true.
Handmade with white wood by Italian master craftsmen, the dazzling Luminarie light sculptures at the Golden Gate hint at what lies ahead. Then comes the astounding Spalliera (Italian for ‘ornamental trellis’) covered in a million lights at the center of the fair! Standing over 19m high and 24m wide, the sheer scale of it makes it a wondrous sight. Whether you think it’s ‘tacky’ (as the couple standing next to me clearly did), or you’re craning your neck in amazement to take it all in (as most people seemed to be doing), there is no denying the size of the structure and the tremendous amount of work, thought and creativity that had gone into its creation.
Read More: Where to See Christmas Lights in Singapore
At 7:45pm, the Garden Rhapsody light and music show wowed the crowds still further. Kudos to lighting designer, Adrian Tan, and music arranger, Bang Wenfu, for the very upbeat show that illuminates the magnificent Supertrees. It got people dancing by the time Mariah Carey began belting out her ever beat-y “All I want for Christmas is You”
Then it began to “snow”…
Soon children, moms, dads, uncles, aunties were covered in the wet stuff as the ‘blizzard’ (of soap bubbles) got going. By this time, it was mayhem in the Spallidera but it was all very good-natured and celebratory. And really, could anyone be cross with excited, happy kids?
If you’re coming for the snow show, “Blizzard Time” happens daily at the Spalliera at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm and 10:30pm, lasting for a solid five minutes. It’s worth keeping kiddos up a little past their bedtime to see the wonder and amazement on their face.
Fortified by a juicy burger and salty fries, or a tasty kebab at one of the food stands, you can next mosey around the specially designed festival market huts and pick up some beautiful organic toiletries. Christmas presents? You’ll be hard pressed to give these pretty packages away! The Carnival game booths, the Ice Skating Rink and Snow Playground (yes, in Singapore!) are great fun for kids but busy (note: bring jumpers and gloves to keep tiny feet and fingers warm).
The skating rink, snow playground and 25-metre-long ice slide are all located within the Ice Palace, which requires a separate admission ticket (and is best reserved in advance). The upside is that this reduces crowds and standing in long lines with impatient kiddos. Note that 75% of tickets are available to be booked online, with 25% available for purchase on-site. Prices start from $18 per person for ice skating and $16 per child for the snow playground; click here to purchase tickets for these attractions (scroll down to “Bookable Attractions”). The ice slide is $4 per person and tickets are only sold on site.
A new feature this year that’s been a hit with kids is the Hi-5 Funtastic House, which features an interactive play zone that fans of the popular kids’ TV show will love. Kiddos can style themselves up to look like their fave Hi-5 stars, boogie down with song and dance, or run through the special Hi-5 Castle obstacle course. Just to be clear, this isn’t a performance and there aren’t any Hi-5 cast members present. Tickets cost $24 per child for a 45-minute play session.
Kudos to the very helpful, cheerful and smiley staff at Christmas Wonderland. Two points of feedback to make this a perfect visit: please note the time of the light show (7:45) as several people lamented missing it unknowingly. Two: buying your tickets online will save lots of queuing at the ticket booth at the entrance.
Ticketing costs: a general admission ticket costs $6 through 15 December. Thereafter it’s $8, from 16 December 2016 – 1 January 2017. This gives you access to the Magical Forest, Christmas Carols (Thursdays to Fridays), Blizzard Time, Festive Market, Access to Luminarie – Sculptures of Light, Festive Parades (on the last two weekends of December).
It is a fun festive experience that cannot fail to put you in a festive mood, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. And yes, it is crowded, with people bumping into you as they try to get the perfect phone pic (as you’re doing too!). But it’s safe to say that only the most miserable could have leave the place without at least a smile on their face and humming parts of a carol under their breath.
Christmas Wonderland, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953, www.christmaswonderland.sg