Lantern Festival at the Chinese Garden

I have been driving past the huge open space that is Jurong Chinese Garden for about 2 years now. Considering the scale of it, together with the Japanese Garden which forms part of it, there is a rather surprising lack of entrances – only one – which I finally got around to finding on Friday afternoon when we were galvanized in to action by my lovely friend LR who introduced us to the lantern festival that’s displayed here each year.

It’s absolutely worth making the effort to come during the month that the festival’s running – this year it’s 7th September to 7th October – either with or without children (I did once promise this wouldn’t be a blog about what to do with kids in Singapore and I intend to keep that promise).  You bounce between regular garden fixtures such as sensible old Confucius, juxtaposed this year by a kitsch and fabulous re-enactment of the Princess and the Frog:

There are breathtaking glimpses of huge open spaces often only interrupted by something as tranquil and zen a shore-side temple or a ripple-less lake (be warned, it is airless here, perhaps that’s why it’s undeveloped and has remained as a park).  The towering HDBs in the far distance are a reminder of the sheer size of this piece of parkland:

Not of course forgetting Swan Lake and the slightly less graceful but very impressive moving dragons and flying fish:


And my personal favourite, the arching and welcoming tulip-lined bridge:

The lights, which are different designs each year, are switched on at around 6.30pm daily.  The best time to arrive is probably just before then so you have enough time to wander around. The lights actually look best at dusk; come 7pm when it’s properly dark, all the views and vistas are lost and Snow White looks much the same as any luminated creature, after a while, if her cutesy hideousness is not off-set by a beautifully sculpted bonzai or ancient pine behind her.

During the lantern festival, Jurong Chinese Garden is open daily from 9am (too early) to 11pm (too late).  Entry includes a free lantern and costs $12 per adult, $8 per child.