When I visited Kobe Luminarie back in 2007, where we walked through beautiful arches of lights in the winter night, I wondered why Singapore didn’t have anything like that. It seemed like an awesome way to boost tourism. Because, well, I love visiting Japan for their illuminations at the end of the year.
Fast forward to 2015. Singapore is now hosting her second Christmas Wonderland – an annual yuletide spectacle of light sculptures and festive markets! With 165,000 bulbs illuminating Gardens by the Bay, the event attracted almost a million visitors last year.
Knowing how crowded it was going to be at night, we arrived at 4+pm to take a look around before the crowd came in.
We started with the fairground, where the carnival games and rides were.
The most fascinating ride at the Fairground was the Helter Skelter – a 14m high slide!
The slide costs $8 per ride. The fair operates using tokens, which cost $2 each. So we bought 4 tokens for MF to go on the slide. Children above 1m could ride on their own, while those under could ride in tandem with an adult. However, even a child riding in tandem had to pay! Which means a parent + child riding together on the same mat would cost $16.
Armed with his cloak and mat, the daredevil was on his way! (A staff would bring the kids up and they would slide down on their own.) It was pretty cool and although I felt a pinch spending $8 for a few seconds ride, it was too unique a ride to miss. I recommend going for the Helter Skelter once – just for the experience.
Little MY who missed out on the Helter Skelter bugged us to let him ride on the vintage carousel, which cost $10 for a 5 min cycle. While the carousel looked really beautiful, a carousel is afterall just a carousel imo. So we passed.
We dragged the protesting kids away from the rides and went around the gardens to snap some photos without the crowds.
The luminarie set up really reminded me of Kobe Luminarie. I wondered if they came from the same factory. And there were little wooden huts selling Christmas trinkets and food. I LOVE the festive mood that wooden huts bring to Christmas fairs. It was like the Christmas fairs we attended at Sapporo White Illumination and Tokyo Sky Tree illumination. I felt so proud that we had a similar event right here in Singapore!
I realised that I haven’t really seen Gardens by the Bay in the daytime before. All my recent visits to Gardens by the Bay (for Mid-Autumn festival and National Day fireworks) were all at night. So I took the opportunity to soak in the beauty of the garden in the daytime.
The kids entertained themselves with the stone sculptures around the garden.
And we found a little swing which the kids had so much fun on – for FREE! *cheapo*
We took one last signature shot of Marina Bay Sands before heading for our media tour of Christmas Wonderland.
We passed by some Christmas trees and the kids amused themselves by checking out their reflections on the shiny balls.. LOL!
Our media tour began at 6pm, bringing us through the arches of the luminarie. The sky was still too bright to appreciate the lighting and we just wondered around until we reached the Flower Dome. (I shall write about the displays at the Flower Dome on a separate post, since that is a paid attraction and focus on the free-to-enter areas in this post.) We also hopped on a ride on the Christmas train.
The Christmas Train brought us back to the Fairground, where it was starting to get nice and dark. But that also meant the crowd was starting to form.
We were given two passes for the Helter Skelter, Carousel and carnival games. We went on the Carousel first, with MF riding a horse on his own and MY riding in tandem with me. MY + I were considered 1 rider. The minimum height for kids to ride on their own is 1.1m.
Next, we went to the Helter Skelter where we thought we could do the same thing with two passes, but we were told MY was counted as a third person even if he was riding in tandem with me. So we ditched MY and only MF and I went for the ride with our two passes.
We went for the carnival games next. The prizes for the carnival games were pretty attractive. It was unlike those crappy toys we got from Uncle Ringo carnivals. The ones here were like Toy Story / Winne the Pooh / Big Heroes 6 plushies!
The game above cost 2 tokens ($4) for 3 balls or 3 tokens ($6) for 5 balls. We used our passes for this and MF actually won a Buzz Lightyear! WOOHOO….
With a prize won, MF was finally willing to leave the fairground before any damage was done to our wallets and we headed to Supertree Grove for free entertainment – the Christmas Edition of Garden Rhapsody! The trees changed colours to the tunes of familiar Christmas tunes. Including “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” from Frozen Soundtrack.
After watching the Garden Rhapsody, we caught the opening ceremony where the centrepiece of the luminarie was lit up and fake snow was sprayed around!
So this is what it looks like if Singapore snows:
The kids went WILD in the fake blizzard and was super tickled to see fake snow on their heads.
When the blizzard ended, the kids wanted more snow fun, and we headed for The Palace.
Inside, there was an ice-skating rink and a small snow playground. Ice-skating cost $14 per pax for a 30-min session. Bring your own gloves and socks or you would have to purchase them at $2 per pair.
They had those support polar bears and penguins for little kids to hold on to while they skated.
The kids weren’t interested in ice-skating and wanted to go to the snow playground instead, which cost $12 per child. The snow playground was for children aged 2 to 12.
Since it was the first day of the event, it was total chaos at the snow playground and people were being redirected all over the place to buy tickets, buy socks & gloves etc. Many people headed straight for the playground and were frustrated to be told they had to go outside to get socks, gloves and tickets. The area was very cramp and there were throngs of people squeezing to get in and out of the small doorway.
If your kids want to go to the snow playground, please buy the ticket for a time-slot from this little tent OUTSIDE the Ice Palace first! Like hello… put up some signs please? How are people supposed to know this is the place to pay for attractions in The Palace??
Bring your own gloves / socks if you have, if not you need to pay for them at this same tent. Again, it was super disorganised because we paid for the gloves / socks outside but had to collect them at the snow playground. The people at the tent had no idea about the stock status inside the playground. After we paid, we went in and were told they were out of stock for socks and they told us to just wear the boots without socks and to collect our refund from the tent. So I had to squeeze past the crowd AGAIN to get to the tent to collect my refund. GRRR!!!
Jackets and snow boots were provided free – but they are on first come first served basis. We did not manage to get jackets for our kids because they ran out. And there was a sign that said if your kids cannot get a pair of fitting boots, they would not be allowed to enter. But I think they had sufficient boots.
Moral of the story:
- Go to the tent OUTSIDE the palace to settle all your payments before going into the Ice Palace.
- Bring your own socks and jackets if you have.
- If you have your own insulated waterproof gloves, bring. If not, you can buy them for $4 per pair.
Anyway it was the first day of the event so teething problems were expected. Beyond that, the boys had tons of fun once they were inside the snow playground.
Surprisingly it was not very cold inside the playground and the kids survived the 30-mins play without jackets and didn’t want to leave when the time was up.
Before we knew it, it was past 9pm and we had spent 5 hours at Gardens by the Bay’s Christmas Wonderland. And we did not even check out the Spiegeltent, festive market and row of illuminated arches and Christmas tree near the Visitor Centre. We were too lazy to backtrack to the Visitor Centre and bid farewell to Christmas Wonderland 2015. It was a tiring but awesome night out!
Information on Christmas Wonderland
Date: 27 Nov 2015 to 3 Jan 2016
|Luminarie Light Sculptures||27 November 2015 to 3 January 2016
7:00PM to 12:00AM daily
(rides & carnival games)
|27 November 2015 to 27 December 2015
4:00PM to 11:00PM daily
* The Spiegeltent may be closed on certain nights for corporate bookings
Venue: Gardens by the Bay
Getting There: Bayfront MRT (CE1/DT16)
Admission Fee: FREE (fees apply for activities)
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