8 places for Christmas family fun
The run-up to Christmas, starting from around Singles’ Day on Nov 11 till Christmas Eve on Dec 24, is the busiest time of the year for department stores and shopping centres.
Another big draw are venues where families can take their children during the school holidays to get them to pick up a skill or get closer to nature.
One place which is attracting families since it opened in November is the new Dinoland Singapore at Safra Yishun. It is a reimagining of a Jurassic mini-park spread over 1,000 sq m, featuring 20 life-size animatronic dinosaurs which move, interact with participants and make loud, authentic sounds.
“Children love the idea and experience of touching and interacting with dinosaurs because it is like a fantasy being played out in real life,” says Mr Tian Jie, 29, senior manager of group strategy at PeopleUp Singapore, a group of companies that specialises in multi-enrichment and play.
It operates more than 100,000 sq ft of commercial space and 15 subsidiary brands offering multiple play, learning and entertainment experiences.
The dinosaurs, some of which are up to 15m tall, have been a hit since the opening of Singapore’s first “Jurassic Park”.
“Dinoland has been hosting more than 2,000 families since opening last month,” adds Mr Tian.
Meanwhile, quite a few stores are going the extra mile to make the overall shopping experience more “Christmassy” to attract families.
Tanglin Mall, Capitol Singapore and Jewel Changi Airport, for instance, have special sessions where snow descends on shoppers.
According to a spokesman for Allgreen Properties, which owns and manages Tanglin Mall, Snow Splendours has been a retail tradition since 1996.
“There are two kinds of snow – our avalanche, which is a thick, dense snow released from a snow-making machine, and artificial snow, which is sparse snow foam that seems to fall from the skies.”
The snow machines are owned by Tanglin Mall, which declines to reveal how much they cost. The spokesman says the machines are easy to manage and are set on timers to release snow at intervals.
Over at Snow City, Singapore’s only permanent sub-zero entertainment centre, snow is used as a teaching tool.
“Snow City has invested in technology that produces snow that is cost-efficient,” says Ms Chan Ka Ye, its business development manager. The venue is positioned as an edutainment extension of Science Centre Singapore.
Ms Chan says snow is important to science and technology.
“We make snow from pure water and the quality is the same as natural mountain snow found in countries with snow all year round.
“It is done through special technology developed by Wyss Group from France, and has been refined over the years since Snow City was launched in 2000.”
Snow City has also recently rolled out a slew of Christmas events and programmes.
“While we want visitors to enjoy their time sliding around in sub-zero temperatures and throwing snowballs at one another, we’re also urging them to visit our exhibitions to be curious and ask questions about the origins of snow,” adds Ms Chan.
The Straits Times scopes out eight places in Singapore for Christmas family fun.
Thrills and spills at Tanglin Mall’s snow sessions
Children find it difficult to contain their excitement at Tanglin Mall’s nightly snow sessions.
You will find them either sprawled on the ground outside the lobby of Tanglin Mall or prancing about gleefully when snow falls from the sky with the aid of discreetly hidden snow-making machines.
There are fixed times for the 15-minute Snow Splendours where two types of snowfall are specially engineered for Christmas revellers. The annual tradition at Tanglin Mall started in 1996 and is a free event.
The first wave, at about 7.30pm, is an avalanche of dense snow that creates a thick covering on the ground.
The second session features sparse foam released from a snow machine that is tilted upwards towards the sky to create the impression of gently falling snow.
The snow sessions are on until Jan 2.
Besides Snow Splendours, Tanglin Mall, which is owned and managed by Allgreen Properties, has also lined up a range of family-friendly programmes for the Christmas holidays such as water beads and bauble-painting workshops, Santa Meet-and-Greet sessions as well as carolling sessions till Dec 23.
Info: To sign up for the workshops and check timings for Snow Splendours, go to tanglinmall.com.sg
Bring your winter togs to Snow City
The forecast calls for snow boots and winter wear over at Snow City Singapore in Jurong Town Hall Road.
The 3,000 sq m facility, the only one of its kind on the island, boasts 1,500 sq m of Arctic fun throughout the year with a dedicated snow chamber that is kept at a teeth-chattering temperature of -5 deg C.
Snow City is owned by Singapore Science Centre Global, a subsidiary of Science Centre Board, and was built in 2000. Launched as a limited exhibition meant to last about seven years, it has now become a fixture of the Science Centre’s group of attractions for more than two decades, due to its popularity among both tourists and locals.
At Snow City, guests are encouraged to don their own chic winter togs although there are standard-issue jackets and boots for all.
Besides year-round snow-themed programmes for parents and children, the edutainment centre has curated Christmas events designed for year-end fun.
One of the top draws is the Snow City Winter Shooting Arena, which has been certified as Singapore’s coldest shooting arena by the Singapore Book of Records. Here, guests aged 14 years and above can put their marksmanship to the test with Target Shooting, using paintball markers and a Close Quarter Battle, for friendly competition between friends and family members.
There is also a sub-zero dance experience with a K-pop Snow Jam featuring Amaryllis – a four-member, all-girl dance group from Indonesia – performing to Gangnam-style hits played by local deejays Skabush and Bernie on Christmas Eve starting at 2pm.
Info: Snow City Singapore is at 21 Jurong Town Hall Road. Admission starts at $19 for a child and $23 for an adult for one hour of snow play and one bumper car ride. For the full Christmas line-up, go to snowcity.com.sg.
See stars at Metro Paragon Trim Shoppe
Tinsel stars and a glitzy array of Christmas tree decorations have long been a festive fixture at Metro’s annual Trim Shoppe on the ground-floor atrium of Paragon shopping centre.
Now, shoppers will also get starry-eyed. On Dec 16, local actor-musicians Benjamin Kheng and Annette Lee, who released the social-media hit The Caifan Song in September 2021, will be performing.
Mr Erwin Wuysang-Oei, Metro’s head of marketing, merchandising control and e-commerce, says Metro Christmas Magic is a family activity.
“Because of the scale of the set-up, we want customers to feel inspired when they walk down the Trim Shoppe.”
This year, Metro Paragon has also decked out more than 10 Christmas trees with designs to suit different tastes and moods. Shoppers can also order trees with bespoke trimmings and themes.
Also, the store is saying a “big thank you” for shoppers’ unfailing support by donating 1.5 per cent of sales revenue from its department stores and online platforms from Dec 1 to 31 to charitable causes under its “Metro Is Singapore’‘ initiative.
Info: Metro Paragon is open daily from 10am to 9.30pm.
Christmas classics in Candlelight
The lilting strains of Christmas classics such as White Christmas, The First Noel and Hark The Herald Angels Sing performed by the Vocalise String Quartet on two violins, a viola and a cello will fill the cavernous halls of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall at Empress Place this month.
The music will be performed in a darkened interior with thousands of candles providing a surreal setting for audiences to be immersed in the spirit of the festive season.
The Candlelight: Holiday Special Featuring The Nutcracker And More performance is part of the Candlelight Concerts series presented by global live-entertainment platform Fever, which celebrates original classical music concerts by allowing people to enjoy live music through multi-sensory candlelit performances in various locations.
Launched in 2019, the concerts started with a focus on classical greats such as Vivaldi, Chopin and Beethoven. Now, the platform also features jazz, pop and movie soundtracks.
Info: Tickets start at $38 for a Zone C seat. There will be shows on Dec 22 at 8pm and Dec 23 at 6.30 and 9pm. To book, go to https://str.sg/wC8W
Go glamping in the clouds at Jewel
Stake out turf at Jewel Changi Airport’s Canopy Park for a picnic in the clouds. As part of the Changi Festive Village holiday celebrations, the Glampcation overnight package is designed to transport glampers into an underwater world with its marine-themed tropical rainforest,in clear view of the feted HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Each tent comes complete with two queen-size air beds and calming light projections paired with ocean sounds to make guests feel as if they are underwater.
The package also includes limited-edition festive merchandise, T3 Underground Carnival credits and four tickets to River Wonders at Singapore Zoo. The promotional price starts at $320.
For those who prefer a day Glampicnic (promotional price: $160), there are glamp tents decorated with festive finery and tables laid out with intricate centrepieces and dining ware.
For day picnickers who want to supplement the complimentary tea party set, there is also an option to take along your own picnic basket or use the discount code to pre-order from Changi Eats, Changi Airport’s food delivery service.
Info: Glampcation accommodates up to four guests. Glampicnic accommodates up to six guests. To book, go to the iChangi app.
Celebrations at Capitol Singapore
Perennial Holdings, which owns and operates Capitol Singapore and Chijmes, has lined up multiple celebrations for its two Christmas wonderlands.
There will be live band performances, Secret Santa treasure hunts, snowfall and the Capitol Kempinski Singing Tree till Dec 26.
Catch popular bands such as The Cold Cut Duo performing crowd-pleasers and Christmas classics at the Capitol Singapore Outdoor Plaza.
The singing tree, which stands at 7m tall, comes alive with the cadences of 30 carollers from 7.30pm till 9pm, every Friday to Sunday.
There is also a European-themed Christmas Market this year, with more than 50 vendors selling festive fare such as artisanal country loaves, wines and seasonal delicacies.
Info: Go to capitolsingapore.com/happening/holly-jolly-christmas-capitol-singapore-and-chijmes/
Star Wars at Raffles City
Catch the Star Wars magic this Christmas with two scaled models of the blockbuster film franchise’s aircraft and battle installations at Level 3 of Raffles City.
The entire floor has been transformed into a set straight out of director George Lucas’ beloved series of movies.
Shoppers will get to see a massive 13m-long Incom R-70 A-Wing, the Resistance’s Starfighter Corps’ signature battle aircraft – which is also considered one of the franchise’s many non-human heroes – as well as robots C-3PO and R2-D2, which have enthralled audiences since the first film was released in 1977.
Then there is the 3m-tall AT-ACT Walker, last seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016. The Walker is an installation at Level 1 of Raffles City Fashion Walkway. The two models will be on show till Dec 31.
The Star Wars element is part of mall operator CapitaLand’s annual Christmas festivities with different draws at its 16 shopping centres across Singapore.
Info: Raffles City is open daily from 10am to 10pm.
Giant animatronic dinosaurs roam in Dinoland
Children are encouraged to get up close and personal with the majestic, moving Tyrannosaurus Rex and gentle Brontosaurus dinosaurs at the new Dinoland Singapore at Safra Yishun in Yishun Avenue, launched in November.
When participants of the adventure programme enter the 1,000 sq m enclosure, they are greeted with the distinct smell of a forest and can even feel squishy pre-historic ground beneath their feet.
The dinosaurs, towering up to 15m, will interact with children and adults by roaring, ambling and making eye contact through state-of-the-art animatronics.
The whole experience is designed to immerse visitors in a Jurassic landscape that predates history by millions of years.
Dinoland@Safra is the brainchild of Mr Tian Jie, 29, senior manager of group strategy at PeopleUp Singapore, a group of companies founded in 2018 that specialises in delivering fun edutainment experiences for children and families.
The dinosaur facility at Safra took a full year to conceptualise and build, incorporating animatronics technology imported from overseas.
“It has truly been a rewarding experience seeing the smiles on children’s faces whenever the dinosaurs come to life,” says Mr Tian, who works with a team of more than 20 educators and engineers to maintain the robotic dinosaurs. There are currently four “dino-stars” including a Pterodactyl and Triceratops.
“Participants of the dino programme also get to dress up as mini-rangers and adventurers by donning a ranger vest and hard hat with a headlight,” adds Mr Tian.
PeopleUp’s nature-based enrichment programmes have been sold to more than 10,000 families eager to get closer to nature in an urban setting.
Some of the year-round activities include the Ecotrail at Lorong Chencharu in Yishun, which provides a hands-on farm experience for young children to interact with live animals such as chickens and rabbits.
For the Christmas season, PeopleUp has lined up a range of holiday camps for families and children in three Safra locations at Yishun, Mount Faber and Tampines.
Info: To book slots for the holiday activities, go to https://str.sg/wC8d