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New public spaces to expand draw of Gardens by the Bay

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Bayfront Plaza is part of efforts to expand Gardens' non-ticketed spaces and line-up of events for locals

Visitors to Gardens by the Bay now have more attractions to check out, with the launch of a new area that houses a floral exhibit and cafe, as well as community spaces that will host a weekend market.

Bayfront Plaza, a 5,000 sq m space located next to the Bayfront MRT station, was opened yesterday as part of efforts to expand the Gardens' non-ticketed spaces and line-up of events and programmes for locals.

For a year-long period from June, members of the Pioneer and Merdeka generations, comprising Singaporeans who are now in their 60s and 70s, will enjoy free admission to the Flower Dome on the second Tuesday of every month.

More free events are also in store this year, including a Toy Story-inspired light and sound show in June and performances such as a National Day weekend concert in August.

Floral Fantasy, a 1,500 sq m ticketed attraction, features more than 3,000 plants across four garden landscapes, as well as a 4D multi-sensory ride called Flight of the Dragonfly.

A 2,000 sq m space that includes indoor events space Bayfront Pavilion will be made available rent-free for events by community organisations, as part of efforts to keep the Gardens inclusive, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said at the launch event.

Kicking off on Friday will be a weekend market featuring 30 stalls, a third of which will be run by social enterprises.

A public green space for both seniors and the young called Active Garden will also be ready by early next year, said Mr Wong.

More will be done to ensure Singaporeans have access to the Gardens, which has received more than 50 million visitors since it opened in 2012.

President Halimah Yacob will be patron of Gardens by the Bay's community outreach initiative Gift of the Gardens, which provides free admission to the conservatories for vulnerable and lower-income groups.

About 90,000 Singaporeans have benefited from this programme, which will now be expanded to the Pioneer and Merdeka generations, said Mr Wong.

Gardens by the Bay's chief executive Felix Loh said that visitor numbers have grown by about 1.5 million every year, with movies such as Crazy Rich Asians helping to cement its status as a world-class attraction.

"But, unfortunately, a lot of people still associate Gardens by the Bay with our Supertrees and the two domes alone," he said.

While many of the main activities are concentrated in those areas, there is much more to see in the Gardens, added Mr Loh, who noted that 95 per cent of its 54ha in the main Bay South area does not require a ticket for entry.

The addition of community spaces to Bayfront Plaza aims to help dispel this perception, he said, pointing out that about 70 per cent of visitors to the Gardens arrive via the nearby Bayfront MRT station.

There will also be activities and programmes to draw more Singapore residents, who made up about half of the 12 million visitors last year and enjoy discounted pricing to its ticketed attractions.