Orchard Road Christmas light-up to be scaled down

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Organisers say it will kick off on Nov 13 with no street festivities

The Christmas light-up in Orchard Road will be a scaled-down affair this year, with the usual street festivities called off owing to the ongoing pandemic.

But organisers are still promising a dazzling spectacle when it kicks off on Nov 13, with a wintry display of snowflakes, mistletoes and hollies to set the shopping street aglow.

This year's light-up will feature nearly 50km of LED string lights, up from 6km last year. The number was cut last year as the focus shifted to the pedestrian experience, with more lights on trees and lamp-post decorations.

With the scaling back of street activities this year, the LED string lights will be restored to levels similar to earlier years, the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) told The Straits Times yesterday.

For the first time, viewers at home will be able to experience "driving" along the 2.9km stretch from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura in a virtual tour featuring 360- degree views.

The 14m main arch at the junction of Orchard Road and Paterson Road will be adorned with a blue ribbon and glittering reindeer, while lamp post decorations will feature Christmas trees and white and gold baubles until Jan 1.

The Great Christmas Village fair that typically accompanies the light-up - with food, amusement rides, games and performances - will not be returning this year. Orba said in a statement that the decision was made to minimise the risk of crowds gathering and to safeguard public health and safety.

In dedicating this year's light-up to front-line workers, the association will be working with initiatives such as Lions of Healthcare to reward healthcare staff, security guards, delivery staff and others with promotions for shopping, dining and services. More information will be made available on the Christmas On A Great Street microsite next month, it said.

Visitors to the microsite can also nominate front-line heroes by sharing their inspiring stories of resilience, and get a chance to win prizes for themselves as well as their heroes.

Orba chairman Mark Shaw said the event aims to lift spirits amid a challenging year and lack of year-end travel for locals.

While the lack of street activities may put a damper on the festivities, "we expect people will still come to look at the lights, because that's usually the main attraction anyway", Mr Shaw added.

Covid-19 has made plans to rejuvenate Orchard Road more urgent, he said, as more pedestrian-friendly features and outdoor activities will give the street a boost.

Mr Amos Tan, a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's School of Business, believes the light-up is likely to draw more locals than in previous years even without the street fair.

"With the limitation of not being able to travel, many will go to Orchard Road to soak in the festive mood," he said.

This presents an opportunity for retailers to grow their base of customers, he added.

Mrs Ann Ho, 42, an administrative assistant, said that while she typically avoids Orchard Road during the holiday season because of the large crowds, she may make an exception this year.

"Since we cannot go overseas for holiday, we might as well take the children out to see the Christmas lights," she said.