Snow, Spiegeltents and M&S mince pies: yes, it’s Christmas in Singapore

Just in case you thought Christmas* in the tropics might consist of a palm tree wrapped in string lights and mulled pineapple, let me dispel that myth right here. It might be 34 °C (when it’s not pouring), but stoic Santas still sweat it out in full-length furry suits and big white beards, you can play in real snow (sort of), and put up a real, Scandinavian tree in your living room.

(* in the commercial sense!)

Will there ever be an alternative to this romanticized vision of a traditional white Christmas? The “authentic” experiences and symbols of the season are becoming so global; it is slightly bizarre that whether we are in Edinburgh or Singapore, many of the festive offerings are virtually the same.


We can get the mince pies here but that’s about as far as it goes…you can’t order your Christmas day lunch! Sigh.

On the plus side, the kids are really enjoying it all and it’s probably helped their transition here to know they can still have a carousel ride and candy floss!

Here are a few things they’ve been up to:

Decorating our Christmas Tree


Couldn’t resist trying out a live tree for our first year back, even though it is way too hot here for this poor tree to feel at home. Tried to encourage the kids to decorate “delicately” to minimize needle loss before Christmas!



In my mind, the Christmas trees of my childhood were enormous. Even on tiptoe I could only reach up halfway. This takes me right back!



Bought from Ikea at the end of November…and wondering whether it will last til Christmas. So far, so good. Have been watering it with ice water.

Snow Three Ways

One of this year’s main attractions at the Gardens by the Bay Christmas Wonderland is the Ice Palace, which hosts a skating rink and snow playground. For $12, a child gets half an hour in this little room filled with real snow.


A little icier than the freshly fallen stuff, but you could still make a decent snowball out of it. However, there was not much elbow room and too many wee ones around to have a proper battle.

Achieving a snowman was sadly, almost impossible. The girls managed this rather charming creation, nicknamed SnowPiggy:


Despite the room being rather small and oddly blue, the kids loved it. They were so excited about dressing up in their winter gear again (even though it wasn’t all that cold) and playing with the white stuff.


Outside, there are also several nightly “blizzards” in the gardens – unfortunately the machine wasn’t working the night we were there! Might have to go back to play in “foam snow” one evening.


photo source: The Straits Times

The girls and I also had a blast in one of those inflatable snow domes – we’ve never tried them before but you go and wade through a heap of tiny polystyrene balls whilst they blow air at you. The entrance should really have this warning: keep your mouth closed!







The Gardens by the Bay Christmas Wonderland also hosts a fairground. We let the kids have one go each on an overpriced ride for old time’s sake! Nostalgia makes a wallet relent.


Miss Chu loves a spin on the carousel!



Little Miss doesn’t measure up tall enough for a solo ride on the helter skelter, so Daddy shells out for another ticket to accompany her. That’s $16 (£7.50) for a ten second slide.

A beautifully ornate Spiegeltent formed one of the main dining venues here, but didn’t appear to host any shows, as it usually does in Edinburgh.


One of the other main attractions was the Luminarie display, a seriously dazzling set of light sculptures from Italy, including a magical illuminated gazebo where various outdoor performances are held. The kids loved the magic show!


Santa here, there and everywhere

Does anyone else’s kids wonder why there are so many Santas around? So far the children have met at least 3 Santas at a Christmas party and various shopping malls.


We found an Australian Santa with a particularly dazzling grotto at Millenia Walk.


The most futuristic grotto we’ve ever seen. This Santa wins the Grotto-Bling award.

And I don’t know what train rides and candy floss have to do with anything but they’re everywhere…



We have discovered that candy floss “melts” in Singapore weather. Even when speedily consumed, the girls’ hands and faces were a sticky disaster at the end.


Humidity turns floss into sugar syrup. This candy cloud actually “rained” sugar!

It’s amazing how well-versed children are in the various traditions that supposedly make up the modern “Christmas package”, most of which originated from a broad variety of cultural practices throughout history. Fairgrounds and train rides certainly didn’t feature in my childhood idea of Christmas; but I suppose traditions evolve, particularly when there’s money to be made!

Its hard to know how far we should succumb to the commercial offerings of the season, which seem to get glitzier every year. No doubt there’s a tangible enjoyment in these annual rituals, but I don’t want them to overwhelm the heart of this season – which for us, is the birth of Jesus.

So wherever we find ourselves amidst this crazy mashup of gingerbread, baubles and reindeer, we try and hang on to the real joy of Christmas.


1 Comment

  1. Not much snow here yet either so maybe we’ll have to try a snow dome too!
    Getting our tree this weekend so will be feeling Christmassy by Sunday!

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