Christmas Wonderland at Gardens By The Bay: where one can be a kid again, no matter your age.
It took me 2 trips to Christmas Wonderland to fully appreciate the splendors and significance of Singapore’s largest annual yuletide fair.
Maybe it is because I’m a cynical 30+ year old, maybe it is due to me being… me.
But if you take your time to appreciate different parts of Christmas Wonderland, you will certainly find joy during your time here.
It helped too that a member of our media team, Angeline, grew up and was in Germany for 6 years.
Seeing it through her eyes and hearing her explanation on how Christmas Wonderland had revived her Christmas childhood experiences shed light on my overall experience.
Born and bred in a Chinese family I’ve never celebrated Christmas in any European country and the objectives of Christmas Wonderland was lost on me on the first evening.
The colorful Luminarie light sculptures reminded me of Deepavali instead of Christmas.
Based on what I’ve read online there was supposed to be an ice skating rink, a highlight that had me excited but turned out to be quite a small rink which was crowded with kids.
The Festive Market is modelled after a traditional European market and the wooden huts that housed the vendors were actually traditional huts that was dismantled, flown in from UK to be assembled again on the grounds of Gardens by the Bay.
I looked at them and thought they looked no different from any other wooden huts.
Angeline however, declared it as a mirror of an European Christmas fair back in Europe.
The carolling, the singing, the festive parades and the carnival games; Blue Sky Events and Gardens by the Bay had successfully bought an authentic European Christmas experience to Singapore.
Swayed by the conviction in her voice, I re-accessed Christmas Wonderland with a different eye, and the second evening turned out to be fun!
As I walked and took photos of the Luminarie light sculptures, in Christmas Toyland and around the Festive Market, it was obvious the most delight came from the children and foreigners.
Lights, toys and colors; the children were having a field day and that kept parents busy and happy.
The younger generation took photos after photos, no doubt to flood their Facebook and Instagram.
As night falls, I saw foreigners grouping and sitting around, relaxed, enjoying the lights and music, no doubt reminiscing about Christmas “back home‘.
This cynical 30++ year old finally had fun when delicious food was served, along with alcohol and when Janice Wong said “Help yourself to anything” in her pop-up store at Christmas Wonderland.
BELOW: The most incredible mochi!!
After stuffing myself silly with her mochi, chocolate bons-bons and ice cream, we went up to the Skywalk for the 7:45pm Christmas Edition of Garden Rhapsody.
This turned out to be the highlight for me!
On high ground, I saw the most breathtaking views of Singapore skyline; truly magnificent thanks to the lights from the Super Grove trees and structures of Christmas Wonderland.
I felt Christmas then, high up and looking down at the Spalliera, Ice Palace and the SuperGrove trees.
It was free entertainment too.
The trees changed colours to the tunes of familiar Christmas songs. It wasn’t as crowded up on the Skywalk so everyone had a nice spot for photos.
Blizzard Time are at 8:00pm, 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm daily (weather permitting) and this is when both adults and kids go berserk as WINTER (or rather SNOW) has finally arrived in humid Singapore!
No experience would be complete until I’m well fed.
The much hyped about churros were sad pieces of undercooked dough. Someone bought cheesy fries at the Festive Market and I took some as I was famished. It edible, though nothing out of the ordinary. I guess fries works for everyone.
The Dutch pancakes were good! Angeline would know, having grown up eating these. She gave it thumbs up and I’ll take her word for it, though paying SGD for a plate of this isn’t up my alley.
There are a number of options available, though I won’t say it is extensive.
One particular food hut I’ll recommend is the Isetan one.
Here you get decent, big portion of food in fair prices. SGD4 for this pancake on stick? Hell yes!
Freshly made, it is delicious, filling and hot.
For those with bigger budget, head over to Cucina and the Spiegeltent.
Cucina was where we had our dinner on the first night. Food is tasty, prices are SGD10-15 per appetizer/main/dessert.
I love my octopus salad with was generously studded with tender octopus pieces as well as olives. The cheese platter is fair too.
The sandwiches are worth eating as well. The French Apple Tart is superb. Served hot and crispy, it is fresh, not overly sweet and layered generously with apple slices.
But it is the Spiegeltent that was worth every SGD.
On the week of my visit the Deep Fried Lamb Ribs was the special, and it is so lip-smacking good that I wished I could eat a plate of it every day for as long as it is on the menu.
The chicken wings are fabulous as well, crispy, non-greasy and slathered in spicy sweet sauce.
The mac and cheese had a strong truffle whiff from it. Those who had the turkey said it is moist and delicious with the cranberry sauce.
All in all, no one had any complaints about the food. Prices are SGD8 – SGD18.
BELOW: Spiegeltent – the traveling tent.
They serve mulled wine here too, as well as some desserts.
The sitting inside the tent is cosy and comfortable. It wasn’t too warm neither was it cold.
Conversation level is moderate as well, so it is ideal for those seeking a break from the madness outside and to sit back to enjoy a nice meal and talk.
Christmas Wonderland welcomes local and international visitors from 27 November 2015 to 3 January 2016 and no doubt a lot of planning and coordination went into this annual event.
The 35,000 square-metre fair grounds at Gardens by the Bay offers activities for everyone. Key highlights include over 50 Italian Luminarie light sculptures, a European-style Festive Market, a snow-filled Ice Palace, traditional rides and games, and a comprehensive repertoire of entertainment options.
There are four main areas – the magnificent Luminarie light sculptures which begin at the Golden Garden and extend throughout the festival site; the Ice Palace and Festive Market at the Supertree Grove; The Fairground near The Meadow; and the Christmas Toyland floral display in the Flower Dome.
Here’s some fun facts (from their FB page):
1. The Italian Luminaries are magnificent sculptures of light handmade by skilled craftsmen using white wood from the south of Italy.
This year’s lights will feature an all-new architectural design reminiscent of the medieval period.
It takes 165,000 bulbs to create this magical extraordinaire. Each Luminarie is handmade using white wood from the South of Italy. These light sculptures were first created for important holidays and religious ceremonies some 200 years ago.
If you think stringing lights on a Christmas tree is tricky, imagine individually screwing on each bulb on these majestic light sculptures!
2. Towering over 20m, it is the largest Luminarie and will surround the Cassa Armonica, an 8m-wide beautifully illuminated gazebo. A special line-up of carollers will perform at the Cassa Armonica from Tuesdays to Sundays.
3. Blizzard Time @ Spalliera
Timings: 8pm, 9pm & 10pm daily.
Revel in the wonder of ‘snow’ in the tropics with the Nightly Blizzard Time within the Spalliera, happening at least three times every night.
4. The Christmas Wonderland Festive Market at Gardens by the Bay is modelled after a traditional European one, with the epic spiegeltent (‘mirror tent’) as the fair’s centrepiece.
The huts within the Festive Market are flown in from the UK and reassembled piece by piece!
5. Ice Palace:
Inside this cold palace, 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.
I was excited to try this til I saw that it was mostly for kids.
They even provide the support polar bears and penguins for little kids to hold on to while they skated.
I wanted to play with snow next, but the snow cost $12 per child. Yes, CHILD. The snow playground was for children aged 2 to 12!
Christmas Wonderland does offer something for everyone. For families it goes without saying that the children will have fun.
Take advantage of the free entrance fees to the Supertree Grove area if you are on budget, but if you are not, the Christmas Toyland in the Flower Dome (which occurs some SGD per pax) is nice for photography with the erected toy structures.
Last but not least, you can win a trip for two to Hong Kong!
To qualify for the lucky draw, you’ll need to obtain at least 3 stamps on the Christmas Wonderland Passport, which will be given out at Christmas Wonderland information booths within the Supertree Grove. The stamps can be collected by experiencing various attractions within the fair.
Other prizes include a staycation for two at The Club Hotel, and S$200 worth of dining credits at Harry’s. Terms and conditions apply.
** Luminarie Light Sculptures: 27 November 2015 to 3 January 2016
7:00PM to 12:00AM daily
** All the below are: 27 November 2015 to 27 December 2015 : 4:00PM to 11:00PM daily
1. Spiegeltent (may be closed on certain nights for corporate bookings)
2. Ice Palace
3. The Fairground (rides & carnival games)
4, Festive Market
IMPORTANT: We highly recommend taking public transportation as parking is limited. For the full programme line-up as well as directions to the event, visit www.christmaswonderland.sg
Venue: Gardens by the Bay
Getting There: Bayfront MRT (CE1/DT16)
More details: http://www.christmaswonderland.sg/web/index.php/event-info/opening-date-time