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 September 04, 2001
Singapore: Mid-Autumn Festival Fervor

 Singapore mounts its biggest ever Mid-Autumn Festival celebration this year, when Chinatown, Albert Mall, Orchard Road and Singapore River come together to revive interest in this Chinese tradition. From September 21 to October 1, the four districts will entertain with a mix of nostalgia and contemporary programmes to bring back the activities of yesteryear celebrated in the style of modern Singapore. Residents and visitors will get first hand experience of savouring mooncakes while they enjoy a Chinese opera in Albert Mall, or the outdoor screening of old movies in Chinatown.

In addition to the four districts, celebrations will take place in other fringe areas including Jurong Point (organised by the Bukit Timah Community Development Council; where the worldís longest dragon lantern will be displayed), and the Chinese Garden.

Behind this inaugural effort are the Singapore Tourism Board, Kreta Ayer Citizens' Consultative Committee (KACCC) for Chinatown, Kampong Glam Citizens' Consultative Committee (KGCCC) for Albert Mall, Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) for Orchard Road, Singapore River Business Association (SRBA) and the Civil Defence Association for National Servicemen (CDANS) for Singapore River.

Mr Yeo Khee Leng, STB's Chief Executive, said: "We have been receiving lots of feedback from community members that something big-scale was needed to remind people of the story of Mid-Autumn Festival. Chinatown has always been the core district associated with the festival. With other areas coming in, it becomes a larger, more cohesive celebration that will bring more attention to the festival. We hope that this pioneering effort will resurrect and rekindle traditional festivals and traditions in Singapore. While all the revelry will appeal to locals, tourists tend to go where locals go, so we are confident that visitors will similarly enjoy the festivities".

To ensure this year's festival reaches out to a wide audience, interactive aspects which have a participatory element have been injected into the various activities at the different districts. In a first for the festival, outdoor movie screenings will return to the streets of Singapore. Vintage Chinese movies will be shown in an outdoor cinema at the Chinatown Complex, allowing everyone to relive the nostalgia of open-air movies in the 1950s. Other highlights include the biggest Chinese calligraphy competition where skilled calligraphers will produce giant Chinese characters using massive brushes. They will also challenge revelers to have a go. Additionally, other districts will offer mooncake making demonstration and sales, tea appreciation, dress-up competitions and even an archery competition.

The opening ceremony of the festival on September 21 in Chinatown will be officiated by Dr Richard Hu, MP for Kreta Ayer-Tanglin GRC. Colourful traditional dragon and lion troupes, flag bearers and stilt walkers will herald in the festivities as they wind their way from Carpenter Street to Spring Street. This year's Mid-Autumn Festival has been updated to make it more relevant to the modern Singaporean as well as the traditionalist at heart. Orchard Road likewise, will see a modern interpretation of the festival. ORBA has added a twist to the celebrations during the festival - shop windows will be alight with mid-Autumn decor as each major department store competes for the best display title. In addition, unique gourmet mooncakes will be available for sale. Another event to look forward to at Orchard Road is the Lantern Motorcade, which will see local celebrities wearing the latest Autumn collections as they cruise down in convertibles. Over at Albert Mall, the arts would certainly be a feature of celebrations at this year's festival. Highlights include the retelling of the love affair between Chang Er and Hou Yi in a Cantonese opera performance by the famed Choyís Brothers Opera Troupe.

This year's grand finale will be held riverside at Clarke Quay. The Singapore River, which has traditionally been the life-line of the nation, and the scene of many momentous occasions for Singapore, will be the locale for this yearís grand finale. During the closing celebrations, the river will be the heart of the festivities. Lantern processions from Orchard Road and Albert Mall will meet up at the Singapore River, where fireworks and the world's largest floating lantern await.