The National Day of Singapore is a celebration of the country’s independence. Singapore became independent from Malaysia in 1965, and this has been commemorated each year since then on 9th August. The National Day is a public holiday, which means everyone in Singapore has a day off work to enjoy the celebrations and spend time with family and friends.
The highlight of the day is the National Day Parade, often known as NDP for short. The venue for the event has changed over the years, and has recently been extended to two venues, the Padang (a large playing field in the Central Area) and The Float at Marina Bay (the world’s largest floating stage). The Padang was the location of the first ever National Day Parade in 1966, so it has historical significance and is located in the Central Area, but the city’s National Stadium has also been used frequently for the parade due to its large capacity.
The parade is a huge event, so popular that in 2003 a ticketing system was introduced to avoid overcrowding. Singaporean residents can register in a ticket lottery by submitting their email address or phone number. The Padang has a capacity of 27,000, while another 150,000 people watch the parade from the Marina Bay waterfront. Each year the parade has a different theme and slogan.
Before the official parade there is a pre-parade, featuring entertainment such as choirs, bands and sky-diving. Then, the parade itself is made up of a variety of important associations in Singapore, ranging from the police and armed forces to the Girl Guides and Scouts. When the Prime Minister arrives, the State Flag is raised and the National Anthem is played. There is a flypast by the Air Force and a mobile column of military vehicles. This is followed by a show with displays from various community groups, and a post-parade party with celebrity acts.
Also taking place on National Day is a rally, where the Prime Minister addresses the nation, in a speech similar to the President of the United States’ State of the Union Address. He talks about the challenges of the time and plans for the year ahead. The speech is delivered in English, Malay and Chinese, recognising the diverse cultures that co-exist in Singapore. The opposition MPs are invited to the rally, as well as the party in power.
Fireworks displays are another big part of the National Day celebrations, as the Singapore Fireworks Celebrations have been held since 2004 over several days at this time of year. Local and foreign teams launch their own fireworks displays, and the spectacular event attracts tourists from around the world.
Image used with reference and permission to Nicolas Raymond