Date Traveled, August 2012
The midautumn festival is an important harvest festival celebrated by Chinese around the world. Lighting lanterns is one of the most revered and enjoyable traditions of the festival. In Singapore, lanterns can be seen in many places during the festival, but one of the largest and most beautiful displays are to be seen in the scenic grounds of the Chinese gardens in Jurong east.
If you are in Singapore during the midautumn festival, you will be treated to two of the most visibly common traditions of the festival, lanterns decorated in many places around the city, and mooncakes. Mooncakes are a Chinese sweet made typically with an egg yolk at the center. This would in many cases be a duck egg but there are hundreds of variations of this treat. Available throughout the year, the most unusual and creative ones will become available in places like Singapore and Hong Kong and of course, China, during the midautumn festival when it is most commonly consumed. This is because the best hotels and restaurants take it upon themselves to make the top mooncakes and vie with each other to offer the best mooncakes. Indeed the year's top ones are often sold out well in advance of the festival because of huge demand.
This is a great opportunity to try out different mooncakes because in the large malls around Singapore there will often be temporary stalls established by the mooncake selling establishments where you can sample and buy them in gift packs should you wish. The other thing to see in the midautumn festival are the colorful lanterns that will come up all around the city. However the Chinese garden lantern display is of a more creative bent, displaying large lanterns depicting everything from stories to birds and animals and creatures of mythology.
Chinese gardens in Jurong East
The Chinese and adjacent Japanese gardens in Jurong east are gardens with landscape themes from Chinese and Japanese aesthetic and architectural styles. They are scenic and large parks with lakes, ponds, streams and stylistic buildings such as pagodas. They would make for a great regular visit being easily accessible by the SMRT system, but were particularly interesting to see during the midautumn lantern display.
There are colorful and interestingly designed lanterns right from the entrance. There is also a festive carnival atmosphere with stalls and shows in a small pavilion. Your entrance fee allows you to collect one paper lantern for yourself should you be interested. The kids around the place seemed to be thrilled with their lanterns. The best time to visit the display is of course in the evening. Come a little before dark and watch the lanterns getting lit up and come to full life as it becomes dark.
The highlight of the display will be in the center of a lake in the middle of the park. When I went the centerpiece were a family of large swan lanterns sitting still in the center of lake forming perfect reflections in the water below. This was quite spectacular to see both before sundown and after. The display is a must see if you are in Singapore during the festival.