River Hongbao Exhibition 2024: History Of Chinese New Year Markets

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Reminisce with the grandparents at this year’s River Hongbao exhibition, happening from 8 to 17 February 2024 at Gardens by the Bay. The exhibition showcases the history of Chinese New Year markets in Singapore since the 1950s, how push carts evolved to online carts in decades.

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River Hongbao Exhibition 2024: From Push carts to Online carts

Take the different generations along to soak in the festivities at the River Hongbao exhibition, go down memory lane through photographs and interviews plus pose at photo spots.


Highlights At River Hongbao Exhibition 2024

River hong bao exhibition


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Curated by Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, the exhibition features interactive elements and installations that will immerse visitors in the lively ambiance of Chinese New Year markets in the past. Visitors can understand how the Chinese community celebrated Chinese New Year in the past and whether traditions have carried on through generations.  

As one steps into the exhibition, notice the traditional Chinese arch inspired by decorative arches installed in Chinatown during Chinese New Year in 1985. Precinct-level street decorations were seldom seen in the past, the festive decorations in Chinatown became more elaborate thanks to various organisations. In the 1980s and 1990s, the former Singapore Tourism Promotion Board fabricated and installed Chinese arches bearing festive and auspicious greetings in Chinatown.

River Hongbao

A 1970s street scene of the Chinese New Year markets have been recreated, complete with six traditional stalls. Strike a pose at the cured meat stall or pretend to get a Chinese couplet. The photo spots give visitors a chance to pose for the gram and reminisce about the past.

See pictures and videos of celebrations and the market in the sixties. What is not seen today would be the practices prevalent in the past such as setting off fire crackers! The Chinatown Chinese New Year market is one of the oldest new year markets in Singapore. There were three lanes of stalls along each street along Kreta Ayer.

Forgotten places such as Ellenborough Market and Oriental Emporium are also featured at the exhibition.

Built in 1845, Ellenborough Market was the go-to for Teochews as it was well-stocked with ingredients required for a Teochew reunion dinner including rabbitfish. Oriental Emporium was the first emporium in Singapore established in 1966. It offered festive goods such as Chinese sausages and cured ducks during Chinese New Year, and also sold imported goods from China.

Did you know that people folded their own ang pow in the past? Try the traditional activity and decorate the ang pow with stickers!

For an enriching tour guided by student ambassadors from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, head to the exhibition on 8 February and 13 February to 17 February from 2.30 pm to 9.30 pm.

General Manager of SYSNMH Winston Lim said: “Over the years, SYSNMH has been showcasing various facets of Chinese culture through our annual collaboration with River Hongbao. This year, our spotlight on the well-loved Chinese New Year markets in Singapore offers visitors a chance to relive the hustle and bustle of markets of the past, while learning more about how the practice of visiting these markets has evolved and continued till today. Through the exhibition and its interactive elements, we hope to create more opportunities for visitors of all ages to better understand the meaning behind the customs, practices and traditions they and their families engage in during  the joyous festive season.”


River Hongbao Exhibition 2024

When: 8 to 17 February 2024,

Opening hours: 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm on 8 February, 6.30 pm to 12.15 am on 9 February, 2.30 pm to 10.30 pm from 10 to 17 February

Where: Gardens by the Bay

For more information, visit the River Hongbao website or read our story on River Hongbao


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