Published on December 21, 2007
Singapore's Esplanade Theatres by the Bay and the Urban Redevelopment Authority promise that New Year's Eve celebrations at Marina Bay will be the most spectacular yet. There will be a smartly curated line-up of events besides the country's largest countdown, plus the expected parties and fireworks.
Since it started in 2005, the Marina Bay event has sought to distance itself from other New Year's parties around Singapore, such as Sentosa Island, Orchard Road, and Zouk, says Michelle Yeo, programming officer for the Marina Bay Countdown. "During Esplanade's Celebrate December festival we are celebrating local artists and we let them show, with their works, who they really are."
One aspect is a visual art installation - the lining up of bell chimes on Christmas trees, onto which the public can write their wishes on cards, all along the waterfront. "Another project is 'Letters Home', in which we invite the people who are away from home to write letters, including inmates. These letters are to be read out loud by professional theatre actors," Yeo says.
"Although many people are denying this, I think in everyone's hearts, they do make resolutions and wishes for themselves. So, when we started the Marina Countdown in 2005, we introduced the wishing spheres. These represent hope for something brighter in the new year."
In three different sizes, the wishing spheres are white, PVC-plastic objects onto which words or sentences can be written. From last week to the evening of December 31, a total of 5,500 wishing spheres, up from 5,000 last year, will be deployed in the waters of the Marina Bay. On New Year's Eve, these will be lit.
Wishes can be submitted at wishing stations, including the Esplanade and libraries. Some people may run into one of the many volunteer student groups who are bringing the spheres to many communities.
"Before this, I never really knew that there were so many underprivileged people in Singapore," says Kephren Ayanari, a 17-year-old student who is bringing wishing spheres to welfare organisations. "Seeing their excitement as they wrote their wishes on the spheres made me realise that while it may be a small and simple gesture, the wish-making gave them an avenue to share their hopes and dreams for the New Year."
To be aired on screens during the celebration will be short video excerpts featuring people from all walks of life - from the president to celebrities to students - expressing their wishes.
"Of course, every countdown worth anything has fireworks, and we just need to see the sky brightly lit after the clock strikes midnight and we shout 'Happy New Year'," Yeo says. "They signify aspiration and our hope for the future. The eight-and-a-half minute display of fireworks will also be in sync with specially commissioned music by local artist Iskandar Ismail, performed by the Singapore Youth Choir Ensemble, and featuring Chinese string instruments. All the artists involved have been in many discussions in details of this - there are slow and fast, quiet and loud parts. It's like firework choreography.
"Anyone who's around the vicinity of the Bay, including many hotels in the area, can fully enjoy the sight of these fireworks. Especially this year, we'll have two radio stations broadcasting live music for the fireworks.
"Every year end is significantly personal for each one of us as we reflect on what happened in the past year and what we really want to hope for. It's like a community of people coming here to celebrate that. And I think it doesn't matter where you come from, it's the meaningfulness of everyone gathering here as a community."
Submit your New Year's wishes online as photographs, short video clips or just plain text, and watch the fireworks display via a live webcast on New Year's Eve at www.marina
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