It’s Christmas once again!
And as usual, COVID-19 is still here to remind us that it still exists. But no matter, life goes on. Gone are the restrictions on busking which were in place last year (although that could have been in response to the Itawon crush more than anything).
This year marks the fourtieth edition of Orchard Road’s annual Christmas light up. This year, I opted to start my journey from Orchard MRT rather than from Dhoby Ghaut as in the past two years. From there, I walked backwards towards the Tanglin area, a quieter part of the town area.
Tanglin – Orchard
There is supposedly a welcome arch at Tanglin Road, but my legs could only take me so far… and so the following shall suffice:
I like what I’m seeing so far. Unlike prior years where there is a single dominant colour, this year’s decorations blends three main colours — blue, pink and yellow. I think they fit really well, although green is conspiciously missing. As with last year, we get LED lights adorning the trees — probably in an effort to re-use decorations from the prior year.
According to the Orchard Road Business Association, with this year’s theme, you’re meant to step into a “whimsical world of childlike wonder”. To me, it feels more like they’ve caught on to the resurgent sticker trend, with each reindeer, koala(?) bear and candy cane reminiscent of a sticker.
Walking forward towards the start of Orchard Road, you’ll come across the former Orchard Parade Hotel (now the Orchard Rendezvous Hotel), which seems to have been refurbished quite nicely, although the resort feel seems to have disappeared with its new coat of paint.
Next to it is the Forum shopping mall, with rows of blue LED lights adorning its facade, with a large Christmas tree adorning its main entrance. I think Forum has one of the better decorations this year. As there are plans to redevelop Forum and the adjacent voco hotel (former Hilton) into a mixed development, one wonders how long more Forum would last in its current state.
Meanwhile, Orchard Towers cuts a lonely figure opposite Forum. Gone are the seedy nightclubs, which have either relocated elsewhere (to the top floor of Sim Lim Square, perhaps?) or shuttered completely. Perhaps it’s not completely a bad thing, as my favourite tennis shop, Leisure Sports, has moved in here from its old unit at Far East Shopping Centre.
With the area between Orchard MRT and Dhoby Ghaut MRT already being largely rejuvenated in the last decade, it’s only a matter of time before the same applies to the Tanglin-Orchard stretch. Currently, the redeveloped Pan Pacific Orchard, which opened its doors in June this year, stands out as a futuristic anomaly surrounded by ageing buildings. I suspect this won’t be the case some five years down the road.
Moving on to the heart of Orchard Road, we’re greeted with the main arch, which is pretty much a sticker bomb. While not very “Christmassey” in its own right (the colours instead remind me of the Deepavali decorations in Little India), I think it’s nice for a change and probably ranks as one of the better years.
As usual, Wheelock Place sticks with its tree-within-a-tree concept, though in addition to that, there’s a smaller not-quite-a-tree tree adorning its main entrance.
Across the road at Shaw House, you encounter the first of three carnivals, operated by J’Kids.
Over at ION Orchard, the featured brand this year is Louis Vuitton — looking back at my older posts, 2016 was Tiffany & Co, 2017 was Pandora, 2018 was Cartier, 2019 was Bulgari, 2020 was a “Gift of Hope” because COVID, 2021 was Chanel and 2022 was Dior. It’s quite impressive that there’s a different brand featured each year — I had always assumed they repeat every two, three years or so! Who’s next for 2024?
Outside Wisma Atria, there’s an outdoor stage set up for live performances. This is a huge step up from the no-busking policy in 2022, and a real surprise to see.
Wisma Atria’s decorations are actually pretty decent this year.
TANGS, as usual, has put up a Bible quote, though it’s partially obscured by the trees and Christmas decorations.
There are some Christmas booths along the road which seemed to be set up by some Christian organisation.
From a distance, you can see that Hilton Singapore is making full use of its side facade.
While Singapore was once flooded with Flash Coffee outlets, in its place we now have Luckin Coffee. I tried it a couple of times because of its opening promotions; after that I got annoyed by the weekly WhatsApp message spam that persisted for a while even after I unsubscribed. In a city full of third wave coffee options, I wonder how long they’ll last in Singapore.
The second of the three Christmas villages is situated at Ngee Ann City, where there is a bigger carnival area and some food options. Instead of bumper cars, we get this newfangled Transformer-esque thingy. Interesting.
Takashimaya’s main atrium has a huge Chanel tree.
Over at Paragon, Olaf cuts a lonely figure. (Just kidding, there’s still the usual large Christmas tree outside Paragon itself).
Some other random shots before we proceed. A curious observation — the “present” below looks strangely like a pineapple instead. One wonders if any inspiration was taken from the recent Presidential elections.
Outside Pullman Hotel, we see the usual Apple advertisement, this time for the iPhone 15.
Meanwhile, the decorations outside Mandarin Gallery are pretty much on point. In the past few years, they’ve reused Christmas decorations for CNY. One wonders how they would be able to do so this year…
Near the traffic junction, a street performer performed some hula hoop stunts to the tune of Rewrite the Stars, drawing in a large audience.
Over at the Somerset area, Design Orchard eschews the Christmas tree for a teddy bear. Faber House is closed for redevelopment. Orchard Gateway is sparsely decorated, though 313@somerset and Orchard Central have maintained their usual level of effort.
Once again, CentrePoint is pretty bare. They seem to have given up years ago. Or perhaps they’re contented with Decathlon and Harvey Norman as the crowd pullers.
I really like the “bear hiding in the tree” design.
Lastly, moving on to the Dhoby Ghaut area. As usual, there are no street lamp arches at the area outside the Istana. But the trees in the vicinity are decorated really nicely this year.
Unlike last year, Plaza Singapura is dressed up this year, both outside and inside the mall. There’s also a Christmas village (though it wasn’t opened when I visited at around 10pm) and a miniature replica of the main arch where you can take a photo with it.
And… that’s it for 2023! Having covered the Christmas decorations for the past eight years, I realise there’s little much left to talk about without getting too repetitive. I guess I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Merry Christmas!