Every December, Singapore’s bright lights shine even brighter, as the main shopping belt along Orchard road is decked out in all its festive glory. As every mall tries to outdo the other with a bigger tree or flashier decorations, the Christmas spirit is lost in all that plastic, glitter and electricity.
This year, how about a bona fide Christmas in the tropics? Be amongst greenery on a cool evening, maybe even with a light drizzle.
To round off its 150th year with a bang, 150 live Christmas trees have taken root at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Trees of the World is a display of Christmas trees decorated by various community groups, schools, and embassies, reflecting themes of Hope, Inspiration, and Peace.
The opening light-up on Dec 5 was part of The Botanical Party, a multi-sensory spectacle that brought together Trees of the World and a concert, Birdsongs, performed by local jazz musicians, world-music performers, and the Philharmonic Youth Winds.
Before nightfall, many were already walking through the Central to Tanglin core of the gardens, which had turned into a little Christmas tree farm. The 150 sponsored trees were lined neatly along walkways, each decorated by an individual group.
By dusk, the intricacies of different decorations had dissolved into the night. In their place was an idyllic scene of fairy lights that greeted the visitors, as all the trees glowed a serene blue in the darkness.
Serenaded by jazz music with a sky that tried to snow (it ended up drizzling), the scene was nothing short of magical.
There were classically decorated trees, like the ones by Ikea Alexandra and the Singapore Lyric Opera – They were Christmas cards waiting to happen.
The community centres and schools were a little more personal in their decoration.
Some had group pictures hung up, and most schools displayed students’ crafts. They looked simple and raw, their ornaments mismatched like patchwork quilts.
But to Germaine Chan, a visitor to the display, these were more endearing than the dazzling cones of lights downtown.
“The primary school kids’ decorations put the ones at Orchard road to shame,” she said, “The décor’s a little dimmer here, but you can tell the effort was personal and sincere.”
Sadly, the world isn’t without its flaws. The companies with business-only intentions turned a tree or 2 into unsightly billboards.
Despite the light rain falling, people were still walking about, umbrellas up. If anything, the lights seemed to glow warmer in the rain. The display was a true community effort to create something beautiful for all to share at this festive time of year.
It certainly isn’t what you’d expect of a big city at Christmas. But, what better way to relax on a cool December evening than in good company and silent reflection of the year past?
Trees of the World at Singapore Botanic Gardens
When: Dec 5 to Dec 31
Time: 7 pm to 12 am
Where: Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Road
Contact: (65) 6471 7138 / 6471 7361
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