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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Taste of Guangxi at River Hongbao

Food, performances from China province and first-ever Youth Night among highlights
The Straits Times - December 16, 2011
By: Lin Wenjian
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Taste of Guangxi at River Hongbao Ms Yao Yunfei (in red), a singer from Nanjing, China, performing at this year's River Hongbao show on Feb 5, 2011. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

FOOD and cultural performances from China's Guangxi province will take centre stage at next year's River Hongbao celebrations.

Visitors to the annual carnival held to celebrate Chinese New Year can expect to see song-and-dance items by performers from the southern province, such as adapted excerpts from the popular 1960s movie Liu San Jie (The Third Sister Of The Liu Family).

They can also visit the 'food street', where stalls selling local hawker favourites will line up alongside vendors from Guangxi selling specialities such as a chicken snack wrapped in paper.

The organisers of River Hongbao 2012 are collaborating with the Cultural Department of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Government Region for the first time to bring these unique flavours to Singapore.

Mr Liang Eng Hwa, chairman of the carnival's organising committee, wants visitors - both locals and tourists - to be able to do three things at the event: 'I hope they can have fun as a family and learn about the traditions of Chinese New Year celebrations. When they have understood the cultures, they can then pass the knowledge on to future generations.'

To mark the Year of the Dragon, next year's carnival - which runs from Jan 21 to 29 - will also feature a myriad of dragon-themed lanterns handcrafted by a team of 30 artists from Chengdu.

Admission is free and the carnival, which will be held at the Float@Marina Bay, will open from noon to 11.30pm daily, except for Chinese New Year's Eve when it will close at 1am. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be the guest of honour on the opening night, while President Tony Tan Keng Yam will grace the occasion on Chinese New Year's Eve, the second night.

In another first, the night of Jan 28 will be themed 'Youth Night', and students from local schools and the National University of Singapore's Centre for the Arts will put on performances.

Mr Alex Yam, vice-chairman of the organising committee, said the aim of the night is to let the youth discover their cultural heritage through the arts.

Mr Liang, a Member of Parliament for Holland- Bukit Timah GRC, hopes to attract more than 100,000 visitors every day.

This year's River Hongbao, which was also held at Marina Bay, pulled in more than one million visitors over a 15-day period. The prolonged carnival was due to River Hongbao celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Next year will see it reverting to its usual nine-day format.

The organisers are Singapore Press Holdings, the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, the People's Association, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Singapore Tourism Board.

Senior sales engineer Wong Chee Meng, 42, is looking forward to taking his wife and two children to the carnival next year.

'It's a yearly family tradition for us. Instead of going to the movies, this is more meaningful as I can enjoy the sights and teach my children about traditional Chinese customs,' he said.



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