The Great Zodiac Light-Up: 12 Years Of Chinatown CNY Lanterns

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The Great Zodiac Light-Up: 12 Years Of Chinatown CNY Lanterns

STORY: Janelle Yong
07 January 2023
PHOTOS (FROM LEFT): SIM DING EN, ATHENA TAN AND HONG CHEE YAN
PHOTOS (FROM LEFT): SIM DING EN, ATHENA TAN AND HONG CHEE YAN

Chinese New Year already? Wasn't it just Christmas? Well, with the next festive period just around the corner, it's time for the annual CNY light-up at Chinatown.

This year's bunny lanterns might have garnered some... interesting... reactions, but hey, at least they're funny. In the meantime, here's a look back at the rest of the zodiac animal light-ups we've seen over the years.

2012 Chinese New Year at Chinatown
Chinatown Dragon

2012 – Year of the Dragon 🐲

This 108m-"loong" dragon lantern ran along the centre divider of Eu Tong Sen Street. 2012 was also the first year that students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) were involved in designing the CNY lantern light-up.

Chinatown Snake Year

2013 – Year of the Snake 🐍

Comprised of 5,000 red cube-shaped lanterns, this ssspectacular snake lantern spanned a whopping 108m, just like the previous year's lantern display.

Galloping Horse Lanterns #4

2014 – Year of the Horse 🐎

The centrepiece of this year's light-up was a 10m-tall, 400kg horse lantern. The light-up also featured an additional 176 smaller horse lanterns made of silk and wire.

Chinese New Year Decorations

2015 – Year of the Goat 🐐

This 10m-high lantern featured three goats standing atop a mountain, accompanied by 338 smaller goat-shaped lanterns and 1,500 lanterns resembling gold coins.

Fun fact: instead of hanging the small goat lanterns in a straight line, the design team formed a zig-zag pattern to create the illusion of an orange-yellow canopy covering the street.

Welcoming Year of Monkey

2016 – Year of the Monkey πŸ’

Unlike past years, the main lantern in 2016 wasn't a giant monkey. Instead, this 12m-tall lantern was in the shape of a blossoming peach tree with monkeys playing on it, paying homage to the famous Chinese folktale "Journey to the West" and the monkey character Sun Wukong.

Chinese New Year in Chinatown

2017 – Year of the Rooster πŸ“

This crowing rooster was accompanied by a flock of 5,500 handcrafted lanterns which illustrated the life cycle of the chicken from chick to rooster.

Year of the Dog

2018 – Year of the Dog πŸ•

A family of good bois (puppies included) sitting atop a giant gold ingot? SO CUTE!

s 20191201_CNY Pig_Panorama1

2019 – Year of the Pig πŸ–

These pig lanterns had a mixed reception, with some netizens saying they looked "dirty" and "bleary-eyed". Ehh, they actually look rather adorably ugly-cute to us, especially when lit up. Maybe a bit sleepy, but who isn't these days?

Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations Street Light-up

2020 – Year of the Rat πŸ€

Although rats took the centre stage during the 2020 light-up (obviously), the other 11 zodiac animals also joined the festivities in the form of handcrafted lanterns.

Year of the Ox [explore]

2021 – Year of the Ox πŸ‚

Despite the more scaled-down festivities (thanks Covid), the 2021 light-up was no less impressive than previous years, featuring a whopping 88 ox lanterns grazing along the roadside of Chinatown, as well as a towering 10m-tall ox standing atop a huge pile of gold coins and ingots. Can you say ox-picious?

Zodiac of the year 2022


2022 – Year of the Tiger 🐯

Last year's CNY light-up saw 3 different sections of lantern displays representing various stages of the tiger's life, from cub to adulthood, with a magnificent centrepiece in the form of a family of 5 tigers symbolising reunion, harmony and prosperity.

2023 – Year of the Rabbit 🐰

This year's centrepiece (a family of rabbits and their many children) is actually quite cute, although some people think the eyes look unrealistic.

Of course, most people weren't paying attention to the centrepiece at all but rather one of the smaller displays, with an unfortunately posed rabbit that looked as though it was, ahem, relieving itself. To give the poor rabbit a bit of privacy, gold coins and ingots have since been added to cover up its rear.

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