Southeast Asia’s most distinctly modern city-state of Singapore commemorates the anniversary of its independence from Malaysia during the second week of August (National Day is August 9). The festivities include a massive parade, a rally featuring an address to the nation from the Prime Minister, and a profusion of firework extravaganzas.
Beginning in 1966 (Singapore gained autonomy in 1965) the nation has ‘whooped it up’ collectively to such an extent that our own comparatively sedate Independence Day traditions in the USA seem almost somber by comparison. Think Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, and the State of the Union Address all rolled into one.
Until 2007, the National Day Parade was held intermittently at the National Stadium, but for the last few years it has been held at the Marina Bay complex while construction continues on a new event facility. The warm up (if you can call it that) to the main event includes mass-displays, sky diving shows, choral concerts, and light fare. When the parade itself gets going, the following form into separate groups for a formal “march,” passing the members of Parliament, members of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister of Singapore: students and ministry officials representing the National Cadet Corps, National Police Cadet Corps, National Civil Defense Cadet Corps, the Singapore Red Cross, the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades, the Scouts Association, the Girl Guides, and the St. John Ambulance Brigade. These are preceded by the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force, and the Singapore Civil Defense Force. These groups are led by a Parade Commander, who must request permission to pass before the parade can proceed into the grounds.
Afterward the real fun begins. A spectacular show unfolds that includes flyovers by the Air Force, multimedia elements, music, dance troupes, and every other type of mass entertainment you can think of.
Keep in mind that the parade itself is just the beginning. The festivities that come next further amplify the sense of national solidarity and celebration and spill well over into the rest of the week.