For almost a year now, Singapore has been gearing up to celebrate its 50th year of independence. The high point of the year is, of course, the National Day Parade (NDP)! What’s more, it promises to be a bigger and grander spectacle than any preceding National Day Parades. Want to know where you can catch the show and what highlights are there this year? Read on to find out!
Singapore’s national anthem is in Malay, the national language (not to be confused with the official languages, of which Singapore has four – English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil). Any Singaporean, even those who do not speak Malay, will know what these two words mean: Majulah Singapura. Translated into English as “Onward Singapore”, Majulah Singapura is not only the title of the national anthem but also the theme of this year’s NDP. It is an especially poignant theme, as 2015 marks the end of an era. The nation witnessed the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister and a man who was indisputably instrumental in guiding the development of Singapore, in March this year. However, while this year’s NDP will pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the mood is definitely not going to be one of sombre mourning as the country looks towards its future.
Where to Catch the NDP
This year’s Jubilee parade will take place at the Padang, a historical venue that also bore witness to the first NDP held in 1966. However, this year, there will be an additional venue at The Float @ Marina Bay to include as many spectators as possible. The Padang will seat 25,000 people, while The Float @ Marina Bay more than doubles that number with another 26,000 seats. In addition to this unprecedented number, there will be celebrations around Marina Bay at venues such as the Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza, The Promontory, Merlion Park, Marina Barrage and Gardens by the Bay. Not only will the NDP be telecast live at these venues, people will also be able to witness the Presidential 21-Gun Salute, as well as the aerial and naval displays from these places! Of course, there are live telecasts at other venues such as the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is hosting its own Jubilee celebration that weekend with carnival activities, heritage walks and live music performances. If you don’t want to brave the crowds, the NDP will be covered in all four official languages on free-to-air TV channels so you can catch it in the air-conditioned comfort of your accommodation.
Highlights of the Parade
One of the most anticipated parts of the NDP is definitely the aerial display. This year, the aerial display will include more stunning displays than ever before. In the Prologue of the NDP, there will be a tribute segment in remembrance of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The official aerobatics team of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the Black Knights, will perform a "Five Stars" Tribute Aerial Flypast to signify Singapore’s ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality, which Mr Lee espoused.
The traditional State Flag flypast will take place during the singing of the national anthem, which will then be followed by several spectacular formations! During the Salute-to-Nation, 20 F-16 fighter jets will form a "50" formation, and round off with the Black Knights performing an aerial bomb-burst. Of course, the aerial display won’t be complete without a flypast. This year, there will be a combined helicopter formation with S-70B naval helicopters, AS-332 Super Pumas, AH-64D Apaches and Chinooks; C-130 transport aircraft and two Fokker 50 (FK-50) Maritime Patrol aircraft performing the "VIC" formation; KC-135 tanker aircraft and a G550-Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, escorted by four F-5 fighter aircraft; more incredible acrobatics by the Black Knights; a demonstration by a solo F-15SG fighter aircraft; and for the finale three F-15SGs will execute a "Flat Burst" manoeuvre.
Another of the highlights of the parade will be the Mobile Column. Featuring 177 assets from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF), it will also involve about 900 personnel to create a two-kilometre long convoy. While the convoy is driving past the Padang, multimedia videos that showcase stories of the men and women who have operated these platforms in Singapore and on overseas missions will be shown.
For military fans, this is a rare chance to take a gander at Singapore’s military vehicles. There will be two new vehicles, the Armoured Engineer Vehicle and Protected Response Vehicle from the Singapore Army, as well as crowd favourites such as the Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tank, Bionix II Infantry Fighting Vehicle, and Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle. Naval assets will not be left out either, with the appearance of assets such as the 40-tonne Specialised Marine Craft which has never been featured in previous Mobile Columns.
To enable as many members of the public to catch a glimpse of the Mobile Column as possible, the route starts from Nicoll Highway and will wend its way past Suntec City, South Bridge Hotel, the War Memorial and the Padang. A section will then break off and make its way around the Marina Bay area, beginning with The Float @ Marina Bay. It will then drive past the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Convention Centre and the Marina Bay Financial Centre before reaching the Esplanade Bridge for the Pledge Moment at 8:15pm. Included in this section are the Leopard 2SG MBT, Armoured Recovery Vehicle, Bionix II Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Bronco All-Terrain Tracked Carrier, Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle and Light Strike Vehicle Mark II.
What’s a celebration without fireworks? The 2015 NDP will have fireworks on an unprecedented scale, with pyrotechnics at the Padang and roof-tops of seven surrounding commercial buildings. There will also be fireworks from the main barge at the Marina Basin and a second barge located in Marina Bay between Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Flyer! If you want to know where the best spots to catch the specially designed fireworks and set-pieces are, stay tuned for next week’s article!