About 19,500 people celebrate Chinese New Year at Istana despite rain showers

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SINGAPORE - Dark clouds and intermittent rain showers did little to dampen the mood at the Istana on Feb 12 as about 19,500 people visited the President’s official residence to mark the third day of Chinese New Year.

The main gate in Orchard Road opened at 8.30am for the first Istana open house of 2024 and the second for President Tharman Shanmugaratnam since he took office in September 2023.

The 40ha estate was filled with families, couples and tourists enjoying the day out despite the mostly gloomy weather.

Armed with brollies, they toured the Istana’s grounds, watched a variety of performances, and chowed down on meals from food stalls and a food truck that were set up for the occasion.

It was the second time marketing director Abduh Ismail, 33, was at the Istana with his two girls, aged six and two. They were also at the Deepavali open house in November 2023, which drew nearly 15,000 visitors, but Feb 12 was the first time for his wife, Ms Sharifah Alhabshi, also 33.

“It was already quite cloudy when we left home, but we weren’t worried about that. We prefer it to be cloudy rather than it being too hot,” said Mr Abduh, who arrived at about 11am.

The family of four were able to take shelter from the rain at a large tent where the performances were held. Booths were also set up there for activities like Chinese calligraphy and for merchandise to be sold by social service agencies Touch Community Services and Minds.

Ms Joy Liu, who was on a seven-day holiday to Singapore with her father, husband and two young children, also arrived at the Istana at about 11am and stayed for four hours.

Visiting from Yunnan province in China, Ms Liu read about the open house before arriving here and decided to go to the Istana since they happened to be in town.

Though it rained twice while they were there, the 40-year-old st...

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