With so many ethnic groups and religions represented in Singapore, you'll be unlucky if your trip doesn't coincide with some sort of festival , either secular or religious. Most of the festivals have no fixed dates , but change annually according to the lunar calendar; check with the tourist office. Bear in mind that the major festival periods may play havoc with even the best-planned travel itineraries. Over the month of Ramadan (between Jan & April) in particular, transport networks and hotel capacity are stretched to their limits, as countless Muslims return to their family homes; during Ramadan, Muslims fast during the daytime. Many hotels and restaurants shut for up to a week over Chinese New Year (early springtime). Some festivals are also public holidays (when everything closes)
Not all religious festivals are celebrated in public, but some are marked with truly spectacular parades and street performances. In springtime, during Chinese New Year , Chinese operas and lion and dragon dances are performed in the streets, and colourful parades process along Orchard Road. And at Thaipusam , entranced Hindu penitents pierce their own flesh with elaborate steel arches, and process from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Chettiar Hindu Temple. Similar feats are executed by mediums on the occasion of the Birthday of the Monkey God (summer), best witnessed at the Monkey God Temple on Seng Poh Road. Every year, the whole island goes into an eating frenzy for the month-long Singapore Food Festival (July), with almost every food outlet staging events, tastings and special menus. The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts (summer) is a good time to catch a free performance of a Chinese opera, or wayang, in which characters act out classic Chinese legends, accompanied by cymbals, gongs and singing; a few weeks later, the Moon Cake Festival , or Mid-Autumn Festival, is celebrated with children's lantern parades after dark in the Chinese Gardens. For the nine nights of Navarathiri (autumn), Chettiar Temple stages classical Hindu dance and music, and at the Sri Mariamman Temple, the Hindu firewalking ceremony of Thimithi (autumn) is marked by devotees running across a pit of hot coals. Deepavali (Oct/Nov), the Hindu festival celebrating the victory of Light over Dark, is marked by the lighting of oil lamps outside homes.