It had been almost a decade since we had a National Parade back in the Kallang vicinity, this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) marks the first parade held in the spanking new National Stadium (Singapore sports hub) since the old national stadium closed in 2007. The Kallang stadium and the Padang (esplanade drive) had been the primary NDP venues since its inception from independence. The old Kallang stadium itself hosted NDP for 18 times on record since 1976 and holds many fond memories for all Singaporeans alike.
With the return of national stadium brings the comeback of the Kallang wave on the pre-show segments. No national day parade is complete without the marching contingent staple, comprising of members of the civil and armed forces. This was followed by the arrival of Prime Minister Lee, and the President Dr Tony Tan. Complementing the raising of the Singapore flag during the national anthem, large Singapore flags were being pulled up by audience right in the seating galleries.
This NDP also saw record audience numbers (and NDP tickets) for a single venue, with the increased sports hub seating capacity a large welcome to many. For the first time in a National day parade, we get aerial performances of suspended stage props and aerial acrobatics courtesy of guy wires and trolleys cranes hung off the stadium roof. This allows for various large props to float about the stadium, as well as enabling cirque du soleil styled human aerial aerobatics. The costumes in the NDP were impressive too, with full LED body suits to roller dressed used by the ladies in the closing song segments, complementing the lasers, spotlights and video projection used in the show segments.
There were trade-off for having this year’s NDP in the sports hub- the inability to see outside the stadium with the roof on means we had to do away with the air force aerial fly-past and an extended outdoor fireworks display. To make up for it, there were plenty of multimedia elements. The highlight of any national parade will of course be the night time light up. In place of fancy torch lights this year are multi-colour LED wristbands (similarly as last seen in the SEA games openings). These wristbands are RF controlled from within the stadium itself enabling animations and LED colour changes to happen on demand or to suit a performance setting, allowing audiences to participate in the night light show.
There were strong emphasis on inclusiveness for our disabled and special needs community, particularly a segment dedicated to them where audiences get to learn to sing NDP songs using sign language. There were also plenty of performer pyrotechnics and indoor fireworks to wow the audiences at the end of almost every show segment. The show coordinators did a very good job in masking the excessive indoor smoke generated by the fireworks with dark environments, allowing the lights and laser beams to be enhanced by the lingering smoke. Well thought!
And just when you thought Singapore’s 51st birthday with NDP 2016 will be a bummer following last year’s extravagant SG50 celebrations, this year’s show is spectacular in its own right, greatly enhanced with a new large and comfortable venue (the stadium was very well ventilated). Next year’s NDP will have large shoes to fill!
View more photos of NDP 2016 here.