Entry to the festival in front of Botanic Gardens MRT (PHOTO: Claire)

After 4 years, Singapore’s very own garden festival is back, with flower and horticultural shows free for the public to enjoy from 30 August to 9 July. Originally supposed to be held in 2020, plans for the biennial festival were nipped in the bud when the pandemic struck. 

This year, as Singapore pivots to an endemic COVID strategy, the festival is being held at two locations: Orchard Road and Botanic Gardens. With the NUS Bukit Timah campus a stone’s throw away to the Botanic Gardens, I went down to experience the many activities and rank them for the busy law student. 

Map showing the shuttle bus stops and the locations of the activities at Botanics. (PHOTO: NParks)

Do note that if you want to access areas A, B and C without walking more than 1 kilometre, there is a free shuttle bus at Botanic Gardens Exit B. However, I recommend taking the time to walk around and really enjoy the festival.

  1. Take Insta-worthy pictures at the Eco-Garden 

Photography spot at the Eco-Garden. (PHOTO: Claire)

The Eco-Garden is only a 5-minute walk from BTC and if you come from the MRT, it’s on the way! With a flower field, decorative statues of animals, and gigantic letters for you to lean against, this is just the place for the average person with minimal interest in botany. Stop by here to smell the roses and snap a few aesthetic photos. 

  1. Check out the Landscape Design Competition

The winning entry titled ‘The Sage Tree of Atlantis’. (PHOTO: Claire)

If you have the time, do look at the entries and winners for the Landscape Design Competition, also located at the Eco-Garden. The theme this year is “Botanical Fantasy”, and teams were given only 4 hours to terraform 10 plots of land into something beautiful. Look out for the display in the picture above – it won the competition and features an adorable creature called Echo. 

  1. Visit the National Orchid Garden 

Entrance to the National Orchid Garden. (PHOTO: Claire)

The National Orchid Garden may be on the other side of the park, but it is honestly the most worthwhile activity there. Additionally, entry to the National Orchid Garden (usually $1 for local students) is free from 30 July to 9 August for all Singapore Residents.

The winners of the Orchid Competition have been put on display; orchids with petals like moonlight woven into silk, orchids burning a scarlet red, orchids carefully dotted with spots as if they are an ermine coat.

Then there is the VIP Orchid Garden that features orchids in honour of famous diplomats and heads-of-state that visited Singapore: Aung San Suu Kyi, Mike Pence, Margaret Thatcher, and Princess Diana. 

Entrance to the Sembcorp Cool House. (PHOTO: Claire)

  1. Relax in the Sembcorp Cool House

The Sembcorp Cool House is a permanent attraction in the National Orchid Garden (so you can visit even after the SGF has ended!) and a welcome respite from Singapore’s sweltering sun as it features dissipating mist, regulated temperatures and its own waterfall. It uses optimal system designs and advanced cooling technology so that it can be sustainable and still simulate a tropical highland environment. 

Flowers found in the Sembcorp Cool House. (PHOTO: Claire)

  1. Hang out with the gnomes at the Viewing Terrace

Gnomes at the Viewing Terrace. (PHOTO: Claire)

The gnomes are located right smack in the middle of the park, right next to Privé. Besides the main attraction which has gnomes going about their day in little mushroom homes, you can also find gnomes in trees nearby! Precariously hanging from vines, waving from windowsills, or snickering with a hand over their mouth, these gnomes steal the spotlight. Be sure to look out for them. 

Other activities to do at SGF (Botanic Gardens)

Though they didn’t quite make it into the list, other activities that are available as part of the SGF include the MarketPlace at Tyersall Coach Park and free concerts at the Shaw Foundation Symphony stage. Additionally, there are free guided tours around the park on certain days. Check out the NParks website for more details.

Overall, I had a blast at the SGF! Despite not having an avid interest in nature, it was a lovely time being around people who did. I would recommend going with your family – the events are family-oriented and elderly-friendly, with ramps and wheelchair-accessible toilets scattered around the park. When 2024 rolls around, you’ll definitely find me somewhere at the SGF, taking pictures of flowers.

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