If there is one thing you should know about Singapore Garden Festival (SGF) 2016, it's that it covers over a HUGE area. In fact, this year's sixth edition - it's held once every two years - will be the largest SGF ever!
Over nine days from from 23 to 31 July 2016, visitors will be able to enter a magical world of exciting garden designs and exquisite floral creations as SGF goes into full bloom at Gardens by the Bay. And as you can tell from the festival map below, I kid you not when I say be prepared to get those legs moving and do a fair amount of walking... because there are just so many things to see and do!
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The previous 2014 edition saw SGF being held at The Meadow and Flower Dome areas but this year, the Festival has expanded beyond The Meadow and onto Bayfront Plaza, in addition to the Orchid Extravaganza at the Flower Dome.
If you are taking public transport, the most convenient way is to alight at Bayfront MRT where the entrance to SGF's Bayfront Plaza area is literally right at its doorstep. And if you are thinking of driving, the nearest parking lots will be the ones at Bayfront Plaza and The Meadow - although I will highly discourage driving there due to the high volume of traffic expected.
In my opinion, the attractions at Bayfront Plaza are more suited to kids compared to the ones at The Meadow. There are plenty of educational booths and displays for them to get them interested as well as plants for them to touch and smell... very very important for kids with itchy fingers (and noses)!
But more on that later, I promise as we first immersed ourselves in the visual fiesta of exquisite garden and floral displays at The Meadow.
Of particular interest to the kids will be the larger-than-life horticulture displays of cartoonish characters, including Benny's Sunflower Farm, Chairs of the Giants and Gary's Musical Flower Field. Plenty of photo opportunities here for sure!
Always and still a hit with the wifey, the Balcony Gardens are also on display here which may just inspire visitors to transform their home balcony into a soothing retreat.
The Meadow is also where the best of show designer gardens congregate and from previous editions, I have always been enthralled by the beauty and magic of the Landscape Gardens showcase.
And since gardens are always meant to be explored, most of the displays at the Landscape Gardens do allow visitors to enter for a more immersive experience. Something which delighted the monkies of course, especially at the Bamboo Maze display where they had fun running through the maze!
And if the heat gets too unbearable, then seek refuge in the air-conditioned tent where a different world of plant displays exist.
The Fantasy Gardens are just what the name implies - gardens that offer that whimsical feeling and fairytale-like atmosphere.
As with the Landscape Gardens, some of the Fantasy Gardens provided visitors the opportunity to step inside as well.
And so, we arrived at the area where we ended up spending most of out time at SGF - Bayfront Plaza. And to the wifey's surprise, the first stop there was World of Terrariums, an air-conditioned tent which houses some of the prettiest and ingenious terrarium designs that we have ever seen.
Stepping out of the tent, we came face to face with a wide array of fruits and vegetables at the 'Everyone Can Garden' and 'Espalier & Fruit Tree Garden' displays.
If you are looking for something intimate compared to large floral displays, head to the Floral Windows to the World showcase (also in an air-conditioned tent), where enchanting displays of beautiful flowers, creatively and delicately designed by celebrated local and international floral designers await.
Oh, be sure to check out the Celebrations! Floral Table Series too, and be mesmerised by the magical floral creations and learn how you can bring you table floral arrangements to life.
Frankly, there are just too many exhibits and displays that one can really view in one visit.
I'm sure we have missed out on a few gems during our visit too but along the way, we managed to spot a few truly exceptional ones, like these 'sushi'.
No, they are not edible. Look closely and you will see that they are actually made from plants. Just like this bowl of 'udon'. Amazing!
As I have mentioned earlier, there were a few kid-friendly displays in the Bayfront Plaza area that stood out and these are the ones I strongly recommend all parents to make these compulsory stops if you are heading down to the Garden Festival with your kids.
The Learning Garden showcases plants that we have been using them for various food purposes. So everyday food like rojak, popiah, curry, ice cream and even noodles are featured in the Learning Garden, complete with a handy free worksheet that kids will be able to fill in as they go booth-hopping.
I loved the nice touch of placing the end products near to the actual plants, which allowed the monkies to make the connection.
Kids of today are more used to seeing food products in a supermarket so it is highly educational that they get the opportunity to see the exact plants that those products were derived from.
FOUR new gardens - Garden of Sight, Garden of Sound, Garden of Touch and Garden of Smell - are added to SGF this year which I feel are an excellent touch.
Although to be honest, the Garden of Sight (above photo) consists nothing more than colourful flowers while the Garden of Sound has wind chimes attached to various portions of the plant displays. Nothing too interactive there for the kids.
So if you have limited time, I recommend heading straight to the Garden of Touch and Garden of Smell, both of which are located beside each other.
As their names imply, this is where kids can go all touchy-feely with their hands and sniff around to their noses' content!
There are PLENTY of leaves, ranging from smooth, rough, spiky to even furry, to keep the little hands busy. On top of that, they will be able to rub their tiny fingers on the leaves and then perform a smell test.
Well, there are the usual fragrant and minty-smelling leaves of course but for that added special experience, go hunt for this Fishwort plant.
Yes, the leaves are smelly alright... in fact, they smell like rotten fish! But smelly odour aside, they are effective in helping to strengthen the body’s immune system.
Okay, so rotten fish doesn't sound all that appetizing I know. But in case you are famished after all the walking, head to Dining in the Garden City located beside the Bayfront Plaza for some chow time!
Visitors will be able to enjoy favourite heritage dishes with a modern twist such as fried hokkien mee, popiah, fishball noodles and pork rib soup. Look out for special offerings too like Salted Egg Crispy Fish Skin and N2O Nitrogen D24 Durian ice cream. The stalls operate on a card basis so visitors will have to first purchase a stored value card from the main cashier - minimum value is $20 with subsequent top-ups starting from $2. Do note there are no refunds for unused value in the card.
And if you are there in the evenings, there are also FREE SGF Rocks! nightly performances at the Alfresco Stage in the Marketplace. Click here for the list of performances.
BUT wait, there's MORE! The Singapore Garden Festival ticket also allows complimentary entry to the Flower Dome where Orchid Extravaganza is also taking place.
Regarded as the world’s most diverse botanical family, orchids grow on almost every continent and vary widely in size and form. Orchid Extravaganza at the Flower Dome features over 100 orchid species and hybrids. From the intriguing monkey-like Dracula to the bright, flamboyant blooms of the Cattleya, there is an orchid for every taste.
Or maybe a durian for every taste?
The entire Flower Field has been transformed into a secret village where little elves reside in their cute homes made of fruits.
I think kids will have a good time trying to spot all of the elves 'hidden' in the Flower Field!
Be sure to step into the middle of the field too... into a secret garden of hanging orchids.
Do not forget to look up!
This year’s Festival promises to be more spectacular than ever before so whether you are a serious gardener, hobbyist or just looking for a wonderful day out with the family, there is something for everyone at the Singapore Garden Festival 2016. But hurry, the festival draws to a close this weekend on 31 July 2016!
Singapore Garden Festival 2016
23 - 31 July 2016; 10am to 10pm daily
Gardens by the Bay
Local Residents: Weekday - Adult $12| Child (3-12) & Senior Citizens (>60) $6
Weekend - Adult $16 | Child (3-12) & Senior Citizens (>60) $9
Standard Rate: All Days - Adult & Senior Citizens (>60) $23 | Child (3-12) $16
*All tickets include complimentary entry to Flower Dome
**All Gardens by the Bay Conservatory tickets dated between 16-24 August will be allowed entry
Orchid Extravaganza Floral Display
Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay
Dates: 22 July - 28 Aug 2016
Time: 9am - 10pm (During Singapore Garden Festival from 23 to 31 July) | 9am - 9pm on other dates
*Admission charges to the Cooled Conservatories apply