Cover The CH-47 Chinook helicopter, escorted by two AH-64D Apache helicopters make a flypast of the State Flag during the National Day Parade. (Photo: Getty Images)

The NDP will be taking place on August 21 and will be a half-physical and half-virtual show

This story was published on July 1, 2021, and updated on August 19, 2021.


National Day may be over but our parade, which was postponed in light of the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place on August 9 is most certainly not. In fact, our big parade will be taking place this weekend on August 21 and we finally have news about how this year’s parade will be held.

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This year, the parade will be returning to the Marina Bay floating platform as a centralised and in-person event. The show will be integrating virtual performance and will take place in four different acts. 

Additionally, the National Day Rally will be pushed and will be taking place on August 29, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Despite the postponement and changes, the upcoming NDP will still be going on with all the energy and spirit that it usually has. Read on for an idea of how our festivities will look this year.  

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The show will have virtual segments

Last year, as a result of the pandemic, our NDP was held in a decentralised format. There were many heartland activities such as fireworks around the island and mobile columns that rolled through neighbourhoods.

This time, the show will incorporate physical elements as well as animated short films and performances that have been pre-recorded in places such as Jewel Changi Airport, the National University of Singapore, Marina Barrage and Yio Chu Kang Stadium. This was done to reduce physical contact among performers.  

The show, which will be hosted by Joakim Gomez, Eswari Gunasagar, Fauzie Laily, and Patricia Mok, will highlight stories of Singaporeans from the past and present and will aim to showcase the Singapore spirit and to remind people of how they have remained resilient despite the challenges that have come. 

When asked why the parade was being held with live performers and spectators despite the fact that we are still facing Covid-19 cases and clusters, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said at a SAF day speech on June 28 that part of the reason “is learning to live with the disease, an endemic disease”.

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Performers have been tested regularly

On Saturday, about 600 performers will take to the stage in the show segment of the NDP. 

However, all performers, who have all been vaccinated, still had to undergo antigen rapid testing before every rehearsal.

They also had to hold their rehearsals in smaller groups of up to 50 people and be subdivided into smaller groups wherever possible, according to the NDP 2021 Show Committee.

Many performers also had to get creative and take their rehearsals online during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).

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All spectators have to be fully vaccinated and there will be no balloting

Typically, our NDP celebrations see a crowd of about 25,000 spectators. This will of course be reduced significantly though the exact numbers have yet to be announced.

Unlike previous years, tickets for this year’s parade will also not be open for public balloting like they usually are. Rather, they will be given to those who have been key in contributing to the fight against Covid-19 to recognise their efforts.

These are Singaporean Covid-19 front liners, essential workers and volunteers from the community. Teachers, hawkers, transport workers and cleaners will also make up the group of spectators. 

Spectators are expected to be fully vaccinated if they are above the age of 12 and eligible for our national vaccination programme. They will also have to go for pre-event testing before they will be allowed to take part. 

For the rest of the country, the parade will be live-streamed as usual.

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There will be three new NDP songs

Above NDP 2021 Theme Song - The Road Ahead [Official Music Video]

This year’s official NDP song will be titled The Road Ahead and it was written and composed by Singaporean singer Linying and music producer Evan Low. 

The song was performed by Linying, Sezairi Sezali, Shye-Anne Brown and Shabir with the music video being directed by Huang Junxiang and Jerrold Chong.

In addition to this, Breathing City by former Singapore Idol Sezairi Sezali and Spirits Anew by Aisyah Aziz will be featured during the parade. 

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It will be a scaled down affair

Typically, preparations for the yearly NDP begin in April or May. This means that there has been significantly less time to prepare for this year’s parade which will see award-winning filmmaker Boo Junfeng return as the creative director. 

“If you ask the organising chairman, he’ll say it’s never enough. But he’ll have to live with what he has. We hope that Singaporeans will understand if the show isn’t as well prepared as in previous years, we’ve had less time to prepare,” said Dr Ng on June 28.

He continued by saying, “NDP is as much about each Singaporean using the occasion to affirm together what we value about Singapore. We hope that the NDP will uplift, we hope that the NDP will encourage. We hope that the NDP will give us a wider perspective, because it’s been a tough year, a year and a half, and I think with Singaporeans’ help, we can achieve it.”

That said, we do already know the theme of the parade which will be “Together, Our Singapore Spirit”. The theme builds on last year’s one which was “Together, A Stronger Singapore” and aims at celebrating the spirit of Singapore which has continued to keep us strong.

The committee also released the logo for this year’s celebrations alongside the theme. The circular logo is meant to depict a lion’s head embedded with the number 56 to mark the country’s 56th year of independence and to represent our strength of will and unity.

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There will be more closures around the parade area

During the rehearsals, pictures began circulating of the public gathering in large crowds and that caused quite a stir because of the lack of social distancing. 

As a result, areas around The Float @ Marina Bay will be closed to the public. These include the Helix Bridge, Marina Barrage and Esplanade Park.

There will be no public access between 11 am to 11.59 pm to prevent crowds from forming. Instead, Singaporeans are encouraged to watch the four-part show on television as it has been designed for the medium. 

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There will be useful gifts given out

This year, there will be some interesting gifts that we will be receiving in honour of our nation’s birthday. In fact, the Temasek Foundation has announced that they will be giving out disposable masks and mouth spray after National Day, according to Temasek Holdings chief executive Ho Ching.

This will then be followed by another distribution exercise later on where they will be providing Singapore residents with a povidone-iodine mouth gargle which can also be used as a mouth spray. 

Currently, Temasek Foundation will be distributing 50 medical-grade surgical masks and 25 N95 respirator masks to each household and they can be collected at 131 supermarket outlets around the island from August 26.

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