National Day Parade

National Day Parade

The Singapore National Day Parade (Abbreviation: NDP, simplified Chinese: 国庆庆典; traditional Chinese: 國慶慶典; pinyin: guóqìng qìngdiǎn, Malay: Perbarisan Hari Kebangsaan, Tamil: தேசிய தின அணிவகுப்பு) is a national ceremony in Singapore that, as its name implies, includes a parade on Singapore's National Day on August 9, in commemoration of Singapore's independence that is usually held at the Padang (1966 - 1974), the National Stadium, various decentalized venues all over Singapore or The Float@Marina Bay. The upcoming parade, National Day Parade, 2011, will be held at The Float@Marina Bay.



A scene from the National Day Parade, 1968, with a contingent from the People's Association in front.

Singapore celebrated its first National Day in 1966, one year after Singapore's independence from Malaysia on 9 August 1965.

The first National Day Parade started in the morning at 9:00 A.M. People came as early as 7:00 A.M. in order to get good vantage points. Singapore's first President, Mr Yusof bin Ishak and Singapore's first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, were seated with members of the government at the grandstand on the steps of City Hall. When the parade began, 6 military contingents (including the Singapore Infantry Regiment, SPDF and the Republic of Singapore Police), a mobile column from the SIR, and various schools and civil contingents marched past City Hall and then into the city streets. Three military bands accompanied the parade inspection and later the march past with military music. The Singapore Fire Brigade also took part in this first parade with its firetrucks included in the mobile column.

By next year, the contingents increased to 76, including those of the then established Singapore Armed Forces, the RSP and more cultural groups. The reason is partly due to the introduction of the National Service program in the military and police forces, and later extended to the Fire Brigade, later called the Singapore Fire Services in the 1970s.

On the August 9, 1970 NDP edition, the Flypast of the State Flag and the Republic of Singapore Air Force Flypast debuted. The 1971 NDP was the first to include mobile parade floats.

The 1973 parade was held from the afternoon to early evening. The next year, colour broadcasts of the parade on television began.

The 1975 parades, held to celebrate Singapore's 10th year, were for the first time decentralized into 13 parade venues for more public participation. Almost all of them lasted for an hour and all of them even had route marches on the streets.

By the time the NDP was held at the National Stadium (for the first time) in 1976, the NDP Guard of Honour, composed of officers and personnel of the SAF and the Singapore Police Force made its first appearance, followed after the parade proper by the very first evening presentations by various groups, a prelude to future evening NDPs in 1980 and from 1985 onward.

1981's NDP was the very first parade appearance of the then SPF Civil Defense Command, presently the Singapore Civil Defense Force, later combined with the SFS in 1989. (The SCDF of today showed itself for the first time in the 1982 NDP held in the Padang.) They were held in two decentralised venues, Jurong and Queenstown Sports Stadiums for further increase public attendance and participation in the celebrations.

1983 would be the final year that the NDP was held in multiple venues.

The 1984 NDP edition celebrated Singapore's Silver Jubilee of self-governance and included a bigger Mobile Column while NDP 1985 celebrated the nation's 20th year with more participants in the parade segment.

The government set up the e-balloting ticketing system in 2003 in order to tackle the problem of overcrowding. Such ticketing system enables citizens to stand a chance at winning the tickets by registering their e-mail addresses or mobile numbers at the NDP website or phonelines.

Venues and themes

The venue of the parade is usually at the historical grounds of the Padang, where the declaration of Singapore's independence was held. Since the first parade in 1966, all the way to 1975, the venue was located in this central area to bring the parade closer to the people. In 1976, the parade was held for the first time at the newly completed National Stadium, where the much larger capacity allowed for more to view the parade live.

Although offering about 60,000 seats in the National Stadium, the demand for tickets remained high. Hence there were several attempts to decentralise the venue to bring the celebration closer to more Singaporeans. From 1975 to 1983, celebrations were alternated between a decentralised event and one centered at the Padang or stadium. From 1984, the parade was held twice at the stadium before being brought back to the Padang. This three year cycle was repeated up to 1994.

From 1995, it was decided that the Padang would be used as the venue every five years. The Padang, although historically important, posed a greater logistical challenge and also offered fewer seats for spectators. The event and rehearsals also required the closing of surrounding roads. There was a need to construct temporary spectator stands around the field. The site remained, however, the only feasible venue for the mobile column, as the heavy vehicles could not be driven onto the stadium track. The Padang was used as the main performance venue for the 2005 parade, with fringe activities decentralised to Marina South, Jurong East, Yishun and Tampines.

Arrangements needed review by the early 2000s when plans were made to rebuild the National Stadium[citation needed]. Several alternate locations were mooted, including the utilisation of the Marina Padang, which is physically bigger and less likely to disrupt daily functions in the city.

Parade being held at the Marina Bay Floating Stadium in 2007

On 16 October 2005, it was announced that that 2006 NDP would be held at the old stadium for the last time before moving to The Float at Marina Bay [1]. The 130 metre by 100 metre platform would be used for the next five years until the new stadium is completed. Although offering a seating capacity of only 27,000, which is less than National Stadium, there is a vast area for 150,000 extra spectators along the Marina Bay waterfront.

Since the 2000s, every year's parade would revolve around a theme which would guide the planning of the parade and show.

Member of the SAF parachute team, NDP 2005
Year Venue Theme Slogan/Tagline Organiser
1966 - 1974 Padang  
1975 Decentralised sites  
1976 National Stadium  
1977 Decentralised sites  
1978 Padang  
1979 Decentralised sites  
1980 National Stadium Courtesy - Our Way of Life
1981 Decentralised sites Energy is Precious - Save It
1982 Padang  
1983 Decentralised sites  
1984 Padang 25 Years of Nation Building, 1959–1984 Reach Out Singapore
1985 National Stadium  
1986 National Stadium   Together...Excellence for Singapore
1987 Padang  
1988 National Stadium   Excellence Together, Singapore Forever
1989 National Stadium
1990 Padang One People, One Nation, One Singapore 25 Years of Nationhood and Another 25 Years of Achievements
1991 National Stadium My Singapore
1992 National Stadium   My Singapore, My Home Republic of Singapore Air Force
1993 Padang Nation on Parade
1994 National Stadium  
1995 Padang 30 Years of Nationhood/A Nation in Harmony
1996 National Stadium   Singapore Combat Engineers
1997 National Stadium Our Singapore, Our Future NDP 1997 Musical Extravanganza
1998 National Stadium   Our Singapore, Our Future 7 SIB
1999 National Stadium Our People Together We Make The Difference 6 Div
2000 Padang   3 Div
2001 National Stadium Knowledge and Creativity 9 Div
2002 National Stadium A Caring Nation Together, A New Singapore HQ Armour
2003 National Stadium A Cohesive Society HQ Guards
2004 National Stadium A Progressive Society 6 Div
2005 Padang 40 Years of Nation Building The Future is Ours to Make 3 Div
2006 National Stadium Our Global City, Our Home   Singapore Guards
2007 Marina Bay City of Possibilities   Singapore Combat Engineers
2008 Marina Bay Celebrating the Singapore Spirit   HQ Guards
2009 Marina Bay Come Together - Reaching Out.Reaching Up   3 Div
2010 Padang Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag   HQ Armour
2011 Marina Bay Majulah! The Singapore Spirit   Singapore Combat Engineers
2012   Singapore Guards


Beginning from 1998, a unique logo design was selected to represent NDP on all fronts. Even though there had been logos for some previous years' parades, these were only for years of special commemoration, such as the Silver Jubilee in 1990. For all other years' National Day celebrations, slogans have been used. An example of this is "Our Singapore, Our Future" that was first used in the 1997 celebrations.

With the introduction of an NDP logo for 1998, every NDP logo henceforth would be designed to suit the themes, in particular the foundation theme, of the parade. In addition, a tagline, which was previously known as a slogan, would be added to the logo design. For example, the tagline for NDP 2005 is "The Future is Ours to Make". These taglines are usually taken from previous National Day Rallies for the purpose of rallying the nation together on 9 August to meet the challenges ahead. The tagline "Together We Make The Difference" was introduced in 1999 due to the launch of the Singapore 21 project, and was replaced by "Together, A New Singapore" in 2002 when then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong proposed the "Remaking Singapore" initiative in the National Day Rally 2001.

In the logo of NDP 2007, Blue has taken over the traditional red to symbolise the water around the Marina Bay area.

However, it is important to note that the themes and taglines are largely different; and it is the theme that the parade or Show segment will be based on.

Parade sequence

Although the programme and sequence of the parade do change over the years, several components and the overall flow of the parade have remained intact for the past 4 decades. With the shifting of venues for some editions of the parade, the programme may see slight modifications in order to suit the venue, for instance the Mobile Column, which is only possible both at the Padang site and at Marina Bay.

Stage and backdrop design


The pre-parade segment today may include mass-displays, choir performances, school band displays, sky-diving displays, and other light-hearted performances to entertain the crowd prior to the parade proper, with the added positive effect of encouraging parade-attendees to be seated earlier. Initially introduced on an ad-hoc basis as an informal filler, it has since became an integral part of the parade particularly when live television coverage was extended to this segment in recent years. As audience participation has become a part of the parade, the pre-parade segment also becomes an opportunity for the hosts to lead and rehearse with the audience actions they may have to do when the parade proper begins.

Motivators from TOUCH Community Services were introduced to the pre-parade in 2002 (then called Anchor Talents). TOUCH Community Services has since moved on to mentoring students from the various Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs) and various Polytechnics since 2003 till date, under the Leadership & Mentoring programme. Colorful costumes and dance moves have been designed for the motivators.

Parade and ceremonies

The parade has been a traditional staple of the National Day Parade. Participants of the parade include members of the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force, representatives of the different unions (including members of the National Trades Union Congress) and Ministries as well as students in uniformed groups (such as the National Cadet Corps, National Police Cadet Corps, National Civil Defence Cadet Corps[2], the Singapore Red Cross, the Boys' and Girls' Brigades, the Scouts Association, the Girl Guides, St. John Ambulance Brigade) and representatives of various Singapore business entities.

Participants are split into two main sections: the Guard-of-Honour contingents and the Supporting Contingents. The four Guard-of-Honour contingents are made up of members from the three arms of the Singapore Armed Forces (the Army, represented by the Best Combat Unit; the Navy; and the Air Force) as well as the Singapore Police Force. All members of these contingents are dressed in their respective ceremonial uniforms, known as the No. 1 uniform. Behind the Guard-of-Honour contingents stand the Regimental Colours Party, where the 35 SAF regimental colours are held by a group of officers, known as ensigns, from the Singapore Armed Forces. The 3 State Colours are in between the Navy and Air Force Guard-of-Honour contingents, and are formed by Escorts(Specialists) and Ensigns (Junior Officers).

The parade traditionally starts with the Parade Regimental Sergeant Major (Parade RSM) forming up the parade on either the Padang, the field of the National Stadium or in front of the Marina Bay grandstand. The command of the parade is handed over to the Parade Commander once the parade has been formed up and properly dressed. Typically, both the Parade RSM and the Parade Commander come from the SAF, and usually hold a minimum rank of Master Warrant Officer, and Lieutenant Colonel respectively. Upon sizing up the parade, the Parade Commander will wait for the arrival of the members of Parliament, members of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister, in that order (the salutes were dropped partially in 2008, and the Prime Minister's salute was dropped the next year). Upon the arrival of each group, the parade will present its salute and present arms, except for the Parliament and Cabinet members, upon which they stand at attention and only the PC salutes them.

Lastly once the President has arrived (after the playing of the Presidential Fanfare by the Fanfare Trumpeters of the SAF), the Parade Commander will call for a full (Presidential) salute, during which the National Anthem will be played accompanied by a fly-past of the State Flag. After that, the Parade Commander will request that the President inspects the parade. During this inspection, the President will be accompanied by the Chief of Defence Force, Contingent Commander of the Army GOH and the Parade Commander. A presidential 21-gun salute is also given to the President during this time. It is customary that the President speaks to some members of the Guard-of-honor contingents as he passes by. After the inspection ends, the President will return to the podium before the Guard-of-honor contingents presents a Feu-de-Joie led by the Parade Commander.

At the end of it (with the GOH contingents now at shoulder arms), the Parade Commander will ask the President for permission for the Parade Marchpast to start.


The Parade Commander will command the Parade contingents to prepare for the Marchpast, and will then march out of the Parade Grounds. In the National Day Parade, 2009, there was a City Marchpast where the contingents marched around the Central Business District, with the march ending at the F1 Pit Building. In the National Day Parade, 2010, the City Marchpast will come back again, and this time the Marina Bay area is the venue for this, with the Marina Padang as the final stop on the march past.

Mobile column

The Mobile Column is the parade of vehicles and other hardware from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force. The first Mobile Column was organized in 1969 which displayed the then newly acquired armour vehicles of the SAF, the RSP's police vehicles and the SFB's fire trucks. In 1990, after an absence of 6 years (since 1984), the Mobile Column made a comeback as Singapore celebrated its 25th year of independence. Since then, it has been on show during the more important anniversaries of the nation's birthday, such as the 1995, 2000, and 2005 editions held at the Padang. The 2010 NDP will also feature the mobile column including the SAF's newest vehicles such as the Leopard 2A4 main battle tank and other vehicles.


Since 1971, the Republic of Singapore Air Force Flypast has been a regular NDP favorite. The flypast of various military aircraft on the parade shows the country's military air offensive and defensive capabilities.

Flypast (NDP 2000)
NDP 2004
Fireworks, NDP 2005

Show segment


The spectacular show segment follows the traditional parade and ceremony, and lasts normally for 45 minutes. Following the theme of the parade that year, the Show will feature three main Acts that culminates in a Grand Finale, that will usually feature the theme song of that year's parade, followed by the much anticipated fireworks display. The entire parade will end in a chorus of voices singing familiar National Day Songs, mass pledge taking and the singing of the National Anthem.

It has its origins in early NDPs as various mass display items put up by community groups or schools to add colour to the otherwise military parade. These items revolved around the themes of racial harmony, ruggedness among youths etc., which are represented by ethnic dances and mass gymnastics displays. This section evolved over the years to become more theatrical, from the massive flashcard displays that complemented the parade in the 1980s to multimedia projections in recent Shows.

Float displays also featured prominently in the Show segments of the 1970s and 1980s where floats were designed to promote government campaigns or highlight the works of various public and private companies. This returned in NDP 2005 as a visual representation of Singapore's past 40 years of nation building, with further reappearances at NDP 2009 and at NDP 2010 to symbolize the mixture of peoples that make up Singapore today.

Parades today, held from dusk to night, end in the climax of fireworks displays which have become a signature item of National Days. However, in the early parades that were held in the day (from 1965–72) and later afternoon to evening NDP editions from 1973 to 1980 and 1982–84, mass lion and dragon dance displays are actually the parade finale. Lion and dragon dance troupes from various community centres and clan associations would gather on the field to the resonating sound of drumbeats to put on a fiery display that end the parade on an auspicious note. These troupes later became integral parts of the 1985 and the 1988(evening) to 1989(daytime) NDP editions.

Participating organizations

Though every show would see the participation of an assortment of public and private companies, there are three main anchors taking on each Act. They are the Peoples' Association (which involvement started in 1984, and one of the founding participants), Singapore SOKA Association (which involvement began in 1986, also one of the founding participants) and the Ministry of Education, which would be represented by an individual institution or a cluster of schools. The latter also provides the Combined Schools Band and the Combined School Choirs, another regular part of the NDP itself, and since the 1970s has been part of the national celebrations.

Multimedia show

Various types of high-tech multimedia equipment are used during the actual show segment, and they include:

In 2003, PIGI (Projecteur d’Images Géantes Informatisées) Projection technology was used, the same technology used for the 2000 Summer Olympics Opening/Closing Ceremony.

In 2004, the "Biggest LED Screen" in Singapore, measuring 31m x 7m, consisting of 23 separate panels in width and 7 panels in height was used. This setup is also one of the largest outdoor screens in the world. In this year, for the first time, public could send national day greetings via SMS/MMS that will be shown on this LED screen.

In 2005, "Panoramic Screen and Still Image Projectors" were used. The Panoramic Screen is made up of 26 individual screens each measuring 10m by 6m. Still Image Projectors were used to project the colourful images onto the screen. Also 2 large LED screen, each measuring 8m by 6m, will be used to screen numerous videos and ‘live’ feeds .

In 2006, same as 2003 is using PIGI (architectural video mapping) projection technology, at the centre of the stadium, a giant Light Emitting Diode (LED) screen is able to split into six smaller screens to provide a powerful visual impact.

In 2007, "water curtain" - 30 metres high and 90 metres wide, with visual effects provided by six image projectors.

In 2008, "LED Mash" - consisting of thousands of tiny LED lights which will form a gigantic video screen.

In 2009, PiGi projections and LED mesh screens, combined with special lighting effects will deliver multimedia content.


Post parade parties began in 1997 in a big way when it was televised on TV and featured top celebrity acts. The purposes of the post parade segment are to congratulate and acknowledge the hard work put in by the participants of the parade as well as to provide entertainment to the audience awaiting to leave the Stadium, Padang or Marina Bay.

The post parade will normally last for one hour and will end with the Chief of Defence Force, the Chairman of that year's NDP EXCO and the organizers cutting a cake to celebrate with the participants yet another successful National Day Parade. The party is now normally anchored by the SAF Music and Drama Company.


National Day songs

Under the Sing Singapore Festival, which inaugurated in 1984, numerous community songs have been composed. Nonetheless, only few National Day songs which struck a chord among Singaporeans continue to be sung annually in the parade. They are collectively known as the Sing Singapore Medley which comes after the fireworks display during the Grand Finale.

Other National Day songs continue to be featured during the parade, either in the Pre-Parade segment, Parade and Ceremony segment or used as tunes to accompany mass displays. In particular, for the Parade and Ceremony segment, in between the arrivals of Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minister and the President, four songs each of one official language (Tamil, Malay, Mandarin and English) will be performed. In previous years, the final song in English (before the President's arrival) has always been the NDP theme song while in NDP 2008, all the songs performed in the P&C segment (in between arrivals) were all previous NDP theme songs in recent years.

The 2010 P&C songs were three in number, due to the fact that the arrival of the Parliament deputies happened before the parade, and were unique because all the songs sung were in English.

Theme songs

NDP Theme songs were first introduced in the mid-1980s, starting with "Count On Me Singapore", performed by Clement Chow at the 1986 Parade. Other songs include "We are Singapore" (1987) and "One People, One Nation, One Singapore" (1990).

Theme songs were not prominent in the parades of the 1990s until in 1998, with the widely well-received piece "Home" composed by Dick Lee and sung by local celebrity Kit Chan. Due to its popularity, the song was used once again in 2004 when various renditions, including a rock piece by JJ Lin, were made. This is partly to use the platform of the televised national event to increase awareness to new National Day pieces composed for the Sing Singapore Festival held then.

In 2003, however, a significant split took place when the National Day theme song of that year was not the Sing Singapore theme song. Stefanie Sun's "One United People" was used as the NDP theme song to better suit the theme of "A Cohesive Society" while Sean Wang's "A Place in My Heart" was chosen to lead the Sing Singapore 2003 Festival.

Before 2007, the theme songs come in two languages, the lingua franca in Singapore - English as well as Mandarin. To promote the songs, music videos that showcase local landmarks and lifestyle are made and shown on national television a month before National Day; the songs will also be played on local airwaves. Legal MP3 downloads are also available on the NDP website.

Local songbirds that made it big in regional music scenes, such as Kaira Gong, Kit Chan, Stefanie Sun and Tanya Chua have been invited back home to perform various National Day theme songs. The winner of Singapore Idol 2004, Taufik Batisah, was the obvious choice to lead the nation in singing the NDP 2005's theme song "Reach Out For The Skies", alongside singer-actress Rui En.

For NDP 2007, there were two theme songs instead of the usual one.

There was no Chinese versions of the English songs for NDP 2007, 2010 and 2011.

The list of NDP theme songs are as follows:

Year Song Singers Chinese Version Singers
1984 "Stand Up For Singapore"      
1986 "Count On Me Singapore" Clement Chow    
1987 "We Are Singapore"      
1990 "One People, One Nation, One Singapore"      
1998 "Home" Kit Chan Kit Chan
1999 "Together" Evelyn Tan & Dreamz FM 心连心 Evelyn Tan & Dreamz FM
2000 "Shine on Me" Jai Wahab 星月 Mavis Hee
2001 "Where I Belong" Tanya Chua 属于 Tanya Chua
2002 "We Will Get There" Stefanie Sun
一起走到 Stefanie Sun
2003 "One United People" 全心全意
2004 "Home" Kit Chan and JJ Lin
The MTV versions were choral renditions performed by Young Voices, which comprises the Choirs from the Tanjong Katong Girls' School and Tampines Primary School.
Kit Chan and JJ Lin
2005 "Reach Out For The Skies" Taufik Batisah and Rui En 勇敢向前飞 Rui En
2006 "My Island Home" Kaira Gong 幸福的图形 Kaira Gong
2007 "There's No Place I'd Rather Be" Kit Chan    
"Will You" Janani Sridhar, Asha Edmund, Emma Yong, Lily Ann Rahmat, Jai Wahab, Shabir Mohammed, Sebastian Tan, Gani Karim
2008 "Shine For Singapore" Hady Mirza 晴空万里 Joi Chua
2009 "What Do You See" Electrico 就在这里 Kelvin Tan
2010 "Song For Singapore" Corrinne May    
2011 "In a Heartbeat" Sylvia Ratonel    

NDP funpack

Funpacks are bags containing goodies which are distributed every year. These goodies include food, drinks and discount vouchers from various participating companies and sponsors; items intended for the use during the parade, such as a theme-designed torchlight and the Singapore flag. Funpacks bags are designed by students from local polytechnics.

Most of the years, NDP funpacks were packed by selected members of the armed forces. In 2009, they were packed by prisoners through the Yellow Ribbon Project.

Organisation and sponsorship

Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command providing security coverage at the Padang during the National Day Parade in 2000.

The National Day Parades are organised by the Singapore Armed Forces, with the involvement of a multitude of public and private organisations. Each year's parade will see the formation of an NDP EXCO (Executive Committee) which oversees various aspects of the parade, from the Parade & Ceremony to the Show, from SICUS (Seating, Invitation, Car parking, Ushering and Security) to Website & Publicity. The EXCO is formed by military personnel and is usually headed by the Commander of the organising division. Civilians also sit on the EXCO as representatives of the various public agencies involved.

Similarly, sponsorship comes from various public and private organisations to fund this multi million dollar production. This includes local organisations such as the Singapore Pools, Singapore Telecom, as well as multi national companies such as Volkswagen and Nokia. In recent years, sponsorship is divided into three categories depending on the amount of money pledged - Principal, Major and Co-sponsors/partners.

See Also

External links

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