Top 10 NDP Moments

Top 10 NDP Moments

This Saturday, we celebrate our nation's 49th birthday. By now, you may have heard what would happen during the event from those who have gone to the National Day Parade (NDP) preview at The Float@Marina Bay and perhaps just catching it at home sounds good enough. Nothing beats the comforts of your own sofa, right?

Well, if you want the true experience of the grand parade, being at the venue itself is much better as you get to soak in the cheerful atmosphere. It's a wonderful spectacle of colourful performances, fun sing-a-longs with lots of laughter and entertainment and of course the honour of being in the presence of our President, Prime Minister and other distinguished guests.

National Day is a proud day for our nation and every year, we are reminded of Singapore's hard journey towards independence and the years that have followed up until now. But how was it like when it was first celebrated? Surely it may have been more emotional back then. So check out our top 10 moments in NDP history to see how it all began and the impact it has on today.

Photo sourced from

1. First National Day Parade celebration in 1966

Singapore became independent in 1965 after a separation from Malaysia. However it's only in the following year that we celebrated our first NDP. The event was held at the Padang on 9 August but festivities lasted for a week. The parade also went through from City Hall to the streets of the heartlands. In a celebratory effort, there were exciting performances that showcased our multicultural society. Anyone who wished to watch the parade didn't need to get tickets beforehand. Instead, they would only need to try and grab seats early in the morning.

As compared to now, the event began at 9am with the arrival of our first President, Yusof Bin Ishak, and used to be more solemn with activities like an official cocktail party at the Istana Negara and a second fireworks display in the evening at Fort Canning. 

2. Rainy parade in 1968

That year saw an unfavourable weather condition before the parade. Yet the rain didn't stop everyone involved from carrying out all that had been planned for the event. Even those who came to watch still stayed on from the start till the end. The weather finally cleared up some time during the parade.

3. A grander celebration in 1969

Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore in 1819 and 150 years later, we celebrated the anniversary by inviting distinguished guests like Princess Alexandra of the United Kingdom. 

4. The introduction of the Singapore Air Force fly-past

In 1970, the celebration had then moved into a new decade. The parade went as per usual but that year we were treated to a great fly-past spectacle of helicopters and jet fighters of the Singapore Air Force. 

5. Decentralised Parade concept

From the beginning, participating groups would march past the steps of City Hall where the President sat. Still, its main location was the Padang. However, in 1975, they adopted the concept of Decentralised Parade where the annual event was held in a number of selected places. In 1976, it was hosted at the National Stadium for the first time. For a while after that, the NDP was held at either the Padang or the stadium. Then since 2007, the Float@Marina Bay became the event's home.Till now, there are plenty of organisations that offer viewing parties for NDP in alternative locations. In 2015, the NDP may return to the new National Stadium.

6. Advancement in technology used

In 1994, the parade could be streamed via webcast for the first time. With each new year, the event also became more creative with the use of the multimedia technology for big screens and projectors.

7. Fireworks display

Since the first NDP, a fireworks display would be held to enliven the celebrations around Singapore on this special day. This grand finale appealed to both children and adults alike. It's one of the most anticipated moments during the NDP Parade. If you were not able get tickets to the event, you can still watch the fireworks at various alternative venues.

Photo sourced from

8. Official NDP Songs and amazing covers

In 1984, the iconic "Songs for Singapore" were first commissioned specially for the annual celebration. This included Stand Up for Singapore, Count On Me, Singapore, We Are Singapore and One People, One Nation, One Singapore. However, these songs weren't as popular during the parade in the 90s.

Later in 1998, local musician Dick Lee composed Home for singer Kit Chan which became a huge hit. Even today, it remains as one of the top favourites to sing every National Day. The concept of pop NDP themed songs were very well received and thus more popular songs were born including tracks Where I Belong by Tanya Chua, We Will Get There by Stefanie Sun and Reach Out for the Skies by the first Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah and singer-actress Rui En.

Who says Singapore lacks homegrown talent? Inspired by the official NDP theme songs, many have posted their own versions online. From a simple acoustic cover from the comforts of their own bedroom to elaborate music videos in Orchard Road, these covers have also grown in popularity. 

Then there are those who took one step further in showing their love for Singapore. These local musicians wrote their own National Day songs which touched the hearts of many Singaporeans and received generally positive response from the public. These songs have since been recognized as the unofficial NDP theme songs.

9. The State flag fly-past and the National Anthem

As colourful and vibrant as it may be, the most significant part is when the helicopters carrying the State flag would fly over the Parade. Those who are present would be encouraged to rise together in respect of the flag and sing the National Anthem as well as say the National Pledge. This moment is a throwback to the solemness of the event during the earlier years of independence, reminding us all of why we celebrate National Day every year. 

10. Red Lions

Free falling, anyone? The Singapore Armed Forces Parachute Team first made their formal appearance in the parade in 1989. To the delight of the audience, they put on an awe-inspiring show of free fall from the sky. Since 1996, they're fondly known as the Red Lions. 

How Singaporean are you? Check out our previous article to find out if you do any of these 49 things Singaporeans just love to do!

Eating is Singapore's favourite past time. Celebrate her 49th birthday with a delicious treat for you and your family here and here! Don't forget to score some great food and drinks vouchers!

Take advantage of our nation's birthday weekend with a staycation here!

Looking for more relaxing activities this National Day? Check out our club activities suitable for the whole family including the One Fit Nation: 49er Challenge! Are you game?

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