SINGAPORE: The Istana grounds were opened to the public on Labour Day (May 1), drawing more than 8,600 people by noon.
Visitors started queuing from 7am and the crowd swelled within an hour, even though the gates only opened at 8.30am.
Once inside, members of the public were treated to a host of activities including 12 “Learning City” activity booths where they got to try their hand at making water rockets and virtual reality goggles. The aim is to introduce participants to Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) subjects through art.
The initiative is a collaboration among the Lifelong Learning Council, SkillsFuture Singapore, Science Centre Singapore and the President’s Office.
This year’s edition of the open house on Labour Day also featured a display of snakes by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which drew curious onlookers and excited children with their parents in tow.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife Mary joined the crowd at about 11am. They were greeted by students from Xingnan Primary School at the main porch, then watched a dance performance by Singapore Management University’s Eurhythmix group and mingled with the crowd at the Istana’s ceremonial plaza.
The Istana is open to the public on a number of occasions through the year, including National Day and the second day of Chinese New Year.
Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents can enter the grounds free of charge, while other visitors have to pay an entrance fee of S$2 per person.