A first look at NDP 2023
This year’s NDP Show comprises four live Acts featuring 43 artistes and 2,400 performers.
We, along with thousands of fellow Singaporeans, eagerly flocked to the Padang on Saturday (Jul 15) to catch a preview of the highly anticipated National Day Parade (NDP) 2023. The excitement was palpable as we gathered for the exclusive sneak peek into the upcoming festivities.
Hosting the event were some familiar and beloved local personalities. As with past years NDP, the hosts – Joakim Gomez, Hazelle Teo, Eswari Gunasagar and Fauzie Laily – hyped up the crowd with a medley of NDP theme songs and engaging games.
Here are what you can expect from this year’s NDP, the first to be held at Padang since 2019:
1. Red Lions
As anticipation during the parade preview reached its peak, the sky transformed into a stage for eight courageous Red Lions. As they descended from a staggering height of 10,000 ft as part of the Military Free Fall segment, we were reminded of last year’s incident.
With bated breath, we watched as the Red Lions returned from the free fall, each welcomed with resounding cheers of “Ohhhhh Yeah!”.
Seeing all eight members safe and well on the stage, we heaved a sigh of relief.
2. Military Tattoo
To kickstart the parade, a Military Tattoo comprising bands from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF), Bowen Secondary School and Yuhua Secondary School put up a display of precision and creativity.
We looked on in awe as the young band major threw the baton into the air, catching it with ease every time.
Considering they were mostly secondary school students, their flawless performance in front of such a large audience added to the impressiveness.
3. RSAF Enhanced Aerial Display
Celebrating the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)’s 55th anniversary, the enhanced Aerial Display segment showcased the largest number of aircraft seen in the last five NDPs.
It kicked off with the arrival of a CH-47SD Chinook helicopter, escorted by two AH-64D Apache Attack Helicopters, carrying the State Flag past the Padang. Everyone stood at attention as the National Anthem blasted through the speakers.
Following that, the deafening roars of the fighter aircrafts cut through the air. Leading the formation was the RSAF’s largest aircraft, the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, commanding attention with its impressive presence.
This year’s showcase also brought some exciting new manoeuvres. Among them, we witnessed two F-16D+ fighters flying alongside each other before crossing paths as they reached the Padang.
4. Total Defence Parade
The Parade kicked off with a comedic film following a curious boy on his quest to discover the true meaning of Total Defence. It was an entertaining start that set the tone for what was to come.
Then came the six larger-than-life floats, each representing the six pillars of Total Defence – Social, Psychological, Economic, Digital, Civil, and Military. They were designed after relevant items mentioned in the film, including a first aid kit for Civil Defence and an umbrella for Social Defence.
We were particularly excited to see Singa the Lion, who waved enthusiastically at audience members as he paraded around the Padang on the Psychological Defence float.
Following the floats, we witnessed a combined vehicular drive-past featuring 20 assets from the SAF, SPF, and SCDF along St Andrew’s Road. What made it even more thrilling was the debut appearance of SPF’s Tactical Strike Vehicle (TSV) and SCDF’s 6th Generation Light Fire Attack Vehicle (LF6G).
Finally, the highlight of the segment was the grand unfurling of a large Total Defence Flag by approximately 100 participants. It was a symbolic and proud moment, reminding us all of the significance of Total Defence in shaping our nation’s future.
As dusk settled over the Padang, the atmosphere came alive with a magical sea of twinkling lightsticks and phone flashlights. We counted down from 10, eagerly preparing ourselves for the upcoming four sets of performances.
One of the highlights of this year’s NDP was the inclusion of three short films, skillfully woven into each act to share heartwarming stories of Singaporeans’ hopes, dreams and challenges.
Among them, the film Home stood out. It featured four Singaporeans, including the inspiring World War II survivor, Goh Siew Eng. Listening to her heartfelt stories of endurance during the Japanese occupation stirred emotions within the stands. Her tales reminded us of the value of hard work and appreciating what we have.
In a mesmerising display, cyclists adorned with glowing white wings portraying doves entered the Padang, circling the stage as sparks of fireworks rained down and streams of light flashed overhead.
To our delight, indie singer-songwriter lewloh made a dazzling entrance on a boat-shaped float, serenading the audience with a soulful rendition of Home.
As the song ended, 600 Soka Gakkai Singapore Women’s Division members and dancers from Dance Inspiration filled the stage as the mellow tune of Bunga Sayang started to play.
Floral scents and woody undertones wafted through the air as the dancers began their segment. Named the Tembusu scent, it’s the first time that smell is being used in an NDP performance.
Amidst the sweet fragrance, fireworks filled the air, the smell of gunpowder slightly overpowering the flowery aroma, but adding to the overall sensory spectacle of the moment.
The crowd watched in awe as they moved to the song, before welcoming Iman Fandi to the stage with loud cheers of excitement.
Bunga Sayang then transitioned to a familiar tune. Singing the theme song of The Little Nyonya, 如燕 (rú yàn), Olivia Ong entered in glittering white.
As the song ended, fireworks flew into the air, giving a hurrah to the end of the second act, and entry into the third.
The third film, titled Inspiration showed seven Singaporeans and their journey in giving back to society, becoming beacons of light for others to follow.
As the film ended, the atmosphere at the Padang changed with a sudden burst of energy. A high-energy guitar riff kicked off an electrifying performance by Martial House, Music and Drama Company, Temasek Polytechnic and local band Green Drumming.
They delivered a powerful performance of My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark by Fall Out Boy, which we couldn’t resist singing along to.
The electrifying guitar riffs slowly faded away, replaced by the cheerful whistling tune of the 2016’s NDP song, Tomorrow’s Here Today, played by the talented band 53A. The emcees pumped up the crowd, encouraging everyone to raise their drums and play along with the pulsating beat they had learned during the pre-show. It felt like we were all part of something special, creating a rhythmic symphony together.
And then came Katy Perry’s hit song, Firework, which perfectly matched the dazzling fireworks display lighting up the night sky.
The show concluded with the pledge and an orchestral rendition of the National Anthem. As the words resonated across the Padang, people sprang up from their seats, moved by the sense of unity and pride that washed over us.
Experiencing the national anthem during NDP felt different from singing it in school morning assemblies. The orchestral music and sound of choirs harmonising brought a sense of patriotism we do not feel every day.
On the actual day, the Padang is expected to be graced with a live audience of around 27,000. The show will start at about 5.30pm and will run for a little over two hours.
The parade will be streamed on meWatch and telecasted on all Mediacorp channels from 5.35pm. Singaporeans can also catch the firework displays at the heartlands, on Aug 9 itself.