Happy 50th Birthday, Singapore!

Spectators shoot the fireworks display on their mobile phones at the Waterfront Promenade outside the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. The country celebrated her 50th year of independence on 9 Aug 2015.

On 9 August 2015, Singapore celebrated her golden jubilee—50 years since she declared independence in 1965. An additional day was also declared a public holiday, much to the delight of Singaporeans, many of which chose to travel abroad. Those who stayed were treated to a slew of activity, including aerobatics displays by the Black Knights of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the crowd favorite, the fireworks after the National Day Parade.

RSAF Aerobatics Display

The Black Knights from the RSAF gave 3 aerobatics performances over the jubilee weekend of 7–9 August, wowing crowds with their impressive stuns. The aerial display were performed at the air space near the Marina Barrage, a rather hard place to get to by public transport, so I opted to watch and shoot from the promenade in front of the Singapore Flyer instead. It directly faces the barrage, is less crowded and is easier to get to. It rained in the early morning of the day I went (and also on the first day of the performance) , but thankfully the skies cleared up before showtime.

Aerial Performance by the RSAF Black Knights

I quickly realize that my Fujifilm XC 50-230mm lens isn’t going to let me close enough to the action, so I decided to see if they’ll pass by some landmark in the foreground, and they did. This also made a more interesting shot instead of just a blank sky.

The RSAF Black Knights flies over the Supertrees at the Gardens by the Bay.
The RSAF Black Knights performing an aerial stunt above one of the domes at Gardens by the Bay.

National Day Parade and Fireworks

To celebrate Singapore’s 50th year of independence, it was announced that elaborate fireworks will be set off during the National Day Parade. I started shooting them three weeks before the actual National Day, starting from the newly opened Jubilee Bridge. The namesake, of course, came from this 50th year, or golden jubilee. This was the best location to shoot the aerial displays performed during the National Day Parade.

I was also lucky enough to attend a preview of the National Day Parade at the Floating Platform. Unfortunately, it’s basically watching a live telecast together with 30,000 other people on 3 large screens. Thankfully, we are still able to catch the aerial performances “live”, though the angle wasn’t as good as from the Jubilee Bridge.

Here are the shots from both locations.

One of the Red Lions parachuting next to Swissotel the Stamford.
Parachuting into the sunset.
The RSAF Black Knights flies a 5-stars formation as a tribute to the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.
The National Flag, carried on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, escorted by two AH-64D Apache helicopters, make a flypast around Marina Bay.
Twenty F-16s form the numbers “5” and “0” to signify the 50 years of indepennce of Singapore
RSAF Black Knights perform a “bormb burst” manouvre on their F16s as a salute to the nation.
Arrowhead Formation formed by two S-70B naval helicopters and featuring two AS-332 Super Pumas, two AH-64D Apaches and two Chinooks,
The RSAF Black Knights executing a criss-cross maneuver over the Marina Bay Sands’ Skybridge.


A solo F15SG performs a near-vertical climb with the afterburners on.

Making a special appearance during the preview (and on the actual day) is Singapore Airlines A380 aircraft decked out in SG50 livery. From where I was at the Floating Platform, I can only see the bottom.

Singapore Airlines A380

The SAF’s mobile column also made an appearance at the Floating Platform after they left the Padang.

Mobile Column

Finally, fireworks. I’ve always enjoyed watching and shooting fireworks, and this year’s National Day fireworks didn’t disappoint. It is, after all, the grandest of the National Day Fireworks we have ever put up since it’s our 50th year of independence.

I first shot the fireworks from the Jubilee Bridge as mentioned earlier. It started off alright, but because of the wind blowing towards me, it got smoky really quickly, especially at the finale where many bursts were let off one after another in quick succession.

Fireworks from the National Day Parade (National Education Show #3) on 25 July 2015.

The smoke situation was slightly better over at the Floating Platform, probably due to slower windspeed.

First burst of fireworks from the preview of the National Day Parade 2015.

On the actual day, I decided to brave the crowds and went to the waterfront in front of the Marina Bay Sands. And it’s certainly worth the trouble. It was one of the most spectacular fireworks I’ve ever seen (the other being the opening ceremony of Esplanade—Theatres by the Bay.)

I usually set up my tripod way in front so that I don’t have any blockage in my shots, but there wasn’t any more space in front so I had to shoot from way back. It turned out to be pretty ok, and the silhouettes of the spectators make a good foreground too.

This is getting long, so I shall end here with a few more shots of the fireworks. You can see more in my Flickr album.

Here’s wishing Singapore a happy 50th birthday!

First burst of fireworks on 9 Aug 2015 during the National Day Parade.
National Day 2015 Fireworks
National Day Fireworks, 9 Aug 2015
National Day Fireworks, 9 Aug 2015


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *