The Singapore National Day Parade (NDP) is an annual parade held in the city-state of Singapore to commemorate its independence. Held annually on 9 August, it is the main public celebration of National Day.
First held on 9 August 1966 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Proclamation of Singapore, it has been held annually ever since. It has usually been held at either The Padang or The Float at Marina Bay. In the past, it was also held at the former National Stadium. In 2016, it was held at the Singapore Sports Hub.
|Singapore National Day Parade|
|Malay||Perbarisan Hari Kebangsaan|
|Tamil||தேசிய தின அணிவகுப்பு|
The inaugural National Day Parade was started in the morning at 9:00 a.m. that day. However, people came as early as 7:00 a.m. in order to get good vantage points. Singapore's first President, Yusof bin Ishak and Singapore's first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, were seated with members of the government at the grandstand on the steps of City Hall. When the parade began, six military contingents (including the Singapore Infantry Regiment, Singapore Police Defense Force and the then 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. Rounding it all was a massed lion and dragon dance performance from drum and dragon troupes nationwide.
In 1968, the contingents increased to 76, including those of the then established Singapore Armed Forces, the RSP and more cultural groups, with the addition of more civil marching 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 (Renamed to 'Singapore Fire Services' in the 1970s). Street performances by various groups also debuted in that year's parade. The 1968 parade, although held on a rainy morning that surprised even the marching contingents and the dignitaries, saw the first ground performances on the Padang as the weather improved - a prelude to today's show performances. 1969's parade, the one where the Mobile Column made its first drivepast, commemorated the 150th year of the city's founding and had Princess Alexandra of the UK as principal guest.
The fifth NDP edition in 1970 introduced the Flypast of the State Flag and the Republic of Singapore Air Force Flypast, as well as the combat simulation performance by Singapore Army personnel was one of the new highlights for that year.
The 1971 NDP included iconic mobile parade floats from various organizations and choirs; 1973 was the first parade to be held from late-afternoon to early-evening time in order to promote the parade with better attendance. 1974's parade marked the first time the parade was broadcast in full-colour, after such television was introduced for the first time a month prior on 7 July.
In 1975, to commemorate the Decennial anniversary of independence, the Parade was, for the first time, decentralized into 13 parade venues for more public participation. Almost all of the venues lasted for an hour and all of them even had route marches on the streets to the participating venues.
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 1984 onward. 1977's parade was a decentralized event like two years before (and like 1968's was affected by wet weather) while 1978 returned to Padang. 1979's parade saw another decentralized site, this time being held in many high schools and sports stadiums nationwide. The decentralized format would later be used until 1983, which was the final time NDP was held in multiple venues until 2020.
The 15th installment in 1980 was the first parade to introduce the feu de joie of the Guard-of-Honour contingents. The following year, SPF Civil Defense Command, presently the Singapore Civil Defense Force, later combined with the SFS in 1989, made its inaugural appearance, followed by the SCDF in 1982. The 1981 parade was held in both Jurong and Queenstown Sports Stadiums for further increase public attendance and participation in the celebrations. In 1982, the parade returned at Padang, marking the first time the mobile column drove past after the marchpast had concluded, thus making it a predecessor to the parades at the Padang from 1995 onward, once every five years.
The 1984 installment featured many firsts in commemoration with the Singapore's Silver Jubilee of self-governance, which for the first time, introduced a theme song "Stand Up for Singapore", and included a bigger Mobile Column, the first appearance of the popular Silent Precision Drill Squad from the Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command and the first evening fireworks display.
The 1986 edition was the first parade held in the late evening, and the first to use flashlights for audience use. Other introductions were featured over the years such as the first appearance of the massed military bands of the SAF (1987), the card stunt (1988), and the Red Lions parachute team and the daylight fireworks (1989). In 1989, the parade was held in the afternoon but was later returned to the evening format used since 1986.
In 1993, interactive participation by the public debuted in that year's edition to increase public participation and awareness of the parade as an important part of Singaporean life and as a symbol of national unity and identity. In 1997, a National Education Show was also introduced where Primary Five students from a selected number of schools attended in one of the rehearsals.
In 2003, due to overcrowding of tickets, the electronic voting ticketing system was introduced as a countermeasure, and a ballot was conducted where citizens stand a chance at winning the tickets by registering their e-mail addresses or mobile numbers such as the NDP websites or phone lines.
The 2006 installment marked the final time the National Stadium in Kallang was held before the stadium went for retrofitting works and thus relocating the parade to the new venue to The Float @ Marina Bay and held its inaugural parade the following year. Starting in 2008, the NDP is also aired all over the Asia-Pacific region through CNA, and since 2012, it was simulcast to other internet web-streaming websites such as Toggle (now meWATCH), xinmsn (defunct since 2015), and YouTube (along with the parade's official channel, NDPeeps). 2009 featured, for the first time, an integrated show including the parade segment, known as the Pre-parade show (usually not broadcast on television). 2009 was currently the last time to feature multiple theme songs (English and Chinese versions, or originals)
The 2013 installment featured a spin-off reality competition aired on Channel 5, titled Sing a Nation, which featured ten different groups who performed various songs for a chance at a lead performance for the 2013's parade. The 2013's theme song, "One Singapore", was also sung by the cast of Sing a Nation, and the song featured its largest ensemble, with 68 members.
The 2014 installment also featured its first female Red Lion parachutist to jump at the NDP, Third Warrant Officer Shirley Ng, after their initial performance in 2013 was cancelled due to weather conditions. The 2014 parade was notable as it was the last parade with the attendance for the first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who was the only member to have attended in every installment of NDP since 1966, as he died on 23 March the following year.
2015's parade was the first parade to be held at both the Padang and at The Float @ Marina Bay, breaking a parade tradition in the process as it became the first parade since 1983 to be held in multiple venues. In 2016, the parade returned to the new National Stadium, first opened in 2014.
Due to criticisms relating to budget and logistics, the following parade in 2017 (and later in 2018) returned to The Float @ Marina Bay to celebrate the golden jubilee for National Service. 2017 also saw the first time YouTube live-streamed the parade in a 360-degree format and on Facebook Live.
The 2019 installment, which was held at the Padang again and breaking a trend of holding every five years to commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of modern foundation of Singapore in 1819, also marked the first time the parade was screened in 4K ultra-high definition on Toggle.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore, the 2020 parade was not held in its traditional form; the event was given the theme "Together, A Stronger Singapore", and a goal was set to bring the NDP "across the island into every Singaporean's home". The public events were replaced by closed events broadcast only via television and streaming platforms, including a morning segment consisting of the Prime Minister's National Day Message and a downsized parade at the Padang. Appearances by the Mobile Column, Red Lions, and flyovers by F-15SG fighters were scheduled across Singapore, while the traditional Funpacks given at the parade were shipped to each resident. Online programming, home activity ideas, and social media campaigns were also organized. A cultural segment took place at the Star Performing Arts Centre in the evening, reduced to only around 100 performers with social distancing enforced.
It was announced that the 2021 parade would return to a "centralised" event at The Float in a downsized form, but will again be closed to the general public; tickets will be distributed to nominated essential workers who are fully-vaccinated for COVID-19 and undergo testing. On 22 July 2021, it was announced that the main public parade would be postponed to 21 August, so that it can be held after the conclusion of the present Phase 2 "Heightened Alert" restrictions (then scheduled for 18 August). A closed "ceremonial" parade will still be held on 9 August at The Float, which was stated to be similar in format to the previous year's parade.
The venue of the parade was once held at Padang, the site where of Singapore's independence was declared. Between 1966 and 1974, the venue was located in the central area to bring the parade closer to the people. In 1976, the parade was held for the first time at the Former 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, resulting in 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 centred 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, before it changed to five-years on an announcement in 1995.
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, however, was 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. Several alternate locations were mooted, including the utilization of the Padang, which is physically bigger and less likely to disrupt daily functions in the city.
On 16 October 2005, it was announced that the 2006 NDP would be held at the old stadium for the last time before moving to The Float @ Marina Bay. The 130 by 100 metre platform would be used for the next five years until the new stadium is completed. Despite offering a seating capacity of only 27,000, almost less than half the capacity for the National Stadium, there was a vast area for about another 150,000 spectators along the Marina Bay waterfront.
After a ten-year hiatus, the 2016 edition of NDP officially returned to the new National Stadium, and 2017 saw the parade returning to Marina Bay, therefore returning to a modified form of the 1980s parades. Given the huge public reception of the Marina Bay parades, The Float will be redeveloped starting in 2022 for future parades as a permanent parade venue, alternating with the Padang every five years (2020 was the first year to break the pattern since 1985, as the site previously held in 2019 prior because of celebrating the nation's bicentennial anniversary).
The 2020 parade, first announced to return to The Float, did not take place as a measure enacted for safety reasons as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A smaller celebration was held, with fireworks being launched in decentralised sites around Singapore.
The 2021 parade was held at The Float @ Marina Bay but with the extra COVID-19 precautions, the last held before renovation work can begin. All participants and spectators will need to be fully vaccinated. Number of spectators is decreased by 70% and are limited to frontline workers by invitation instead of open to the public. Heartland activities that were initially part of the Parade like the fireworks and the Red Lions jumping in on 7 and 8 August were since cancelled.
|Year||Venue||Theme||Slogan/Tagline||Organiser||Creative Director||Theme Song||Ref|
|1976||National Stadium||2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1980||National Stadium||Courtesy – Our Way of Life|
|1981||Decentralised sites||Energy is Precious – Save It|
|1982||Padang||2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1984||Padang||25 Years of Nation Building, 1959–1984||Reach Out Singapore||3rd Singapore Infantry Brigade||"Stand Up for Singapore"|
|1985||National Stadium||7th Singapore Infantry Brigade||"Stand Up for Singapore"|
|1986||Together...Excellence for Singapore||2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade||"Count on Me Singapore"|
|1987||Padang||3rd Singapore Infantry Brigade||"We are Singapore"|
|1988||National Stadium||Excellence Together, Singapore Forever||Singapore Artillery|
|1989||2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1990||Padang||One People, One Nation, One Singapore||25 Years of Nationhood and Another 25 Years of Achievements||HQ Armour||"One People, One Nation, One Singapore"|
|1991||National Stadium||My Singapore||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers||"It's the Little Things"|
|1992||Singapore Air Defense Artillery|
|1993||Padang||Nation on Parade||My Singapore, My Home||HQ Armour|
|1994||National Stadium||7th Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1995||Padang||30 Years of Nationhood / A Nation in Harmony||HQ Armour|
|1996||National Stadium||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers|
|1997||Our Singapore, Our Future||NDP 1997 Musical Extravanganza||Singapore Artillery|
|1998||Our Singapore, Our Future||7th Singapore Infantry Brigade||"Home"|
|1999||Our People||Together We Make The Difference||6th Division||"Together"|
|2000||Padang||3rd Division||"Shine on Me"|
|2001||National Stadium||Building Bridges, Forging Futures||9th Division/Infantry||"Where I Belong"|
|2002||A Caring Nation||Together, A New Singapore||HQ Armour||Dick Lee||'We Will Get There"|
|2003||A Cohesive Society||HQ Singapore Guards||Glen Goei||"One United People"|
|2004||A Progressive Society||6th Division||Glen Goei||"Home"|
|2005||Padang||40 Years of Nation Building||The Future is Ours to Make||3rd Division||Glen Goei||"Reach Out for the Skies"|
|2006||National Stadium||Our Global City, Our Home||HQ Singapore Guards||Glen Goei||"My Island Home"|
|2007||Marina Bay Floating Platform||City of Possibilities||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers||Goh Boon Teck||"Will You"|
|2008||Celebrating the Singapore Spirit||HQ Singapore Guards||Goh Boon Teck||"Shine for Singapore"|
|2009||Come Together – Reaching Out • Reaching Up||3rd Division||Ivan Heng||"What Do You See"|
|2010||Padang||Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag||HQ Armour||Dick Lee||"Song for Singapore"|
|2011||Marina Bay Floating Platform||Majulah! The Singapore Spirit||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers||Beatrice Chia-Richmond||"In A Heartbeat"|
|2012||Loving Singapore, Our Home||HQ Singapore Guards||Fan Dong Kai||"Love at First Light"|
|2013||Many Stories... One Singapore||3rd Division||Selena Tan||"One Singapore"|
|2014||Our People, Our Home||6th Division||Dick Lee|
|2015||Padang||Majulah Singapura||Our Golden Jubilee||HQ Singapore Guards||Dick Lee||"Our Singapore"|
|2016||New National Stadium||Building Our Singapore of Tomorrow||HQ Armour||Beatrice Chia-Richmond||"Tomorrow's Here Today"|
|2017||Marina Bay Floating Platform||#OneNationTogether||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers||Goh Boon Teck||"Because It's Singapore!"|
|2018||We Are Singapore||3rd Division||Boo Jun Feng||"We are Singapore"|
|2019||Padang||Our Singapore||Singapore Bicentennial Anniversary||HQ Armour||Dick Lee||"Our Singapore"|
|2020||Decentralised sites||Together, A Stronger Singapore||3rd Division||Royston Tan||"Everything I Am"|
|2021||Marina Bay Floating Platform||Together, Our Singapore Spirit||HQ Singapore Guards||Boo Junfeng||"The Road Ahead"|||
Since 1998, a unique logo design was selected to represent NDP on all fronts. Even though there had been logos for some previous years' parades, the logos were used exclusively for years of special commemoration, such as silver jubilee of Nation Building (1984) and Independence (1990). Slogans have also been used, such as "Our Singapore, Our Future", first used in the 1997 celebrations.
With the introduction of NDP logos for 1998, every logo henceforth would be designed to suit the themes, in particular the foundation theme of the parade. A tagline, which was previously known as a slogan, was usually added to the logo design. An example was in 2005, where the tagline for NDP 2005 was "The Future is Ours to Make", was placed on the theme "40 Years of Nation Building". 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.
Most of the logos use a majority of red colour, however in 2007, blue has taken over the traditional red to symbolise the water around the Marina Bay area. Regardless, the logos are important to note that the themes and taglines are largely different; and it is the theme that the parade or Show segment, on in some cases (2009 and 2015), both will be based on.
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 four decades. With the shifting of venues for some editions of the parade, or in cases such as wet weather, programmes may have to cancel or introduce slight modifications in order to suit the changes, for instance the Mobile Column, which is only possible both at the Padang site and at Marina Bay.
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 become 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 until the present, under the Leadership & Mentoring programme. Colourful costumes and dance moves have been designed for the motivators.
The parade has been a traditional segment 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 People's Action Party, different labour 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, the Singapore Red Cross, the Boys' and Girls' Brigades, the Scouts Association, the Girl Guides and 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 Singapore Army, represented by the Best Combat Unit, for many years the 1st Commando Battalion of the Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation; the Republic of Singapore Navy; and the Republic of Singapore 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 32 SAF regimental colours are held by a group of officers, known as ensigns, from the Singapore Armed Forces, with their armed escorts (until 1997 Service Regimental Colours from the SAF's three services led the colours party). 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's military bands are from both the SAF and SPF, and in recent years, the marching bands of both services' cadet organizations (the Singapore NCC Command Band and the NPCC Band) have joined them as well, with the Singapore NCC Command Band being part of the combined band since 2010. Before the 1994 creation of the SAF Bands the different service arms of the SAF fielded their own bands, and the massed bands for the parade were, since the early 1970s, from a select band of the SAF and the Singapore Police Force Band (inter-service massed bands would only happen in 1987).
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 accordingly. 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 and forming up the parade to full formation, the Parade Commander will wait for the arrival of the members of Parliament, members of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister of Singapore, 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 of Singapore 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, Majulah Singapura, will be played accompanied by a fly-past of the State Flag, and from 2011, would also require raising it as well on a separate flagpole. After that (and the following aerial salute by the RSAF), 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 and the Parade Commander, and the Army GOH Contingent Commander would later join them once they approach the Guard-of-Honour (recent parades have seen a motorized inspection by the President while riding a Land Rover). A presidential 21-gun salute is also given to the President during this time by a select battery from the Singapore Artillery. It is customary that the President speaks to some members of the Guard-of-honor contingents as he/she 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. 2012's edition formally included an Advance in Review order to the proceedings for the first time.
The Parade Commander will command the Parade contingents to prepare for the Marchpast, and will then march out of the Parade Grounds, with the bands bringing the rear. 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 made its second appearance and this time the Marina Bay area was the venue for this, with the Marina Padang as the final stop on the march past. 2011 saw the reinstatement of the march through the stands moment of the supporting contingents of the SAF, SPF and SCDF (previously done in the 2002 edition and now called the Onward March), and that year the participants of the youth uniformed groups and the civilian contingents marched out in a different way, only for all of them to reunite for the City Marchpast later on. The 2012 edition of the parade, the very first National Day Parade officiated by the President Tony Tan Keng Yam, had the Onward March which was now done for the second time by all of the youth uniformed groups present while the military and civilian supporting contingents marched out in a different way similar to the march pasts during the 2000 and 2010 editions with all of them rejoining for the City Marchpast to be done later with the GOH contingent battalion to Marina Bay Sands where the march ended. The Onward March made yet another appearance in the 2014 edition alongside the City Marchpast after the parade proper towards the MBS complex. The City Marchpast made its sixthth consecutive appearance in the 2015 edition and was carried on in 2016 together with the Onward March from the new National Stadium and again from Marina Bay in 2017 and 2018.
In recent years the order of the march past of the supporting contingents out of the grounds has been altered, with the military and civil uniformed services first to march out, followed by the economic firms, social organizations and the youth uniformed organizations which march last out and then into the platform stands.
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 SCDF's fire trucks. In 1990, after a six-year hiatus, the Mobile Column returned as part of the silver jubilee of Singapore's independence. It has been on show during the more important milestone anniversaries of the nation's birthday, on parades held in Padang every five years, including 2019, 2020 and 2025. In 2019 and 2020, the vehicles forming the column drove across various areas of the city-state, letting residents and visitors see the equipment upclose in their communities as the column would drive thru their homes and workplaces.
Almost every NDP since 1971 (except 2016) has had a flypast segment featuring jet and training aircraft, transports and helicopters from the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
Whenever the NDP is held at The Float in Marina Bay the Mobile Column and flypast both evolve into the multi-platform and multi-service Dynamic Defence Display (D3), with a display of the military defence and public security capabilities of the uniformed services. In lieu of the 2018 D3, as part of the parade and ceremony segment of the program, a special flypast of the RSAF was held in that year's edition to mark its golden jubilee.
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 (aside from a Prologue in recent editions) three to four (sometimes up to six) 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 (from 2009 expanded into a national activity) and the singing of the National Anthem. In 2007, the parade broke tradition for having a fireworks display that synchronized with the Sing Singapore medley in the finale. In 2009, for the first time ever, all the segments of the NDP have been merged into one integrated program; this would later be repeated in 2015.
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 1998 and 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. Floats would return in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 editions. Boats and floats on the Marina Bay area in view of the crowds were one of the highlights of the 2018 show segment.
Parades today, held from dusk to night, end in the climax of fireworks displays which have become a prominent feature in every parade, which followed by a medley of songs and then reciting the pledge and singing "Majulah Singapura". 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, 1982 and 1984, 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 1988 (evening) NDP editions.
Though every show would see the participation of an assortment of public and private companies, there are three main anchors taking on each Act in the show segment. They are the Peoples' Association (which involvement started in 1984, and one of the founding participants), the Singapore Soka Association (SSA) (active since the 1970s) and the Ministry of Education, which would be represented by an individual institution or a cluster of schools, and also a founding participant of the parades. 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. The Ministry also provides the School Display Band for the pre-parade segment of the programme, coming from one of the many schools in the island country pre-selected for performance in the event. Since 2016, volunteers from Team Nila are also involved as Precinct Ushers, Safety Management Aides and, most recently, as pre-show Active Health Ambassadors.
Various types of high-tech multimedia equipment are used during the actual show segment since 2003. Various technologies notable include the Projecteur d’Images Géantes Informatisées in 2003, a water-curtain visualization in 2007, and LED Mash in 2008.
Post-parade parties was first televised in 1997 and featured celebrities and performers to celebrate the success of the parade while providing entertainment to the audience awaiting to leave the venue. The parade usually last for an hour and ends with the Chief of Defence Force, the Chairman of that year's NDP EXCO and the organizers to cutting a cake to commemorate the efforts with the participants with speeches of gratitude. The party is now normally anchored by the SAF Music and Drama Company.
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 segment, or since 2008, forming the final part of the display.
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 the mass displays during the show part of the celebrations. 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 (English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil) will be performed. In previous years, the final song in English (before the President's arrival) has always been the NDP theme song (in 2007 this was not the case) 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 song tradition would return in 2017, but only in the pre-parade portion and in a different language order, while past theme songs were played during the arrivals.) The music performed during the parades have evolved over the decades, reflecting not just the change of musical influences and styles, but also the country's multi-ethnic character.
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 (one song even had lyrics in the three other major languages).
In 2011, there was the "Fun Pack Song" which went along to the tune of Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance'. The song was shortly scrapped.
The 2013's medley saw a record number of NDP songs that featured in this medley, with ten and lasted about five-and-a-half minutes: "Stand Up For Singapore", "We Will Get There", "What Do You See", "One United People", "Turn Up The Love" (not including NDP songs), "Home", "One People, One Nation, One Singapore", "Count On Me Singapore", "We Are Singapore" and "One Singapore" (that year's theme song).
In 2014, it was announced that there would be no new songs produced for National Day for the 2nd time in its long history, and in a historic move by the organizing committee, the classic NDP songs will be sung again. That year's edition saw past NDP theme songs being played during the arrival segments, and broke tradition by having the Sing Singapore Medley sung as the epilogue after the national anthem was played. The Sing Singapore Medley finale was repeated again in the 2015 event, after the Pledge Moment ends. Both cases have now included the 1998 theme song "Home" as part of the medley, just as it was the case in 2013.
2016 will see the medley also accompanied by special needs students provided by the seven Voluntary Welfare Organisations of the island country hand-signing for the deaf and hard of hearing who will take part, yet another first. The 1998 theme "Home" was sung as well. (Since 1989, a deaf Representative has been present to sign the Pledge for deaf viewers of the event.)
NDP Theme songs were first introduced in 1984, starting with "Stand Up for Singapore", and again in the 1985 Parade; "Count on Me Singapore" which was performed by Clement Chow at the 1986 Parade. Other notable songs include "We are Singapore" (1987–1988) and "One People, One Nation, One Singapore" (1990).
Theme songs were not prominent in the parades of the 1990s until 1998 when "Home", a song composed by Dick Lee and sung by Kit Chan. That year's parade feature "Home" and one more NDP song, "City For The World", sung by the children choir. Its popularity led to the production of the various renditions in 2004, including a rock piece composed by JJ Lin. 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 part of Sing Singapore theme song. Stefanie Sun's "One United People" was used as the 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 from 2010 onwards.
Local songbirds that made it big in regional music scenes, such as Kaira Gong, Kit Chan, Corrine May, 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, became a prominent choice to lead the nation in singing the NDP 2005's theme song "Reach Out for the Skies", alongside singer-actress Rui En.
In 2007, there were two theme songs instead of the usual one. 2009 was the last time a Chinese rendition of the English song was featured.
In 2013, the National Day Parade theme song will not be sung by renowned local artists but, for the first time, by fellow Singaporeans that join the "Sing A Nation" reality-competition organized by MediaCorp for that year's event.
It would be in 2014 when the NDP will not have another official theme song in a break from tradition for the second time, due to decision made by the organizers. In place of the theme song was three songs were remade into two music videos: "We Will Get There" and "One People, One Nation, One Singapore" sung by Ann Hussein, Rahimah Rahim, Gayle Nerva, Farisha Ishak, Tay Kewei and Tabitha Nauser; and "What Do You See" sung by Fauzie Laily, Jack Ho, Kartik Kunasegaran, Sivadorai "Rai" Sellakannu and Shaun Jansen. Dick Lee's 1996 song, "Big Island", debuted during the show segment of the parade. The theme song tradition would return in the 2015 installment again until 2018. The 2015 theme song, "Our Singapore", was remade as the theme song for 2019, and the 2018's parade features a remake of "We Are Singapore", both of which being the theme titles for that year's parade. The theme song tradition returned once more in 2020, with Everything I Am sung by Nathan Hartono. The most recent installment to feature an original theme song was 2021's "The Road Ahead", sung by Linying, Sezairi, Shye-Anne Brown, and Shabir.
The list of NDP theme songs are as follows:
|19841||Stand Up for Singapore|
|1986||Count on Me Singapore||Clement Chow|
|1987||We are Singapore||Jonathan Tan, Roslinda Baharudin, Anne Weerapass and Robert Fernando|
|1990||One People, One Nation, One Singapore||Clement Chow, Faridah Ali, Jacintha Abisheganaden, Stephen Francis|
|1991||It's the Little Things||Mel Ferdinands, Mahani Mohd|
|City for the World|
|1999||Together||Evelyn Tan & Dreamz FM|
|心连心 (Xīn lián xīn)|
|2000||Shine on Me||Jai Wahab|
|星月(Xīng yuè)||Mavis Hee|
|2001||Where I Belong||Tanya Chua|
|属于 (Shǔ yú)|
|2002||We Will Get There||Stefanie Sun|
|一起走到 (Yīqǐ zǒu dào)|
|2003||One United People|
|全心全意 (Quán xīn quán yì)|
|2004||Home||Kit Chan and JJ Lin2|
|2005||Reach Out for the Skies||Taufik Batisah and Rui En|
|勇敢向前飞 (Yǒnggǎn xiàng qián fēi)||Rui En|
|2006||My Island Home||Kaira Gong|
(Xìngfú de túxíng)
|2007||There's No Place I'd Rather Be||Kit Chan|
|Will You||Janani Sridhar, Asha Edmund, Emma Yong, Lily Anna Rahmat, Jai Wahab, Shabir Mohammed, Sebastian Tan, Gani Karim|
|2008||Shine for Singapore||Hady Mirza|
|晴空万里 (Qíng kōng wàn lǐ)||Joi Chua|
|2009||What Do You See?||Electrico|
|就在这里 (Jiù zài zhèlǐ)||Kelvin Tan|
|2010||Song for Singapore||Corrinne May|
|2011||In a Heartbeat||Sylvia Ratonel|
|2012||Love At First Light||Olivia Ong and Natanya Tan|
|2013||One Singapore||68-member choir "Sing A Nation"|
|2015||Our Singapore||JJ Lin and Dick Lee|
|2016||Tomorrow's Here Today||53A|
|2017||Because it's Singapore||Jay Lim|
|2018||We Are Singapore||Charlie Lim, Vanessa Fernandez, Aisyah Aziz, Shak'thiya Subramaniamm, Kevin Lester (The Lion City Boy), Joanna Dong and ITE Show Choir|
|2019||Our Singapore||Rahimah Rahim, Jacintha Abisheganaden, Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, Dick Lee and Kit Chan|
|2020||Everything I Am||Nathan Hartono|
|2021||The Road Ahead||Linying, Sezairi Sezali, Shye-Anne Brown, and Shabir Tabare Alam|
Funpacks was introduced in 1991, which contains goodies which distribution varies every year. These goodies include food, drinks, vouchers from various participating companies and sponsors, items and commodities intended for the use during the parade, such as a theme-designed torchlight and the Singapore flag. Most funpacks are designed by students from local polytechnics and community services, although an exception happened 2015, where people from all walks of life designed 50 designs for the funpack, which also include a Singa Lion Figurine, some snacks and games.
Most of the years, the funpacks were also packed by selected members of the armed forces. In 2009, they were packed by prisoners through the Yellow Ribbon Project. In 2015, a similar funpack, the 'SG Funpack', was given out to every household.
In 2019, the funpacks are designed to be more environmentally-friendly.