Taking kids to Sakura Featuring Hello Kitty at Gardens by the Bay? Here are 8 must-knows!
Updated: Mar 25
With its beautiful blossoms and Japan-themed decor, Sakura Featuring Hello Kitty at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore makes for a lovely treat for those missing the Sakura season in Japan.
UPDATE: 25 March 2021 - Good news! The event has been extended to 11 April 2021 as reported by The Straits Times!
Original post 8 March 2021
When I first heard about the Sakura Featuring Hello Kitty event at Gardens by the Bay, I immediately decided we had to go for this - it's not every day you get to see cherry blossoms in Singapore and after all, having not travelled over the past year, it would be nice to get a taste of Japan, even if it was just a mere semblance.
Well, on hindsight, everyone probably thought the same because man, was it bustling at Gardens by the Bay! The theme definitely attracted people; we even saw some dressed to theme in kimonos and there were also Japanese among the visitors.
The last time we'd been to the Flower Dome - which is where the Sakura event is held - was probably eight years ago, when we took my elder daughter, Big E, there. We had only been to Cloud Forest thereafter with her younger sister as the waterfall and height at the latter was more exciting for our girls compared to appreciating blooms at the Flower Dome. But I was pleasantly surprised when our two girls - now eight and ten years old - were enthusiastically snapping photos of the flora - even the non-peach and cherry blossoms - and enjoying the cool atmosphere despite it being rather crowded.
The event started on 1 March. Here are 8 things to know if you're planning to take your kids there, including why you'll probably want to visit this soon!
1) Do I have to pre-book tickets?
Yes, you have to on the Gardens by the Bay's website as there is capacity limit at the venue due to the current COVID-19 situation. In fact, you can make your booking up to 10 days in advance. We pre-booked our tickets about a week before our visit and all the slots were still available then. But our advice would be to try to book at least a few days in advance and not leave this to the last minute because this event is very popular! My check on the GBTB website today (8 March, Monday) showed that a few afternoon slots on 13 March (Saturday) are already selling fast, meaning only a few tickets are left for these slots.
2) How much is admission and can I pay with SingaporeRediscovers Vouchers (SRV)?
For Singapore residents, admission to the Flower Dome costs $12 for adults, and $8 for children and senior citizens. Non-residents pay $20 for adults and $12 for children. You can use your SRV directly on the GBTB website, there is no need to purchase through third party vendors. So for 2 adults, 1 senior citizen and 2 children, it costs $48 for us in total. But given that the SRV has an up to $10 subsidy per child ticket, our kids' tickets are essentially free and we chose to pay with $30 of SRV. Therefore we paid only $2 in cash. The thing to remember when using SRV is that you should choose to redeem an amount excluding the child subsidy, if you're purchasing child tickets. More details here on redeeming your SRV.
3) What do you see there?
Once you enter the Flower Dome, you're welcomed by the iconic Torii gates of Japan.
After you stroll past the gardens on the upper level of the Dome, you'll arrive at the lower level where most of the highlights - the Sakura and Hello Kitties - are at.
Honestly, it was a little daunting when we looked down from the upper level to the displays below because it looked really crowded (see first pic). But when we got there, we were just caught up in the beautiful displays and kind of forgotten that we really hate crowds! So here's the first Hello Kitty display we saw.
We shuffled forward with the crowd, stopping to take a quick photo here and there.
Btw do you know there is a difference between peach blossoms (momo) and cherry blossoms (sakura)? Cherry blossoms typically flower in a cluster and each flower is attached to the branch by a relatively long stem/stalk, while peach blossoms usually flower singly or doubly and have very short or no stalks. Read this off a display at GBTB! Here's a close-up of peach blossoms.
And cherry blossoms (sakura) surrounding crane displays.
Here's a lovely Japan-themed garden scape but you can't walk into it, tempting as it may be!
This is the second Hello Kitty we spotted!
The pic looks empty enough but it's not always easy to get a shot with no humans/arms/phones in it. So the trick is to quickly get a shot when you notice a display being clear (for that few seconds!) The good thing is most people really do just take their pics and selfies rather quickly, and move on to the next display thereafter.
Btw, there are signs that say you should keep your face masks on even when taking photos. So please don't remove your mask to take a quick selfie. With the number of people there, I really do appreciate the rule because I can imagine a whole load of unmasked people everywhere given the amount of photo-taking that goes on in there!
And here's the next Hello Kitty.
Here's a display depicting a Hanami, a flower viewing celebration. In Japan, this can take the form of a stroll in the park or setting up a picnic under a blooming cherry blossom tree.
And the last Hello Kitty we spotted was this with the rickshaws. Would be nice if we could take a photo sitting on the rickshaws but nope, can't do that!
Sakura Featuring Hello Kitty at Gardens by the Bay's Flower Dome is really pretty. But I think I would be able to appreciate the view and decor much more if there were lesser people, and not under the stress of having to quickly snap a photo and get out of the way!
4) It sounds and looks crowded! Are there timings to visit where it is less crowded?
It was definitely crowded on the lower level of the Flower Dome when we were there at 230pm on a Saturday. After the weekend we were there, I asked a staff on whether it would be less crowded on a weekend morning, but I'm told that it's more or less the same for mornings or afternoons during the weekend. So I guess if you really want to go when it's less crowded, weekdays are your best bet, if not try the 9am on weekends, which I'm guessing would still be less popular than weekend afternoons!
5) How long should we spend at the event?
We spend about an hour there without lingering long at the displays given the crowd. The ticketing T&C also states that visitors are allowed up to 1 hour in each conservatory, though I'm not sure how do they actually ensure one does not overstay because there is no forms of identifying how long I had already been in there. Re-entry is not allowed by the way!
6) When does this event end?
You'll notice that the GBTB website does not spell out when this event ends. I asked a staff and was told it's expected to end on 20 March, but it could be extended for a few more days if the blossoms bloom for longer. So it kinda depends on the flowers! I guess that's also why people make a beeline for Japan during the Sakura season because they don't bloom for long! Yup, so it's really only there for a few weeks if you wanna see it!
7) Is it suitable for young children?
If you have children who appreciates flora, I think it would be suitable for them. But speaking from my experience with my own kids, I don't think they would appreciate the blooms and displays much if they are younger as they tend to prefer places where they can run around and have more fun at like an indoor playground or even the Future World Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, which is also why I had only taken them to the Cloud Forest, instead of the Flower Dome, at GBTB. At their current primary-school-going age, my kids are definitely able to appreciate the Flower Dome more.
8) Do you need warmer clothes for the Flower Dome?
The temperature is kept at 23-25 degrees Celcius at the Flower Dome. So it really feels cool and pleasant, and none of us - adults and children - needed jackets or cardigans. It's unlike the Cloud Forest when my two kids needed their cardigans as it felt cooler with less people and the occasional mists. But if you're going to the Flower Dome on a less crowded week day (where there are less bodies to warm up the surroundings!), it might be good to bring a cardigan for younger kids.
Have you made plans for the upcoming March school holidays in Singapore? Do give us some ideas on where to go if you can!
Disclaimer: We paid for our tickets, and my opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.
©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified. festive