Come with us as we explore Singapore during GPSS, from the four precinct parties to some of the country’s newest attractions.
In the name of exhilarating turns and adrenaline-driven acceleration, the following Grand Prix Seasons Singapore (or GPSS) returned with tremendous fanfare. This year marks the 14th edition of Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix — a momentous occasion that saw Spanish driver Carlos Sainz of Ferrari winning of the Singapore leg of the tournament. Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton rounded up the top three while current leader Max Verstappen finished fifth.
The energetic crowd at the night race, held on 17 September, had the opportunity to get speedy glimpses of legendary drivers such as Hamilton himself and the likes of Fernando Alonso. The Formula 1 races in Singapore are always exciting and intense yet so beautifully rhythmic. With the beauty of the Singapore skyline (including Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer) being on full display, there’s truly nothing like this anywhere else.
With the races being at night (including the practice and qualifying rounds), you’d be wondering how to fill up your itinerary during the day. Well, you’ve come to the right checkpoint. Running from 8 to 17 September 2023, the Grand Prix Season Singapore (GPSS) is thrill personified. A trip to Singapore is amazing all year round but GPSS takes things up several notches. Whether you’re looking forward to the glorious entertainment lineups (think Jackson Wang, Post Malone and Robbie Williams) or the enticing precinct parties, there’s so much to do before or after your time at Marina Bay Sands Circuit. Here’s how we spent our time in Singapore during our eventful visit.
GPSS Precinct Parties
A long-standing highlight of Grand Prix Season Singapore every year would be the stimulating precinct parties. Blending gastronomy, artisanship as well as an array of scintillating offerings, the precinct parties have always been must-visits. This year, we had the opportunity to check out all four precinct parties available throughout GPSS: Orchard, Clarke Quay, Kampong Gelam and Sentosa. As soon as we saw the large, white GPSS bubbles, we knew we were headed for a great time.
A great place to start your adventure would be Orchard Road. Activities peppered the iconic shopping destination, from ION Orchard to Ngee Ann City. The Orchard Pit Shops: GPSS Lifestyle Bazaar comprised both local and international brands, offering the likes of artisanal creations and culinary treats. Right outside the entrance of ION Orchard was Revolutions: The GPSS Immersive Experience. Available from 7.00PM throughout the event period, the otherworldly installation was curated and created by Singaporean artist Brandon Tay. Using a decadent amalgamation of audio-visual forms, Tay sought to mirror speed and its story via the help of the zeitgeist-transcending wheel. Vivid colours and captivating sound made the experience a memorable one; a multi-sensorial journey in the span of a few minutes.
Another really cool thing to check out was situated outside Wisma Atria. Local fashion designer AMOS ANANDA conceived a design specifically for GPSS and it was spotted on the Alpine A110. The sports car display is an alluring showcase of the magic that can happen even when varying fields come together. The Instagrammable vehicle will be at the outdoor space until 30 September so make sure to go see it for yourself. While you’re there, take part in a simple contest and you might just win exclusive merchandise. Even better, they are signed by Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon — both Formula 1 drivers.
Culture aficionados would definitely want to check out Kampong Gelam for ‘Singapore Stories’. The art exhibition featured artistic creations by Wilfred Cheah — celebrating Singapore’s illustrious history with miniatures. Highlights that really made us go wow and that’s so cute include the National Gallery Singapore (curated for GPSS), Moonstone Lane Mama Shop, Mid-Autumn Festival and Soon Heng Hot & Cold Desserts. It was also nice seeing the queue at Clarke Quay’s Teleios Racing Simulators. People of all ages waited to get on the driver’s seat.
To cap our GPSS Precinct Party experience this year, we also had the pleasure of being a part of Sentosa’s never-ending buzz. Siloso Beach was imbued with extra doses of liveliness as crowds explored Siloso Beachwalk Bazaar and GPSS Beach Feastable. Treats such as fried chicken, burgers, and chilli crab were available — all set up along the beach for the perfect mise en scene. It was really easy to get to Siloso Beach too. We took the Sentosa Express to Beach Station and walked for 10 minutes before arriving at the very recognisable GPSS gate. Note that although the Precinct Parties (as well as ‘A Project of Art in the Night Race’ at The Arts House) are free to the public, admission tickets are required for some events. We’re already looking forward to the fifth edition of GPSS in 2024, which will also mark the 15th anniversary of Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.
Here’s something we were very excited about on our way to Singapore. With Sentosa already renowned globally as the island destination, the addition of The Palawan really ups the ante — offering so much amusement in one massive space. Helmed by the Shangri-La Group, the establishment (spanning a combined area of 183,000 square feet) opened its doors on 26 July 2023. Of course, being the curious cats that we were, we knew experiencing The Palawan wasn’t something we could turn down.
Arriving on a weekend morning meant there were already guests enjoying themselves throughout The Palawan. Stop number one for us was at HyperDrive, the first-ever electric go-kart circuit in the country. With three levels and lots of twists and turns, HyperDrive had to be one of the highlights here — a thrill-seeker’s best friend. There are three kart sizes (Junior, Senior and Dual) so anyone can get on the racetrack.
We arrived at the location 30 minutes earlier than our booked slot for a safety briefing. But, before that, it was time for registration. This is where you can put on your best smile because your photo will be taken to be featured on the scoreboard during and after the race. At the safety briefing, we learned that the length of the three-level track is 308 metres and there are 14 turns in total. Furthermore, we were also informed about the meanings of different flag colours such as yellow for slowing down or checkered for end of race.
Right after, you’d be given a helmet to put on (alongside a balaclava which you can purchase at the registration counter). For the full experience, put on the racer jumpsuit like we did and feel like an actual professional driver. For first-timers who might be feeling nervous, fret not — the team at HyperDrive will be around to ensure everything is safe before you even get to start driving; including seat belts, how comfortable your legs are on the pedal as well as having your visors down. Each race lasts about eight minutes. Every time you pass by the crowd gathered at HyperDrive Cafe, you’ll hear cheers and support. There’s really nothing like unwinding as you navigate the slithering route.
When you’re done with the exhilaration, head over to HyperDrive Cafe for a little treat. Its tagline ‘Levelled Up Diner Favourites” is a rather clear indication of what you can expect on the menu. Perfect for post-race munching (you can also come even without driving), the extensive menu at HyperDrive comprises the signature SweetStacks. We tried Hazelnut Drive, a visual and flavour powerhouse with fresh and candied strawberries, hazelnut spread and whipped cream. Another popular option is Tropical Drive, made with Rum and Banana Compote, Candied Pecan Nuts, Maple Glaze and Vanilla Cream. Love a good, fulfilling pizza? HyperDrive Cafe’s Classic Neapolitan is baked to perfection.
As mentioned, The Palawan is quite colossal. On one end, there’s UltraGolf (a mini golf course with 18 holes) and Splash Tribe, a sandcastle-themed beach club ideal for families. There’s also an infinity pool with gorgeous views of the beach. Then, on the other side, there’s Twelve+ — an adults-only beach club known for its 12 cabanas. The main pool with see-through barricade has quickly become an Instagram favourite. From the cabana, you also get a good vantage point of the HydroDash. Dubbed a “floating aqua park”, the inflatable water course is perfect for anyone who wants to try out something challenging but intriguing at the same time.
Right in the middle of The Palawan are food trucks offering a wide selection of cuisines. As you’re seated on furniture made with recycled materials, feast on delights such as steamed buns at Bao Jiak!, Korean dishes at Seoul Food, smashed burgers at Tropo Burger as well as fish and chips at Off The Hook.
Gourmet Park, Resorts World Sentosa
From CHIFA! and Adventure Cove Waterpark to S.E.A Aquarium and Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa has always been a must-visit whenever you’re in Singapore. Already with so much to offer, the resort has just launched the highly anticipated Gourmet Park. A collaboration with homegrown company Food Truck Nation, the new dining destination is all about great culinary offerings — and that’s what you can definitely expect.
Situated at the Bull Ring of Resorts World Sentosa (right in front of the rotating Universal globe), Gourmet Park is a vibrant enclave filled with both local favourites and contemporary creations by Michelin-starred chefs. Stepping into the space is a victory for your senses. Lively music keeps diners entertained as they indulge in ambrosial concoctions from more than 15 different eateries.
When we visited Gourmet Park, we had the pleasure of trying out some of its most popular options. They consisted of the Chilled Lobster Roll from Luke’s Lobster, Smoked Beef Brisket from Blue Smoke (an Asian smokehouse helmed by Chef Ivan Yeo), Grilled Chicken Tacos from Lavi, artisanal bombolinis from Spank My Dough! and of course, Alain Devahive’s QUEIC and Olivia Market where we savoured its popular cheesecake — made with blue cheese and almond sable. To complement our meal, we also had smoothies from JAMBA. The Banana Berry is a refreshing beverage to go for if you’re up for the combination of apple strawberry juice blend, bananas, raspberry sherbet and blueberries.
In addition to the names we mentioned, Gourmet Park is also home to the likes of the Chef Rishi Naleendra-owned Sri Lankan restaurant Kotuwa, the Kathi Roll Co for Indian comfort fare, Blue Lotus for its signature Chilli Pomelo Crab, Quattro for artisanal pizza, The Goodburger for scrumptious plant-based burgers and more. Undoubtedly, it’s a world within the beloved universe called Resorts World Sentosa. A very yummy one too. So, the next time you’re in Singapore and have time before the Formula 1 races, do give Gourmet Park a visit!
Bird Paradise, Mandai Wildlife Reserve
When we first heard the news of Bird Paradise’s opening, we quickly put the new attraction on our must-visit list in Singapore. Unveiled officially on 8 May 2023, the park spans 17 hectares and with eight aviaries spread throughout the lush space, expect to get glimpses of birds of various species. In fact, we’ve been told that there are over 3,500 birds at Bird Paradise.
Located at Mandai Wildlife Reserve, Bird Paradise is designed to mirror the world’s biomes. Think Australian dry eucalypt forests and South American wetlands. The ride from the city took us about 30 minutes and the journey’s worth it. As soon as we arrived, we were floored by the massive waterfall. Constructed with the Madakaripura waterfalls in mind, it’s a statement piece at the entrance for sure.
Prior to meeting Dani, our guide for the day, we took some time to explore the area. There are many F&B establishments in the public area even before you enter the park. They include Birds of Paradise, Collin’s, Luke’s Lobster, Pavilion Banana Leaf, Starbucks and more. This is great because it allows guests to fuel up before going on an adventure. There are also restaurants and cafes inside but more on that later! Fun fact: there’s an illustration right outside the Bird Paradise entrance — Singaporean artist by Lee Xin Li — that takes you down the Jurong Bird Park memory lane. We learned that it was the largest park in Asia when it opened in 1971 and while Bird Paradise is smaller than its predecessor, it retains the impressive title.
As mentioned, there are eight aviaries so the park is legit massive. One of the first things you will see is the Winged Sanctuary where you get to see birds such as the critically endangered Philippine Eagle and Great Hornbill. Up next is the Penguin Cove. The lighting in the habitat changes to reflect the time so penguins such as the Gentoo, King and Northern rockhopper are as comfortable as possible. This was our first instance seeing playful penguins up close, especially when they took turns hopping into the water.
We also checked out Heart of Africa, taking a closer look at the Lesser Flamingo, Golden-breasted Starling and Violet-backed Starling. We had the opportunity to feed the birds with mealworms, scary at first but after a while, you’d find yourself smiling as you watched the birds eat. This was the same at the Lory Loft but instead of mealworms, the birds were given a liquid blend comprising bananas, apples and more. As we continued our way into Bird Paradise to check out Wings of Asia, Mysterious Papua and Australian Outback, where we were told that there are transition hubs (and yes they are air-conditioned) — each with a different theme. Like feathers, nests and eggs. This is the perfect time to rest a little while learning a thing or two before proceeding to the next stop.
The Singapore Seafood Chowder is a must-try. Comprising tiger prawns, fish, clams and vegetable crudites, the soup is hearty and ideal for a well-deserved downtime. For something light, opt for the Smoked Chicken Salad that comes with honey-baked pumpkin, mesclun green, and orange balsamic dressing. It’s refreshing and really does open up your appetite before your mains. For the next course, options include King Prawns Laksa, Seared Duck Breast, Pan-Seared Barramundi, and Portobello Impossible™ Burger. As for desserts, there are two creative concoctions to choose from: Red Wine Poached Pear and Red Velvet Molten. The “red” also complements the hues of the birds outside the window.
In addition to Crimson Restaurant, Bird Paradise is also home to Bird Bakery, Food Central, Penguin Cove Restaurant and Egg Splash Cafe. The ticket to enter the park is priced at SGD48 (approximately RM165) for adults and SGD33 (approximately RM113) for children. You can also add on SGD8 (approximately RM27) to feed the birds, with proceeds going into conservation efforts. Bird Paradise is a perfect enclave to spend time at during both Grand Prix Singapore Season but is also ideal to visit whenever you’re in Singapore for a holiday.
A Project of Art in the Night Race, The Arts House
Curated by Nadia Stefanel exclusively for GPSS 2023 is ‘A Project of Art in the Night Race’ — available from 8 September to 19 September. The limited-time exhibition was selected by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) as this year’s official GPSS programme and we can see why. 10 artists were chosen via an open call by Dino Zoli Foundation (part of the company that supplies lighting to race events); each presenting their very own take on giving new life to floodlights that are no longer in use after the Formula 1 races in Singapore.
Sustainability takes flight in different ways at the exhibition and we had the opportunity to see the artworks for ourselves. Artists that were selected to present their creations are Yeo Ker Siang, Daniel Chong, Ashley Hi, Iman Sengupta, Victoria Hertel, Chok Si Xuan, Anuska Sakar, Jeyasrree Chandrakumaran, Elena Lo Giudice and Kumari Nahappan. Monumental in more ways than one, we truly enjoyed being in the presence of every single upcycled art.
Victoria Hertel’s ‘Nocturne’, for example, utilises float glass panels to conceive glass scent vessels. And yes, you can actually remove the cover to smell the… petrol. Selangor-born Kumari Nahappan’s ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, on the other hand, is a wardrobe made up of stacked floodlights. Seeds were included in the red-painted piece to allude to life.
Learn more about Grand Prix Season Singapore HERE.