Grand Prix officials have long dreamed of racing Formula One cars through narrow city streets underneath towering skyscrapers. That dream became a reality for Singapore in 2008 and five years on, the Singapore Grand Prix is now one of the most popular races on an increasingly global Formula One calendar.
For eleven months of the year, Marina Bay is one of Singapore's most bustling attractions, boasting a lengthy waterfront promenade, the lush Gardens by the Bay and some of Singapore's most picturesque skyline views. However, the district is transformed each September when the massive Formula One motorcade rolls into town to convert this glittering tract of land into the impressive Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Chief executive and founder of Grand Prix Tours, Barry Simpson, says the Singapore Grand Prix is one of the most unique races on the Formula One calendar. "The circuit winds through skyscrapers, over bridges, around the marina and through the streets of Singapore, and the atmosphere is electric," he explains of one of Asia's most exciting sporting events.
Laps under lights
Forgot to pack your sunglasses? Never mind, because the Singapore Grand Prix begins at eight o'clock in the evening – making it the only night race on the Formula One calendar. When the grid lights go out to signal the start of the race, Singapore's glittering city lights shine on to help illuminate one of the most atmospheric events in motorsport.
The twilight start time is not only designed to attract capacity crowds to the winding Marina Bay Street Circuit, it also ensures the race is beamed into European homes at lunchtime, making it one of the most anticipated and heavily watched Grand Prix of the season. And it's not just the race which makes the event so popular, but the dozens of activities going on all around it.
"Three days of jam-packed entertainment take place around the circuit, including parades, fan fests and live concerts from bands and artists from all over the world," says Simpson of the exciting weekend schedule.
"Then there are three full days of on-track activities under the lights, including the Porsche Carrera Cup and GP2 support practice, qualifying and racing, along with Formula One practice, qualifying and the actual race starting at 8pm on Sunday night," he adds.
Limelight on the Lion City
With Formula One increasingly diversifying beyond its traditional European heartland, Singapore is a natural choice to host one of the more glamorous races on the circuit. It may not boast the history of Monaco's famous street circuit, but it does see some of the fastest cars on the planet thunder through a thoroughly modern metropolis.
The shimmering Singapore city skyline is testament to the Lion City's status as a powerhouse of the South-East Asian economy, but while this metropolis of five million people is undoubtedly a working city, it also provides plenty of opportunities to let your hair down.
From the iconic Raffles Hotel – home of world-renowned cocktail, the Singapore Sling – to the bustling Orchard Road and family-friendly Sentosa Island, there's plenty to see and do once you step away from the track.
Even if you prefer to spend most of your time trackside, there's still plenty to keep you occupied. This year's entertainment includes performances from Rihanna, The Killers and Justin Bieber, with the party set to continue in many of Singapore's hottest nightclubs well after the chequered flag has come down on the 2013 Singapore Grand Prix.