You know that a city deserves to be called a city of festivals when there’s at least one festival a month. Macau’s fusion of Portuguese and Chinese cultures gives it an edge in the festival department and with a relentless calendar of Macau festivals throughout the year, there’s no doubt Macau deserves to be called a festival city. 2018 is another big year of celebrations in Macau.
There’s nothing more fun than seeing the many places to visit in Macau during a celebration. From Chinese lion dances to burning incense for hungry ghosts to religious festivals brought to the former Portuguese outpost by Jesuit priests and Portuguese conquerors, there’s a celebration for all occasions in Macau.
It’s worth planning your trip to coincide with a festival as Macau comes alive during these crowd-pleasing blockbuster events. Here’s our guide to celebrations, events and festivals in Macau.
- 1 Macau festivals
- 1.1 17th Macao City Fringe Festival
- 1.2 Chinese New Year
- 1.3 Procession of the Passion of the Lord God Jesus
- 1.4 Feast of Tou Tai
- 1.5 Easter in Macao
- 1.6 Ching Ming
- 1.7 Feast of Pak Tai
- 1.8 International Dragon Boat Race
- 1.9 Wushu Masters Challenge
- 1.10 29th Macao International Fireworks Display
- 1.11 Feast of the Hungry Ghosts
- 1.12 Mid-Autumn Festival
- 1.13 Macau Golf Open
- 1.14 21st Lusofonia Festival
- 1.15 16th Macau A-Ma Cultural & Tourism Festival
- 1.16 Festival of Ancestors (Chung Yeung Festival)
- 1.17 32nd Macau International Music Festival
- 1.18 18th Macau Food Festival
- 1.19 65th Macau Grand Prix
- 1.20 Macau International Marathon
- 1.21 Macao Light Festival
- 1.22 Feast of Immaculate Conception
- 1.23 2nd International Film Festival and Awards Macao
- 1.24 Winter Solstice
- 1.25 Parade Through Macao, Latin City
- 1.26 Christmas in Macao
- 2 Plan your visit to Macau
17th Macao City Fringe Festival
Go on a treasure hunt to discover Macao’s artistic side at the 17th Macao City Fringe Festival. The festival has a programme of workshops, talks and creative events. This year’s theme is “Treasures Hunting”, with plenty of clues to uncover the city’s treasures. The
10-day festival has an exciting programme of cutting-edge 21st-century surprises from world-renowned contemporary artists and creative crowd-sourcing such as the Auction of Love Stories, a performance inviting the public to submit love stories for auction.
Chinese New Year is a major celebration all over the world, however, Macao’s fusion of Portuguese and Chinese cultures makes the celebration in Macao particularly colourful. It’s a multi-day event with markets, performances, lion and dragon dances and parades. The Chinese New Year parades are impressive and worth planning your trip around (February). And seeing the streets of Macao during the festival will lift your spirits.
Procession of the Passion of the Lord God Jesus
Another parade that coincides with Chinese New Year is the Procession of the Passion of the Lord God Jesus, which is a unique Macao religious celebration. An image of Christ carrying the Cross is carried through the streets in solemn procession between St. Augustine’s Church, the solemn procession between St. Augustine’s Church, the Cathedral and the city.
Feast of Tou Tai
According to an ancient legend, Tou Tei (God of Earth) is a god that has power over the earthly realm. Tou Tei statues can be found in shops, homes and there are Tou Tei temples dedicated to this god, such as the Patane Tou Tei Temple and Fok Tak Chi in Horta da Mitra. In the past, farmers prayed to Tou Tei for fertile land and big harvests. A roasted pig and Cantonese opera are some of the gifts to Tou Tei.
Easter in Macao
The Portuguese colonisation of Macao brought a focus on Easter, which is an important time of year in Macao. Shops are stocked with Easter goodies, like chocolates, pastries and Portuguese Easter Cake (Folar da Páscoa). Macao’s historic position as the power centre for Catholicism in Asia brought with it many Easter-associated ceremonies and traditions that have continued to play a part in Macao’s Easter celebrations.
If you ever wanted to see money going up in smoke, the Ching Ming festival is the time to go to Macao. Ching Ming is a family festival, a day when people pay respects to their ancestors. They tidy the tombstones, offer fresh flowers and glasses of wine to their ancestors. They burn joss sticks, paper cars, fake money and other earthly goods as a symbolic gesture that the dead will receive these offerings on the other side. Families also present roast pigs, fruit and other food to the deceased and the day usually ends with a huge family feast.
Feast of Pak Tai
Pak Tai Temple in Taipa Village is the place to see lion and dragon dances and Chinese Opera performed during this festival. According to legend, Pak Tai was the hero who defeated the Demon King, who was terrorising earth. The fishermen who lived in Taipa were devoted to this Taoist god.
International Dragon Boat Race
This neck to neck nautical battle is an exciting ancient tribal seafaring competition. Throngs of cheerleaders whirling brightly coloured shakers cheer the teams while tambourine revellers in the grandstand just can’t get enough.
Make your way to the dragon boat race central at Nam Van Lake Nautical Centre on the Macau Peninsula or if you’re like many catch it live on the telly.
Watch elaborately hand-carved wooden boats bearing the famous dragon heads effortlessly glide over these shimmering waters. Like a lot of Asian celebrations, this one has a lunar connection, scheduled on the fifth month, often on the fifth day.
Macanese love this festival so much the territory has declared the Macau International Dragon Boat Race and Festival a public holiday.
2 to 5 August
Macao’s Wushu Masters Challenge is a four-day themed event where Wushu martial arts experts show off an impressive display of flexibility, speed and technique. Wushu is a contemporary martial arts discipline that evolved from traditional Chinese martial arts. Events include Sanda (which is a bit like Muay Thai or kickboxing), Taoulu (for impressive displays of flying kicks), dragon and lion dances.
29th Macao International Fireworks Display
1, 8, 15 and 24 September and 1 October
Each September, fireworks experts from all around the world travel to Macao to compete in this major international fireworks competition. The 29th Macao International Fireworks Display Contest is an international competition of substance.Visiting Macao during the festival is one of the best times of the year to travel to Macao with kids.
Feast of the Hungry Ghosts
Are you ready for ghost month? Come night time on a special date in August find many people around Macau turning to prayer. Known as the feast of the hungry ghosts in Taoist culture, the faithful like to celebrate the spiritually inducing event on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month.
Lots of superstition and symbols are wrapped around this ancient celebration. There are lanterns which are hung and float on the water to help guide the invisible ghosts to operas and banquets; and, ‘hell money’ which are phoney paper banknotes that are piled high and burnt to please the visiting ghosts.
Many choose to be housebound, fearing to leave their homes but then many also like to gather together and pay their respects to the deceased by giving offerings and burning incense. It seems by doing this you feel better and have good health.
Feast of the Hungry Ghosts is a traditional Chinese festival to appease the souls of ancestors and forgotten spirits. Visiting Macao during the festival is a good chance to experience an aspect of Macao’s living culture.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time when Chinese families unite and enjoy a family feast or a picnic in one of Macao’s lovely spots. It’s a festival where children play with glittery lanterns and mooncakes made from ground lotus and sesame are offered as gifts to friends and family.
The mooncakes are made to remember the 14th-century uprising against the Mongols when revolution leaders communicated plans through embedded paper messages in the cakes.
Macau Golf Open
The Macao Golf Open attracts a roll call of leading Asian golfers to the Macao Golf and Country Club. The golf course is a scenic course next to the Grand Coloane Resort at Hac Sa Beach. Thai golfer Pavit Tangkamolprasert won in 2016 and dedicated his first Asian Tour victory to the late King Bhumibol of Thailand.
21st Lusofonia Festival
The festival is held the Taipa Houses Museum and is a celebration of Portuguese-speaking communities around the world. In previous years, booths representing Portuguese communities around the world have had displays from other regions conquered by the Portuguese.
16th Macau A-Ma Cultural & Tourism Festival
The 16th A-Ma Cultural & Tourism Festival begins with a grand opening ceremony at the A-Ma Cultural Village. The statue of the goddess A-Ma is one of the world’s tallest statues and sits on the top of a mountain on Coloane Island.
A-Ma village is a cultural complex with halls, pavilions and towers. Make sure to be there for the parade to soak up the vibrant atmosphere as folk dancing teams dance through the streets.
Festival of Ancestors (Chung Yeung Festival)
If you like hiking, you might enjoy the Chung Yeung Festival, which is also called the Festival of Ascending Heights or Double Ninth Festival. This is another traditional Chinese festival, where many people believe that climbing hills after praying at the graves of their ancestors will bring good luck and keep calamity at bay.
32nd Macau International Music Festival
A unique aspect of the Macau International Music Festival is that music is performed in World Heritage sites. The festival presents a fusion of Eastern and Western music in locations around Macao.
There’s something truly inspiring about listening to opera, orchestral and chamber music, or even Chinese folk music and jazz in a World Heritage site such as Dom Pedro V Theatre, Mount Fortress or St. Dominic’s Church.
18th Macau Food Festival
Macao shows off its culinary treats at this festival, where hundreds of local food merchants will participate in events to present Macao’s unique food culture to visitors and locals. The festival is held at Sai Van Lake Square and is a fun time for all the family, with food stalls, live performances and competitions. Read more about Macao’s unique cuisine here.
65th Macau Grand Prix
15 to 18 November
The Macau Grand Prix is Macao’s biggest international sporting event held annually. Formula 3 racing cars, motorcycles and saloon cars compete in this spectacle on the Guia circuit. The Macau Grand Prix is growing fast. Last year, the event was broadcasted over 93 networks and streamed live to 11.5 million viewers. If there’s one event where you’re guaranteed of an exciting time in Macao, this is it.
Macau International Marathon
Each year runners from around the world join hundreds of local athletes to compete in the Macau International Marathon. The course circles the peninsula and crosses over to Taipa and Coloane Islands. There are full, half and mini marathon events, which are open to professionals as well as amateurs.
Macao Light Festival
Macao turns into a fairyland in the month of December, when the Macao Light Festival illuminates the city with displays of colourful twinkling lights and 3D projections. It’s enchanting to see Macao’s World Heritage buildings lit up in a glittering display of creativity.
Feast of Immaculate Conception
The Feast of Immaculate Conception is a traditional Christian festival and a public holiday in Macao. It’s a holy day when Macao’s Catholic churches have special masses.
2nd International Film Festival and Awards Macao
In the past, Macao has starred in many movies, including the 23rd James Bond movie Skyfall, The Audition and The Man with the Golden Gun. The 2nd International Film Festival and Awards Macao aims to encourage new filmmakers and the festival is the event to attend if you want to be one of the first to discover new talent.
Winter Solstice is a traditional Chinese celebration, and a public holiday, when Macao’s top chefs pull out all stops to create unique menus. In Macao, Winter Solstice is a huge day of feasting, so if you love food, this is a perfect time to visit Macao.
Parade Through Macao, Latin City
Parade Through Macao, Latin City is a fun and colourful themed parade through Macao that bridges the gap between past and present. The costumes are eye-popping and the music will make you want to join the jig.
Christmas in Macao
24 and 25 December
Experience a touch of Europe in Macao as the city lights up with Christmas lights and Nativity scenes. Macao’s Portuguese roots come to the fore as cake shops and hotels offer traditional Portuguese Christmas cakes.
See this list for more festivals in Macao.
Plan your visit to Macau
Here are some resources to help you decide on things to do, places to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Macau.