A city of festivals, with an exciting calendar throughout the year, there’s no doubt that Macao knows how to throw a party. What’s more, Macao’s rich heritage inherited from the Portuguese and Chinese gives it the edge in the festival department.
From Chinese lion dances to burning incense for hungry ghosts to religious festivals brought to the former Portuguese colony by Jesuit priests and Portuguese conquerors, Macao’s festivals are a feast for the eyes.
During a festival, the colourful decorations, costumes and dances add another dimension to those wonderful places to visit in Macau.
Macau comes alive during these crowd-pleasing blockbuster events, so, here’s our guide to celebrations, events and festivals in Macao in 2019 and beyond.
- 1 Macau festivals list
- 1.1 Ching Ming
- 1.2 Feast of Pak Tai
- 1.3 Easter in Macao
- 1.4 A-Ma Festival
- 1.5 30th Macao Arts Festival
- 1.6 Three Feasts
- 1.7 Procession of Our Lady of Fatima
- 1.8 International Dragon Boat Races and Festival
- 1.9 19th Macao Lotus Flower Festival
- 1.10 Feast of Na Tcha
- 1.11 Feast of Kuan Tai
- 1.12 Wushu Masters Challenge
- 1.13 Feast of Maidens
- 1.14 Feast of the Hungry Ghosts
- 1.15 30th Macao International Fireworks Display
- 1.16 Mid-Autumn Festival
- 1.17 Festival of Ancestors (Chung Yeung Festival)
- 1.18 22nd Lusofonia Festival
- 1.19 17th Macau A-Ma Cultural & Tourism Festival
- 1.20 33rd Macau International Music Festival
- 1.21 19th Macau Food Festival
- 1.22 66th Macau Grand Prix
- 1.23 Macao Light Festival
- 1.24 Feast of Immaculate Conception
- 1.25 4th International Film Festival and Awards Macao
- 1.26 Winter Solstice
- 1.27 Macao International Parade
- 1.28 Christmas in Macao
- 1.29 17th Macao City Fringe Festival
- 1.30 Chinese New Year
- 1.31 Feast of Tou Tai
- 1.32 Procession of the Passion of the Lord God Jesus
- 2 Plan your visit to Macao
Macau festivals list
5 April 2019
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.
7 April 2019
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.
Easter in Macao
19 to 20 April 2019
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) but make sure to try Macao’s famous Portuguese egg tarts too.
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.
27 April 2019
Join the crowds paying homage to the Goddess of Seafarers and celebrate how Macao got its name.
According to legend, Taoist goddess A-Ma (or Tin Hau) used her magic powers to save a junk that was caught in a storm in the South China Sea.
The goddess took control of the elements and saved everyone on board.
The grateful sailors built the A-Ma Temple on the spot where the boat landed, and to this day, seafarers continue to visit the ancient temple to give thanks to the merciful goddess.
30th Macao Arts Festival
4 May to 2 June 2019
The Macao Arts Festival is a major festival in Macao, with a different theme each year.
The festival promotes the arts in Macao by bringing together international and local artists who perform in over 100 shows each year.
There’s a balanced programme of contemporary theatre and music, traditional cultural performances and family entertainment designed to appeal to a broad audience.
12 May 2019
Feast of Buddha – Feast of the Drunken Dragon – Tam Kong Festival
The three festivals on one day make this day a fantastic time to soak up Macao’s fantastic fables and folklore than underpin Chinese culture.
The Feast of Buddha is also known as the Feast of the Bathing of Lord Buddha as all the statues of Buddha in the temples in Macao and ceremonially washed.
Feast of the Drunken Dragon starts at the Kuan Tai Temple near Senado Square, where men perform an energetic “drunken dance” with a dragon’s head and tail (see above).
The dance is followed by a street parade and much drinking as the festival is in honour of a man who consumed alcohol to pluck up the courage to fight an evil dragon.
Another dragon dance, street procession and Cantonese Opera marks the Tam Kong Festival, which celebrates the birthday of the child god who had the power to control the weather and heal sick children.
Procession of Our Lady of Fatima
13 May 2019
In May 1917, on their way home from tending to sheep near the village of Fatima in Portugal, three children claimed the Virgin Mary revealed secrets about the future.
Word spread and 70,000 people turned up to see what the Catholic Church calls “the Miracle of the Sun,” (according to reports, the sun emerged from behind clouds spinning and trembling).
In honour of this miracle and other predictions, the Procession of Our Lady of Fatima starts at the S. Domingos Church, parading through the streets to the Penha Chapel and ends with an open-air mass.
International Dragon Boat Races and Festival
1,2 and 7 June 2019
This ancient tribal seafaring competition is more exciting than a Rugby game, with cheerleaders whirling bright shakers and revellers in the grandstands shouting, cheering and shaking tambourines.
The atmosphere at Nam Van Lake Nautical Centre crackles with energy as the teams race neck-to-neck in hand-carved wooden boats.
The Macau International Dragon Boat Race and Festival a public holiday in Macao.
19th Macao Lotus Flower Festival
3 to 16 June
Visit Macao during the festival and you’ll be enchanted by the sight of pots of lotus in the parks, streets and popular attractions.
If you’re keen to see more, head to the Taipa Houses Museum and Lou Lim Ieoc Garden for a showcase.
Many of Macao’s Chinese restaurants serve up seasonal lotus-themed dishes during the Macao Lotus Flower Festival.
The lotus has been a symbol of Chinese culture for centuries and is part of the emblem on the Macao SAR flag.
Feast of Na Tcha
20 June 2019
Celebrating the birthday of a child god Na Tcha, feasts and ceremonies are held at the Na Tcha Temple near the Ruins of St. Paul’s, and the Na Tcha Ancient Temple on Calçada das Verdades.
Feast of Kuan Tai
26 July 2019
Another Chinese cultural event, the feast of Kuan Tai pays homage to the deity in Macao associated with loyalty.
Those who believe in the powers of Kuan Tai offer burn joss sticks, offer fresh flowers and other items to worship Kuan Tai in their homes.
Many local shops also display Kuan Tai statues and if you’re visiting Macao, the Kuan Tai Temple is the place to go to see believers burn joss sticks and make ritual offerings before the lion and dragon dance performances and sporting competitions.
1 to 4 August 2019
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.
Feast of Maidens
7 August 2019
Also known as the Lovers’ Festival, the Feast of Maidens is on the seventh day of the seventh moon on the lunar calendar.
It’s a romantic festival for unmarried women, celebrating the one day every year when the Heavenly Weaver meets up with her lover, the Cowherd.
The lovers meet over a bridge of birds across the Milky Way.
Feast of the Hungry Ghosts
14 August 2019
Are you ready for ghost month? The hungry ghosts come out to play and lots of superstition and symbols are wrapped around this ancient celebration.
People hang lanterns to guide the invisible ghosts to operas and banquets; and, fake paper notes are burnt to appease the visiting ghosts.
Those who are superstitious choose to be housebound out of fear of encountering an evil spirit.
Visiting Macao during the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts – a traditional Chinese festival to appease the souls of ancestors and forgotten spirits – is an opportunity to experience a slice of living culture in Macao.
30th Macao International Fireworks Display
7 September to 5 October 2019
Each September, fireworks experts from all around the world travel to Macao to compete in this major international fireworks competition.
The 30th 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.
13 September 2019
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.
Festival of Ancestors (Chung Yeung Festival)
7 October 2019
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.
22nd Lusofonia Festival
18 to 20 October 2019
The Lusofonia Festival is a three-day festival of Macao’s Portuguese culture, music, dance, games and food.
Wander around and watch the dancers as you nibble on tasty Portuguese treats.
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.
17th Macau A-Ma Cultural & Tourism Festival
The 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.
33rd Macau International Music Festival
4 October to 3 November 2019
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.
19th Macau Food Festival
8 to 24 November 2019
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.
Taste the unique flavours of Macanese cuisine as well as a range of Asian and international food.
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.
66th Macau Grand Prix
14 to 17 November 2019
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 an exciting time in Macao, this is it.
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
8 December 2019
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.
4th 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 4th International Film Festival and Awards Macao aim 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.
22 December 2019
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.
Macao International Parade
The Macao International Parade 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 2019
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.
17th Macao City Fringe Festival
Discover Macao’s artistic side at the 17th Macao City Fringe Festival by attending workshops, talks and creative events.
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).
Seeing the streets of Macao during the festival will lift your spirits.
2019 started off with a bang with the Chinese New Year of the Pig celebrations taking place throughout Macao.
From a colourful and energetic parade and spectacular fireworks displays, the celebrations were only the start of what is shaping up to be an exciting year.
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.
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.
Plan your visit to Macao
Inspired to take a trip to Macao? Here are some resources to help you decide on things to do, places to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Macau.
Where to say in Macao
Macao has experienced explosive growth, with new hotels popping up each year. Read our Macau Hotel Guide to find out where to stay.
If you’re travelling on a budget, here are some cheap Macau hotels too.
Where to eat in Macao
As a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, Macao is a delightful dining destination. Macao’s restaurants dish up a range of delicious food, from traditional Macanese to Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese and International fare. Check out our Macau Restaurant Guide for the best restaurants in Macao.