When a city is built on the back of two major but significantly different cultures, there are bound to be a ton of festivals, and that is certainly the case in Macau. The Portuguese contributed all of the Western holidays I’m sure you’re familiar with, like New Year’s, Easter, and Christmas, while the Chinese added their equivalents in The Spring Festival, Mid Autumn Festival and Tomb Sweeping Day. Besides these obvious ones, there are quite a few events and festivals specific to Macau itself which I’ve focused on below. For a more comprehensive list, please check the Macau Government Tourist Office website here: Calendar of Events.
Procession of the Passion of Our Lord, the God Jesus (February/March)
There is a magnificent statue of Christ carrying a Cross that usually rests under the altar of St. Augustine’s Church. On the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday, that statue is carried by clergy members from St. Augustine’s Church to Cathedral, followed by a parade of devotees. The procession heads through Senado Square to Trav. do Roquete then to Cathedral and Cathedral Square, the site of an overnight vigil. The following day, He returns to St. Augustine’s Church, via Senado Square, St. Dominic’s Square, Rua do Campo and Av. da Praia Grande. Known as Macau’s most marvellous procession, it re-enacts Jesus carrying his cross to the Crucifixion.
This festival has a long history that dates back to the 17th Century at least. In 1712, after the Augustinians were expelled from Macau, the procession was no longer allowed to continue. The banning happened to coincide with a food shortage that the local Chinese connected together. They rose, insisting that the “Man with the Cross” walk again. The procession was quickly restored, and the food shortage, naturally, ended soon after.
For details on the 2017 festivities, please follow the link here: Procession of The Passion of Our Lord.
A-Ma Festival (April/May)
In 1448 an old junk was awash in the South China sea, being battered by a ferocious storm. It was seconds away from sinking when a beautiful young woman suddenly appeared overhead and made the storm stop. She was the goddess A-Ma, the deity of fishermen and sea folk. When the old junk reached shore, a temple was built in her name, and Macau was born.
A Ma Temple is the centre of festivities for the A Ma Festival, where locals gather to make offerings and watch Chinese opera.
Feast of the Drunken Dragon, Feast of the Bathing of Lord Buddha, Tam Kong Festival (April/May)
The Buddha’s birthday is quite possibly the most festive day in Macau, with events happening in Macau, Taipa and Coloane. I checked it out in 2012 and had a great time.
For more information, please check out my Trip Story here: Feast of the Drunken Dragon.
Procession of Our Lady of Fatima (May 13th)
The Virgin Mary hits the town every May 13th, commemorating the six appearances she made in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.
The 2012 version is also another Trip Story found here: Our Lady of Fatima.
Dragon Boat Festival (May/June)
The Dragon Boat Festival celebrates the life of one of China’s greatest poets, Qu Yuan, who lived from 340 to 278 BC. Exiled by rival ministers who slandered him, Qu committed suicide by drowning in a river after his capital fell to the invading Qin. His friends tried to save him by frantically racing out to the water to stop him but were too late. To prevent his dead body from being devoured by fish, they dropped sticky rice (zongzi) into the water so the fish would eat that instead.
On the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, it is the custom of Chinese to eat sticky rice and race dragon boats. In Macau, the races take place on Sai Van Lake by Macau Tower, and are contested by foreign and local teams alike.
I attended the 2017 event, which you can read all about here: Dragon Boat Races.
Lusofonia Festival (October)
The Lusofonia Festival is a 3 day celebration of Portuguese culture, history and heritage, featuring the food, music, dance and activities of various Portuguese speaking territories found all over the world. I went to the 2015 edition and had a fantastic time. In fact, I’m going to make it my new annual tradition to go every year.
For more information about the event, please click here: 2015 Lusofonia Festival.
Grand Prix Race (November)
The biggest event of the year is definitely the annual F3 race that shuts the city down every November.
Jane and I saw the 2014 race here: Grand Prix Race.
Macau Food Festival (November)
The Macau Food Festival is getting better and better each year, with more food and better selections. If there’s one complaint, it’s that there aren’t enough English menus and signs, but you should be able to find enough booths that have them.
For more information, please follow the link to the 2019 Food Festival.