We’ve picked out some of the biggest, best and lesser known Macau events for 2017. Find everything from blockbuster fixtures, like the A-Ma festival and the Procession of Our Lady of Fatima, to Riverdance and Tom Jones. We’ll be adding new events, festivals and celebrations to this list throughout the year.
Chinese New Year (January 23rd)
The big one here and across the water in Hong Kong, Chinese New Year is the flagship event in Macau’s calendar. In the run up to the festival you’ll be able to marvel at worshippers squeezing into incense filled traditional temples to pray and strong-arming their way through colourful markets to buy lucky kumquat trees. On the day itself there is a spectacular parade, where you can watch dragons snake through the streets, and fireworks galore. Elsewhere, casinos will be offering freebies and promotions. The city is a popular destination for Chinese New Year, so book your Macau hotel early.
Riverdance (until February 5th)
Incredibly, it’s back; the Irish dancing sensation first launched at the Eurovision song contest back in 1994 has been rejigged and reworked twenty plus years later. You’ll likely find the same frantic dancing to the sounds of Celtic fiddles. Riverdance is being staged at the Venetian Macau.
Taipa Flea Market (Sundays in February)
Old Taipa Village is one of the most enjoyable parts of Macau. While the low rise colonial streets and climbing lamp lit staircases have become more touristy, it remains an enjoyable laidback break from downtown Macau. Each Sunday in February (from 11am-8pm) there is an added incentive to explore the streets here, with market stalls set up on the cobblestones, as well as bands, clowns and puppet shows for the kids.
Tom Jones (February 25th)
Expect panties flying through the air as the world’s best crooner takes to the stage. The Welsh Wizard will be bending his silky smooth voice around Delilah, Sex Bomb and more recent songs from his latest critically acclaimed album.
London Symphony Orchestra (March 1st)
One of the world’s most acclaimed symphony orchestras will perform for one night only in Macau. Eschewing the more modern TV and film music they are increasingly well known for, the LSO will strike up the strings to being classical fans Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony and Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony. The event will be held at the Macau Cultural Centre and booking in advance is advised.
A-Ma Festival (April 19th)
Macau shares dozens of traditional religious festivals with Hong Kong and China (including this one), and the celebrations in its sister SAR or on the mainland are often more spectacular. Not the A-Ma Festival. Nowhere does this flag waving, seafaring festival better. The celebration pays homage to the Taoist god of fishermen, with locals filling up the local A-Ma temple with offerings of oranges, apples and other fruit. There will also be a flotilla of local flag waving fisherman swinging through the inner harbour.
Macau Arts Festival (throughout May)
Macau isn’t especially well regarded for its cultural success, and unfortunately this arts festival probably won’t change your mind. Yes, there are some decent Chinese opera performances and the event has attracted some not half bad ballet companies from abroad in past years, but in truth much of the talent is middle of the road. Instead, look for events being held at some of the city’s UNESCO listed sights – where you can watch Swan Lake amidst the cobblestones of Senado Square or Shakespeare against the backdrop of an 18th century church.
Procession of Our Lady of Fatima (May 13th)
Centuries of Portuguese rule left Macau with a deeply religious streak, although you don’t need to be Christian to enjoy the solemn sense of occasion at this procession of Lady Fatima. Find hundreds of devotees dressed in white carrying a statue of Portugal’s patron saint to the Penha Chapel for an open air mass.
Macau International Dragon Boat Races (May 27th-30th)
An increasing rival to the world class dragon boat race celebration held across the water in Hong Kong, Macau’s dragon boat event is as much about having a good time as it is about sport. Join revellers on the waterfront for music, beer and impromptu BBQs as you watch teams of 10-50 paddlers furiously thrust intricately carved boats through water. Happily, the event takes place centrally, in front of the Wynn Macau on Nam Van Lake.
Macau Lotus Flower Festival (June 10th -18th)
Not just Macau’s favourite flower, but the petal beloved across China. The Lotus flower has religious significance, as well as being used widely in art, literature and architecture. See the best of the blooms at the Macau Lotus Flower Festival, with displays put on at locations around town. At some restaurants the brave can even try lotus themed cuisine. Most events are free.
Macau Grand Prix (November 16-19th)
Now in its sixty fourth year, the Macau Grand Prix has delivered some of the biggest names in motorsport history to the city – including Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Yes, it’s Formula 3 rather than 1, but it attracts all the glitz and glamour of a full F1 event. The Guia track is recognised as one of the trickiest in the driving business, while grandstands will be bursting full of enthusiastic flag waving fans. There is also a motorcycle grand prix, tour car racing and plenty of sponsored events from Red Bull, Ferrari and other big name brands.
Macau International Fireworks Day (Sep 2nd, 9th, 16th , 23rd and Octr 1st)
New Year in Sydney? Chinese New Year in Hong Kong? There are dozens of events that claim to have the firework display to end all firework displays, and the Macau International Fireworks Day bonanza is certainly one of them. This is where the world’s best firework teams gather to duel it out over the waterfront with dazzling pyrotechnic displays. There is no fire and forget here; teams present carefully choreographed explosions and a massive crescendo of detonations. The finale takes about an hour from start to finish, and is completely and utterly free.
Macau Food Festival (November 10th-26th)
Michelin stars and applause for the cities unique Macanese cuisine have finally put Macau on the culinary map. While the 17th Macau Food Festival can’t compete with rival events, the collection of food on display is bigger than ever. Expect cut price street food stalls set up around Sai Van Lake Square and traditional funfair rides as well.
Macau Film Festival (December. Dates TBC)
Macau is lucky to be just a few miles away from Hong Kong, meaning its flagship film festival, which is only in its second year, is able to punch above its weight in the talent and films it’s able to attract. Stanley Kwan and Makiko Watanabe were just two of the names on the inaugural jury, in a festival that focuses not only on Chinese film but the best from East Asia. The programme for 2017 hasn’t been announced yet, but expect more A-list directors and high quality films.