Macau’s 2012 feast of festivals

From drunken dragons to hungry ghosts, for an Asian centre which thrives on dishing out a few surprises, Macau knows how to turn on a feast.

Firstly, there’s the annual Feast of the Bathing Buddha, a day in the northern spring where the images of Buddha are ceremonially cleansed and purified in temples throughout the territory.

Then there’s the Feast of the Drunken Dragon, a strange festival compared with other major Chinese Buddhist ceremonies and dates back from the Qing Dynasty, and the Feast of Maidens and the Feast of Hungry Ghosts.

And, of course, there’s the November staging of the Macau Food Festival which highlights the many tantalising delicacies of a centre which prides itself on a true mix of recipes from east-meets-west backgrounds.

They’re among a smorgasbord of festivals to crowd what is a congested calendar for 2012.

Beginning with the spectacular Chinese New Year holidays from January 23-25, the list also includes a few annual highly charged favourites such as the June running of the Macau International Dragon Boat Races and Dragon Boat Festival, the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest – in its 24th year – throughout September and the 59th Macau Grand Prix from November 15-18.

Combine the festivals with the many tourist attractions which make up the 25 UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites and the contemporary precincts and Vegas-like shows of the Cotai Strip, reclaimed land between the Macau islands of Taipa and Coloane, and there’s much to see and do on a visit.

“Whether they are of Chinese or Portuguese heritage, the people of Macau truly like to celebrate with a festival,” said Helen Wong, general manager of the Macau Government Tourist Office in Australia and New Zealand. “Prepare to feast on another year of song and dance, colourful religious parades, street markets, spectacular fireworks and plenty of sporting events,” she said. “There’s no shortage of reasons to visit Macau – throughout the year.”

Away from the festivities, major attractions of Macau include the iconic 17th Century Ruins of St Paul’s, the popular Senado Square with its wave-like paving, the main fortress as well as the Guia Fortress, a sprinkling of refurbished and colourfully painted churches, and the A-Ma Temple, which existed long before the arrival of the first Portuguese sailors 500 years ago.

There’s also a 20-metre statue of the Goddess of Kun Iam – Goddess of Mercy –  as well as much taller 338-metre high Macau Tower, a venue for Skywalks around the perimeter of an outer rim 233 metres above the ground and a series of  A J Hackett bungee jumps.



Chinese New Year Holidays

Jan 23-25

Feast of the God Tou Tei

Feb 23

Procession of the Passion of Our Lord, the God Jesus

Feb 25-26

Feast of Pak Tai

Mar 24

Macau International Environmental Co-operation Forum & Exhibition

Mar 29-31

Ching Ming

Apr 4

Easter Holidays

Apr 6-7

A-Ma Festival

Apr 13

Feast of Buddha (Feast of the Bathing of Lord Buddha), Feast of the Drunken Dragon, Tam Kong Festival

Apr 28

Labour Day

May 1

23rd Macau Arts Festival

May 1 – Jun 2 (tentative dates)

Procession of Our Lady of Fátima

May 13

International Museum Day

May 18

12th Macau Lotus Flower Festival

Jun 9-17

Macau International Dragon Boat Races

Jun 16-17, 23

Dragon Boat Festival (Tun Ng Festival)

Jun 23

Feast of Na Cha

Jul 6

Macau Franchise Expo 2012

Jul 6-8

International Youth Dance Festival

Jul 20-26

Feast of Kuan Tai

Aug 11

Feast of Maidens

Aug 23

Feast of Hungry Ghosts

Aug 30

FIVB World Grand Prix

Aug (dates to be confirmed)

24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest

Sep 8,15,22,29 & Oct 1

World Tourism Day

Sep 27

Mid-Autumn Festival

Sep 30

The Day Following Mid-Autumn Festival

Oct 1

National Day of the People’s Republic of China

Oct 1

The Day Following National Day of the PRC

Oct 2

26th Macau International Music Festival

Oct 5 – Nov 4 (tentative dates)

Lusofonia Festival

Oct 19-21

Festival of Ancestors (Chung Yeung Festival)

Oct 23

10th Macau A-Ma Cultural & Tourism Festival

Oct (dates to be confirmed)

17th Macau International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF)

Oct (dates to be confirmed)

All Souls Day

Nov 2

Macau City Fringe Festival

Nov 9-25

59th Macau Grand Prix

Nov 15-18

Macau Food Festival

Nov (dates to be confirmed)

Macau International Marathon

Dec 2

Feast of Immaculate Conception

Dec 8

Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day

Dec 20

Winter Solstice

Dec 21

Christmas Holidays

Dec 24-25

Macau International Kart Grand Prix

Dec (dates to be confirmed)

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