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.
CALENDAR OF FESTIVALS AND EVENTS FOR 2012
Chinese New Year Holidays
Feast of the God Tou Tei
Procession of the Passion of Our Lord, the God Jesus
Feast of Pak Tai
Macau International Environmental Co-operation Forum & Exhibition
23rd Macau Arts Festival
May 1 – Jun 2 (tentative dates)
Procession of Our Lady of Fátima
International Museum Day
12th Macau Lotus Flower Festival
Macau International Dragon Boat Races
Jun 16-17, 23
Dragon Boat Festival (Tun Ng Festival)
Feast of Na Cha
Macau Franchise Expo 2012
International Youth Dance Festival
Feast of Kuan Tai
Feast of Maidens
Feast of Hungry Ghosts
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
The Day Following Mid-Autumn Festival
National Day of the People’s Republic of China
The Day Following National Day of the PRC
26th Macau International Music Festival
Oct 5 – Nov 4 (tentative dates)
Festival of Ancestors (Chung Yeung Festival)
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
Macau City Fringe Festival
59th Macau Grand Prix
Macau Food Festival
Nov (dates to be confirmed)
Macau International Marathon
Feast of Immaculate Conception
Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day
Macau International Kart Grand Prix
Dec (dates to be confirmed)