According to legend, Macao began with a festival, when Chinese fishermen gave thanks to A-Ma, goddess of seafarers, for guiding them through a storm to land here. When Portuguese arrived in the same harbor they celebrated with prayer to their Catholic saints. Since then Macao has taken every opportunity to add to its holiday calendar...whether for religious, historical, sporting, cultural and even culinary reasons.
The A-Ma Temple at the entrance to the Inner Harbor is always popular with local and tourists. On the 23rd day of the 3rd moon (April or May) it is crowded to capacity for the A-Ma Festival with worshippers offering prayers, incense and food to the goddess, who is also known as Tin Hau. In the harbor fishing boat are festooned with embroidered banners, and firecrackers are exploded to drive away evil spirits.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year (1st day of the 1st moon, end of January or beginning of February) is the most important festival for all Chinese, being the time to renew family ties and make a fresh start. Most work comes to a halt for three days. There is a massive flower market, staged performances and endless firecrackers.
The Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival (5th day of the 5th moon, May or June) dates back over 2000 years and commemorates a scholar-statesmen who threw himselfsintosthe Yangtze River to protest official corruption. Reinstated in modern times, it is not only a chance for fishermen to celebrate with decorated vessels but for an international contest with fiercely fought races between dragon boats manned by crews from all over the world.
Ching Ming Festival (April)
Ching Ming Festival (April) is when the Chinese honor their ancestors by cleaning up their graves, arranging fresh flowers, burning joss sticks and papers offerings, and holding family picnics in the cemeteries.
The Mid Autumn or Mooncake Festival
The Mid Autumn or Mooncake Festival (15th day of the 8th moon, September or October), is the time when the Chinese celebrate the fullest and most beautiful moon of the year, with picnics in parks and on high places. They light fanciful lanterns and eat mooncakes, a egg-rich delicacy.
On the first day of Easter large crowds of Catholics and local families on a day out follow a solemn procession that has taken place for over 200years. Known as Our Lord of Passos it is led by the brilliantly robed Catholic clergy, a choir and the police band, who accompany a large wooden statue of Christ carrying the cross, from the Cathedral to St Augustine's via stations of the cross set up across the city, before the statue is reinstated in its usual place on the altar of St. Augustine's.
The Macao Golf Open takes place in Spring
(April or May) with famous players competing on the challenging professional course of the Macao Golf and Country Club on promontory overlooking the South China Sea and Coloane's beaches. The course is a challenging par-71 18 holes. The first is a few yards from the roof of the Westin Resort. The club has a pro shop, sauna, and pool. Caddies and carts are available.
Horse racing of some kind was recorded in 17th century Macao but modern racing dares from the late 18th century, when ponies brought from Philippines, competed over a track near the border, that is still called Hipodromo. The sport, a passion shared by Chinese and Westerners, flourished until 1843, when a race course opened in newly-settled Hong Kong drew away the punters. The sport returned to Macao in 1980, with a harness racing track being built on reclaimed land in Taipa. It was taken over by the Macao Jockey Club and reopened in 1989 as a state-of-the-art flat track with a 5-story grand, a computerized Tote, huge video matrix screen and luxurious accommodation for 900 thoroughbred horses.Women's Volleyball Grand Prix
One of the newest annual events is the Women's Volleyball Grand Prix (August), which is held in the vast hall of the Forum. Some of the best volleyball teams in the world compete to qualify for the finals.
Fireworks Display Contest
It would be hard to imagine a better stage than Macao for the International Fireworks Display Contest, held over a series of evenings in September and October. The largest event of its kind, it attracts the world's best pyrotechnicians. The amazingly complex displays are launched over Nam Van Lakes, with grandstand views for thousands of spectators on the Praia Grande, Penha Hill and Taipa.
International Music Festival
Macao's International Music Festival, held in October, bring together some of the finest orchestras, singers, instrumentalists and opera producers from Europe and China. The centerpiece is a grand opera that brings together Chinese orchestras and choirs, soloists from East and West, famous international stage designers and directors, plus a renowned conductor. Concerts and recitals, of European and Chinese music, take place in churches, the Dome Pedro V theatre, Lou Lim Ieoc pavilion and various outdoor venues.
The Macao Grand Prix
Originally conceived in 1954 as an amateur event for local motoring enthusiasts, the Macao Grand Prix is today a race meeting to which the world's leading riders and drivers vie for entries. Each November, Macao wakes up with a jolt as more than 300 racing drivers and riders, as well as thousands of motor sports fans, descend on the territory for the world's only street circuit race meeting which features both car and motorcycle races.
One of the highlights of the weekend is the Macao Formula 3 Grand Prix, which sees a field of 30 national championship drivers competing to take the chequered flag. For these young super stars of tomorrow, a win at Macau can guarantee the driver a place in a top Formula 3000 team or, in the case of exceptional talent, an immediate invitation to move in to the pinnacle of motor racing, Formula 1.
The late Ayrton Senna's win here in 1983, the first year Formula 3 ran at Macau, put the Grand Prix firmly on the world-wide motor racing calendar. F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher quickly established himself as the hottest property in F1 after his win in 1990, while David Coulthard's victory the following year brought him to the attention of the F1 fraternity. More recently, 1999 runner up Jenson Button jumped from the Macau podium straight to Formula 1, and three-time Macau Grand Prix competitor Alex Yoong just made his F1 debut.
That Macau's Guia Race for touring cars is unique there is no doubt. Very few races for this category take place on street circuits, and none other can boast an entry from so many different national series for a one-off festival of international touring car racing. This years event will run to Super Production regulations, and the 2001 race will see many of the world's front-running cars and drivers line up on the grid.
For two-wheel fans the Macao Motorcycle Grand Prix, now in its 35th year, is always a memorable event. Like its F3 counterpart, the Motorcycle Grand Prix regularly features a host of Grand Prix and Street Specialist superstars such as Kevin Schwantz, Carl Fogarty, Didier de Radigues and Ron Haslam.
In spite of its growth as a motor sports event of international standing, Macau has not forgotten its roots and there is a full compliment of support races to cater for the strong interest in motor sport from local enthusiasts.