3 reasons to visit Macau in September/October

By Vestigo Macau

Photo Credits: Kenny Ngai

If there were ever a perfect time to visit the city, it would have to be September/October – and just as summer starts to draw to a close, no fewer than three festivals are hitting Macau these 2 months.

Running on three consecutive Saturdays (1, 8 and 15 September , please see below for updates due to weather), then on 24 September and 1 October (China's National Day), the 29th Macao International Fireworks Display Contest is held on the shore at the sea area in front of Macau Tower, and has won a reputation as one of the world’s leading pyrotechnics extravaganzas.

Since its first edition in 1989, the contest has attracted more than 100 teams from all over the world. Many Asian countries have participated including China, the Philippines, Thailand and Japan, while there has also been a professional contingent from the West represented by Australia, the UK, Switzerland, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

For this year’s 29th edition of the contest, overseas visitors are once again expected to descend on the city so that their holiday coincides with the spectacular displays in the night sky, which can be admired from many viewpoints both in peninsular Macau and Taipa. Among the delegations exhibiting their firework prowess are the Philippines, Korea, Belgium, Japan, France, Portugal, Germany and Austria, while on the final night (1 October), displays will be showcased by Italy and China. Two programs are scheduled for each evening of the festival, with an early show at 9pm and a second, climactic spectacle at 9.40pm. 

*Macao International Fireworks Display Contest rescheduled fireworks displays this Saturday, 15 September for another date.

According to the weather forecast of Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau, Macao will be under the influence of unstable weather conditions this weekend. Therefore, the fireworks displays (by French and Portuguese teams) originally scheduled on the third night, this Saturday (15 September) by the Macao International Fireworks Display Contest, as well as the Fireworks Carnival on the same night, will be rescheduled to another date. Residents’ and visitors’ kind attention and understanding for the above change are appreciated.

The updated schedule of fireworks displays will be announced by Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) at a later time and uploaded on MGTO’s website: http://fireworks.macaotourism.gov.mo

Aside from the fireworks, there are four competitions running in conjunction with the festival that are designed to encourage the participation of spectators and enthusiasts. A student drawing contest allows young artists in two age categories to depict the explosive scenes in the night skies; a photo contest is open to photographers in two age groups (up to 24 and 25-plus) to capture the colourful magic of the pyrotechnics; locals can use their artistry and imagination to create a winner's prize in a trophy design contest; and in the song composition competition, musical types can write a melody and lyrics to be used as a theme song for the festival.


A less noisy, but equally spectacular celebration takes place on 24 September – the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar – as the Mid-Autumn Festival comes to Macau. Festive vibes permeate the city as its streets are beautifully decorated with colourful lanterns. Considered one of the most important festivals in Chinese culture, mid-autumn – which is timed to coincide with a full moon – is traditionally a time for family reunions. It's also the peak period for the consumption of mooncakes, when Chinese people offer this sweet pastry as a tasty gift to relatives and friends.

  Photography : MGM Macau 

The festival is often marked by families gathering for a celebratory dinner, followed by a night walk to enjoy the beauty of the full moon. Some may also have a picnic in an outdoor location – in a garden, by a lake or on the beach – while consuming mooncakes and seasonal fruits, as children play with glittery lanterns.


Finally, on 28 September, the 32nd Macao International Music Festival – China's most established festival – gets under way, kickstarting a month of eclectic performances played by virtuosos from Europe, South America and Asia. Continuing the tradition of recent festivals, many genres of music are on show, including opera, orchestral and chamber music, jazz and Broadway tunes.

Photography : Juith Schlosser

Since its first edition in 1987, the festival has remained a favourite calendar highlight among local people – not least because it coincides with the start of autumn, and local musicians are represented among the international stars. This year's edition is no exception, with EVADE, an electronic music group from Macau, joining the Beijing group FM3 at Navy Yard No. 2 for "Electronic Sparks", a joint performance at Navy Yard No. 2 – an outlier in a festival largely characterised by more traditional musical styles. 

  Photography : Evade Macau Facebook

This year's festival also commemorates the anniversaries of two Italian greats (Donizetti and Rossini), with performances of the operas L'Elisir d'Amore (on opening night) and Il Signor Bruschino representing the composers' work respectively. Showcasing the diversity of the repertoire, two family groups with very different approaches also take the stage: Los Romero, a Spanish guitar four-piece, and Hagen Quartet, a string group from Salzburg, Austria's birthplace of Mozart. Among the more unusual performances are Stile Antico, a vocal ensemble from the UK who revive the tradition of Renaissance music, and Sangre Iberico from Portugal, who blend the Latin idioms of rumba flamenca and fado.

  Photography : Sangre Iberico Facebook

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