Discover Macau’s Hidden Treasures at the City’s Fringe Festival

Miró Lab – one of the exhibitors at the festival – showcasing the art of Spanish surrealist master Joan Miró
Miró Lab – one of the exhibitors at the festival – showcasing the art of Spanish surrealist master Joan Miró | Courtesy of Macau City Fringe Festival.
Matthew Keegan

The 17th Macau City Fringe Festival, which takes place from January 12–21, 2018, invites visitors to uncover the cultural treasures of Macau that are often overlooked.

Since Macau swelled into the world’s most successful gambling hub, its booming casino industry often gives the impression that there is little else to the city than a mere carbon copy of Las Vegas. But scratch the surface, and you will be surprised – the city’s annual Fringe Festival is on a mission to prove that there’s more to Macau than first meets the eye.

Now in its 17th year, the Fringe Festival was initiated to encourage residents, as well as visitors, to discover the city’s treasures and explore overlooked values in the interaction between people.

One of the main attractions happening this year is ‘My Old Man is a Bus Driver’, presented by Dream Theater Association. It takes the audience on a two-hour drive with a retired bus driver, wandering around areas of Macau that have likely been forgotten.

Other than its famous casinos, Macau is the only place in the world where you can find the unique assimilation of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, which is best reflected in areas such as the Historic Centre of Macau. In fact, Macau’s historic centre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005, with over 20 locations that exhibit the unique co-existence of the two contrasting cultures.

Perhaps the most symbolic site that represents Macau’s unique blend of East and West is Senado Square. This charming town square is surrounded by numerous distinctive pastel-coloured monuments of Macau’s colourful history – it’s here where you can clearly see the blending of Macau’s Portuguese and Chinese heritage. The square was a popular meeting place for the Chinese and Portuguese in the 16th to 18th centuries. Today, it’s a perfect spot to come and soak up the unique culture of Macau and watch the world go by. Such is Senado Square’s significance, there’s a saying that goes ‘You haven’t been to Macau if you haven’t been to Senado Square.’

Senado Square

Another highlight of the festival promises to be the ‘Portrait of Macau’s Flavours’. This unique production invites visitors, over three consecutive days, to explore the streets and back lanes of Macau to collect and record stories about the city’s unique sights, smells, tastes and flavours, and compose a summary in the form of live art before incorporating everything to construct a portrait of Macau. Emerging French-educated mainland Chinese artist Yike and site-specific theatre expert Soda-City Experimental Workshop will be guiding visitors. It promises to offer a one-of-a-kind approach to exploring the city.

‘Portrait of Macau’s Flavours’ join artists for a three-day exploration of the city’s lesser-known sights and flavours

The opening ceremony of the festival will take place on Friday, January 12, 2018, at 3 pm, at the Old Court Building. The festival will run until January 21st at various theatres and performance spaces throughout Macau.

For more info and tickets visit

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