Chinese New Year in Macau is the biggest celebration of the year. With Macau’s unique mix of Chinese and Portuguese cultural influences, celebrating here is unlike anywhere else in China. Much like its upscale casino resorts, the New Year celebrations are a colourful, lively and grand affair. Here’s when and how to celebrate the Year of the Dog in Macau.
When is Chinese New Year?
This year, Chinese New Year falls on Friday 16 February 2018, and marks the start of the Year of the Dog. The celebrations last for three days in Macau with 16-18 February all being public holidays.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Macau during Chinese New Year, you’re in for a treat. Check out the following main events that comprise the city’s traditional annual celebrations.
Where to see Chinese New Year fireworks in Macau
Celebrations wouldn’t feel right without a spectacular fireworks display, especially in Macau where, in the 1950s and ’60s, the city’s main industry was the firecracker-making trade. Fireworks will be set off from the Macau Tower (the 20th tallest tower in the world) on 18 February at 9.45pm, and it promises to be spectacular.
Best vantage points are around the base of the Macau Tower or along the Taipa waterfront across the bridge. Alternatively, if you want to escape the crowds, book a room at Mandarin Oriental Macau that boasts unrivalled views looking out towards the Macau Tower – be sure to book early!
Mandarin Oriental Macau, Av. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Macau, +853 8805 8888
See the Chinese New Year Parade
This annual parade is the main event as far as Chinese New Year celebrations go in Macau. Held twice on 18 and 24 February, this year’s parade to celebrate the Year of the Dog will consist of colourful floats, drummers, acrobats, and dancers. The parade winds its way through the city from Macau Science Center to Sai Van Lake Square. Start time is at 8pm and the fireworks follow at 9.45pm at Macau Tower.
Macau Science Center, Macau, Avenida Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Macau, +853 2888 0822
Sai Van Lake Square, Largo da Torre de Macau, Macau, +853 2833 7676
Join the Chinese New Year Golden Dragon and Lion Parade
If there’s one event in Macau that you don’t want to miss, it’s the Chinese New Year Golden Dragon and Lion Parade taking place on 16 February. The highlight is a 238-metre long golden dragon followed by numerous lions that prance and wind their way around the Ruins of St. Paul’s and along the main streets of the city to Sai Van Lake Square. The public often join in with the parade and march alongside the dragons, lions and other mascots. The parade starts at 11am.
Ruins of St. Paul’s, Macau, +853 6238 6441
Visit the flower markets
The tradition of decorating the home with flowers, as well as giving them as gifts, is popular in both Macau and Hong Kong during Chinese New Year. People tend to buy fresh flowers, kumquat trees and other good-luck flowers in the few days before the start of Chinese New Year. The flower markets are best visited at night from 8pm onwards, when there is a real celebratory atmosphere. Macau’s Tap Seac Square flower market is a great option.
Go to the A-Ma Temple
Among the rituals and customs of the Lunar New Year season is to visit the local Chinese temples and pray to the deities for blessings and good luck in the year ahead. At the A-Ma Temple in Macau, you can also buy a traditional Chinese New Year pinwheel for good luck, as well as incense sticks for burning at the temple.
A-Ma Temple, Rua de São Tiago da Barra, Macau, +853 2836 6866
Have fun at the casinos
Perhaps a lucky flutter at one of Macau’s casinos will usher in good fortune for you at the start of the New Year! In Macau, you have plenty of options to try your luck. Keen to embrace the festivities, the casino resorts are filled with special promotions and activities during Chinese New Year. In addition, a number of the upscale hotels offer deals on their restaurants with delicious buffets and seasonal high teas galore. If you’re looking to sample Chinese fare, then head to one of these hotels and experience some of their delightful New Year dumplings, cookies and desserts.
Practise the language
In Macau where Cantonese is the most-spoken language, the common way to say “happy new year” is “gong hei fat choy” which literally means “wishing you great happiness and prosperity”.