Travel: A-Ma Cultural and Tourism Festival Macao

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Image courtesy of MGTO

This festival is not to be confused with the annual A-Ma Festival in April/May celebrated on the 23rd day of the third Lunar month, a grand birthday celebration of Mazu 妈祖, Goddess of the sea, and the Chinese patron saint equivalent of fishermen and sailors.

This coincides with the Chong Yeung Festival on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month celebrated across China and Hong Kong. This probably explains the parade up the hill in Coloane to the A-Ma temple on the hill top. It’s celebrated with the custom of hiking uphill as legends have it is to avoid danger and to metaphorically keep scaling heights in life – from career prospects to children growing tall and strong.

The temple was built in 1488 and sits on its original site, one of the UNESCO heritage sites to visit. Legend has it that it is how the name Macao (A-Ma-Gao : Bay of A-Ma) came about when Portuguese landed on that side of the peninsula (now Barra).

The A-Ma Customs and Beliefs of Macao were inscribed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage Representative Items recently in 2014.


Image courtesy of MGTO

I have been to the A-Ma temple at Barra (meaning Jetty or Pier in Portuguese) many times and always found it very serene. Located right by the Maritime museum, it’s been a backdrop for movies, and the area is serene amidst the bustling business of day to day life.  There is a fortune teller at the top of the steps that is rumoured to be very accurate and people make the pilgrimage to the temple to have fortunes read.


Image courtesy of MGTO

In recent years, a large A-Ma statue and temple was built in Coloane at the top of the hill. This annual A-Ma Cultural festival in October includes exhibitions, seminars and a grand ceremony in A-Ma Cultural Village in Coloane on a hill top (28/10, 10:00am to 11:00am).

I went up to A-Ma Cultural Village and the temple last Chinese New Year – a very busy time of year as people make offerings and wishes, praying for a safe and prosperous new year.




In the evening, join the parade near the A-Ma temple in Barra from 3-5pm between Fai Chi Kei (near the Canindrome) and Iao Hon Market Garden, followed by art troupe performances. The closing ceremony 10-11pm will take place from Iao Hon Market Garden back to A-Ma Cultural Village in Coloane.


The A-Ma Cultural village in Coloane is a little windy steep hike about 2.5km up (the entrance is close to the Panda park) a nice workout in this lovely Autumn weather, or a 15 minutes taxi ride from Taipa Village.


Image courtesy of MGTO

Be sure to check for road closures if you’re driving as there will be traffic diversions for the parade to take place.

In between the festivities and parade, if you’re in the Barra area,  you might like to have a wander around. Have lunch at Casa de Porco Creto and stop by for a milk tea in one of the chachaantengs or Chill Cafe a cosy shophouse duplex that serves up simple western fare.

If you’re looking for something to eat around the A-Ma cultural village, head over to Coloane Village for some Lord Stow egg tarts and have lunch/dinner at Café Tim Nga (I love their sweet and sour pork and range of seafood dishes) Opposite Tim Nga is another local outdoor diners that does a really good lemon chicken.

And if you’re in Fai Chi Kei and feeling hungry. There is a hole in a wall Sichuan noodles place Xiang La Yuan 香辣园, literally meaning “fragrant spicy garden” that serves up authentic spicy dishes including the signature dish of a whole fish served in chilli oil and vegetables. I am sure there’s an MSG party going on in the broth, but it’s soooo good.

When: Saturday October 28 2017

Where:  A-Ma temple in Coloane to A-Ma temple in Barra, stop by the route Fai Chi Kei (near the Canindrome) and Iao Hon Market Garden (take note of timings and traffic)

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