Macau Readies to Celebrate its 10th Anniversary

The diverse population of Macau will be the focal point of festivities taking place this month

By: By Norman Sklarewitz

is known for its large-scale events such as an annual fireworks display. // © Macau Government Tourist Office 2009

Macau is known for its large-scale events such as an annual fireworks display. // © Macau Government Tourist Office 2009

Over the years, Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China, has been the scene for some major crowd-pleasing events. Take the festive Macau International Fireworks Display Contest for instance. Active for 21 years, this colorful competition is the longest-running, grand-scale event in Macau and one in which competing teams fire off elaborate displays of fireworks under the watchful eyes of judges and excited spectators each fall. After the play-offs wind down and the smoke clears, the finalists meet to determine who will be crowned champion and take home a considerable cash prize.

Almost immediately after, in November, the city-state hosts its renowned Macau Grand Prix race. Over the course of three days, Macau is taken over by motorsport enthusiasts. The first day is given to motorcycle competition, while the second witnesses stock car races. But by the third day, the excitement builds to a fever pitch when the top Formula 3 drivers and their high-speed, highly expensive cars, take over the streets of Macau for a grand finale in the Guia Race Circuit. Around the 3.7-mile course, the reverberating sound of engines combined with the cheers of fans dominates the city.

These two spectacular events are organized and sponsored by the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO). Therefore, it only seems appropriate that the biggest event in Macau’s recent history — the celebration marking the 10th anniversary of Macau’s return to China — would be run exclusively by the MGTO. However, Joao Manuel Costa Antunes, the director of the MGTO, has come up with the idea of making the celebration one in which the people of Macau, rather than the MGTO, are the stars.

“The MGTO will be in charge of only a small part of the program,” said Antunes of the massive event scheduled for Dec. 20. “There will be an organizing committee, but most of the actual activities will be managed directly by different community associations.”

In the recent past, Antunes and his associates realized that Macau’s population consists of many social, cultural, family and special interest groups. One MGTO count showed that there may be as many as 2,000 such individual groups in the Macau: There are groups made up of Portuguese expatriates, Macanese and Chinese who came from districts and small towns in mainland China, as well as others from close-knit Chinese families. There are also groups organized around sports and hobbies such as flower arranging, painting, Chinese opera, theater and dance, while some special-interest groups are dedicated to food and cooking.

“The idea is to make the 10th anniversary celebration one that is linked directly to the people,” he said. “We want this not to be just one big show but a celebration of the people of Macau, who will create a collection of individual shows.”

Among other festivities, the event will feature a sensational fireworks display on Dec. 20 — expected to be the largest and most impressive in Macau’s history to date.

Macau Government Tourist Office