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Festivals to experience in the Greater Bay Area

Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance

In Hong Kong, eye-opening festivals take place all year round. From the quirky Cheung Chau Bun Festival to the spectacular Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance and Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, there are unique cultural experiences around every corner. If you are travelling to Hong Kong, why not take advantage of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to explore other cities in the Greater Bay Area? Choose your favourite season to visit and dive right in to the diverse festive cultures of Lingnan, while getting a glimpse into the lives of the local people.

 

Spring

Flower market on the water

Foshan: Lingnan New Year Floating Flower Market in Lishui Town (starting 10 days before Chinese New Year’s Eve)

Before the Spring Festival begins, the floating flower market creates a kaleidoscope of colours in the Dreamland Waterside Village, a scenic area in Lishui Town. In addition to admiring flowers in bloom, you can board a flower boat for a one-of-a-kind river cruise.

Don’t miss:

Dreamland Waterside Village scenic area, Lishui Town, Nanhai District, Foshan

Lantern festival

Jiangmen: Spring of Guifeng & Pancun Lantern Show (first to third, and 13th day of the first lunar calendar month)

Boisterous activities such as lion dances and xiangsheng (known as crosstalk, a traditional performing art in Chinese comedy) can be found at the Spring of Guifeng Cultural Temple Fair. Taking place in the same month is the Pancun Lantern Show — part of China’s intangible cultural heritage — in which a parade featuring gigantic lanterns over three metres high travels around all the small villages in Pancun. During the parade, the villagers light lanterns in front of temples, perform a dragon dance in the river and transport a giant lantern to the ancestral hall through the top of the building.

Don’t miss:

Spring of Guifeng: Guifeng Mountain, Xinhui District, Jiangmen

Pancun Lantern Show: Pancun Village, Shuikou Town, Kaiping City, Jiangmen

parade

Guangzhou: Yuexiu Temple Fair (15th to 21st day of the first lunar calendar month)

The Yuexiu Temple Fair is considered to be one of the two most important temple fairs in China. It features a wide range of activities, including a showcase of intangible cultural heritage, puppet shows, Chinese arts, kung fu performances and a lantern show.

Don’t miss:

Chenghuang (City God) Temple, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou

Fireworks show

Zhaoqing: Ploughing Festival (second day of the second lunar calendar month)

The Ploughing Festival began in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). On this day, locals worship Longmu (the mother of dragons) and organise lion and dragon dances. The highlight is the game of scrambling for the tim ding (having a son) fa pao (firecracker bundle), which is believed to bring luck and prosperity to a family.

Don’t miss:

Hetai Town, Gaoyao District, Zhaoqing

Lion dance

Huizhou: Mazu Cultural Tourism Festival (23rd day of the third lunar calendar month)

Among Huizhou’s various celebrations of the birthday of Chinese sea goddess Mazu, the Huizhou Xunliao Mazu Cultural Tourism Festival is the most elaborate. A host of activities include a grand praying ceremony, a procession featuring a golden statue of the goddess, and lion and dragon dances, while yachts and sailing boats join in the celebration by going out to sea.

Don’t miss:

Xunliao Binhai Tourism Holiday Resort, Huidong County, Huizhou

Dragon dance

Zhongshan: Shaxi Folk Arts Grand Parade (eighth day of the fourth lunar calendar month)

Legend has it that Shaxi experienced a plague during the late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty (1644–1912). The villagers turned to Hung Shing, the God of the Southern Sea, praying that he would end the epidemic. To pay tribute to the deity, the villagers organised a parade featuring wooden, golden and silver dragons on Buddha’s Birthday, and the plague miraculously disappeared. Since then, dragon dances have been held every year in the town, and the ritual later turned into a large-scale parade with elements of dragons, phoenixes and sea creatures as well as piaose (flying colours).

Don’t miss:

Shengshi Village & Xiangjiao Village, Shaxi Town, Zhongshan

   

Summer

Dragon boat race

Dongguan: Wanjiang Dragon Boat Cultural Season (starting from the first day of the fifth lunar calendar month)

The Wanjiang Dragon Boat Racing Championship kicks off Donnguan Dragon Boat Month. In addition to watching the famous dragon boat races, known as Dongguan’s no. 1 dragon boat race, visitors can take part in various cultural activities during the event.

Don’t miss:

Wanjiang Dragon Boat Racing Park, Dongguan

Zhuhai: Qi’ao Blessings Parade (first to fifth day of the fifth lunar calendar month)

The Qi’ao Blessings Parade took root during the reign of Emperor Tao Kuang of the Qing dynasty. This celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival is infused with local flavours — revered elders from the village visit the temples of various deities, including the Tide Grandfather, Tin Hau Goddess, Zhuge Wuhou and Cai Second General, and clean their statues which are then put in sedan chairs for the parade. In addition, the locals offer sacrifices to heaven and earth and present articles of tribute to the deities.

Don’t miss:

Tangjiawan Town Ancestral Shrine (located in Zhuhai National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone), Dong’ao Ancient Temple, Wenchang Pavilion, Avalokitesvara Pavilion, Tin Hau Temple, Baishi Street, Qi’ao Village History Museum

   

Autumn

Huizhou: Fire Dog Show (15th day of the eighth lunar calendar month)

On the day of the full moon and harvest, the ethnic Lantian Yao people in Longmen County organise the Fire Dog Show to pay tribute to dogs, whose milk helped the ancient chief of their clan survive, and to ward off evil and prevent illness. Participation in the ceremony is also the puberty rite for unmarried girls of the clan. Also worth seeing are traditional activities like the burning of fan towers (made of bricks and tiles) and straw towers, held in different places in Guangdong.

Don’t miss:

Fire Dog Show: Lantian Yao Nationality Township, Longmen County, Huizhou

Burning of straw towers: Cangshuyuan Village, Tanbu Town, Huadu District, Guangzhou

Burning of fan towers in:

  • Nanhai District, Foshan – Xiangang Village in Danzao Town, Songtang Village in Xiqiao Town, Shangbai Village in Luocun 
  • Zhaoqing – Shuikeng in Dinghu District, Baitu Town in Gaoyao District
  • Jiangmen – Shafu Dongfang Village in Tangxia Town

Zhaoqing: Deqing Confucius Temple Festival (28 September)

Built in the Song dynasty (1127-1279), the Deqing Confucius Temple in Zhaoqing is the oldest and largest existing Confucius temple in Southern China. Its Dacheng Hall (Hall of Great Achievement) is the only remaining ancient wooden architectural structure from the Song and Yuan dynasties in Lingnan. Every year on the birthday of Confucius, a solemn, large-scale celebration is held at the Deqing Confucius Temple.

Don’t miss:

Deqing Confucius Temple, Deqing County, Zhaoqing

Casas - Museu da Taipa

Macau: Lusofonia Festival (October)

The three-day Lusofonia Festival features performances by Macao Portuguese-speaking communities from different countries, as well as gastronomy, games and cultural booths, allowing visitors to experience Portuguese customs.

Don’t miss:

Taipa Houses-Museum, Taipa, Macao

Ancestral Temple

Foshan: Qiuse Parade (early November)

Foshan’s folk custom of qiuse, or autumn colour, can be traced back to the Yongle period of the Ming dynasty. It is today inscribed on China’s National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The parade is held in the evening during the harvest season, and is marked by seven main manifestation patterns: lantern show, vehicle show, horse show, ground show, water show, fluttering show and scenery show.

Don’t miss:

Foshan Ancestral Temple and its surrounding historical and cultural blocks, Chancheng District, Foshan

   

Winter

Chrysanthemum

Zhongshan: Chrysanthemum Show (November & December)

The Chrysanthemum Show in Xiaolan, which is also known as the ‘town of chrysanthemum’, is characterised by the juxtaposition of traditional chrysanthemum art and creative elements. The vibrant event attracts millions of visitors every year.

Don’t miss:

Chrysanthemum Garden, Xiaolan Town, Zhongshan

Roasted oysters

Shenzhen: Shajing Golden Oyster Festival (December)

Shajing is famous for fleshy and juicy oysters, known in China as ‘milk of the sea’. Since its inception in 2004, the Shajing Golden Oyster Festival has been growing in scale, attracting tourists and foodies alike.

Don’t miss:

Haoxiang Lake Park, Shajing Subdistrict, Bao’an District, Shenzhen

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