August 21, 2016


Sydney Town Hall was the venue for a recent concert by the Macao Youth Symphony Orchestra as part of their Australian tour. Music lovers were delighted to experience the varied classical programme performed during the evening by this very professional youth orchestra, whose members’ ages ranged from pre-teens to young adults.

Founded in 1997, the Macao Youth Symphony Orchestra has given more than two hundred public performances. The Orchestra, which draws its members from local universities, secondary and primary schools, strives to keep its initial objectives of providing musical training and performing opportunities for the local youth, many of whom have decided to make music a career.

Mike Smith, Jimson, Hoi Kin Wa, Ms Wong, Helen Wong

Mike Smith, Jimson, Hoi Kin Wa, Ms Wong, Helen Wong

By regular training from guest instructors from Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China, the Orchestra works to improve the standard of the students’ music appreciation and performance. In January 2010, the Orchestra was awarded the Order of Merit in Culture by the government of the Macau Special Administrative Region of China.

The orchestra has previously performed in Washington’s Kennedy Centre, the Berlin Konzerhaus, Singapore’s Victoria Hall, Salzburger Mozarteum and the National Grand Theatre in Beijing, as well as tours to Prague, Vienna, the Florence International Youth Festival in 2014, Shanghai’s Summer Festival, Ao Lago Festival in Lisbon and many more.

Sandra Tiltman         Photos: John Pond



April 10, 2016
Historic Macao - Photo: John Pond

Historic Macao – Photo: John Pond

Macao will mark the 400th anniversary of the death of world literary giant William Shakespeare when the former Portuguese enclave hosts its 27th Macao Arts Festival from 30 April 2016.

This year’s theme for the month long festival that runs until 29 May is “Time: Reshape your Imagination. Experience the Spirit of Times”. Another highlight will be the 400th anniversary of the death of Ming Dynasty’s famed Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu.

Modern Macao - Photo: John Pond

Modern Macao – Photo: John Pond

The Macao Arts Festival will salute the works of Shakespeare and Xianzu through theatre. The Festival kicks off with a dramatic stage performance of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rendered by the Shakespeare Theatre Company from the USA.

The Festival program will feature as many as 27 shows and artistic exhibitions, along with more than 100 activities to “bring the audience into the spaces of the Chinese and Western cultures”. There will also be plenty of song and dance and family activities during the Festival, along with indoor and outdoor theatrical performances.


Dinosaurs have also found their way to Macao, where The Living Dinosaurs expo is on until 11 September 2016. Venture to the Science Centre where you will make huge strides in learning about dinosaurs at an exhibition that includes fourteen mechanical replica dinosaurs.

With the 2016 calendar packed full of colourful festivities and a program of events such as the annual A-Ma Festival, Procession of Our Lady Mercy, Feast of the Drunken Dragon, the Macao Dragon Boat Festival, Feast of Hungry Ghosts, the International Fireworks Display Contest, Mid Autumn Festival, Macao City Fringe Festival and International Music Festival, there is always something happening whatever time of the year you plan to visit Macao.

Photo: John Pond

Photo: John Pond

November will be packed with events, highlighted by the 63rd running of the Macao Grand Prix, the 16th Macao Food Festival, the annual Marathon and the spectacular Light Festival similar to Sydney’s Vivid.

Macao gives visitors the very unique experience of a modern city blended with its Portuguese past. With a huge selection of four and five star hotels to choose from, wonderful restaurants offering the best in Asian and Portuguese cuisine, plus everything else in between, Macao is a destination that will delight.

Sandra Tiltman


July 26, 2015


When celebrations are planned in Sydney, fireworks displays are usually at the forefront, such as our world famous New Year’s Eve fireworks. Anyone living near Sydney Harbour will tell you that fireworks seem to be going off almost every night, celebrating a sporting win, corporate event or family birthday. In Sydney there’s no better way to announce something special than to let off some fireworks.

Sydney’s title as the fireworks capital of the world is now being challenged by Macau.

The night sky over Macau and its landmark Macau Tower will burst into a kaleidoscope of colours for the 27th successive year, in an international contest which has brought success for Australia and won the hearts of admirers from around the globe. Since the inaugural spectacular Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, Australian teams have finished on the podium five times, with first place in 1998 and third in 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2014.

D2C86At last year’s challenge, the Skylighter Fireworks team, led by Brisbane’s Max Brunner, won bronze for its performance at a highly charged carnival event that attracted teams from ten countries. “We were very pleased with the result,” an excited Max said. “It was hard going into the unknown. The different style of displays from around the world really impressed us. It was our first visit to Macau and throughout the stay nothing was too much of a problem for the hosts. It was also nice to meet people from around the world who shared the same passion, and the food in Macau was equally impressive.”

This year’s challenge, once again organised by the Macau Government Tourist Office, will burst into action during the Mid-Autumn Festival on the Saturdays of September 5, 12, 19 as well as Sunday, September 27 and Thursday October 1.

Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics (Displays) has been invited to wave the Australian flag and will be joined by teams from China, Portugal, Malaysia, Finland, Taiwan, Korea, Italy, France and Austria. On the final day, the Australian team will meet China, last year’s champion country. This should be a day for celebration, as it will be China’s National Day.

Macau Government Tourist Office director, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, expressed her gratitude for the support shown by the fireworks companies from across the globe, making the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest one of the most stunning events of the year. To work in line with building Macau into a ‘World Centre of Tourism and Leisure’, Macau Government Tourist Office will continue to present more fascinating and diversified events for residents and visitors, combining different elements with tourism to attract visitors from around the world to experience Macau’s charm as a ‘city of events’.

Helen Wong, general manager of the Macau Government Tourist Office (Australia and New Zealand), said it was a privilege to have a team invited from Australia. “Our past success in this challenge and the positive views relayed by the visiting Australian competitors have gone a long way to highlighting Macau as an authentic holiday destination for Australians. We encourage more Australians to come in September to enjoy the Macau hospitality and support our team in its quest to win the annual spectacle.”

Sandra Tiltman


February 22, 2015


Chinese communities around the globe are making preparations to celebrate and herald the arrival of the Year of the Ram (Goat).

During Chinese New Year, one of the traditions is for people to visit and greet each other with plenty of “Kung Hei Fat Choy” and by offering “Lai Si” (red packets) containing money to wish good luck and prosperity.

February is a great time to travel to Macau, where plenty of festive fun is planned to celebrate the 2015 Chinese New Year. Beginning on February 19, visitors can join in with the locals and take part in the many celebrations that include the traditional Golden Dragon parade and Lion Dance Performances, as well as two vibrant street parades featuring floats from around Asia. These parades are to be held on Saturday, February 21 and Saturday, February 28.

The Golden Dragon Parade, to be held on February 19, will begin at the iconic Ruins of St. Paul’s at 10am while the Lion Dance Performance will kick off from Senado Square at 11am on February 21, and from Tap Seac Square at 4.30pm the following day.

No celebration would be complete without the traditional fireworks, so on Saturday, February 21, a spectacular fireworks display will take place over the city, along with ten days of performances by more than 1000 artists.

Local Chinese, Portuguese and Macanese restaurants will be decorated to be a part of the fun filled festivities.

DSC03681Helen Wong, General Manager of the Macau Government Tourist Office in Australia and New Zealand said “nclude a vibrant street parade on both February 21 and 28. To top that off, there will also be a giant fireworks display on February 21. And, as usual, prepare for a feast – Chinese, Portuguese and Macanese style. Now that’s food for thoughtIt is the most important and colourful Chinese festival of the year. A majority of the local population celebrate, where shops, offices, factories close for what is an exciting traditional holiday. Over ten days celebrations involve a huge number of events, including the traditional long dragon and lions dance on the streets. Crowds visit the temples, and there are countless lanterns and floral displays, not to forget the entertainment and fireworks.”

The grand outdoor and indoor events will be presented by the Macau Government Tourist Office and it will be the first time mainland China will include a float in the international processions.

The Lanterns Festival occurs on the 15th day of the first moon, where colourful lanterns are placed around the city. Small balls of glutinous rice are prepared as dessert, symbolising the “ribbon of friendship”, “family reunion” or “good luck” for the Chinese.

Coinciding with the Chinese New Year festivities is a unique Macau Christian religious celebration where an image of Christ carrying the Cross is taken in a procession from St Augustine’s Church to the Cathedral for an overnight vigil. It is then returned through the city accompanied by a magenta-robed escort.

Sandra Tiltman

Photos: John Pond


September 20, 2014


Death defying dives from a great height, acrobats, high speed motor cycles, water ballet, high energy atmospheric music, fantastic costumes and incredible special effects. All this and more is featured in one of the most spectacular shows currently being performed in Macau.

Hyatt DuckA creative masterpiece that was five years in development and two years in rehearsal, the production combines theatre, dance, gymnastic artistry and high-performance diving, all of which push the physical boundaries of human performance.

House of Dancing Water is a “not to be missed” extravaganza, performed in the purpose built Dancing Water Theatre, located next door to the Grand Hyatt Macau Hotel in the City of Dreams. Designed by world renowned Sandi Pei of Pei Partnership, the theatre features approximately 2,000 seats which are arranged in a semi-circle around the centre stage/pool, offering a perfect view from every seat. The pool holds 3.7 million gallons of water, equivalent to 5 Olympic sized swimming pools.

The night I saw the show, I was fascinated watching those seated in the front row holding up screens they had been issued to protect them from any water splashes or spray that may escape, while the action was happening in the pool.

The fairytale story set on the coast of Coloane, begins with a fisherman getting caught up in a storm that carries him off to a legendary place. A stranger in love with a beautiful princess, an evil stepmother who imprisons the princess culminating in good over evil, with lots of action happening in between, both in the pool and on a dry stage. The story does not really matter, it’s the visual effects, music and action that has everyone mesmerised 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are staying in Hong Kong, there’s no need to miss seeing House of Dancing Water. Visit Macau for the day, it’s only an hour away by Turbojet, with frequent services running throughout the day and night. Spend the day taking in the sights of this former Portuguese territory, with its black and white cobbled stoned squares complete with heritage buildings standing side by side with modern skyscrapers, then see the show which runs for 85 minutes with no intermission. Some evenings there are two shows at 5 pm and 8 pm.

Within the City of Dreams, there is a vast choice of dining venues, offering an extensive range of cuisines for theatre goers to enjoy a meal, either before or after the show. The night I went to the show, I decided to dine after the performance and as I love Chinese cuisine, what could be better than the Beijing Kitchen in the foyer level of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Their specialty of traditional Beijing style duck that’s cooked in their wood fired oven, complete with all the classic condiments was something that I could not pass up. Absolutely superb, was the only way to describe this memorable meal.

No visit to Macau is complete without seeing House of Dancing Water.

Sandra Tiltman   Photos: John Pond


September 3, 2014


With a change of venue to Wharf 3 at Walsh Bay, Luxperience has returned to Sydney, bigger and brighter than before. Held over four days, this annual travel trade event, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, showcases luxury and high-end travel products on offer from Australia and various countries around the globe, to overseas and local buyers.

Veronica Rainbird & Sandra Tiltman

Veronica Rainbird & Sandra Tiltman

With so many exhibitors at the event, buyers schedule appointments every fifteen minutes. On the quarter hour bells ring to remind everyone that it’s time to move on to the next appointment.

Especially welcome were the lounge areas for relaxing between appointments.

I particularly enjoyed visiting the Arabian themed Luxe Pamper Lounge with its large sofas and ottomans where Sasy n Savy, in partnership with Dubai Tourism, were offering ten minute shoulder, neck, arm and hand treatments using Sasy n Savy products.  It was great to catch up again with Dubai Tourism’s Veronica Rainbird and Samea Maakrun Managing Director of Sasy n Savy. The massage certainly revitalised me, giving me renewed energy to visit more of the exhibitors.

At the other end of Wharf 3, I stopped for a coffee in the lounge sponsored by Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand.

I was also pleased to run into Helen Wong and Mike Smith at the Macau Government Tourist Office stand, as I had just returned from a wonderful stay in Macau.

Sandra Tiltman with Samea Maakrun, CEO of Sasy n Savy

Sandra Tiltman with Samea Maakrun, CEO of Sasy n Savy

The day I visited, the Sydney Showboat drew up to Wharf 3 to board delegates for a lunch time cruise around Sydney harbour, where those from overseas and inter-state were excited to see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, while dining.

Looking forward to next year’s Luxperience.

For more photos GO TO:

Sandra Tiltman      Photos: John Pond


October 7, 2013
Macau Tourism's Mike Smith with Sandra Tiltman

Macau Tourism’s Mike Smith with Sandra Tiltman

The Macau Government Tourist Office recently launched the Macau Food Festival in Feast Restaurant at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park.

Macanese cuisine is a mixture of Chinese, Portuguese, Indian, African and Malay that has evolved over 500 years of Portuguese history in the tiny Asian centre.

This is the second successive year the Food Festival has been held at the hotel and will showcase a selection of new dishes, along with Macau food specialities including Galinha A Portuguesa and Macanese Curry Prawns, which will be featured at Feast Restaurant’s famous daily buffet, both during lunch and dinner, plus all the usual favourites and seafood found at this outstanding buffet.

The Macau Food Festival will be available at Sheraton on the Park until 20 October.

As part of the Macau Festival, family friendly events will be held in Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Park over the weekend of 19-20 October.

Sandra Tiltman   Photo:  John Pond