There’s little Malta loves more than a good party, and every year a healthy hand of festas sparkle across its calendar. Malta’s annual events include the usual confetti-sprinkled run of street parties alongside music festivals, cultural celebrations and the famous Mdina Grand Prix. Here are the events you can’t afford to miss in Malta.
Of Malta’s myriad colourful festas, there are two that are particularly special. One of these is Victory Day (scroll down), and the other is the Feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck, where the beautiful capital Valletta erupts in a vibrant celebration of pomp and pageantry to mark the day that St Paul’s ship was blown off course onto Malta’s shores –with the merriment lasting long into the night.
10th February, Across Valletta
With its raucous roots in 1535, when Grand Master Piero de Ponte introduced it as a night of revelry for the Knights of the Order of St John, Malta’s carnival brings with it a riot of colour, explosions of confetti and dramatic masquerades. Sugar-coated almonds are the snack du jour, and there’s plenty prinjolata – a towering assembly of cake, fruit and cream – to go around. Valletta is where you’ll find most of the action, but there are also miniature takes on the tradition across the archipelago.
February/March, Across Malta and Gozo
Come spring, the heady pulse of AMP Lost & Found can be felt reverberating throughout Malta. Commandeering the Café del Mar terrace as its HQ, the festival puts on beach, pool and afterparties headlined by some of the hottest DJs in the world. Making use of Malta’s extraordinary venues, including forts, boats and parks, it’s a very cool kickstart to spring.
Spring, St Pauls Bay
Valletta’s skyline, dominated by the grand dome of the Basilica and St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, is one of Europe’s most photogenic. But cast blooms of colour and cascades of glitter among the stars above it, and no photograph can do it justice. Four nights of spellbinding pyrotechnics illuminate the skies for The Malta International Fireworks Festival, culminating in a dazzling crescendo on the final night. Of Malta’s events, this is the real showstopper.
A laid-back mélange of music, yoga and creativity colonises a shaded sweep of Ta’Qali National Park for Earth Garden. Primarily a music festival, and one that places Malta firmly on the global festival map, the line-up is refreshingly broad. World music nudges up against psychedelic trance, with detours into reggae and blues. Bohemian attire and flower garlands are optional.
Summer, Ta’Qali National Park
One of Malta’s most important events, Victory day celebrates the end of three great sieges by the Ottomans, French and Italians and doubles as the birthday of the Virgin Mary. Parades and music spill out across Malta, culminating in a regatta in Grand Harbour. Join in the jubilance to cheer on the winning team.
8 September, Valletta
There’s a growing sense of expectation across Malta as the first Saturday of October –and Notte Bianca – approaches each year. As night falls, Valletta is awash with lights and music, and the city throws open the doors of its museums, churches and state palaces for free access to the public. Piazzas are illuminated for live performances and cafés and restaurants stay open well into the night.
Automobile enthusiasts and socialites alike cluster on the island of Malta in autumn for the Mdina Grand Prix. The circuit surrounding the ancient city’s fortified walls puts classic cars to the test with a thrilling four days of racing. The white-knuckle event culminates in a glittering award ceremony on Sunday evening at the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa.
Those who know their Holst from their Handel will enjoy the classical programme put on by The Three Palaces. Having blossomed from a small, local gathering to an anticipated international event that now includes jazz and folk, it’s an opportunity to appreciate the fine acoustics of Malta’s most illustrious venues: the Verdala, San Anton and Grandmaster’s Palaces.
Winter, Buskett, Attard & Valletta
Are you an art lover or culture vulture holidaying in Malta? Well, you’ll be pleased to find that this Mediterranean island may be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to art and culture. Here are six recommended destinations to add to your itinerary to experience the best of Malta’s art scene.