Small but mighty, this archipelago in the centre of the Med knows how to party. With a jam-packed schedule all year round, Malta is a hotspot for religious and cultural festivals. Each event commemorates and signifies something deep rooted in Maltese culture making it the perfect opportunity to get to know its pre-historic streets in style. Watch as the temples, fortresses and harbours come alive to the sound of music recitals and spell-binding fireworks displays while you dance your heart out to the beats of MTV. Join in, live like a local and follow our guide to the best festivals in Malta – there’s so much to do you’ll never want to leave!
Organised by the Ministry for Tourism, this annual event lights up the town – quite literally. Held at the end of April every year, the festival is carried out over four nights and commemorates the day Malta entered into the European Union. Held in Valletta’s Grand Harbour as well as other locations scattered around the island, the series of displays are a much loved event that brings the nation together to watch the sparks fly over some of the island’s famous landmarks. As well as four days of impressive aerial exhibitions, the festival also hosts a Pyromusical competition where competitors create firework displays that are designed to go off to the rhythm of a specific musical number. Not one to miss out on, the fireworks festival is a rare opportunity to see the capital in a different light.
Held every October, the Notte Bianca takes over Valletta’s cityscape from City Gate to Fort St. Elmo. Celebrating people, culture and arts, the festival transforms the streets and traditional venues which play host to an wide variety of entertainment. Every year in autumn, state palaces and museums open their doors to showcase an array of visual art exhibits and theatre performances while local and international musicians and dancers take over the open-air streets and piazzas. The whole city comes alive as cafes and restaurants stay open until late and food stalls fill up the bustling streets. Mingle with the locals, try some traditional cuisine al fresco and drink in the atmosphere of one of Malta’s best festivals.
Travel to the isle of Gozo and experience all it has to offer with a feast of cultural and artistic exhibitions. Beginning in mid-autumn, the festival boasts an array of indoor and outdoor events which heavily focus on opera and other music concerts. Despite its roots in music, the event also features international conferences, food and drinks events, walks and talks in ancient, historic locations. With a host of informative lectures and interactive visits, the festival is a great opportunity to get to know Gozo’s archaeology. Be a part of the celebration that brings together local musicians, artists, crafts and people in celebration of over 7,000 years of Gozitan culture.
Every year in July, top international and Maltese jazz musicians alike, descend on the capital for three nights of soul-filled fun. Presenting a vibrant mix of styles from the current trends to the traditional blues tones of the past, the concerts held on the waterfront outside Ta’Liesse are known for their stellar line-ups and cool atmosphere. Pay a small fee for entrance and spend the evening relaxing to the smooth tones of some of the best jazz players in the world. Organised by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, the festival has been held annually in the city since 1990.
Featuring everything from music to theatre, dance and art, this festival offers you a flavour of Maltese culture in some of the city’s most dynamic venues. Visit shows in the Mediterranean Conference Centre, the MITP Theatre and the Spazju Kroattiv at St. James Cavalier in Valletta to name but a few of the iconic stages set up for the international event. Showcasing a host of different events such as virtuoso music performances, dance exhibitions and visual installations, the festival is an opportunity for both established and emerging talent to perform to a broader audience. Truly a sight for sore eyes, visit Malta at the end of June for unforgettable performances.
Renowned for being one of the biggest music festivals in the world, the Isle of MTV attracts around 50,000 people to the main stage in Il Fosos Square every year. Usually taking place in June or July, the festival is completely free and has no age restrictions. Running in Malta since 2007, the iconic stage has seen the likes of Lady Gaga and Jason Derulo and with a line-up that just keeps getting better year after year, you never know what to expect from one of the most anticipated events of the summer season.
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Flights to Malta
- Lucy Norris