There are few better ways to learn about the culture of a country than to visit during a national festival. Luckily, the island of Malta offers plenty of opportunities to experience anything from jazz festivals to village feasts all year round. Have a look at some of our favourite festivals in Malta and plan your trip to coincide with one of these jubilant celebrations!
Malta Carnival – February
While it might not be the kind of carnival you might expect in Rio de Janeiro, the Malta Carnival is a fun-filled spectacle for all the family. With a procession of extravagant floats and dancers, the whole island gets on-board with the costumes and revelry. Most of the action takes place in Valletta, but many towns across the country celebrate in their own way.
Holy Week and Easter – April
This period is primarily a religious festival, with street processions and delicious sweets exchanged on Easter Day. Holy Week begins the week preceding Good Friday, as a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows is carried through the streets of Valletta and other villages in Malta.
Good Friday is a solemn day, when the towns gather to commemorate the Passion of the Christ by carrying statues representing the various episodes of the biblical story. Many of the crowd will be dressed as biblical characters, carrying crosses and dragging chains.
Easter sees the families on the island exchanging small gifts and nibbling on ‘figolli’, delicious almond cookies covered in icing sugar.
Malta International Fireworks Festival – April
Taking place at the end of April, the International Fireworks Festival is an exciting event that families and visitors will love. Held in Valletta’s Grand Harbour expect dazzling pyrotechnic displays and incredible fireworks whizzing in the air. This event is open to the public and free to attend.
Villages Festas – May-September
From May-September, Village Festas will be held almost every weekend in various locations across Malta. These delightful celebrations of the patron saints are not to be missed, as the towns raise banners, paper maché statues, flags and colourful decorations everywhere. You can take part in the festivities by visiting the many traditional street food stands where you can taste some of the moreish Maltese delicacies.
Mnarja Festival – June
Widely considered the cultural festival of the year, Mnarja is steeped in folklore. Dedicated to the feast of St Peters, the event is celebrated with an abundance of food, music and donkey races.
Malta Jazz Festival – July
In the middle of July, the whole of Malta gets all musical, with the arrival of the Malta Jazz Festival. One of the most eagerly awaited events on the island, the open air festivities see all types of jazz musicians performing in the stunning backdrop of Valletta.
Feast of Santa Maria – August
A public holiday for the people of Malta, the Feast of the Assumption, or Santa Maria, is celebrated every August 15th. Marking the peak of summertime festivities in the villages, this event occurs in seven towns in Malta: Għaxaq, Gudja, Ħ’Attard, Mosta, Mqabba and Qrendi. The best advice for this one is to take a picnic and find a hilltop to enjoy the fantastic firework display in the summer sky.
Notte Bianca – October
An annual event that sees Valletta light up with nighttime festivities, Notte Bianca is not to be missed. With a diverse mix of culture, arts and entertainment, the Maltese capital hosts art exhibitions, dazzling theatre performances and top international musicians and dancers.
Festival Mediterranea – October
Located in the historic Maltese island of Gozo, the Mediterranea festival is an event for true culture vultures. With a diverse line-up of events that range from opera, classical and symphonic music, this festival is a highlight for many visitors as it offers insight into 7,000 years of culture on Gozo.
Christmas – December
Due to many of the population being Catholic, Christmas is a highly celebrated period. Expect the island to go all out with nativity displays, candlelit carol singing, decorated streets and theatre performances. Many visitors and locals love to tour the various cribs presented throughout the island in small chapels and even private homes.
With festivities ranging from feasts to fireworks going on throughout the year, you can easily plan to enjoy a number of festivals in Malta on your visit. If you want some further information on events happening in Malta, you can check out the Visit Malta events calendar or comment with your own favourite Malta festivals below.