Festivals and Traditions
Local Village Festas
A visit to Malta without experiencing a traditional Maltese festa (religious feast) is similar to going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. The festa is a real opportunity to enjoy a local tradition central to village life that has been going on for generations in Malta. It is also very easy to find one as every village has a festa and they are mostly held between May and September (there is usually more than one held in any one week). They total around 80 throughout the year.
Be prepared for bands, processions, the ringing of church bells, firework displays, street stalls, street parties, extravagantly lit and decorated churches, intricate street decorations, confetti throwing, carrying of heavy life-size religious statues and authentic qubbajt (traditional nougats). Band Clubs in Malta play an important cultural role since the village band club is very much involved with festa preparations, and is a meeting place and hub of activity for locals who strive for just one thing: The more spectacular the festa, the better! Year round preparations culminate in four days of merry-making. Loud, colourful and cheerful festas give bragging rights to the local village people about the level of devotion to their respective patron saint.
Local Traditions Events
Most localities organise cultural events which are usually associated with the particular tradition of the village. For example, Qormi is famous for its bread-making and therefore offers a Bread Festival, Mgarr has its own Strawberry Festival, Mtarfa (an ex military base) has its own Military and Adventure Festival and many more such examples througout the Maltese Islands. These events, from re-enactments of historic events to agriculture festivals, are going on throughout the year, and provide a great insight into the history and culture of individual localities. These festivals proudly organised by the relevant local councils are particularly popular with the locals and offer a great opportunity to mingle with the Maltese in a truly traditional Maltese environment!
Good Friday and Easter Sunday
These are very important religious dates in the local calendar. Good Friday Processions across the islands involve the depiction of scenes from the passion and death of Jesus Christ and various characters dressed as biblical characters. The whole affair takes a very bleak and reflective atmosphere. Just two days later the atmosphere is completely the opposite for Easter Sunday. This is a day of jubilation where families go to Sunday Mass followed by processions bearing the Risen Christ (in The Three Cities the statue bearers actually run with the Statue). Then families get together for their sumptuous Easter Lunch with lamb for mains and the children can finally devour their Easter chocolate eggs and traditional figolla (an almond based cake).
Many tourists bump into this traditional festival by chance and absolutely love it. The activities are centred around Valletta in Malta and Nadur in Gozo. Carnival in Malta is a colourful mix of moving large satirical floats, dancers in extravagant costumes, locals in grotesque masks and ecstatic children wielding water guns ready to spray anyone in sight. It all needs to be taken with a pinch of salt and good humour or else it can turn into a rather annoying experience rather than the merrymaking opportunity it is set out to be.
Make sure to visit our EVENTS IN MALTA section to keep updated with all that is happening throughout the year on the rock!