Celebrate the best of student life at some Malta festivals
In February, Malta’s streets are decked out for its famous Carnival (aka Il-Karnival Ta’Malta) which originated as a pagan festival in ancient Egypt, later adopted by the Greeks and Romans to celebrate the god of wine. The celebration was taken on by the Roman Catholic Church as the last party before Lent. Although it happens the world over, each country has its own twist on celebrations. Malta’s unique version of carnival involves bright, baroque costumes with an especially gothic, satirical feel, much like the mysterious masked carnival of Venice. Traditionally centred in Valletta, the whole island erupts into colour with people, dancing, feasting and following the amazing floats.
1 Malta Carnival, 25 February to 1 March
‘People start preparing for the Malta Carnival the year before, making costumes and coming up with increasingly dramatic float designs. Every square is full of people celebrating, so expect big crowds and an exciting party atmosphere,’ says Chanell Muscat, Queen Mary, Malta Campus’ Admissions officer. ‘Another favourite festival of mine is Nadur, on my home island of Gozo, a spontaneous event famous for its creative outfits which get more funnier and more political every year. There was the year when our Nadur festival had an entire float devoted to Money Heist, everyone wearing those distinctive red jump suits. Another year, students took over a float dressed as doctors. Some of our students are in a festival choir or band, others volunteer as emergency responders. For onlookers, it’s a great way to make friends, meet people and witness our traditions. Locals take pride in showing tourists and students what our country is all about.’
2 Strawberry Festival, 6 April
April is peak berry season in Malta. This festival’s focus is on a town called Mgarr on the north of the island, where stalls containing boxes of this bright red fruit are displayed and delicacies can be sampled by visitors. To get the best out of your visit, position yourself by the Parish Church where most of the berry action takes place.
3 Malta Summer Festival, 6 June to 14 July
While the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra provides the backbone of this week-long Malta festival, several other orchestras will be taking part, and world-class performances take place all over the island. Meanwhile, the Malta Classical Music Academy (MCMA) hosts a fortnight of masterclasses and lectures for participants to enjoy. The event is based in Valletta, St Julian’s, Floriana and Victoria – be sure to plug in to your favourite sounds as you travel from venue to venue.
4 Malta International Food Festival, 13-17 July
5 Notte Bianca, October