Carnival in Malta & Gozo
February brings along with it Carnival, one of our archipelago’s oldest festivities. This one harking back to the rule of the Knights of the Order of Saint John. Carnival in Malta and Gozo has taken on a traditional pattern, that of extravagantly coloured floats perched on lorries, processions, children running around in fancy costume and much more. This year Carnival weekend falls from Friday 9th February till Tuesday 13th February. The festivities are celebrated both in Malta and Gozo, but have different yet equally exciting things going on.
There is something for everyone when it comes to Carnival here, attracting people with opposing interests due to the two main traits that accompany this celebration; An Explosion of Culture and An Excess of Parties.
An Explosion of Culture
For four days, the capital city Valletta’s historic streets come to life with marching bands, fancy dress competitions and dancers in elaborate costume. But the highlight of this age-old celebration is the carnival float parade that features all types of impressive handmade floats – some allegorical, some satirical and others just plain fun. This year’s celebration is expected to be the biggest one yet, with Valletta being one of the European Capitals for Culture. That being said, with various towns and villages across the Island have their own version of festivities, the Carnival Culture can be seen across Malta and Gozo.
For more info on the Carnival celebrations being held in Valletta this year, have a look here!
An Excess of Parties
A village notorious to Carnival is Gozo’s very own Nadur. It is a completely different carnival where no rules apply. It is a people’s carnival where the streets of Nadur are filled up with creatures wearing all types of costumes, most of which outrageous. The spontaneity of this carnival made it quite unique and one of the best carnivals in Europe with regards to this aspect. It is visited not only by the Gozitans but attracts many Maltese people that cross over to Gozo just to experience it. Due to the Nadur celebration attracting so many people, a series of parties and events have taken their business up to Gozo for the Carnival weekend where celebrating is encouraged to start on Friday and continue around the clock through to Monday. This is one of the very few times a year that Gozo does not sleep.
For more info on the Carnival celebrations being held in Nadur this year, have a look here!
How to make the most out of Carnival
When it comes to planning your Carnival holidays, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, for this brief period of time Malta will actually be the quieter island while Gozo will be filled with the hustle and bustle of the Carnival migration. Most Maltese people tend to visit Gozo on this weekend to take part in the festivities not only found in Nadur, but around every corner turned on the small island. Many book farmhouses in Gozo to rent, but this is usually done at least a month or so prior as demand is always very high. The early planning is not only due to the limited amount of accommodation available during this period but also because rental prices in Gozo, even for short lets, are relatively cheap and worth while. If you have already booked yourself accommodation then the most difficult part of your plans are in order.
The next thing you need to think about is the travelling to and from Gozo. Carnival Weekend is one of the most hectic times to travel from Malta to Gozo and vice versa. It is very much encouraged to leave your vehicles in Cirkewwa and make use of Gozo’s very simple and reliable public transport service. This will not only save you time boarding and disembarking the Gozo Ferry, but also reduce the amount of cars that will be on the road which would be mutually beneficial to everyone as a large part of celebrating Carnival in Malta and Gozo are the parties and celebrations that take place throughout the streets.
Through out the weekend you will be sure to experience a little bit of everything, be it cultural or just purely for fun! This festival brings together artistic works that cohesively educate audiences through a unique experience. Another important aim for this historical festival is to diversify and be all-inclusive, giving the possibility to reach and attract new audiences, including those who have never experienced the colourful world of Carnival.
Whilst respecting heritage and traditions, it also pushes forward to revive past rituals, maintaining the philosophy of fun, entertainment and spontaneity. The core of the festival creates a joyful and social gathering that also adds to more innovative approaches to further enrich past and present traditions.