Events in Malta take place regularly, ranging from local cultural to international music events and other types of celebrations. Here you’ll find some of my favourite events that you’ll enjoy, whether you’re a visitor or a local, listed for 2020.
Malta has a rich history and a heavy involvement with the arts scene, as well as a fun and jovial personality. All sorts of events happen on a daily basis and being a relatively small country, all events are easy to get to and enjoy.
When? Sundays, at 11am during the months of Jan-May and Oct-Dec. Duration: 45 minutes.
Where? Fort St. Elmo (Valletta)
Why visit? Re-enactments from the time of the Knights of Malta, within one of the many fortifications they built during their rule over Malta.
Type: Historical re-enactment
Cost: €7 for adults, €3 for children
Taking place regularly on Sundays, the In Guardia is a spectacle of re-enactments with drills, sword fighting and artillery from the time of the Knights. This isa permanent fixture, played out in traditional uniforms amongst a life-like military drill demonstration and set within one of the bigger forts from the same era: Fort St. Elmo. It’s a lively experience and really adds another dimension to the already impressive fort, giving you a vivid impression of an important historical period in Malta.
This event is not held during the summer months (June, July, August and September) because of the scorching heat and the heavy clothing and armour required for these re-enactments.
These are the exact dates (all Sundays) that were announced at the start of 2020:
When? Every last Friday of the month, at 10:30am
Where? From Republic street into St. George’s (Palace) Square, Valletta, Malta
Why visit? It’s quite a sight to behold, far more elaborate than most other changing of the guard processions, infused with history.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony dates back to the 17th Century. Back in the 70s the event was suspended due to budget cuts, but it has recently been brought back as part of a re-invigoration campaign. Visitors can watch the guards change, as they did back in the days of the Grandmaster and his personal guards, and then enjoy the military band in a musical procession.
When? The site is open daily (except for major public holidays), between 10am and 5pm.
Where? Battery Street, Valletta, Malta. (Entrance in the middle of the Upper Barrakka Gardens.)
Why visit? A historical location and re-enactment that leaves an impression. Highly recommended if you plan on spending some time in Malta’s capital.
Cost: Adults: €3 (including guided tour), Children: €1
The Saluting Battery is an important piece of Malta’s history, and every day visitors get the chance to see it in action. At 12pm and 4pm sharp, the heavy guns are fired in the traditional fashion, marking the passage of time. Located at one of the highest points in Malta, the Saluting Battery also boasts magnificent views across the Grand Harbour and beyond.
When? Throughout the year, mostly in summer.
Where? All over Malta and Gozo
Why visit? One of the most iconic cultural events in Malta and something to experience.
Throughout the year (and more popularly during the summer months), Malta and Gozo offer an array of colour and cheeriness as, every weekend, there is a traditional village feast somewhere on the islands.
Each village’s patron saint is celebrated, and although originally a religious celebration it’s the event of the year for the local villagers, filled with band music during the day and fireworks, drink and food in the evenings.
Expect winding trails of parades, traditional costumes, and local, traditional Maltese music, all topped off nicely with delicious food and refreshing drinks with the sight and sound of fireworks.
When? January on various dates.
Where? Various locations in Malta, from theatres to stunning palaces and churches.
Why visit? 31 Concerts across 17 beautiful venues
The Valletta Baroque Festival brings together an impressive selection of local and international artists to perform classical music from Monteverdi to Bach and beyond. Set within a variety of beautiful venues to match the performance, it’s a popular cultural event on the calendar.
For the full programme and tickets please visit the organiser’s website.
When? 10th of February (public holiday)
Where? Valletta, Malta
Why visit? Great example of a religious celebration, very much part of the nation’s heritage.
Marking the shipwrecked arrival of St Paul in Malta in 60 AD, this February festival is a one-day extravaganza boasting marches and costumed parades, as well as colourful confetti throwing throughout the streets and a spectacular firework display. A statue of St Paul himself is carefully carried through the streets in celebration, and hundreds of doves are released into the blue, Maltese sky – a very moving, atmospheric display.
When? February – This year: 21-25 February 2020
Where? Valletta for the main celebrations, Nadur (Gozo) for “anything goes” celebrations
Why visit? The floats and performances provide for some pretty unique entertainment.
Being a traditionally Catholic country, Carnival in Malta is a big annual event. Perhaps not at the level of how it’s celebrated in Brazil, but it’s a great colourful extravaganza that marks the start of Lent with a bang nevertheless.
Local float builders compete with each other in preparation for the big celebrations in Valletta with all sorts of large floats, with all sorts of themes. The parade itself is one big party with music and performances, and the local clubbing scene continues the party in the evening.
If you’re looking for something completely nuts, you could take the ferry to Gozo and join the celebrations in the village of Nadur. That village experiences a true invasion of youths dressed up in all sorts of costumes and drinking to the occasion. It’s not a last-minute spontaneous thing to do. The ferry has limited capacity, as do local hotels and hostels.
When? Late March/Early April. This year: Sun 5 April – Sat 11 April 2020. Easter Sunday: 22 April 2020.
Where? All over Malta and Gozo
Why visit? The most important time of the year for the Catholic Church, celebrated in a unique way in Malta.
Easter is a huge celebration in Malta and the festivities last for a week, starting on the Friday before Good Friday with a procession featuring the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows through the streets of Valletta.
On Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday) the ‘seven visits’ take place, where celebrators visit seven churches of their choice in the evening, paying their respect to the Altars of Repose. Most churches open their doors for the bigger part of the evening.
Sombre but impressive processions fill the streets on Good Friday, carrying a selection of statues that represent different parts of the Passion of the Christ. On Easter Sunday the festivities are considerably more positive as the statue of the Risen Christ is taken back to the church and revellers enjoy hearty meals with their families.
To attend a Good Friday procession, I’d recommend going to Naxxar, Senglea, Zebbug or Mosta. Processions are usually held at 3pm and I highly recommend being there early to avoid difficulty finding a spot to park or getting stuck on a bus in traffic.
Several processions are held on Easter Sunday across Malta and Gozo, mostly in the morning at around 9 or 10am.
When? April – This year: 19 April 2020
Where? Mġarr, Malta
Why visit? Good excuse to visit one of the nicer villages on the island and obviously for getting high on fresh strawberry supply. ?
Cost: Free (well, except for the strawberries themselves of course)
Who doesn’t like strawberries? The plump, juicy red fruits take pride of place at the annual Festa Frawli in the old, agricultural village of Mġarr. Tucked in between rolling green hills, it’s the perfect place for a festival dedicated to strawberries, grown in the fields surrounding the village known for its agricultural produce. The streets around the parish church, as well as the square in front of it, will be packed with stalls selling strawberries.
Throughout the day, visitors can browse through the buffet of strawberries, as well as fruit-based desserts, snacks, and drinks – look out for the novelty dishes, too! There are also numerous craft stands selling local works and a series of folk bands performing during the event.
It’s become a popular event in recent years, which means two things: Limited parking and strawberries selling out quickly. Attend early – the event usually starts at 9:30am – to avoid traffic, parking issues and for a relatively pain-free return trip, beating the crowds.
When? April/May – This year: 25 April – 10 May 2020
Where? Valletta and Floriana
Cost: €10-30 Depending on the concert and seating
The Malta International Music Festival presents a series of concerts performing pieces of classical music by local and international orchestras and soloists. Concerts are held daily at two key locations: The Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta (housed in the Knights’ former hospital, with beautiful classical interiors) and Robert Samut Hall, a beautiful Neo-Gothic church in the neighbouring town of Floriana.
For a full programme of concerts as well as tickets please visit the organiser’s site.
When? Late April/Early May – This year between 18 and 30 April 2020
Where? Normally in Valletta on 30th April, and other locations on three other nights. Details TBC at time of writing.
Why visit? Spectacular fireworks show with an impressive backdrop of very distinct locations across Malta and Gozo at night. What’s not to like?
Fireworks are always a great idea and they add a bit of whimsical wonderment to any event. The International Fireworks Festival features spectacular shows by local firework factories, as well as professional pyrotechnic companies from further afield. On the final day of the event there is a Grand Finale to end all grand finales at Barriera Wharf in Valletta and the harbourside and bastions on that side of the city will be lined with spectators and enthusiast photographers to witness the action.
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When? This year: TBC
Where? Mdina, Malta
Why attend? While Mdina itself already brings you back into the past, seeing and hearing what the streets of Mdina might’ve been like in days gone by makes for a unique experience.
Mdina is an impressively well preserved historical bastion city, and the Medieval festival in May takes the city right back to the Middle Ages, encouraging visitors to dabble in a spot of time travel and experience the heady days of the knighthood. In addition, traditional, local music floats down the streets and flowers adorn every available space spreading the jovial feeling of spring.
There’s usually also a falconry display and various exhibitions are held around the old bastion city.
TIP: Parking is limited so if you’re planning to go by car you’re better off parking near the National Park at Ta` Qali and making use of free organised transport to get you to/from Mdina. It’ll be a 10-minute ride and will save you a lot of hassle.
When? May/June – This year: 4-7 June 2020
Where? Ta` Qali National Park
Why visit? Good music and food with a laid-back attitude.
Cost: Varies per edition, usually €15 for a 1-day pass and €25 for the full event (4 days)
This annual music and arts festival that spans three days in spring is a popular event among local youths, carrying a message of care for the environment. Several live bands perform, both local and foreign and the weather never disappoints at this time of year, all in all creating a great laid back, outdoor event to attend.
So grab a beer and some food, find yourself a nice patch and just chill out.
When? Normally late June, date TBC
Where? The Granaries, Floriana (just outside Valletta) and various nightlife venues around the islands.
Why visit? World famous artists, excellent backdrop and great atmosphere.
Music festivals are all the rage these days, and Malta is not immune. The Isle of MTV Malta boasts a jaw-dropping collection of headline acts each year (Past line ups included Lady Gaga, Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Will.I.Am, Rita Ora, Jason Derulo, Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Wiz Khalifa, Jessie J and many other popular artists and DJs), and thousands upon thousands of hedonistic music-lovers converge on the island’s shores in late June for one of the largest free open-air concert in the whole of Europe.
Various parties are organised around Malta and Gozo to celebrate Isle of MTV and it’s a great time to explore the local clubbing and nightlife scene. If you decide to attend, go early and keep in mind transport options to/from the event will be limited.
When? Normally in June, this year: TBC
Where? Various locations around Valletta
Cost: Starts at €35 for an entrance pass
Are you into the art of film? At the Valletta Film Festival you can enjoy and admire almost 100 short and long films screened at some of the most beautiful spots around capital city Valletta.
Ranging from indoor venues to open air screenings, it’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself into 46 feature and 50 short films, produced across the globe.
When? 29th June (annually)
Where? Buskett Gardens, Malta
Meaning “Festival of Light”, L-Imnarja dates way back to the days before the Knights even arrived in Malta. Its roots stem from the solstice fires the burned throughout festivities but, today, the festival is a merry event for spending time with family and loved ones – picnics are the perfect pastime, and the wine is free-flowing, plus there is a selection of live acoustic music as darkness falls.
Why attend? It’s a great opportunity to see some important aspects of Maltese culture, giving you a taste of what the Maltese people’s heritage is all about.
When? June/July – This year: 19 June – 4 July 2020
Where? Valletta, Malta
Why visit? A large variety of artists and performance in a great setting.
The piece a la resistance of the Malta art scene, the Arts Festival is a major event celebrating a huge variety of art forms, including (but by no means limited to) music, dance, theatre, and art. Set throughout some of the most important cultural buildings in Valletta, visitors can explore Malta’s extraordinary and expansive arts scene in a concentrated space.
When? July (annually) – This year: 13-18 July 2020
Where? Valletta, Malta
Why visit? Great artists, excellent music.
Cost: Varying ticket prices depending on seating
The sun-drenched, limestone architecture of Malta offers the perfect backdrop for a jazz festival, and this particular one is a bit of a spectacle. Set against the enchanting waterfront location of Ta’Liesse in Valletta, headlining jazz performers take to the stage and provide the soundtrack to a three-day extravaganza of brass, bass, and beats.
When? Late July. This year: 30 July – 8 August 2020
Where? Ta` Qali National Park
Why visit? Cold beer and good music make for a nice combination to cool down on a hot summer’s eve. Weekdays are usually quieter, but the better bands play on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer’s day than a nice cold beer, and this particular July festival has beer in abundance.
Claiming to be one the largest and most diverse outdoor events in the whole of Malta, the Farsons Great Beer Festival boasts an array of samples, delicious food stalls, and a fairground for kids, all set to the soundtrack of a selection of live bands of local artists.
The event is obviously meant to promote both locally brewed beers as well as international brands, but it’s worth attending for the music and atmosphere as well!
When? July – This year: 2-5 July (Valletta) and 21-23 August 2020 (Nadur, Gozo)
Where? Upper Barrakka Gardens, Valletta and the village square of Nadur in Gozo.
Why visit? Good selection of wines, good food and a laid back evening to enjoy.
Cost: €15 (Normally includes souvenir glass).
One of the main local wine producers, Delicata, organise their own flavour of wine festival across two weekends. It’s a nice social event where you can enjoy a taste of various locally produced wines while enjoying music and good company.
Throughout the events, visitors can sample as many different local wines as they wish, soaked up with some of the delectable food on offer. To top it all off, there is a rota of artists providing a soundtrack to the classy event and especially the Valletta edition offers great views and a relaxed atmosphere for an enjoyable evening.
When? 21 September annually
Where? All over Malta and Gozo
Why attend? Plenty to see and do, making it a nice day out to enjoy.
It seems that Malta has many historic events to commemorate, but this simply means that there is always an opportunity for a party! Since September 1964, the Maltese has celebrated its independence from the UK. Spreading out across the island, the event involves parades, marches, live music, and a general air of joviality.
When? September – This year: 26 and 27 September 2020
Where? Malta International Airport
Why attend? Always a good variety of stationery aircraft and live demonstrations by aviators from across the world. Nice opportunity for photographers too!
Cost: TBC. Normally €13-15 (depending on which day you visit on), Children under 14: Free
Flying is a fascinating thing, and it has become the subject of many an annual event around the world. With its rich aviation history and a museum dedicated to the craft, it makes sense that Malta has one of the best shows in Europe.
At the end of September, flying enthusiasts (and even those who aren’t that enthusiastic about it) can watch amazing air displays flit over the beautiful Maltese landscape, and learn more about the machines and their past.
When? First Saturday of October – This year: 3 October 2020
Where? Valletta, Malta
Why visit? Great atmosphere, lots to see and discover and a great excuse to see Valletta by night.
From the Italian for “White Night”, Notte Bianca is a much-anticipated one-night arts extravaganza that takes place in early autumn. Throughout the hours of darkness, art galleries, museums, and cultural hotspots put on special exhibitions, dance performances, and theatre shows, not closing their doors until the first glimmers of a new day begin to show.
Most museums are accessible for free during the evening, so it’s an opportunity to view a few of them, also at a different time of day. Every part of the capital is included in the event, and it is a great opportunity for visitors to explore works by local artists as well as international creative talent.
Since it’s a popular event Transport Malta usually organise additional transport for the occasion, so keep an eye out for that or ask at wherever you’re staying for more info. The actual programme of performances and other events as well as transport arrangements for the evening are usually available from September on the organiser’s site.
When? Second week of October – This year: 9 and 10 October, 2020
Where? Birgu (Vittoriosa), Malta
Why visit? Great atmosphere, very well organised and Birgu by night always impresses.
Type: Historical / Cultural
In October every year, the quaint harbour town of Birgu (one of Malta’s oldest towns) puts on a mighty fine show with an event that’s become popular in recent years, and for good reason.
Highlighting the town’s rich history, as well as its old buildings and narrow alleys, Birgufest showcases historic re-enactments, wonderfully decorated streets, and opens its museums, churches, and galleries until late.
The best part? The lights surrounding the harbour are switched off and replaced by thousands of atmospheric candles for a candlelight experience and mood.
When? October – This year: 8-11 October, 2020
Where? Mdina, Malta
Why attend? Very well organised, perfect for (classic) car lovers.
In early autumn, Mdina whirs into life with the annual Grand Prix. Winding through the scenic streets of the old, rustic town and through the beautiful countryside, the classic cars taking part vie for first prize. Alongside the race, there are also numerous cultural activities to keep visitors busy – many of whom come from overseas especially for the event.
When? October – This year: 17th October, 2020 (Start)
Where? Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta
This classic annual event is a must-do for any sailing fanatic – or even those who just enjoy spending time by the sea. Beginning in the beautiful Grand Harbour beneath the imposing structure of the Saluting Battery, the race draws in thousands of visitors who watch from both sides of the harbour, enjoying the jovial atmosphere and the golden autumn sunshine.
Why attend? Impressive to watch the races from the bastions of Valletta, usually with great weather to boot still, at this time of year.
When? Various dates across October to December (annually). This year: TBC.
Where? Victoria, Gozo
Why visit? With a good choice of performances there’s likely to be something to suit your tastes if you’re into the arts.
The Festival Mediterranea is a series of events in celebration of Gozo’s arts and culture scene, with a full autumnal schedule of opera and music concerts, as well as lectures, talks and walks on some of the many ancient and historic hotspots on the island. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about Gozo’s past, as well as to experience its present-day creative landscape.
The programme of events is different each year, so consult the event organiser’s website for this year’s programme when available.
When? Normally early November. This year: TBC.
The Three Palaces is a fairly new event on the calendar but offers beautiful performances in the stunning settings of some of Malta’s most beautiful palaces. Renowned artists from across the world put on display their interpretations and musical and dance artistry.
Details on this year’s performances will be announced later in the year on the organiser’s website.
Know of an event in Malta you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment and let me know!
Looking for more ideas? Here’s a big list of 101+ Things to do in Malta and Gozo
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