Malta Song Festival – January
This is a local song competition with a mixed Maltese and international jury. The winning song will represent Malta in the Eurovision Song festival, held in May and followed with much interest among the Maltese, since Malta recurrently places in good position.
European Open Snooker Championships – February.
This is usually held in the Mediterranean Conference Centre, in Valletta and receives much attention due to the chance to see numerous international players in action.
Commemoration of St Paul’s Shipwreck, Valletta – February 10
This is one of Malta’s principal feasts and marks the coming to Malta (albeit due to being shipwrecked) of the saint in the year 60 A.D. It is mainly celebrated in Valletta where starting from the eve, one can attend to band marches around the streets of the capital city. The main event takes place on the day, where after a very popular band march playing through the streets amid confetti throwing and fireworks, a statue of the St Paul is carried through the streets and hundreds of doves are released.
Carnival Week, Valletta – late February
The arrival of spring is celebrated with a Carnival that is held three days before Ash Wednesday. Several parades with floats, masks, firework displays and folk dancing competitions are held in the streets. The really spectacular festivals are staged in Valletta and Victoria. The festa dates back to the 16th century.
The Holy Week – all around Malta – late March- early April (varies)
Holy Week celebrations are held with much devotion but are also quite spectacular. Maundy Thursday Pilgrimages, Good Friday Processions and Easter Sunday celebrations are held in most towns. The Good Friday procession involves people of all ages dressed up as Biblical figures, or representing characters from Christ’s passion. Floats depicting all stages of Christ’s passion are carried round the village streets, to the tune of funereal band marches.
This is celebrated on 31st of March in Valletta and Victoria by military band parades and fireworks. This national holiday commemorates the withdrawal of British troops from Maltese soil in 1979.
The Feast of St Peter and St Paul, “Mnarja”, Mdina and Buskett Forest – June 28 – 29
By far the largest of Malta’s festivals, it is celebrated with parades, a produce and poultry fair and horse races in the Buskett Gardens near Mdina. This time of year is also the end of harvest. The crops are laid out on display and the strong Maltese wine flows. The celebrations climax with the horse and donkey races that take place on ‘Racecourse Street’. It’s all great fun and everybody gets into the spirit of the occasion.
Village Festa Season, all around Malta – peak July-September
One of the greatest attractions is the Maltese village feast dedicated to the celebration of the village’s patron saint. During the whole week of festivities, one can enjoy band marches with dancing in the streets, confetti throwing, a great variety of fireworks which each village prides itself with and competes with other towns for the best show, and also the costly outdoor decorations which are so elaborate that the actual decorations start approximately one month prior to the feast week. The festivities culminate on Sunday when the statue of the patron saint is carried in procession around the village.
Mdina Festival, Mdina – mid July
This is a week-long celebration in the ancient capital city of Mdina. There are folklore shows, paegants in the streets depicting events from days of old when the Knights of St John of Jerusalem ruled Malta, and musical concerts.
Maltafest – all around Malta, July – August
A month-long programme of cultural activities taking place all around Malta, including classical, folk and pop concerts, folklore displays, nights of poetry recitals, paegants, and plays.
Feast of the Assumption, all around Malta – August 15
This commemorates the ascension of Our Lady to Heaven. This is a popular feast with no less than 8 towns and villages commemorating the feast through the above-mentioned Festa at the same time. The night sky all around Malta would be literally ablaze with fireworks. Many Maltese customarily go to Gozo this weekend.
Our Lady of Victories – September 8
This is a historically important celebration in the Maltese islands since besides being the day of birth of the Virgin Mother, it commemorates the victory of the Maltese and the Knights over the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege of 1565 and also the day when a convoy of supplies managed to enter the Grand Harbour amid heavy shelling during the peak of World War II, thus allieviating a difficult period of hunger in Malta, which nearly led to surrender to German forces. The famous boat race (Regatta) is held in the sea just off the coast of the Three Cities of Cottonera.
Malta International Airshow – September
U.S., British, Italian, French and Spanish Air Forces make this a weekend of spectacular shows over Maltese skies. The aircraft are usually displayed on the runway from Friday till Saturday, while the air show itself takes place in Sliema over the bay.
Independence Day – September 21
This public holiday commemorates the achievement of independence from Britian in 1964. It is celebrated by a week of festivities on the Floriana granaries, a large open space just outwith the fortifications of Valletta, as well as military band marches in Valletta.
Malta Book Fair – Late October
The largest bookfair on the island. Held at the original main hall of the Sacra Infermeria, in Valletta, this gives one a chance to marvel at the largest hospital wards in Europe of the ancient times.
International Choir Festival, Valletta – 3rd week of November
Takes place during the 3rd week of November in the Mediterranean Conference centre. This festival has been growing steadily and now, into its second decade, is truly an international event.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Cospicua – December 8
Festivities are best at Cospicua, one of the three other fortified cities besides Valletta, and officially closes the festa season.
Republic Day, Valletta – December 13
This feast dates back to 1979 when the country was declared a republic and the first Maltese President became Head of State. It is celebrated by band marches and an official ceremony in Valletta.