The Malta International Folk Festival

Due to its position in the center of the Mediterranean, Malta has been a crossroads of exchanges and peoples for millennia, which over time have formed the cultural and identity of the island. Different folk traditions will meet once again in Malta through this event for a mutual cultural exchange and enrichment.

The first two editions of this festival, organised by EuroArt Production and Leon Promotions, were a huge success with the participation of several groups from several European countries, such as Italy, Austria, Spain, Estonia, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia and of course from Malta and Gozo. This year the festival will be held between the 23rd and 25th September. During the 3 days of this International Festival, parades and performances will be held in various locations around the island of Malta.

 

 

7 feasts in one day, all dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady

The Maltese summer festa season hits its peak on 15th August with the feast of Santa Marija or, to give it its official title, the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, which is celebrated in no fewer than seven towns: Mqabba, Qrendi, Mosta, Attard, Gudja, Ghaxaq, and Victoria in Gozo.

It’s not just a religious feast but also a public holiday marking the mid-point of our long hot summer, when most businesses shut up shop to give employees a breather as the thermometer continues to sizzle.

For festa enthusiasts, Santa Marija is the queen of the season, and the usual competition between the parishes goes up a notch or three as towns vie with each other to produce the biggest, most colourful celebration punctuated by the loudest and most creative fireworks.

In some towns, celebrations start two weeks prior to the big day, and culminate in spectacular fireworks displays on the 14th and 15th of August. One of the best pyrotechnic shows to watch will be the one produced by the St Mary’s Fireworks Factory of Mqabba, which is renowned for its ingenious displays. Get there early on the evening of 14th August to grab a good viewing post, as it will get very crowded. Not to be outdone by its neighbour, Qrendi’s Santa Marija celebrations are drawn out over four weeks from 30th July to 22nd August.

The famous Mosta dome, or Rotunda as the locals refer to it, glows bright as it becomes the focal point for all Santa Marija celebrations, with High Mass celebrated by the Archbishop on 15th August at 9:15am. The mechanised ground fireworks display is held outside the church on the eve starting at 11:30pm, while the procession with the titular statue starts at 6:45pm on 15th August, with the brass band playing the Ave Maria.

The elegant residential town of Attard is also en fête. Make sure to take a peek inside the parish church, which was built between 1613 and 1624 on designs by architect and sculptor Tommaso Dingli and is regarded as the finest Renaissance church on the island. A concert by the brass band La Stella Levantina will be held on the eve at 8pm in the parish square, followed by fireworks at 11:15pm. The procession with the titular statue starts at about 6:45pm on 15th August and finishes at around 10:30pm.

Another church built by Tommaso Dingli is that of the parish of Gudja, which is also celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. Completed in 1666, it is the only church in Malta with three bell towers. When it comes to Santa Marija festa processions, Gudja holds the record for the oldest titular statue of the Assumption, sculpted out of solid wood in 1807 by Maltese sculptor Vincenzo Dimech. Sacred music will be performed by the Assumpta Est choir every day from 11th August in the church at 6:30pm, culminating in the pontifical mass on 15th August at 9am. There will also be two concerts by the La stella Band Club and Maria Assunta Band Club on 14th August from 9pm. The procession with the titular statue on 15th August starts at 7:30pm.

Ghaxaq goes to town with its street decorations for the Santa Marija festa, which is documented to have been celebrated in this village since at least the start of the 1800s. Many of its elaborate street decorations, including statues and pedestals, are over 100 years old. Celebrations actually kick off two weeks before on 30th July at precisely 12pm, when the church bells go wild, flags are hoisted up above the rooftops triggered by a 21-gun salute. A powerful siren, a World War II relic, is sounded from the St Mary’s Club in memory of the joyful arrival of the SS Ohio, which quite literally saved the island at the height of the Siege of Malta.

Head over to Ghaxaq on 13th August from 10pm for a street party like no other, where a procession with the statue of Our Lady ends with a confetti and fireworks show followed by a gig by DJ Armani. And on 14th August, bag yourself a vantage point on Valletta Road just outside the town to watch the “pyro-musical” spectacle “The Convoy” from 9pm, followed by mechanised ground fireworks at 11pm. At noon on 15th August, make sure you don’t miss a little tradition dating back to the 19th century when a mini statuette of the Assumption pops out of its elaborate sarcophagus on top of a grandfather-clock-like structure!

The capital of the sister island, Victoria, is also celebrating the feast of Santa Marija. The cathedral at the Citadel is the focal point for this festa, which also features traditional horse races along Republic Street as well as an agricultural fair at Villa Rundle on 14th and 15th August. Don’t miss the concerts by the Leone Philharmonic Society brass band which is based in the Aurora Theatre, one of Victoria’s two opera houses.

Hosts Global Destination Spotlight: Malta

Today’s Hosts Global Destination Spotlight features one-of kind destination Malta, and Hosts Global Affiliate, and local experts Colours of Malta. Whether you’re a history buff, a night owl, an adrenaline junkie, or simply a rambler wishing to be bowled over by natural splendour, the list of things to do in Malta is endless.

Megaliths, Medieval dungeons and Calypso’s Cave – The Maltese Islands are positively mythic. The narrow meandering streets of their towns and villages, always leading to a huge Baroque church, are a sight to behold. Their Fortress Cities are architectural marvels and the countryside is dotted with medieval towers, wayside chapels and the oldest known human structures in the world. The Islands have been described as an open-air museum.

Read the full article: https://hosts-global.com/hosts-global-destination-spotlight-malta/

An incentive at the salt pans in Gozo

Here’s how we set up the Xwejni salt pans in Gozo for a French group of 300 people on the 6th of May.

The salt pans in Gozo’s northerly coast just up from Marsalforn are a transfixing landmark and of vital importance, upholding an ancient trade and skill, whilst harvesting one of Gozo’s important natural raw materials – Salt. The salt pans are ingrained in the Gozitan tradition of sea salt production, a custom that has been passed down within local families for generations. During the summer months, locals can be seen scraping off salt crystals from the rock face, all collected, processed and packaged by hand!

The Phoenicians formed these salt pans to create the highly coveted salt mineral. The pans were later renovated by the Romans and then propagated by the Gozitans. This site is believed to be the world’s oldest working salt pans. Sea water fills the crevices in coastline and is left to settle for eight days. Then, it is moved to smaller salt pans that are warmer and further away from the sea. The salt crystals give a reddish hue in the beginning of the drying process as they begin to form.

Xwejni’s salt pans chequerboard pattern and shimmering mirrored reflective pools are always a dynamic sight to behold. Spanning several kilometres across Gozo’s northern coast. Today they are divided between 3 salt farmers. The intricate formation of shallow square pools and larger feeder pools.

 

9 beautiful beaches in Malta – Lonely Planet

The beaches in Malta tend to be dramatic, rocky and sea-sculpted, with fewer soft and sandy curves of Mediterranean coastline than you might expect. Despite this, the Maltese make the most of every swimming spot, and on these compact islands, water sports abound, and you’re never far from the sea.

With crystalline waters, historic wrecks, and interesting underwater formations, Malta is also Europe’s best diving destination, but even snorkeling from the island nation’s coastline offers a remarkable insight into an underwater world.

Whether you’re keen on splashing around in the waves, spending an afternoon relaxing on the sand, or enjoying a leisurely lunch of local seafood, here are the beaches to head to in Malta, and its smaller sister islands of Gozo and Comino.

View the Lonely Planet top 9 beaches in Malta here.

Gozo included in Condé Nast Traveler’s 15 secret islands in Europe

Gozo has been listed the Best European Island for: Sparkling coves

Odysseus nearly didn’t make it home to his wife, Penelope. Instead, the sparkling island of Ogygia winked at him and he was lured ashore, spending seven years under the spell of its seductive sea nymph, Calypso. That Homer’s Ogygia is widely considered to be Gozo should come as no surprise. This rugged island surrounded by cerulean waters forms the perfect backdrop for myths and legends – and for films. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie spent several months here filming By The Sea, and the island’s now crumbled Azure Window featured in the first episode of Game of Thrones. Despite such claims to fame, Malta’s smaller sister island remains unspoilt and untamed. North Africa, Arabia and Sicily meet in this sizzling and spiky stone in the sea. Spend your days swimming in sparkling coves, sipping a Kinnie – the locals’ favourite orange-flavoured fizzy drink – in the sun and feasting on plates of sea urchin spaghetti. Then join the queue for ftira (Maltese pizza) at the Mekren bakery in Nadur.

Getting to Gozo: Fly to Malta International Airport, and from there it’s one hour by road to Cirkewwa Harbour, where ferries to Gozo depart. The sea crossing takes 30 minutes.

Article credits: https://www.cntraveller.com/gallery/best-secret-islands-europe
International Kite Festival held in Gozo

In this digital age, many children miss out on the simple joys of flying a kite. It’s like having a little bit of happiness on the end of a string, perhaps the ultimate carefree pastime…

Gozo’s skies were set alight with stunning colours thanks to a spectacular edition of the international kite festival in the San Dimitri area in Għarb.

The fourth edition of the festival, which took place over the weekend, was the perfect occasion bringing families, residents and tourists together to see different coloured kites decorate the sky.

The festival was filled with kites far from the normal traditional diamond shape and it included various types of kites, ranging from the shape of a horse, clown, rose, witches to even small cute shaped fish.

Some kites were simple, with single strings, while others were a bit more complicated to fly, with two strings.

Tourists from Austria, Italy, Switzerland and other countries were quick to express how inclusive they felt the festival was.

The festival came to a close Sunday night with a huge magnificent bonfire and fireworks, the perfect way to end festivities.

18 Top Places To Visit In Malta

1.) Dive to see the fallen Azure Window, Gozo
Sadly, one of Gozo’s most famous natural sites, the Azure Window collapsed in 2017, when a storm on the island, causing the huge arch to drop into the sea. If you’re an avid diver, you can visit the magnificent Azure window arch that crashed into the ocean. It’s one of the best places in Malta to go for this. Make sure to only go on an organised dive and listen to local advice, this underwater landscape is new and still forming.

2.) St Joseph’s Church, Msida, Malta
Not too far from the centre of Valletta, St Joseph’s Church is a gorgeous Roman Catholic church to visit in the small harbour town of Msida. If you’re visiting in July, make sure to coincide it with the town’s feast of St. Joseph. It’s one of the best places in Malta to see during the feast.

3.) Popeye Village, Malta
You can’t visit Malta without seeing the original Popeye Village. It’s a quirky and a tiny bit tacky little village that was built for Popeye the film and has stayed on the island ever since.

4.) Hike across Malta or Gozo
Now, this sounds more strenuous than it actually is. Near Popeye Village is Għadira Natural Reserve (this is where the island of Malta actually narrows to about 500 metres in width and) where you can walk from one side of the island to the other, in literally 30 minutes!
However if you want a proper hike, the Girgenti Walk is beautiful and takes in lots of historical sites. It really is one of the best places in Malta if you love a good ramble.

5.) See Ta’ Pinu Basilica, Gozo
Located a good 35-minute walk from Għarb on Gozo, Ta’ Pinu Basilica is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine. The church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu. The basilica is located in open countryside which allows visitors to enjoy beautiful views of the area and is of great national importance to Gozitans everywhere.

6.) The Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Valletta
Probably the most iconic Basilica’s in the country, The Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a Roman Catholic church in the capital Valletta. It is one of the most famous churches and main tourist attractions of Valletta, and it forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage site which includes the entire city.
It’s perfect to explore on your day in the capital. Keep your eyes peeled for the painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that’s inside, too.

7.) See the sunset at Senglea harbour, Malta
Take a bus or watertaxi to Senglea centre and walk north to the fort at the penn’s tip from where there is a great view of the Grand Harbour and Valletta. Make sure to visit the Senglea Harbour area around sunset, when the sun lights up the cobbled buildings with its beautiful orange glow.

8.) Visit the Upper & Lower Barrakka Gardens, Malta
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are one of the best places in Malta to get a view across the Grand Natural Harbour. As the highest point of the historic walls, you’ll get to peek out across the harbour from a completely different perspective. The Lower Barrakka Gardens house a picturesque monument to Sir Alexander Ball, which is a prominent feature in the form of a neoclassical temple located at the centre of the garden.

9.) Visit the Blue Grotto, Malta
The Blue Grotto is perched on the southern end of Malta and easily reached by boat or seen from above. It’s quite easy to arrange a boat from most hotels and from Valletta itself. The Blue Grotto actually refers to a number of sea caverns on the south east coast of Malta, a short distance off the fishermen’s harbour of Wied iż-Żurrieq limits of Qrendi, Malta. The location of the caves, combined with the rays of sunlight, lead to the seawater mirroring and showing numerous shades of blue on the cave walls and ceilings. Due to the caves location and the morning light, this time of day (morning) showcases a unique mix of incredible blues and underwater scenery that’s transformed with the morning sunlight. After about 1 pm the effect is not quite the same, so make sure to plan your time well.

10.) Go inside the Rotunda of Mosta, Malta
If you haven’t made it to Rome, you should definitely visit the Rotunda of Mosta as it was designed and modelled after the Pantheon itself. What most people don’t know is that the Rotunda is actually the third largest unsupported dome in the whole world and well worth seeing in person.

11.) Explore Valletta, Malta
The whole city of Valletta has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status and it’s easy to see why.
Valletta’s 16th-century buildings were constructed by the Knights Hospitaller. The city was named after Jean Parisot de Valette, who succeeded in defending the island from an Ottoman invasion during the Great Siege of Malta. The city is noted for its fortifications, consisting of bastions, curtains and cavaliers, along with the beauty of its Baroque palaces, gardens and churches. Take a walk around the cobbled streets and wander through this architecturally stunning capital that looks like it’s out of a movie set.

12.) Find Ħaġar Qim, Malta
The Megalithic temples of Ħaġar Qim are one of the oldest and most precious historical sites on earth, dating as far back as 3,600BC. That’s well over 5,000 years old! Make sure to visit the Northern Temple, the Women’s Temple and the Main Temple itself. Although the site isn’t Machu Picchu with its awe-inspiring vistas, it really does have a history that dates back much further than most other pre-historic temples and is a great UNESCO site to experience.

13.) Go inside The Grandmaster’s Palace, Malta
When wandering the streets of Valletta head inside The Grandmaster’s Palace. This gorgeous palace has been at the centre of governing Malta for well over 300 years. Best of all, you can head inside and explore the State Apartments and the Islamic and Ottoman histories they house here.

14.) Gardjola Gardens, Malta
Located at the tip of Isla, the Gardjola Gardens have unobstructed views of the harbour and Valletta and are a must-visit instragram photo spot! Make sure to keep a lookout for the sculpted ears and eyes that are carved on the tower that watch over the island.

15.) Hike the shores of Dingli Cliffs, Malta
One of the highest points in Malta with over 250 metres above sea level, the Dingli Cliffs are well worth the stroll, especially around sunset. Get ready to enjoy scenic, towering cliffs featuring panoramic views and a chapel, which marks the area’s highest point.

16.) Explore Rabat and Mdina, Malta
With well over 4,000 years of history, head to the sleepy streets of Mdina and Rabat for a wander around one of the oldest settlements on the island. Mdina is in fact, one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture.

17.) Swim in the Blue Hole, Gozo
The Blue Hole is right next to the fallen Azure Window in Gozo and well worth taking a dip in whilst in the area. If you’re a keen diver, you can book yourself on a tour underwater, deep down this amazing geological formation. It’s totally stunning to see from both above and below, so choose whatever takes your fancy.

18.) Go inside Fort Manoel, Malta
Built in the 1800s, Fort Manoel is one of the best places in Malta to see the fortified history of the country. Perched overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, this historic place was also one of the filming sites for Game of Thrones. Once you enter, don’t forget to visit the piazza and chapel inside the fort, too.

 

The best beaches in Gozo and their pros & cons

It’s no secret that Gozo offers some of the best beaches to visit. Unlike main island Malta, where beaches can get crowded pretty quickly in summer, beaches in Gozo rarely get too busy at this time of the year.

If you’re considering staying in Gozo or planning a day trip to Malta’s sister island, here are a few personal suggestions for the best beaches around. Quiet, few man-built structures and clean.

Ramla l-Hamra
Ramla l-Hamra is the largest and most popular (sandy) beach in Gozo, and for good reason. With an almost red-coloured sand, and surrounded by mostly undeveloped countryside it’s an obvious favourite for both locals and tourists alike. It’s clean, there’s plenty of space for sunbathers and its shallow waters and easy access makes for a very family-friendly beach.

If you plan to visit Gozo, this beach should be at the top of your list.

San Blas Bay

San Blas Bay is a beautiful little beach on the North coast of Gozo, which isn’t particularly difficult to reach but which discourages people who aren’t in very good shape to head down there. It’s not necessarily getting there that requires being in shape physically, it’s the steep hill climb that forms the biggest challenge.

Pluck up some courage and make your way down, it’s well worth it. Clean, clear waters, secluded and only blemished by the small structure of a kiosk selling some drinks and snacks. Public transport (buses 304 – quickest – or 302) will take you to the top of the hill at San Blas, at the limits of the nearby village of Nadur. You’ll need a 15 min walk down to the beach.

11 local beaches awarded Blue Flag for 2021

11 beaches in Malta and Gozo have been awarded the Blue Flag for 2021. This year the International Jury took into consideration the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on beaches all over the world and noted that the beaches in Malta and Gozo followed these restrictions in a good manner, keeping in mind the safety of beach users in mind.

The Blue Flag Beaches in Malta and Gozo are:

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