Carnival is one of the oldest historical festivals in both Malta and Gozo, with five centuries of credited and documented history dating back to the Knights’ of St John’s occupancy in Malta. This year Carnival Week in Malta takes place on February 21-25, 2020. This five–day celebration is undoubtedly one of the most colorful events in the Maltese and Gozitan calendars. Traditionally preceding Christian Lent, Carnival provides five days of revelry with Carnival-goers dressing up in colorful costumes and covering their faces with masks.
The heart of the action takes place in Valletta, Malta’s capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the European Capital of Culture 2018. The excitement starts with a procession of extravagantly colored floats and enhanced by the many children running around in fancy costumes. The celebrations continue in Malta’s main nightlife center, Paceville, catching the late-night Carnival-goers who pile into the clubs and bars, still wearing their outrageous outfits.
However, visitors should not miss the colorful celebrations that take place in various towns and villages across the Islands, each having their own version of festivities. For a particular interpretation, Carnival goers can visit Nadur, Gozo, where Carnival takes on a more macabre and funny mood.
Carnival is closely associated with Maltese folklore. It has been celebrated in Malta since the arrival of the Knights of St. John in 1530, and some studies date the first Carnival revelry back as early as 1470. Up until 1751, Carnival was an activity exclusive to Valletta, but that is certainly not true today.
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The sunny islands of Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, are home to a most remarkable concentration of intact built heritage, including the highest density of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in any nation-state anywhere. Valletta built by the proud Knights of St. John is one of the UNESCO sites and was the European Capital of Culture for 2018. Malta’s patrimony in stone ranges from the oldest free-standing stone architecture in the world, to one of the British Empire’s most formidable defensive systems, and includes a rich mix of domestic, religious and military architecture from the ancient, medieval and early modern periods. With superbly sunny weather, attractive beaches, a thriving nightlife and 7,000 years of intriguing history, there is a great deal to see and do. www.visitmalta.com
Gozo’s colors and flavors are brought out by the radiant skies above it and the blue sea which surrounds its spectacular coast, which is simply waiting to be discovered. Steeped in myth, Gozo is thought to be the legendary Calypso’s isle of Homer’s Odyssey – a peaceful, mystical backwater. Baroque churches and old stone farmhouses dot the countryside. Gozo’s rugged landscape and spectacular coastline await exploration with some of the Mediterranean’s best dive sites.