Summer in Malta means festa time, with colourful and vibrant celebrations taking place in honour of the patron saint of different villages and towns. Now that the island activities are back in full swing post-COVID, so are our festas, with every week seeing fireworks, music and band marches dotting different parts of Malta.
Nothing beats joining in these celebrations and celebrating like the Maltese. Planning your Maltese festa debut this summer? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Dress up in the Saint’s colours – you’ll find these online very easily. Is it obligatory? Of course not, but it’s fun to feel that you belong!
- Get your sweet tooth ready – Candy floss and qubbajd (a nougat-based sweet) are the official festa food. Not great for the waist-line, but worth every calorie.
- A beer drinker? A pint of Cisk is obligatory sampling. Served extra cold, this Maltese beer is just the thing for the hot summer nights. Bonus points if you pronounce it correctly – ‘chisk’, like church.
- Check the fireworks schedule – there are festa celebrations every day of the week, but the colourful displays tend to happen on a Saturday night at around 10.30pm.
- Expect it to be noisy – there will be music, there will be shouting, there will be singing, and there will also be explosive petards. Don’t get a fright, it’s all part of the fun.
If you’re still unsure which festa to attend, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the biggest celebrations taking place throughout July and August:
The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Valletta & Zurrieq
The feast is celebrated on July 16 and 17 respectively. Both feasts are massive, with Zurrieq and Valletta both decked out in the colours that are traditionally associated with Our Lady of Mount Carmel – white and blue. Each locality has its distinctive character, and you’ll see some differences in the way each festa is celebrated, despite it being in honour of the same religious figure.
Photo Credits: Richard Hili
St Sebastian – Qormi
Taking place on July 17, this is one you don’t want to miss, as the Qormizi take their festas very seriously. St Sebastian devotees have a long-standing rivalry against those who support the feast of St George, which is celebrated in April. It’s important to remember that the colour for St George is red, while St Sebastian is partial to green. In July you can expect to see a sea of revellers wearing green, so perhaps now’s not the time to pack your favourite red dress.
The Assumption of Our Lady
Mosta & Other Localities
The week of August 15 is when everyone is on holiday, with 7 feasts celebrated in different localities in honour of the Assumption of Our Lady. The biggest one takes place in Mosta, which is also home to the Rotunda, known for being the third largest unsupported dome in the world. The entire church is decked out in festoons and lit up during festa week, and it’s quite the sight visible from multiple vantage points around the island.
Photo Credits: Festa tas-Salvatur, Hal Lija
Christ The Saviour
August 6 is when Lija goes en fête. This quaint town is best known for the majestic aerial fireworks, with two hour-long sessions held on the eve of the feast on the feast day itself. Hang around the old Lija Tower on the main thoroughfare, and you’ll have the best view of everything.