February - The Malta Marathon
February each year sees locals and visitors join Malta’s annual Marathon. Athletes from all over the world come to join Malta’s home-grown sportsmen and women compete in the full or half marathon. Serious competitors and those just along for the ride follow the route from Rabat to Sliema cheered on by crowds of locals and tourists.
February/March - Carnival (Free)
Like many other countries around the world, Malta celebrates Carnival, a time when our ancestors were allowed to let their hair down and party in the streets till the break of dawn.
Not much has changed since then in Malta, as can be seen through the brightly-coloured costumes and floats which parade vibrantly through the streets of the capital Valletta for one whole weekend.
While the Carnival celebrations in Valletta are geared towards families, those who are looking for a more…interesting…experience should not miss the celebrations in Nadur, Gozo, where locals and visitors alike go crazy in creative, often macabre, costumes.
March/April - Holy Week (Free)
A sombre atmosphere descends on Malta at the start of Holy Week, the most important time in the Roman Catholic calendar. On the eve of Good Friday, around 18 parishes in Malta organise a procession with elaborate, life-size statues showing the Passion of the Christ. On Easter Sunday the atmosphere changes to a happier one as church bells ring out and people eat traditional Maltese Easter sweets like ‘figolla’ and ‘kwaresimal.’
April - Mġarr Strawberry Fair (Free)
The people of the small rural village of Mġarr really love their strawberries. Every spring, thousands of the juicy red fruit are brought to the village square after being freshly picked from the surrounding fields, and made into delicious cakes, milkshakes, ice-cream waffles, pancakes, jam and even wine.
Maltese folk bands provide live entertainment throughout the day.
April/May - Malta International Fireworks Festival
Valletta’s magnificent Grand Harbour provides the perfect setting for this annual fireworks show in which competitors from all over the world put on a spectacular pyrotechnic display in an attempt to outdo each other and be crowned as the fireworks champion of the world. The Malta International Fireworks Festival is recognised as one of the main events in Europe’s pyrotechnic calendar.
May - The Medieval Mdina Festival (Free)
Mdina is a beautiful example of a medieval fortified town. Despite the speed of modern life it has managed to keep its charm. While it is known as the Silent City due to its peaceful atmosphere, Mdina comes to life during the annual Medieval Mdina Festival. Visitors are taken back in time through displays of pageantry, re-enactments and traditional music while all of Mdina’s many museums, churches and other historical places are open to the public. Tourist attractions offer reduced prices and some restaurants will also include medieval food on their menus.
June - Isle of MTV Malta Special (Free)
Isle of MTV is a massive, completely free outdoor concert that attracts a crowd of thousands of young Maltese and tourists. Every June this unique concert at the Granaries in Floriana features top international live acts. Previous participants have included the Black Eyed Peas, LMFAO, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, Will.i.am, Flo Rida, David Guetta and Snoop Dogg.
June - L-Imnarja: Summer Folk Festival (Free)
L-Imnarja is the celebration of the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul which falls on June 29. Traditional celebrations, which go back hundreds of years, take place in Buskett, a wooded area close to Rabat, which hosts a folk music festival and an agricultural market. Here one may try typical Maltese dishes like fried rabbit. A horse race is also held nearby.
June - Żurrieq Fish Festival
The Żurrieq Fish Festival is held in June and features a number of stalls selling fruit, vegetables and traditional crafts as well fishermen plying their trade on market stools along the roadside. A wartime shelter is open for viewing and visitors also have the opportunity to hear għana.– traditional Maltese singing.
June to September - Village Feasts (Free)
Religious celebrations are a very important part of Maltese culture. Throughout summer, each town and village celebrates its patron saint with colourful street decorations and marching bands. The festivities reach a peak with a procession with the statue of the saint, accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display. The village bars and restaurants take over the street outside their premises enabling the local people to mix with tourists as they take great pride in showing off their village. Street venders also sell their wares and a fantastic party atmosphere prevails.
July – Joseph Calleja Concert (Standing tickets free)
Held at the Granaries, Floriana this musical extravaganza truly is an exhibition of grand talent. Joseph Calleja – Malta’s finest export - returns to his homeland each year to perform for his fellow countrymen. Arguably the world’s best tenor, Calleja performs some of his latest works together with some slightly more commercial material that is sure to please the crowd. Past guest performers have included top international performers such as Ronan Keating and Zucchero. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Joseph Calleja BOV Children’s Choir are also regular features.
Sponsored by BOV and the Malta Tourism Authority, seated tickets can be bought from the event organisers but standing room is free. Go early to get a good place!
July - Malta Jazz Festival
The Malta Jazz Festival is one of the most important events on the Maltese music calendar. An eclectic mix of jazz styles is played over three nights in July at Ta’ Liesse inside the Grand Harbour. World-renowned artists who have played at the Jazz Festival in the past include John Scofield, Al Di Meola, Chick Corea, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cubanismo, Michel Petrucciani, Betty Carter, Joe Zawinul, Richard Bona and Esperanza Spalding.
July - The Farsons Great Beer Festival (Free)
The Farsons Beer Festival is an outdoor event that is held every year in Ta’ Qali, and is suitable for all the family. A wide variety of Maltese musical acts play an eclectic range of styles on several different stages, while beer (both local and foreign) is served to the thousands of people who visit.
The food court at the festival offers a mix of dishes from all over the world.
September - Malta International Airshow
Held annually each September at the Malta International Airport, the Malta International Airshow is one of Malta’s biggest outdoor events. Military jets belonging to air forces from all around the world roar through the sky as people on the ground mingle with friendly pilots at the static display featuring both military and commercial aircraft.
Aerobatics teams who have visited in recent years include the British Red Arrows, the Italian Frecce Tricolori and the Swiss PC-7 aerobatic team.
September - Notte Bianca (Free)
Notte Bianca is a spectacular nocturnal event held in Valletta, Malta's capital city. The event captures the spirit of an 'open city' where, for one night in September, Valletta's monuments and important buildings are open and accessible to all until the early hours, all for free. Concerts, guided tours, and theatrical performances and other events are organised throughout the evening, while shops and restaurants stay open till late. Tens of thousands of locals and visitors alike flock to the capital for this much awaited event. Transport is no problem as the local bus service also operates through the night.
September - Qormi Bread Festival (Free)
The town of Qormi is famous for its tradition of bread-making. Residents of the town often boast of making the best ħobż tal-Malti (Maltese bread) on the island.
During the Bread Festival visitors can take tours around Qormi’s many bakeries. The air is filled with the smell of freshly-baked bread and the sound of traditional Maltese folk music.
September - The Regatta Water Festival (Free)
8th September or Victory Day is the day allocated to celebrate the end of the Great Siege in 1565 and the end of the French occupation of Malta in 1800. This day is also used to commemorate the end of the Fascist regime in Italy in 1943 which brought to an end the Italian bombardment of the Maltese islands. What better way to celebrate than with the Grand Harbour Regatta where local oarsmen pitch their impressive skills against eachother. Teams from the towns that border Grand Harbour such as Valletta, Vittoriosa, Senglea, Cospicua, Kalkara, Marsaxlokk and Marsa, participate in a number of exciting races, cheered on crowds of enthusiastic supporters.
In recent years the Malta Power Boat Association and the Royal Malta Yacht Club have begun holding other activities and competitions during the same week and The Regatta Water Festival now includes other events such as jetski displays and traditional pagaents.
September - Żejt iż-Żejtun
The word żejt in Maltese means oil and in Arabic means the fruit of the olive. At the rear of St Catherine's Church in Żejtun is a stone press demonstrating just how important the oil of the olive is to the town. So in September each year olive coloured flags are flown in Żejtun in celebration of another harvest together with red flags honouring their patron St Catherine. The city is pedestrianised and the celebrations begin in true Maltese style with bands, stages, food and culture. The local people dress up in the costumes of gentle folk, farmers and Grand Masters of times gone by. Sample the newly harvested olive oil by dipping it in the delicious crusty Maltese bread.. Traditional artisans such as weavers and basket are also present to demonstrate their ancient skills.
October - Ħamrun Chocolate Festival (Free)
The annual chocolate festival is held in Ħamrun because of the town’s chocolate connection - during the sovereignty of the Knights of St. John, cocoa beans were stored at the tas-Samra area. The festival takes place in October in the ‘old’ city centre. There are dozens of stands to seduce all chocoholics as well as live demonstrations with top chefs, bakers and chocolate makers. Some chocolate creations previously displayed include a life size Harley Davidson Fatboy and a 2.5m x 2m Spanish Galleon. Also on display is chocolate street art and chocolate body painting. And there’s also creative chocolate fun for children in a special children’s corner where they can paint, have fun and experience chocolate in a different way.
October - Mdina Grand Prix
The Mdina Grand Prix takes place in October, in the picturesque setting beneath Mdina, Malta's original Capital city.
This annual event is internationally renowned with participants from all over Europe. Enriching the event are various local activities showing what Malta has to offer in terms history and culture
October - Birgufest
A popular October event with both locals and visitors, this takes place in Birgu (also known as Vittoriosa), one of the three cities and one of Malta's oldest historic towns.
Showing off Birgu's historic and architectural beauty, the Birgufest incorporates Birgu by Candlelight where the streets are lit with a gentle glow by thousands of candles creating a romantic ambience.
The festival also offers numerous activities including historic re-enactments, and the opening up to the public of venues of historic value at reduced prices.
Food stalls, musical concerts and various exhibitions, make this an event not to be missed.
October/November - Mediterranea Festival
This mid-autumn festival takes place on the island of Gozo – it is an island-wide feature, with a variety of indoor and outdoor events. Music concerts are the main attractions, but there are also international conferences, walks and talks about ancient and historic places, as well as culinary events and art exhibitions. A great opportunity to learn about Gozo's history and architecture.
December - Pantomimes
"Oh No He Didn't!..."
Come and see a traditional Christmas Pantomime at one of Malta's many theatres. Various dramatic societies vie each year for Malta's best Panto where traditional fairytales are brought to life with fun and humour in the true Christmas spirit - book early as tickets sell out fast.
December/January - Bethlehem in Għajnsielem
Just 5 minutes’ walk from Mġarr Harbour in Gozo, this life-size crib, constructed on 20,000 square metre of fields comes to life during the month of December. About 150 actors take visitors 2000 years back in time to Judea. The atmosphere is unique with horses, turn mills and villagers going about their daily routine, shepherds inhabiting caves and animals roaming around as a poor unknown couple tend to their new born baby.
Visitors are given a map to find their way around the reconstruction and interact with participants playing the parts of carpenters, blacksmiths and bakers, all selling the wares and demonstrating their skills.
There are also be re-enactments of Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. And on the 6th of January there is a re-enactment of the Epiphany and the Three Wise Men arrive on horseback to see the newborn baby Jesus.
A must see for Christmas visitors to Malta!