Like many European countries, Malta has its own, unique carnival. For 5 days and nights, just before the beginning of Lent, streets of few Maltese towns fill up with people. You will find everything here: colorful fancy dresses, loud (and terrible) music, children running under boozing parents feet and subtle political overtones.
Imagine Festa (another amazing tradition – for sure I will write about it later on) but without fireworks, saints statues and 23°C in the middle of the night.
Carnival tradition is cultivated since the 16th century where few knights threw few modest parties here and there. With time celebrations grew bigger and much more extravagant. Grand Masters tried to regulate it, but obviously, they failed. Probably forgot that you can’t stop rock ‘n roll…
Anyway, most of the people choose one of two main events:
Celebrations in Il-Belt are popular with all Sunday carnival goers: tourists, expats, families with children and everyone else who will have to wake up next day morning. The main attraction is a parade which starts in Floriana and slowly moves through Valletta streets.
Size and details of the luminous floats are quite impressive. I must say those aesthetics are very peculiar and I shall leave them without any comment. Yet, there is something magical in them. I can imagine production process – few guys from the same street (or village), somewhere in the back-alley garage, working secretly on their masterpiece…
After the parade, you can attend Parata – dance show which tells the story of Christian-Muslim fights during the Great Siege of 1565. Currently performed by chubby kids, not actual sword-wielding Turks. After that, we have the usual children dance competition. Of course, accompanied by Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance in strange, “techno” remix.
The day ends with a Carnival Ball, which is just a fancy name for an open-air, big band stage performance. A place where all crews of floats can finally rest and drink just a little bit more.
Really Messed Up Nadur
The real party takes place in Gozo. Town of Nadur turns into the capital of freaks and obscene jokes. No more chubby children. The more macabre your costume is – the better. The only place and time where blasphemy is sorta accepted in Malta. Also, drags. A lot of them. Dressing up as a woman is number one tradition during the “Nadur Spontaneous Carnival”.
Grotesque outfits and heavily intoxicated revelers make the place really unique. If you are looking for something different, you should consider choosing Gozo as your carnival destination.
You can’t talk about Maltese carnival without mentioning Prinjolata. The epitomé of pre-Lent excess. The white mountain of sponge, biscuits, and cream, inducing a sharp pain in my teeth just by looking at it. You can find it in every cafe – give it a shot if you dare.