In Malta, there are several extended weekends that start in May and continue until the end of September. During this time, you will find Village Festas celebrations all over the island. Village festas are religious celebrations organized by parishes and band clubs. Every weekend, somewhere on the island, a patron saint of a town or village is consecrated in the village church. Occasionally, there are two parishes, then two festas are held.
The village is very colourfully decorated during a festa. Religious statues are placed on wooden pillars and set out in the streets. Every inhabitant of the village also decorates his or her balcony with colourful garlands (blue, green, and red). If you are a curious passer-by and take a look at a Maltese house with an open door, you may be spontaneously invited for a drink. Flags can be found hanging in almost every public place.
Before the festa (usually a month before), the villagers organize a barbecue. Food and drinks are paid for and half of the proceeds of the BBQ are used to finance village festivities. For example, to pay for the fireworks.
The festas themselves last about three days, and on those days there is noisy partying. Along the road, stalls are set up, bands parade and traditional Maltese nougat is sold. If you are a tourist, attending a festa can be a bit of a culture shock as it can be really noisy.
There are parades and processions. To participate in carrying the statue, you can bid money, very often they pay thousands of euros. These statues are typically moved through the streets by the bearers running.
The fireworks show on the ground and from the air conclude the festa on the last day. Fireworks can also be seen on the ground in front of the church. Large wheels of fireworks spin and flames fly in all directions. So keep your distance!
- Malta has 95 festas and Gozo has 10.
- Festas are only held in summer. (With a few exceptions).
- During the pandemic there were no festas, they only started again in 2022.
- The tradition of the festa comes from the Maltese knights. Grandmaster De Rohan, who ruled the order from 1775 to 1797, started organizing these village festas.
- Some villages have several festas.
- Occasionally, numerous villages celebrate the same feast. For example, the feast of Santa Maria, on 15 August, is held in 9 different villages. In Gozo, this feast is the largest.
- Main elements of the festa: religious processions, brass bands, community gatherings, fireworks and traditional sweets.
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