This coming weekend sees the Farsons Great Beer Festival. It runs Friday 22 – Sunday 31 July at Ta’ Qali national park. This is its 30th year, so the 2011 edition is being seen a bit of an anniversary and certainly more than a coming of age . The Beer Festival is a mid summer institution. Whether you’re a music lover, a beer lover, or just in search some slightly cooler night air, perhaps with the family in tow (and families do go in droves; expect lots of buggies!), the Beer Festival is worth heading for at least one night in the week.
Not all who go to the Farsons Great Beer Festival are interested in all the music on offer though with such a diverse line-up you can cherry pick a night to suit. You’ll find the programme here. And beer line-up here. Since it’s billed as ‘Malta’s largest outdoor music festival’, we’ll concentrate on the bands.
The line-up is nearly all local (with one exception – an Aussie rock n’ roll band) and spans almost all tastes with something of interest to most generations. The event is about promoting new talent and bringing back popular favourites. The programme takes place on a main stage and a rock stage with around three bands / artists a night on each. Music varies from the Big Band Brothers with their exuberant blasting sound and Malta’s Eurovision entrant 2011 Glen Vella to the Rifffs with their Ska formula, heavy metal Loathe and the eclectic, ethnic-inspired sounds of Tribali. Then there’s Fakawi. In fact, Fakawi on the last night has become an institution in itself with a theatrical not just musical performance that is always a big crowd puller.
We asked the organisers what makes 2011 special and to give us some insights beyond the regular PR.
Q. Thirty years of ‘beer and bands’: how has the festival changed over the years?
Apart from the change in venue over the years, The Farsons Great Beer Festival has grown from a small weekend event to become the largest outdoor festival in Malta held over 10 days. It has grown in size to encompass the full area of Ta’ Qali National Park, twelve different bars serve the largest variety of local and international beer brands, attendance figures have grown to an estimated 10,000 visitors per night and the live performances number almost 60 over 10 days on two different and separate stages.
Q. How does the festival manage to attract a crowd that ranges from families out for an evening to more music-orientated folk who come for the live gigs?
A number of factors have made The Farsons Great Beer Festival offers a great summer night out for families with children, young people and tourists too. The variety of beers on offer in the same area, the high level of live performances from Malta’s extremely talented entertainers, artists and bands, free entrance and a large parking area all make the festival a fantastic night out. Some visitors return night after night to experience the great atmosphere and enjoy themselves with a pint of beer in the open air.
Q. What can we expect of this 30th anniversary edition of the festival? Any surprises?
This year’s international act is Roc-A-Tac, an Australian rock and roll band who will be headlining the opening night on Friday, 22nd July. Hugely popular down under, the band is the winner of the “People’s Choice Award for Sydney’s Best Rock and Roll Band” and they have played across all of Australia, receiving great reviews from venues. This year we have also developed a dedicated iPhone App for the event as a handy tool for visitors to the festival. The Farsons Great Beer Festival iPhone App can be downloaded for free by searching ‘Farsons’ on the iTunes App Store.
The festival opens from 8pm onwards each night. Ta’ Qali car park offers free parking. See location map.
Alcohol and drinking age: 17+. Show your ID card to buy alcohol if you look under 17 but aren’t.
Public Transport: Arriva Bus Number 51, 52 & 53. There seems to be a night bus, N52 to and from Ta’ Qali. But we’re checking that with Farsons just to be sure. Given Arriva’s difficult start to offering services in Malta, it’s anyone’s guess.