In fact, summer in Malta and Gozo is jam-packed with village feasts. It’s hard to miss them. They have religious roots, but nowadays most have quite a strong social aspect to them; they are a focal point in the year for the local community to come together as one.
All feasts provide something for newcomer or festa veteran alike. Most incarnations of the festa include: decorated and brightly-lit streets; brass band marches; food kiosks and nougat sellers; petards and firework displays; local club discos; as well as a huge element of noisy celebration in the town or village’s crowded streets.
Granted, sometimes the only spirit present at these street parties is in the bottled form. The smell of beer pervades, adding to the convivial atmosphere. But, dare to thread your way into the thronging crowds, and you’ll chance upon some of the more vivid, local characters – and see them at their most animated on this, their one weekend-a-year opportunity to have fun – no holes barred.
There are usually a couple of festas every weekend throughout summer. The trick is to get to know where to go and when. Here is a short list of some major festas, but always bear in mind that these village celebrations start well up to a week before the finale weekend, which then ends up being sort of climax to all the previous partying:
• Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Zejtun – Third Sunday of June
• Saint George, Qormi – Last Sunday of June
• Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Mnarja), Nadur, Gozo – 29th June
• Saint Joseph, Msida – Sunday following 16th July
• Saint Sebastian, Qormi – Third Sunday of July
• Saint Venera, Santa Venera – Last Sunday of July
• Saint Gaetan, Hamrun – Sunday following 7th August (click on the festa name for this photo from Alan Paris which captures one exuberant festa!)
• Saint Lawrence, Birgu – 10th August
Photo: Gege Gatt. St Paul’s Shipwreck festa, Valletta, Feb.’09. It’s a winter ‘feast’, but we felt the photo summed up the spirit of all festas, and ideal for this introductory post.