Small in size but big on personality, Malta promises everything you could ever wish for in a Mediterranean island. The warmest welcome, 10 hours of sunshine a day, pristine bays, 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Michelin-starred dining – and a nightlife to rival any of its European counterpart.
All this perfectly complemented by a lively calendar of summer events, bursting with music, culture and the arts
Dates for your diary...
Village ‘festas’, May – September
Rarely a weekend goes by during the summer when a town or village isn’t celebrating a patron saint. The streets are a whirl of brightly coloured flags, papier-mâché statues and lit-up festoons as 100s of people flock for a feast and a firework display.
Find a village festa nearby to sample age-old traditions and get to know the locals.
Għanafest, 12th – 14th June
Gř anafest is a 3-day cultural celebration of Maltese folk music (known as Gř ana in Maltese), set within the stunning surrounds of the Argotti Botanical Gardens in Floriana. Beyond folk music, expect a programme of events for the whole family, including local musicians and ensembles, a feast of traditional Maltese food, and local craft demonstrations.
Malta Arts Festival, 1st – 15th July
Watch Valetta – a UNESCO World Heritage site in its own right – come to life with an ambitious fortnight of art and performance. From opera and cutting-edge contemporary dance to virtuoso classic concerts and experimental theatre.
It’s a wonderful melting pot of local and overseas’ artists. And an opportunity to see performances at a variety of magical, lesser-used locations, including the capital’s Old Opera House ruins and Argotti Botanical Gardens.
Isle of MTV concert, 7th July
Don’t miss this summer’s star-studded music event in Floriana. Although the 2015 line up hasn’t been announced, it’s previously welcomed artists such as Lady Gaga, Kiesza, Dizzee Rascal, Enrique Inglesias, N*E*R*D, Kid Rock, David Guetta, Snoop Dogg, Jesse J, will.i.am and Rita Ora. VIP tickets are available.
Malta Jazz Festival, 16th – 18th July
Look forward to a top line-up of international and Maltese artists performing an eclectic mix of jazz styles. It’s idyllically set in the picture-perfect, open-air setting of Ta’ Liesse in Valletta, where the Grand Harbour bastions meet the sea.
Now, in its 25th edition, Malta Jazz Festival is one of the most anticipated musical events in the country’s artistic and cultural calendar.
Trophée Bailli de Suffren 2015, 27th June to 8th July
The 14th edition of this epic race – sponsored by Camper & Nicholsons Marinas – covers 630 miles from Saint-Tropez to Malta’s Grand Harbour Marina. Stopping off at four of the most exotic ports in the Mediterranean, it’s the Med’s longest race for classic yachts ¬– and certainly the most beautiful.
Don’t miss welcoming the majestic fleet into the finish at the Grand Harbour Marina and joining the celebrations at the prize giving on 8th July.
Victory Day (Our Lady of Victories), September
This is when Malta celebrates victory, and the ending of its two great sieges of 1565 (Napoleon) and 1943 (Hitler), with two days of celebrations. The main event is the colourful – and highly competitive – traditional Victory Regatta at the Grand Harbour Marina on the second afternoon.
Although most of the activities take place in Valletta, some are also held in Senglea, Naxxar, Mellieha and Xaghra on Gozo.
European Capital of Culture Valetta 2018, various dates throughout the year
In the lead up to 2018, there’ll be a sensational cultural programme of events built around the themes: Generations, Routes, Cities and Islands. Its approach to culture encompasses artistic expression and creativity, and extends to other forms such as food, the built environment, science and sport.
Look forward to talks, workshops, music, operas, plays – and plenty for babies and children too. From concerts designed to get kids dancing, laughing and clapping along, to photography workshops where the whole family can snap up the capital.
Activities for every day...
The Maltese archipelagos are dotted with idyllic inlets, coves and bays – and boast some of the clearest and cleanest waters in the Med (8 beaches now have Blue Flag status). So the temptation to spend long days simply lounging on the beach, broken only by dips into the sea, is pretty strong.
Malta’s most popular beaches are Mellieř a Bay, Gř ajn Tuffieř a and Golden Bay. But for peace and seclusion, you’ll need to explore the island’s tip to find spot of your own, or go to St. Peter’s Pool. In Gozo, try the pretty, red sandy bay of Ramla l-Řamra and in Comino, the white sand and azure waters of The Blue Lagoon.
Party into the night
In recent years, Malta’s nightlife has seen a welcome revival as scores of stylish, new bars have sprung up in and around the ancient capital. A couple you mustn’t miss are the The Harbour Club in Valetta for Belgian beers on the terrace of this beautifully renovated old fort. And Tiffany’s Bar in St. Julians for expertly crafted cocktails and art, world-class cigars and champagne, and Venchi Chocolates and Silver Tiffany platters.
Finish the night at Club Twenty Two at the top of the Portomaso Business Tower within the marina for dancing and an unbeatable bird’s eye view of the whole island.
There are myriad restaurants across the islands, serving everything from rustic Maltese classics to Michelin-starred dining. However, The Tartarun Restaurant in Marsaxlokk is a must for fish and seafood, and Chukkas at The Malta Polo Club is its equal for sumptuous steaks.
For something a little more opulent, feast at Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar. You might even recognise this 19th-century stately home as it’s one of the island’s most desired filming locations, and has featured in The Count of Monte Cristo and the BBC drama Byron.