Festas are a massive part of Malteste culture and tradition. Held across both Malta and Gozo, festas are religious celebrations organized by the local parish and are an iconic part of the Maltese summer with massive fireworks, marching bands, parades and happy celebrations. They are such an important event to the locals of the village and they are just epic celebrations that everyone visiting Malta needs to experience at least once.

Our trip to Malta was planned around visiting for the festa of St. Peter and St. Paul of Nadur church. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had made a similar trip to when I was 13 years old, so this wasn’t my first festa. But I appreciated and enjoyed it even more this time. We arrived about five days before the main feast day, so we were there to experience the whole thing. We spent every evening in the village square soaking up the atmosphere and loved every minute of it. During the summer months there is a festa somewhere around Malta or Gozo practically every weekend, with a total of 60 held around the villages each year.

Each festa typically has the same structure. It’s a total of five days of festivities including the lead up, the eve of the feast and the feast day itself. The celebrations revolve around the patron saint of each parish and his place in the village church. Besides the special church services there are also outdoor festivities with marching bands, food and drink trucks all around the main village square and the most spectacular fireworks displays I have ever seen. These festivals are big enough to rival the vibe of a music festival. It’s so easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and with all the young people in their festival t-shirts and the dancing and drinking it can be so easy to forget that this is actually a religious festival.

The Maltese specialize in manufacturing fireworks and fireworks often constitute the benchmark for comparing the success of the various festas in the local inter-village rivalry.

In Malta and Gozo, the village church is the pride of each villager. In preparation for the festa all the treasures of the church, including their massive crystal chandeliers, are put on display, creating a stunning setting for the parades honoring the statue of the saint. The streets are covered in decorations and fairy lights, flags are flown from rooftops and statues are placed all around the village. It is really the most beautiful time to visit a village, when everything comes alive with celebrations.

I would definitely recommend that everyone who visits Malta or Gozo during the summer gets themselves to at least one festa. It is a great way to spend the evenings in these quiet villages, still leaving you the day time to explore the rest of the islands. It’s such a unique culture to experience and it’s so much fun to experience. If you’re not very religious that’s still okay, just be respectful of the locals and their beliefs and enjoy yourself. It will be hard not to!

For those of you who are interested, the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul is celebrated on the 29th of June in both Nadur on Gozo and also Mdina on Malta.

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Emma Shaw

Emma is a travel photographer and blogger, living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thom in between adventures. She started Explore Shaw to share her experiences, travel tips and destination advice, and to inspire others to travel the world and their own backyard whenever they can.

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