Last weekend we headed to Birgufest 2012 in the fortified harbour city of Birgu, Malta. This festival is known primarily for one thing: candles. For two nights each October the medieval city is lit by candlelight until midnight. It is nothing short of magical to wander through its narrow streets guided by a million flickering lights. There are also free tours, free entrance to all museums, concerts, and plenty of street food.
For dinner we grabbed takeaway ftajjar from Two and a Half Lemon and ate them with our feet dangling over the harbour's waters. The Birgu Marina was recently redeveloped and is turning into a lovely spot. It has a small but burgeoning restaurant scene, is home to the Casino di Venezia, and has an unparalleled view of super yachts and sailboats and Valletta's bastion walls.
Birgufest 2012 was packed with crowds, but on any other day of the year Birgu is very quiet and peaceful. It's often skipped over by tourists, but if you ever find yourself in Malta and are the kind of traveller who likes discovering little hidden gems, this is one.
before you go - traffic getting to Birgufest was crazy. If you're going to Birgufest 2013 take public transit and allow yourself double the time to arrive (e.g. a 45 minute bus ride will likely take 90 minutes). You can also book a water taxi in advance from Sliema/St. Julian's or the Valletta waterfront. If you're taking a car there are park and rides available; we drove and parked on Triq Marina in Kalkara, and walked to Birgu.
ps. photos from Birgufest 2010 (we looked like babies!)