Thursday, February 7, 2013

Everything you need to know about Carnival 2013 in Malta

We're excited to share the line up for Malta's 2013 Carnival with you today! 

malta carnival 2011
carnival 2011

What exactly is Carnival? Carnival literally means carne vale: meat is allowed. According to the Roman Catholic religion, during the 40 days of Lent the consumption of meat is forbidden. Carnival, which is celebrated prior to the beginning of Lent, was historically a time to let loose and literally eat meat before this fasting period.

Today, Carnival it is a folk celebration that takes Malta by storm for five days before Lent every year. It's sort of like Halloween meets Brazil's Carnival meets New Year's Eve. Celebrations are held on both the island of Malta and Gozo. Malta's celebrations are centred around the villages of Floriana and Valletta, where a festival atmosphere is complimented by family-friendly parades.

Gozo's Spontaneous Carnival, held in the village of Nadur, is more of an adult affair. Think of it as a masked ball that happens on Nadur's streets, with plenty of free flowing drinks and risqué outfits.

At both Malta and Gozo's Carnival celebrations adults and children alike dress up in costume - and they get creative. No bonus points on these islands for pinning on cat ears and drawing on eyeliner whiskers. And no excuses for not having a great outfit - Teatru Manoel rents over 6,000 costumes, and local shops sell Carnival costumes in the weeks leading up to the event. 

You can see photos of past daytime Carnival celebrations on our blog here, and photos of the adult-version of Carnival in Nadur, as well as the Grand Finale parade in Valletta, on our blog here.

date: February 8th-13th, 2013
time: from 6 pm most evenings in Floriana, daytime activities on Saturday (details below)
transport: extra buses will be servicing Valletta-bound routes to keep up with increased demand


Friday, February 8th
  • 18:00-20:00 hrs (6-8 pm)
    • Carnival dancing competitions in Floriana. Seated tickets available at €8 each.
    • Parade along Republic Street in Valletta to Floriana's Granaries (also known as the Fosos - the large square in front of the church near Valletta's main bus terminus)
Saturday, February 9th
  • Various Carnival events, free candy floss, masks and cookies at the Point Mall
  • 9:30-11:30 hrs (9:20-11:30 am)
    • Carnival dancing competitions at the Floriana Granaries
  • 11:30 hrs (11:30 am)
    • Parade from Valletta City Gate, along Republic Street and St. John's Street
  • 14:00 hrs (2:00 pm)
    • Carnival dancing competitions at the Floriana Granaries
  • 18:00 hrs (6:00 pm)
    • Evening parade in Valletta
Sunday, February 10th
  • 13:30-17:30 hrs (1:30-5:30 pm)
    • Grand Carnival Show at the Floriana Granaries. Seated tickets available at €15 each.
  • 14:30 hrs (2:30 pm)
    • Parade in Valletta along Republic Street to Castille Place, Merchant Street, St. John's Street, and back to the Floriana Granaries
Monday, February 11th
  • Various Carnival events, free candy floss, masks and cookies at the Point Mall
  • 10:30-13:00 hrs (10:30 am - 1:00 pm)
    • Carnival parade in Valletta, followed by a dance parade
  • 15:00-20:30 hrs (3:00-8:30 pm)
    • Carnival dancing competitions at the Floriana Granaries 
    • Parade of Triumphal and company floats
    • Seated tickets available at €10 each
Tuesday, February 12th - The Grand Finale
  • Various Carnival events, free candy floss, masks and cookies at the Point Mall
  • 10:30-13:00 hrs (10:30 am - 1:00 pm)
    • Carnival parade in Valletta followed by a dance parade
  • 18:00 (6 pm)
    • Grand Finale parade in St. Anne's Street, Floriana (adjacent to the Floriana Granaries)
    • see photos from last year's grand finale parade on our blog here

Nadur's Spontaneous Carnival is just that - spontaneous. So you won't find a strict schedule online. Celebrations kick off at 8 pm every night from February 8th to 13th (with the biggest parties on Friday and Saturday nights) in the streets of the city, particularly in St. Peter & St. Paul Square and the surrounding area.

Public transport to and from Nadur is provided by Arriva. Arriva is offering special event shuttles from Victoria to Nadur, and from Mgarr (ferry) to Nadur, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There will also be direct return journeys to all villages in Gozo on those nights. All Carnival shuttles in Gozo will cost €2.50, roundtrip (this is normally the cost of a one-way night trip).

And if you're taking the ferry from Malta to Gozo for Carnival - be warned. One year we took our car to Gozo and waited to catch a ferry back to the mainland for 3 hours - at 3 am! Travelling by foot is far faster. 

- Jess


  1. Love that picture Jess! I find Carnival in Belgium to be on the medieval, creepy side of things... looks like Malta has the right idea.

  2. Wow! Sounds like a lively week!

    Happy Carnival-ing! What are you dressing up as?


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