For more than half a millennium, Malta has erupted in full colour at the start of spring to celebrate Karnival ta Malta. Marking the week before Ash Wednesday, and symbolising the last roll of the dice before the austerity of Lent kicks in, the underlying philosophy of Karnival ta Malta is to party harder than you’ve partied in the previous 360 days of the year. Five days of extravagant costumes, feathered parades, showers of confetti and some very noisy celebrations make this the social event of the year for locals and visitors alike. From what to eat to where to discover the action, our guide to Karnival ta Malta details all you need to know for a fantastic time.
What To Eat At Karnival Ta Malta
Like most celebrations on the Maltese archipelago, food and drink play an important role at Karnival ta Malta. One of the stars of the show is the traditional carnival treat of prinjolata. This rich cream, chocolate and cherry-topped sponge cake, aptly described as a sweet mound of mess, is a uniquely local culinary immersion in the spirit of Malta Carnival. To tide you over between helpings of prinjolata, there are plenty of perlini on the go. These pastel-coloured sugar-coated almonds were traditionally thrown from the Karnival ta Malta floats, and continue to be snacked on in abundance throughout the carnival.
What To Wear
A defining feature of Malta Carnival is its street parades, which flood Valletta with a cacophony of colourful costumes, spectacular parades and sprays of confetti. Malta’s capital is at the heart of the action, however villages and towns across the archipelago enter wholeheartedly into the spirit of things too. Venture further afield to see unique takes on Malta Carnival across the island. Nadur in Gozo offers a unique version of the festivities. Here, the costumes take on an altogether stranger mood, with sinister ghosts, scantily clad clergymen and cross-dressing knights highlighting a delightful edge to the Gozitan humour.
When it comes to sartorial choices during Karnival ta Malta, the brighter and bolder, the better. Sequins, feathers, glitter and face paint all have a place here. For those willing to go the extra mile, the best costumes, masks and parade floats are awarded with prizes. Select some outré threads from the handful of fancy-dress stores in Malta to really get into the spirit of the carnival.
Where To Party
The Maltese are notorious for their party-loving ways – a cursory glance at their festa-packed summers are testament to it. However, at no other time is this more apparent than at Karnival ta Malta. Don’t expect much sleep during this five-day stretch. Following a day of parades and parties around the streets of Valletta, the after-party continues in Paceville’s bars, nightclubs and pubs. DJs keep the party going until well into the early hours of the next morning, when it’s time to apply some more sequins and glitter, and start all over again.