Carnival is a festive celebration which happens just before Lent. I had just moved to Europe and wanted to experience this unique event and I chose to go to Malta. What a wacky and exciting adventure – the Fabulous Festivities & Floats of the Malta Carnival Festival!
To start, let’s clarify that ‘Carnival’ has many names, it depends on the country. It is known as Carnival, Carnevale, Karneval, etc. Carnival is a multi-day celebration that includes parades, dressing up, colorful floats, masquerade balls and street parties. Carnival is primarily celebrated in countries with a large Catholic population.
Malta itself is unique and it was fitting the Carnival celebration was too. The floats are so bright in color, wacky decorations and something you can’t see in the pictures – each float has its funky music to attract attention to their float and add to the fun. The spectators dress up in more crazy outfits – the entire, normally calm city of Valletta, comes alive as a theme park full of diverse activities. Sensation overload in a good way!!
The people of Malta are extremely welcoming and a benefit for me and other English speaking folks, they speak English. The city of Valletta is hard to describe for me still – unique is the word I choose. It’s situated on a peninsula, filled with beautiful sand stone colored buildings, colorful window boxes, narrow walkways, hardly any car traffic and you are surrounded by the blue water and facing harbor cities.
The celebrations vary from day to day. The host cities typically post schedules of events so you can pick and choose what you’d like to attend. I mostly enjoyed the parades during the day and also at night. Each time of day gives you a new perspective of the floats and entertainment. In Valletta I lost count of how many floats there were – they start the parade at one end of town and then masterfully float down the narrow, winding streets. If you don’t care to mingle with the crowds and walk with the parade, I found getting a front row seat at a cafe bar table was the perfect place to enjoy the celebration. Order a glass of wine, sit back and take it all in!
Basic notes: I went to Malta for five days. Being a solo female traveler I felt safe and welcome everywhere. Malta is a short flight from many European countries. I flew from Rome with Air Malta. The flight was just about 1 1/2 hrs long and the cost for the flight was very reasonable with booking a few weeks in advance. The Euro is the currency in Malta. Malta is not an expensive country, you can get away on a smaller budget here – a big plus! Most hotels are just across from Valletta in Tas-Sliema, Bugibba, Qawra and St. Julian’s. I rented a charming apartment in Valletta that overlooked the harbor towards the Three Cities….aaahhhh 🙂
Dates: February 13-17th, 2015. More information
Photo Tour of the Malta Carnival