Events
Like a local! How to celebrate the feast of Santa Marija, the Maltese way
Do it like they do it in Malta

Melanie Drury
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The feast of Santa Marija, which celebrates the Assumption of Our Lady to Heaven, is Malta's most widely celebrated festa. Whether this might stem from Malta’s ancient tendency towards worshipping the mother goddess or the fact that the feast falls slap bang in the peak of summer, the fact remains that there is no bigger festa occasion than this one.

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Santa Marija is celebrated today, on the 15th of August, and is also a national public holiday. The festa is celebrated with much pomp and glory in no less than seven towns and villages across Malta and Gozo. The towns that celebrate the feast of the Assumption are: Attard, Gudja, Hal Għaxaq, Mosta, Mqabba, Qrendi, and Victoria in Gozo.

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Join the festa

Go festa hopping throughout the week! The Maltese will squeeze out as much as they possibly can of an opportunity to celebrate and be merry, so most villages will have a week long celebration. Decorations transform the main roads, food stalls pop up everywhere and several concerts and activities lead up to the big day, with locals flooding the streets every night. Bands will play and everyone will be in their best dress mingling with their neighbours. There is truly no better way to indulge in local village culture.

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See the fireworks

Choose a festa to enjoy fully, fireworks and all, or get a bird’s eye view of the island’s seven fireworks displays from some select hilltop locations. After all, fireworks are the epitome of the Maltese festa, and seven feasts call for some very competitive displays where each village strives to be the best!

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The little town of Mqabba has successfully earned a reputation for its spectacular firework displays, which are synchronised with music using pyrotechnic choreography technologies. Mosta is also well known for its wonderful fireworks displays.

If you want it all, head to Mdina, one of the highest points of the island, and settle with the locals in a comfy chair with a picnic brought from home. Gnien il-Gibjun in Zurrieq is a lesser known location that offers a prime view of the fireworks in the south of the island, Mqabba included. Stone benches, swings and a traditional Maltese fenkata at Guy Bocci Club complete the traditional Maltese experience. 

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But if you're on the island of Gozo, don't despair - the fireworks displays going off at Victoria above the ancient Citadel are awesome enough, guaranteed!

Switch on holiday mode

It’s great to party, especially when there’s no work to go to the next morning. Akin to Italy’s Ferragosto period, this is the time to shut down business. It’s the peak of summer, it’s too hot, it’s time for a break and it’s just the right time to stop for a while and relax when everyone else is doing it too. Most companies will shut down for a week or even two, so God forbid your car breaks down during this period, as you’ll be hard done finding a mechanic. In fact, this is really not a time for shopping or getting things done - the island seems to stand still, except for activity on the beaches, nightlife and the wonderful festa season.

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If you wanna do it the way the locals do it, the island-wide holiday calls for plenty of beach time, a much awaited boat trip or a Gozo getaway. Gozo getaways are the Maltese traditional holiday at home. Those who own a boat will retreat to the sea away from the crowds for the duration of the holiday period. Others will simply spend hours under an umbrella or makeshift tent at their favourite beach.

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Better than work, any day.

15th August 2019


Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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