Picasso, a film festival, a pageant of the seas, a wellness village and more keep the European Capital of Culture buzzing this month.
Valletta is well and truly the beating heart of Malta’s cultural scene this year, as it continues its reign as European Capital of Culture. This month you’ll be spoilt for choice between art exhibitions, the film festival and the climax of the 220th anniversary of the French Blockade, to name just a few of the events lighting up the city. Take your pick from our favourites.
The Schranz Family of Artists, Fort St Elmo (daily till 17th July)
The Schranz Family of Artists - A Journey of Rediscovery. Exhibition catalogue.
The prolific artistic output of four generations of the same family come under one roof for the first time in a fascinating exhibition. Anton Schranz and his wife Isabella Howard Tudurí settled in Malta in 1818 and proceeded to produce eight artists over three generations. The exhibition features 170 works, some never seen in public before and others on loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the UK Government Art Collection and museums in Menorca.
While you’re there: the star-shaped Fort St Elmo, a key defence post built in time to protect Malta during the Great Seige of 1565, also houses the National War Museum, well worth visiting after feasting your eyes on the Schranz paintings.
Bonus: if you’re visiting on 9th & 10th June, pop over to the Wellness Village for free gym classes, health food and much more.
Picasso & Miró: The Flesh & the Spirit exhibition, Grandmasters Palace (daily till 30th June)
The first exhibition of its kind in Malta brings together over 140 works by two Spanish legends of 20th century art: Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. Brought to Malta by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti and the Office of the President, the exhibition is part of a major international project titled Picasso-Méditerranée involving 60 cultural institutions exploring the Mediterranean work of Picasso across the places which inspired him with the aim of strengthening ties between all the shores. The exhibition features 100 etchings produced by Picasso in the 1930s for the art dealer Ambroise Vollard and 40 paintings by Miró.
While you’re there: your admission ticket includes entry to the Palace Armoury and State Rooms of the Grandmasters Palace.
220th anniversary of the French Blockade, 5th June
Mon dieu! The French are coming! The Historical Re-enactment Group of Malta is commemorating the 220th anniversary of the French blockade with a full scale re-enactment of the momentous events this June. Donning authentic costumes and armed with period weapons, HRGM will stage the biggest re-enactment ever to take place on the island across 14 different locations over six days. The battle commences on 5th June at 10:30am in Floriana’s Jubilee Grove near Portes de Bombes, where the Maltese army sortie against the French and are ambushed. The Maltese and the French forces then proceed to march into Valletta at 12:30pm. This will be the largest “armed force” to parade into the city since the 1970s, albeit not with real soldiers.
While you’re there: look out for the plaque outside Palazzo Parisio in Merchants Street (today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) commemorating Napoleon’s stay at that palace from 12th to 18th June 1798 before embarking on the Egyptian campaign.
Valletta Pageant of the Seas, 7th June
Grand Harbour bursts into a riot of colour as a flotilla of regatta boats, power boats, yachts and carnival floats take to the sea in a unique spectacle marking the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the city. The day long event will also see hundreds of swimmers crossing Grand Harbour to Fort St Angelo and back, and a race with a twist featuring different teams constructing their own boats from various materials and then racing them across the harbour. Sounds like fun!
While you’re there: 7th June is also a public holiday marking the 99th anniversary of the 1919 riots. Pop over to St George’s Square outside the Grandmasters Palace to pay your respects to the four Maltese men who died during the incidents, which changed the course of Malta’s modern political history.
Valletta Film Festival, 8th - 17th June
The capital rolls out the red carpet for the fourth edition of the Valletta Film Festival produced by the Film Grain Foundation, a non-profit organisation consisting of film professionals, film enthusiasts and cultural entrepreneurs. The competition will see seven feature films in the running for five Triton awards adjudicated by an international jury while seven documentary films will compete for the Best Documentary and Best Cinematography awards. Feature films will be premiered at Pjazza Teatru Rjal (the ruins of the former opera house) and the documentaries will be screened at St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity (now Spazju Kreattiv). Moreover, up to 24 short films will also compete for the Best Short Film award.