Music, Dance and Theatre, Festivals, Family Entertainment, Cultural - a season of colour and fun. Discover Malta's Carnival, which goes back hundreds of years. We find that already in the 16th century a jousting tournament was held as part of the celebrationas. Maltese folk used to celebrate Carnival as did the Knights of St. John as from one week prior and up to Ash Wednesday. The origin of the name Carnival derives from the Italian phrase ‘Carne vale', which means literally ‘meat is allowed' due to the fact that during the forty days of lent, the consumption of meat was forbidden according to Roman Catholic religion. Therefore, Carnival was to be celebrated just prior to the fasting period in Roman Catholic countries.
Nowadays, Carnival is celebrated in numerous towns and villages but especially in Valletta, Floriana and Nadur Gozo. It is indeed a kind of explosion of colour in the way of decorated floats and costumes. Carnival serves also as means of merriment and a time when individuals also dress up in all sorts of weird or funny costume and just go out in the streets to join the fray.
The Malta Council for Culture and the Arts organise the official Carnival festivities that take place in Valletta from Friday until the following Tuesday. Some of the events are held inside an enclosure and may be attended against a nominal fee. On the last day, a big Carnival defile ends in the main street of Floriana with a fireworks display.
In Gozo, the Nadur Local Council organises what originally started out as an exclusively individualistic and spontaneously acted Carnival celebration that verged on the weird, hilarious and the macabre. Even though today the Nadur Carnival has become more structured, it is still true to its origins. The individual spontaneity which is still alive and kicking runs parallel to other organised events such as local band performances on stage that are held in the town's square. These events are free of charge.
All the above vie with numerous private programmes organised by promoters indoors.
Carnival is definitely worth participating in when in Malta and Gozo.
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