“Valletta? On the first Saturday of December?!” I hear you cry, and yes, we’re deadly serious. It doesn’t have to be a flustered and frenzied affair, barging past fellow shoppers getting in the way of you and the “must-have” gift you’ve set your sights on. Save that for weekday lunch breaks and late-night opening hours to keep your sanity intact this Christmas.
Take the stress out your day off and get the bus, or better still, the ferry – they’re not just for tourists you know! Here are some ideas for a fabulous day out touristing in your own country.
1. Malta Artisan Market
Immerse yourself in Christmas spirit and craftsmanship at the Christmas edition of Malta Artisan Market held at Magazino Hall, Valletta Waterfront. Entrance is free and you can expect to be impressed by the offerings of over fifty local artisans as you wander round the stalls with quite possibly your first mulled wine of the year.
You might be tempted to part with some cash at the sight of beautiful handmade Christmas cards or vintage crochet slippers in aid of Suret il-Bniedem, or a fabulous feline ring from Le Chat Jewellery Collection, where profits go towards helping stray and abandoned cats. Purrfect!
2. Cafe Jubilee
You’re gonna need a sit-down after all that market merriness! Cafe Jubilee is a Valletta institution for a reason. The place just oozes old-fashioned Parisienne charm that never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve walked through that heavy green door.
Treat yourself to an Irish Cofffee or a Baileys, it’s Christmas after all! Make sure to soak up all the vintage vibes and snap away at the early 20th Century-style decor, your Instagram feed will thank you.
3. While You Were Sleeping
‘While You Were Sleeping’ is a group exhibition currently on at Studio 104 Fine Art Space, further down the road from Cafe Jubilee. It explores the creative practices of six up-and-coming artists and designers from a range of creative practices from fashion to filigree, who’s ideas have undoubtedly kept them awake until the early hours.
Look out for Nigel Baldacchino’s mysterious voyeur-like photographs and the almost uncomfortably erotic etchings by Gabriel Buttigieg. Nervous giggle-fits imminent.
4. St Lucy Street
The street historically dubbed “it-Triq Tad-Deheb” runs all the way through Valletta, with a glittering stream of jewellery shops that give it its nickname in the middle. Towards the Mandraġġ district you’ll find Studio 104 and Blitz, the old townhouse turned contemporary arts space which plays host to blockbuster exhibitions and some serious tile porn. Further on still, in the recently revamped piazza, swanky authentic Italian restaurants such as the aptly named Mandraggio.
On the other end you’ll find the stunning Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck, and The Hanger, a fashion boutique stocking pieces by Maltese labels such as Parascandalo and Ritienne Zammit, who’s rich, printed velvet garments are an exhibition in themselves.
Photographer Gary Bugeja And Stylist Malcolm Gauci partner up to produce ‘Tmiem‘- a conceptual photographic exhibition funded by the Arts Council on for two days only at the The Splendid on Strait Street. If you’re a lover of all things fashion, this is definitely not to be missed.
“This exhibition explores the harsh reality we are living in. We sometimes take life for granted and are blind to see how many people around us are struggling. In this photographic journey, these social crises are being addressed, represented by beloved classic fairy tales- Gary Bugeja” The teasers we’ve seen so far have been deliciously saucy. You’ve been warned.
6. The Malta Postal Museum
This quirky museum is somewhat of a hidden gem, despite it being situated right opposite the side of the Grandmaster’s Palace on Archbishop’s Street. It’s relatively new so you’re forgiven if you haven’t yet had chance to visit yet, but you definitely should.
The swish, converted space showcases interesting artefacts from the golden age of postal communication, from letterboxes to love notes. There’s also a cute gift section where you can pick up memorabilia souvenirs such as vintage photograph notecards. Entry is €5 for an adult ticket, worth every penny-stamp.
7. Cafe Society
Saturday night sees the launch of Etnika’s highly anticipated new album in the Capital, as well as the regular space-dub vinyl night “Satellite Saturdays” at Cafe Society.
Kick back to the selections of The Chef & Dr. Zicotron over a cocktail or four, whilst soaking up the beatnik city buzz and eccentric crowd this joint attracts. Cafe Society is located on St John’s street, and punters spill out onto the shallow stone steps for cigarettes and conversation. But leave your deep politics talk outside at the door for the night and dance, yes?
8. Camilleri Paris Mode
Ok, we said no shopping but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a little window shopping! You absolutely can’t miss Camilleri Paris Mode’s stunning Christmas window display which is a feast for the eyes.
The treasure trove of a shop, established in 1890 plays host to an eclectic mix of designer products including Christian Lacroix diaries and Acqua Di Parma fragrances as well as luxury offerings from Maltese designers. These include gorgeous silk eye masks by esteemed fashion and textile designer Sef Farrugia, and artworks by new kid on the block Carl Caruana, who’s glitchy digital prints have already caught the attention of art collectors.
BONUS: The Christmas Decorations
Valletta is absolutely gorgeous at the best of times, but sparkling under the festive street decorations she looks even more magnificent. If you’re heading to Valletta this weekend be prepared to be overwhelmed with Christmas Spirit!