With its extremely central location and constantly warm climate, Malta is steadily becoming a hub for some great music festivals to keep an eye out for. Thanks to festivals like Isle of MTV, the tiny sunny island has been making some pretty big waves beyond its shores. While Isle of MTV and its average attendance of 50,000 is by far the biggest musical festival in Malta, it’s by no means the only one. With various festivals honouring pop, metal and literally everything else in between, here’s your guide to Malta’s music festivals:
Annie Mac Presents: Lost & Found (13 – 16 April)
Easter is already a big thing in Malta, but the holy weekend has seen a bit of an upgrade over the last couple of years thanks to Irish DJ, BBC Radio 1 host and television presenter Annie Mac. Bringing thousands of (mostly British) tourists to the island and hosting everything from boat parties to castle raves, Lost & Found is the best possible introduction to Malta’s annual festival schedule.
Rock The South (21 – 23 April)
Now in its sixth year, Rock the South is one of Malta’s biggest alternative music festivals, and the hype train has already been set into full motion with the festival announcing its return in 2017. Expect the best local alternative acts and a couple of great foreigns artists to hit the two RTS stages this year.
Earth Garden (1 – 4 June)
Adding more days to the usual three day festival, Earth Garden doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in 2017, and will instead be making sure that it solidly remains the definitive local “green finger festival” that it prides itself as being. Voicing care for the environment through music and art, Earth Garden is always a red calendar event for thousands of people.
Isle of MTV (27 June)
Last year, Isle of MTV celebrated its tenth year in Malta. With previous acts like Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg and Maroon 5 having graced the stage, the free festival has helped our island to be hailed by the likes of the Daily Mirror as a mix of Ibiza and Glastonbury (without the mud), and considering that the Grammy Award-winning The Chainsmokers were the first headliners to be announced for 2017, and this year’s edition promises to be just as big as previous years with DNCE, Jonas Blue and RAYE joining the epic lineup.
Beland Music Festival (5 – 8 July)
Now confirmed for its seventh edition, the Beland Music Festival has proven its own worth and strengthened its position in the annual local music festival schedule. Promising a long list of some of Malta’s biggest pop acts—including the return of Ira Losco—the festival will once again be gracing the streets of Żejtun in aid of Puttinu Cares for the next three years.
Sunscape Festival (7 – 9 July)
Sunscape is proof that the tiny sister island of Gozo has just as much to offer as Malta. This festival is as much a place to party as it is an opportunity to learn and be inspired, “a haven for us to enjoy the outdoors, make new friends and transform ourselves”, as the organizers so eloquently put it. The fourth edition is set to be more of that. Besides Headliners such as Tube & Berger, Ott, General Levy & Radikal Guru, this year it’s all about choosing your adventure with 12 new areas to explore including a new performing arts stage and an enigmatic Fun House in the shape of a maze.
Xtreme Metal Assault (15 July)
Starting out as ExtremeMalteseMetal, this festival has a decade-long history that always manages to bring the best local and foreign metal acts all under one roof. If dark and heavy is what you like, XMA is always a guaranteed winner.
Malta Jazz Festival (20 – 22 July)
Now in its 26th edition, the Malta Jazz Festival is one of the longest running and highly-acclaimed festivals organized by the Malta Arts Council. Previous acts include showstoppers like Snarky Puppy, Mike Stern and Bill Evans, and the festival is set to yet again give a touch of jazzy class to Valletta this July.
FESTA (21 – 23 July)
What we do know about this festival is that, building on the great success of their Friday gay bash nights, Lollipop are teaming up with Beatbears and S2S Events to organize the first ever gay party festival in Malta.
From Tigullio to Gianpula (and a cheeky boat party), this is going to be an epic, three-day LGBT+ festival. Oh and yeah, Maltese icon Mary Rose Mallia is performing.
Unite With Tomorrowland (29 July)
One of the biggest dance music festivals ever has found a new way of making it all over the world, which is how Unite With Tomorrowland was born. A satellite connection will be set up from Belgium to different locations, but live DJs will also be performing on the for 12 hors of music. Erm, yes?!
The Farsons Beer Festival (28 July – 6 August)
Even if this festival is mainly about great local beer and foreign craft brews, the Farsons Beer Festival also features a week of local artists performing live, and as such has become as much about the music as it is about the many food and drink stands that dot Ta’ Qali in the peak of summer.
Sickfest (12 – 13 August)
In 2012, local alternative music promoters Sick of Ants organized a music festival in Buskett featuring the top local acts from the alternative scene. After a couple of years that saw the organization hosting odd parties, Sickfest returned in 2016 with a two-day festival over Santa Marija weekend. This year, the festival is set to return bigger and better than ever, with Sick of Ants promising more information at a later stage.
TheSoundYouNeed Festival (26 – 29 August)
In the last couple of days of August, Malta tends to tone down the heat by a bearable notch. In 2016, TheSoundYouNeed brought that heat all the way up again with a stellar lineup over three days and a couple of outstanding locations. Judging by the festival’s great success last year, here’s hoping that TSYN Festival returns in 2017. Stay tuned for more on the festival’s official site.
Glitch Festival (7 – 8 September)
2016 saw Glitch Festival’s debut, and what a debut that was. One of the best lineups for a local electronic music festival in a very long time, Glitch saw a great attendance over its two day festival, with the official site already urging people to pre-register for the 2017 edition. Victory Day has just been given a whole new meaning, thanks to Glitch’s amazing lineup this year.
The Bubble (18 – 25 September)
This year, Malta’s sustainable music and art festival will be taking over an entire week, and it’s being aptly called The Festival of Light. As is tradition, 100% of the profits from the festival will be donated to environmental and humanitarian causes, and with €25,000 being already donated to NGOs and new sections like a Spa Area being developed, this year is looking like an excellent return to form.
Malta Doom Metal Festival (27 – 28 October)
The Maltese metal scene is healthier than ever, and the MDM Festival is back for a ninth consecutive year. This edition will feature anything from traditional heavy metal to more contemporary doom metal, and the 14-band lineup looks incredibly promising.
The Nil By Mouth Sessions (30th September)
Two of the biggest promoters in the alternative scene, Trackage Scheme and Hairyamp Promotions, are teaming up for a big celebration at Paceville’s SKY Club. The lineup features very big international names which are currently performing at festivals like Primavera and Best Kept Secret, including 80s indie rock pioneers The Wedding Present and NME Award-winning Happyness. The festival will also electronic music headliners Pional, who has remixed top bands like The XX, and Weval, a Dutch duo who are spending their summer playing all the top European festivals.
Prog The Islands: Archipelaprog (8 December)
The rock scene in Malta is going through a particularly healthy period, and festivals like Archipelaprog are a true testament of that. Not only are festivals that cater to the alternative music scene cropping up more regularly, but ones that target specific genres within that scene are finally managing to attract enough people. Progressive Rock might be the umbrella term that Archipelaprog used to advertise its 2016 lineup, but if the organizers continue to keep as much of an open mind when choosing the performing artists as they did last year, 2017 is set to be another good year for Prog The Islands.