Every year, thousands of people head up to Gozo for Carnival. If you’d like to change it up a bit and stay on the mainland for some slightly less drunk and more kid-friendly fun this year, here are seven highlights of what’s going down in Valletta:
1. Thursday’s opening ceremony
On Thursday at 5.30pm, 2017’s Carnival will be officially kicking off at Pjazza Teatru Rjal with an opening ceremony, speeches, and an exhibition of the competing costumes.
2. The first defilè of the year and a dance competition on Friday
Friday will see dance competitions at St. George’s Square and a defilè that sees the first appearance of the King Carnival float, along with other satirical floats, grotesque masks and the first section of the Dancing Companies Floats.
3. Something for the kids on Saturday (and more dancing and floats!)
Friday’s festivities start early, with Children’s Carnival kicking off at 9.30am. By 3pm, another dance competition will be going down at St. George’s Square, along with the famous Grand Defilè.
4. A 250-year-old tradition with a new twist on Saturday night
Il-Qarċilla is a farcical event that first showed up in Malta for the 1760 Carnival, and still featured in the streets of Valletta up till a hundred years ago. After a long absence from the annual celebrations, il-qarċilla returned a couple of years ago, taking the old themes of a traditional wedding in the streets and infusing it with modern references. This year’s street theatre performance promises to be just that with B’Tal-Linja Jaqbillek Żgur.
The performance is part of the Hilarious Carnival, which will be going down at 7pm at St. George’s Square.
5. Sunday Funday with even more parades
For whoever has enough energy to wake up early on Sunday morning, the Carnival Band Parade will start in High Street Ħamrun, building up to the Carnival Floats Parade at Castille Place at 1pm. The parade will proceed along Merchant’s Street and Republic Street, back to St. George’s Square
Sunday afternoon sees the Special Sunday Afternoon Carnival Grand Show in the square, along with a special evening performance on Steps Street. The latter is a Valletta 2018 initiative as part of the ongoing Ġewwa Barra community project, with the plan of narrating the experiences of the residents of Duwi Balli. A very small neighbourhood in Valletta, Duwi Balli is an area long known to be the home of a community of carnival artists and enthusiasts.
6. The dancing doesn’t stop on Monday!
Monday kicks off with even more dance shows from the morning, along with a repeat performance of the Duwi Balli performance and even more dance competitions. The Grand Defilè will also be making a return at 4pm.
7. Tuesday’s Grand Finale
The grand culmination of a very long weekend of festivities, Tuesday’s Grand Finale starts with a dance show at Pjazza Teatru Rjal and ends in the now-iconic St. Anne’s Street Parade in Floriana, with the participation of all the carnival floats. The final festivities start at 6pm and have annually boasted a mix of merriment and nostalgia.