Christmas is a highly celebrated festival in Malta and Gozo. It’s a truly wonderful combination of festive merry making and religious traditions that are part of the fabric of the nation. The yuletide season is celebrated to its fullest on the Maltese Islands with a real community spirit. Nativity scenes, carol services and many other fabulously festive events are organised by local communities coming together. Everyone is welcome, so join the good people of Malta for your most Christmassy Christmas ever with some of these perfect experiences.
1.Visit the unique experience that is Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem
Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem is a truly breath-taking reproduction that takes visitors back to the time of Judea and the birth of Christ over 2000 years ago. The streets of Bethlehem come to life for a month on the tiny island of Gozo. The living nativity village is by the main square in Ghajnsielem and is constructed on 20,000 square metres of fields. Each December with about 150 actors taking visitors back in time, horses turn the mills, the village is bustling as people go about their day from bakers to blacksmiths, and shepherds watch their flocks, while a lowly couple tend to their newborn baby in a manger surrounded by animals. Each dwelling is inhabited by families to remind all that Christmas is a celebration that brings families together. However, you are reminded of the danger that faced the people of Judea at the time of Christs’ birth as Roman Garrisons patrol the streets of Bethlehem collecting taxes and taking the census as decreed by the Emperor of Rome.
Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem also includes re-enactments of the ‘trip’ from Nazareth to Bethlehem taken by Mary and Joseph as well as the Adoration of the Magi on Epiphany. The Three Wise Men travel by horse from a small village to Cirkewwa terminal and will take the ferry to the nativity village where they will make their spectacular entrance.
2. Walk the decorated shopping streets of Valletta
It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year in Valletta with the shopping streets beautifully lit, Christmas carols and cheer echoing in the air. The shops are all turned out in their Sunday best with activities galore to enjoy as well a bit of seasonal retail therapy. From the main shopping streets, Republic Street and Merchants’ Street to the law courts, Valletta is given a fully festive makeover. The colourful and intricate light designs are turned on in November and often twinkle long into the New Year.
3. It’s Panto time in Malta
There’s nothing like a panto at Christmas to get you into the spirit of the season and there are many to choose from in Malta. One of the best is the annual performance at the beautiful Teatru Manoel in the heart of Valletta, and this year Sleeping Beauty is the chosen story. The time old tale of good versus evil, and true love conquering all, will be running from the 23rd December till the 6th January.
4. Midnight Mass with a twist
With Malta being a Catholic country midnight mass on Christmas eve is always well attended. For a very spiritual experience join the congregation at the amazing St. John’s Co-Cathedral in the capital for a candlelit mass. The highlight of mass is one of the oldest of the Maltese Christmas traditions, the Child’s sermon, Il-Prideka tat-tifel.
Other Baroque parish churches across the islands host awe-inspiring masses on Christmas eve too. The interiors are decked out in the papal crimson and the alters are adorned with flowers. A more recent custom is for people to follow midnight mass with a visit to a luxury hotel and enjoy an early 1am Christmas breakfast. The spiritual side of Christmas in Malta is not just reserved to Christmas
eve as throughout advent there is a full calendar of religious events, from the procession of Mary and Joseph, to communities taking to the streets with groups of children to join in with some festive carol singing.
5. Get together with friends and family for a special meal at Risette
Risette will make your Christmas gathering the most wonderful one imaginable. With several sumptuous menus designed by the renowned Head Chef, Andrew Borg, there is something that is just perfect for every festive occasion. Remembering too that Christmas is a time to eat, drink and be merry there is always room for that glorious dessert especially since Risette serves up desserts to die for. The exquisite menu can also be complimented with the perfect wine, champagne and dessert wine as chosen and paired by Risette’s expert sommeliers.
Add to this the impeccable service, the beautifully festive surroundings and the countless thoughtful touches, a visit to Risette will create a luxurious dining experience that you will remember for many a Christmas to come.
6. A visit to a Christmas Market
Walk in a winter wonderland through the centre of the historical Rabat during Natalis Notabilis. Malta’s Christmas village lives in the narrow and labyrinth like streets of medieval Mdina’s suburbs and hosts around a 100 market stalls which showcase the talents of local artisans and crafts people. Father Christmas is in residence at his house at Palazzo Xara, along with stalls for the little ones full of sweet treats, toys and activities that will make Christmas even more magical. Natalis Notabilis also has a cultural side as it plays hosts to numerous theatrical performances including the ‘Nativity Train’ in the Franciscan Friary’s Secret Garden. The streets and churches are filled with the sound of Christmas carols, all this makes Natalis Notabilis a truly Christmassy event for all ages.
Whatever you choose to do during the festive period with your friends and family in Malta, we wish you a very merry Christmas!