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december 2018/january 2019 €3 MALTA'S LEADING INDEPENDENT visitors’ guide


Tour the islands for some of the most prestigious works of art


Your style guide to the party season


The islands’ top after-dark events

The festive events, activities and attractions you mustn’t miss

your guide to events | fashion | eating & drinking | shopping


December 2018/January 2019 EDITOR Martina Said PUBLISHERS Content House Group ADVERTISING Director of Sales & Business Development Matthew Spiteri Senior Brand Sales Executives Jean Mark Meli, Matthew Sciriha Brand Sales Executive Estelle Duca Advertising Sales Coordinator Elena Dimech Art Direction & Design Antoinette Micallef Box Design – T: +356 7969 1212

page 12 10 Calendar of events

The major events taking place in Malta and Gozo throughout December 2018 and January 2019.

12 Cover story

20 Heritage

Unlocking the secrets of Malta’s prestigious art – From Caravaggio to Mattia Preti, Rebecca Anastasi tours the island for well-known and lesser-known yet equally impressive pieces of art that beg to be admired.

10 ways to make the most of the festive season in Malta – From local traditions to the events you mustn’t miss, Marie-Claire Grima takes you on a festive tour of the Maltese islands.


Content House Group, Mallia Buildings, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Mrieħel, BKR3000. T: +356 2132 0713 E: W: Published since 2005, Guide Me Malta is the largest and the leading independent guide for visitors in Malta and Gozo. The publication is published every two months. This issue covers the period December 2018 to January 2019. Guide Me Malta is distributed free of charge through leading hotels around Malta and Gozo. The publication is also distributed for free from MTA offices in Malta and Gozo and at the La Valette Club within the Malta International Airport (MIA). It is also sold at leading newsagents in Malta and Gozo, including those at the MIA and Gozo Channel ferries.

page 20

Grandmasters Palace - Photo:

Photography Casa Bernard, Hanna Stolt, Joanna Demarco, Lisa Borain, Malta Tourism Authority, Maria Kerr

Cover picture: Valletta at Christmas time Photo: Alan Carville

Editorial opinions expressed in Guide Me Malta are not necessarily those of Content House Group and the company does not accept responsibility for advertising content. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publishers is strictly prohibited.


December 2018/January 2019 page 35

page 57

Ta' Pinu Sanctuary, Gozo - Photo:

35 Things to do

Beat those winter blues – Despite being famous for its sun and sea offering, the Maltese islands have plenty to give during the cooler months too, as Jo Caruana highlights.

44 Culture

Beautifully made in Malta – Guide Me Malta meets three locals with a passion for crafts that form an intrinsic part of Malta’s cultural identity.

page 44


57 Food & Drink

Tea and a tipple – With the cooler months well underway, Marie-Claire Grima picks out some of the best spots in Malta for afternoon tea as well as evening drinks to keep us warm and fuzzy.

79 Fashion

7 fun and festive trends for the party season – Feathers, soft fabrics and bold wintry colours are just some of the top fashion trends this festive season, as Martina Said finds out.

87 Nightlife

Fabulous evenings of fun – From live music events to parties that go on all night, Jo Caruana picks her favourite after-dark events taking place throughout December and January.

page 79



82 december 2018/ january 2019

Welcome to the Maltese islands! 8


espite being one of the busiest times of the year, with plenty of last-minute shopping to squeeze in and festive dinners to host and attend, we have to admit that December is also one of the most exciting months on the islands for locals and visitors alike. Discover the myriad activities, events, festivals and attractions to add to your list during your


View of the Cittadella, Gozo - Photo:

visit here on page 12, as well as the many non-festive activities to enjoy once the decorations come down and the New Year is upon us in January, which you can find out about on page 35. Of course, there’s much more to the islands than (a lot of) Christmas cheer. Malta and Gozo are home to age-old traditional crafts, such as lace and ganutell,

some of which you may find to buy as a memento of your stay here. Turn to page 44 for an insightful read about Maltese artisans who are keeping these crafts alive. The islands also house a treasure-trove of prestigious art, produced by some of the world’s greatest masters in centuries past and present. Some are located in the grandest churches, others in the smallest

chapels and others still in private residences that are open to the public, which we highlight on page 20. With all this and more, we hope you enjoy this jam-packed issue of Guide Me Malta, and wish all our readers a happy and healthy start to 2019.

Martina Said EDITOR



3, 9, 23 DECEMBER


Malta International Organ Festival – One of the largest winter events for lovers of art and classical music, the Malta International Organ Festival consists of 19 concerts by world-renowned musicians performing organ music in the beautiful cathedrals, basilicas and churches of the Maltese islands. www.

The Nutcracker – This classic ballet will be broadcast live by Eden Cinemas from the Royal Opera House in London as part of the Christmas season. Tchaikovsky’s much-loved music accompanies the journey of Clara and her Nutcracker doll to the Land of Sweets. Tickets are available at €18 for adults and €10 for children under 16. Venue: Eden Cinemas, St Julian’s.

Natalis Nobilis – Rabat’s historical core is transformed into a Christmas wonderland during Natalis Notabilis – Malta’s Christmas Village. Around 100 stalls are set up in the narrow streets of the town, with artisans selling local products and crafts. Historical buildings also host theatrical performances, including the popular ‘Nativity Trail’ at the Franciscan Friary’s large secret garden. Venue: various locations around Rabat, Malta.

1-23 DECEMBER Christmas Village at the Valletta Waterfront – The capital’s waterfront will be transformed into a Christmas Village, with a mix of music, food and activities for all the family. A 35-foot Christmas tree will be on display, surrounded by cribs and more, and animated by bands and choirs. Little guests can enjoy balloon modelling, face painting, crafts, games, colouring-ins, as well as meet and greets with favourite characters, puppet shows and bouncy castles. Venue: Valletta Waterfront.

8 DECEMBER 6-10 DECEMBER Malta International Christmas Choir Festival – A true celebration of Christmas is in store for the whole family throughout the Malta International Christmas Choir Festival which will be held over five days in various locations across the Maltese islands. Choir singing is at the heart of the event, featuring a diverse set of voices.

7-9 DECEMBER 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 DECEMBER & 6, 13, 20, 27 JANUARY In Guardia Parade – The In Guardia Parade is a re-enactment that portrays an authentic event that took place regularly inside Malta’s major fortifications built by the Knights of the Order of St John. During this event, the fort’s garrison performs its military drill to demonstrate to the Grand Bailiff its state of readiness. The show begins at 11am and lasts 40 minutes. Venue: Fort St Elmo, Valletta.

APS Teatru Unplugged 21 – Five short acts of different musical genres will be performed in the latest edition of Teatru Unplugged, Malta’s longeststanding annual event, founded by Jonathan Shaw and Nirvana Azzopardi in 1998. This year’s 21st edition will include acts by Ċikku l-Poplu & Friends, Fiona Cauchi, Colourblind, Relikc, and Miklòs Veszprémi. Tickets are on sale online at €25, €20 and €10. Venue: Teatru Manoel, Valletta.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception – This religious celebration is marked in the town of Cospicua and features fireworks, band music and stalls selling family favourites. A mass is also held in the morning of this public holiday.

8, 9 DECEMBER Like…The Beatles – One of Britain’s most authentic Beatles’ tribute bands is heading to the island for a concert featuring some of the legendary group’s most-loved hits. It has entertained audiences all over the British Isles and Europe by using authentic instruments and costumes, recreating the same energy and vibe the famous five were known for, and is set to repeat its success here in Malta. Tickets can be bought online. Venue: Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta.

9-30 DECEMBER & 1, 5, 6 JANUARY Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem – This animated nativity village, spread on 20,000sqm of land, offers a naturalistic reproduction of the environs of Bethlehem, and brings

For the full online Malta Calendar of Events please go to:


to life the timeless story of the Nativity every December at Ta’ Passi fields in Għajnsielem, Gozo. The event includes live re-enactments of Mary and Joseph’s voyage from Nazareth to Bethlehem, as well as the Adoration of the Magi on the Epiphany. Venue: Għajnsielem, Gozo.

13 DECEMBER Republic Day – On 13th December 1974, the Maltese Constitution was amended, and Malta became a Republic, having Sir Anthony Mamo as its first President. Activities marking this historic date take place every year, mostly in Valletta.

13-16 DECEMBER Ghosts of Christmas Past – Rock music and Christmas carols come together in a narrative celebrating the festive season. Venue: Valletta Campus Theatre.

15 DECEMBER Valletta 2018 Closing Ceremony – This special party marking the end of Valletta’s reign as European Capital of Culture promises to keep spirits high! Expect a spectacular line-up of live shows, music and surprises too. Valletta 2018’s closing spectacle is all about celebrating community, life and culture. The event is free of charge. Venue: various locations around Valletta.

19-21 December Maltese Artisan Christmas Fair – The Commerce Department, in collaboration with the Malta Tourism Authority, the Grand Harbour Regeneration Committee and the Valletta Local Council, will be organising a Maltese Artisan Christmas Fair. Everyone is encouraged to visit

this fair and buy unique hand-made creations. Venue: St George’s Square, Valletta.

23 DECEMBER-5 JANUARY MADC’s Jack and the Beanstalk – MADC is back with its 40th-anniversary pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, written and directed by Malcolm Galea. Starring Jean-Pierre Busuttil as the uproarious Dame, the funpacked show, set in the Middle Ages, will give an unusual twist to this classic tale of the hero’s journey. Tickets are available online. Venue: MFCC, Ta’ Qali.

23 DECEMBER-6 JANUARY Sleeping Beauty – Join Prince Charming, the three good fairies, the comic Muddles and the exuberant Nanna Kola at beautiful Teatru Manoel in Valletta as they attempt to save Princess Aurora from Maleficent’s curse in FM Theatre Productions’ Sleeping Beauty: The Panto of Your Dreams. Tickets are available online. Venue: Teatru Manoel, Valletta.

28 DECEMBER, 25 JANUARY Changing of the Guard – The Changing of the Guard ceremony is held every last Friday of the month in St George’s Square, Valletta. The parade commences at 10.30am, with the AFM Band marching down Republic Street to the square. The new guard marches out from the Main Guard to replace the old guard that marches out from The Palace, Valletta. Following the exchange of ‘duties’, the AFM Band conducts a marching display in the same square. Venue: St George’s Square, Valletta.

Valletta Waterfront, with entertainment for the old and young throughout the night, with live bands and roaming children's animation. At the stroke of midnight, there will be an aerial fireworks display coupled with confetti on the Valletta Waterfront promenade, overlooking the historic port and fortifications. Venue: Valletta Waterfront.

31 DECEMBER Valletta New Year’s Eve Celebrations – Kick off the New Year with thousands of like-minded people in the capital, with official celebrations marking 2019 set to entertain all and sundry. Local star Ira Losco will sing live in concert in St George’s Square, accompanied by a line-up including DJ Pierre Cordina, DJ Mykill and duo Corazon Mizzi and Owen Bonnici. Venue: St George’s Square, Valletta.

11-26 JANUARY Valletta International Baroque Festival – Since its launch in 2013, the Valletta International Baroque Festival has treated audiences to a unique event featuring some of the best soloists and ensembles in the baroque music scene. Its main venue is one of the oldest working theatres in the world – Teatru Manoel – but this prestigious two-week festival also plays out within many other wonderful baroque and historical venues, such as St John’s Co-Cathedral and the Grandmasters Palace. Venue: various locations around Valletta.

31 DECEMBER New Year’s Eve Celebrations at the Valletta Waterfront – End the year in style at the




FESTIVE SEASON IN MALTA Malta has been repeatedly voted as one of the best places in the world to spend Christmas, an accolade it takes very seriously indeed. Marie-Claire Grima looks at some of the traditions and customs at this time of year which make Christmas in Malta so unique, and how best to enjoy them as a visitor.



Natalis Notabilis

Birżebbuġa Parish Church

Handheld guide Download the free iMalta app to help you find your way around the islands by suggesting the best places to visit and sights to see.

We may not have much in the way of snow, frost or ice, but Malta is one of the best places to spend the holidays in the world. And if you don’t want to take our word for it (because you think we might be a bit biased), you can take CNN Travel’s, which once again put the islands at the top of the list of best places to visit over the Christmas holidays. We’ve narrowed what makes Malta such a special Christmas destination into a sort of festive bucket list, which you can tick off during your holiday here.

1. Head to a Christmas market Christmas markets have caught on in a big way over here, and lots of them are organised over the festive season, with different themes depending on what you’re most interested in. The biggest one of all is probably Natalis Notabilis from 7th to 13th December, a full-blown Christmas village which takes over

the streets in the heart of Rabat in Malta for a week. However, there are plenty of other Christmas markets worth checking out, including the Farmers and Crafters Market on the 7th and 8th December at Villa Bologna, and Souvenirs that Don’t Suck’s Pop-Up Christmas Market at their shop in Sliema (8th to 9th December, 15th to 16th December).

2. Visit a church in its full splendour Malta’s Catholic roots get a proper airing at this time of year, and many of the churches will be decked with all their finest accoutrements; from life-sized Nativity cribs, to fine drapes and candles, to rows of poinsettia flowers and ġulbiena, the snowwhite plants that are synonymous with Christmas in Malta, and that usually surround the figure of Christ the child. Whether you’re religious or not, one can’t deny that it’s all very atmospheric. ➜ 13


Mosta Church - Photo: Gregory Iron -

3. Attend midnight mass But the best way to experience Malta’s Catholic tradition is at midnight mass, which is a lively celebration of the birth of Jesus, held on Christmas Eve. Almost every church in Malta holds such a mass, and there’s usually plenty of singing and clapping, with a genuine sense of community coming through. The most renowned tradition of all associated with midnight mass is the priedka tat-tifel (sermon of the child), where a little boy or girl from the parish delivers the sermon that they would have spent weeks learning by heart.

4. Have a Christmas breakfast While the Christmas breakfast has been around for a long time, it used to consist of a humble snack served after midnight mass. Now, it’s become a much bigger part of the Christmas celebrations, and you don’t need to have attended mass to partake in it. Many hotels, restaurants and resorts organise a Christmas breakfast buffet, early on the morning of the 25th, where one can enjoy a sumptuous breakfast to their heart’s content after a night of celebrations.

Qagħaq tal-għasel - Photo: Mario Galea -

Imbuljuta - Photo: Hanna Stolt -

5. Enjoy traditional Maltese treats When you’re in Malta at this time of year, keep an eye out for some traditional Christmas sweets that only turn up around December. Among these you’ll find imbuljuta tal-qastan (a hot drink made with cinnamon, chocolate, cocoa, chestnuts and orange rind), and qagħaq tal-għasel – sweet pastry rings filled with treacle. Each family in Malta has their own recipe for making these sweets, but fret not if you don’t have a handy Maltese friend ready to whip up a batch for you – you’ll find them at Christmas markets, confectioners and restaurants all over the country at this time of year. ➜

When you’re in Malta at this time of year, keep an eye out for some traditional Christmas sweets. 15


Cittadella, Gozo - Photo: Jürgen Scicluna -

Betlehem f'Għajnsielem, Gozo

6. View a live crib Presepji (cribs) are enormously popular at Christmas-time in Malta, and nowadays, many towns and villages feature a large, life-sized crib, with figures depicting the Nativity story. Some of them even use live actors! The largest and most popular of these is Betlehem f ’Għajnsielem, a Gozitan attraction which features nearly 150 actors re-enacting and bringing to life the 2,000-year-old village where Jesus was born. Live performances are held on various dates between 9th December and 6th January – for the full list of dates and times, visit bethlehem.f.ghajnsielem. 16

7. Check out what else Gozo has to offer While smaller than Malta, Gozo is just as brim-full of Christmas spirit at this time of year, with the added bonus that it has retained a really pleasant and laid-back way of life. The capital, Rabat (also known as Victoria) and the island’s main town and village squares are ablaze with

Christmas lights, and traditional processions take place in every village. While you’re there, you can also walk through the ancient and restored medieval Cittadella, purchase some delicate hand-made Gozitan lace from Sannat (a great stocking-stuffer), and pay a visit to the charming Pomskizillous Toy Museum in Xagħra, which features a wealth of vintage toys. ➜

Teatru Manoel - Photo: Paul Camilleri -


Old Mint Street, Valletta Photo: Gregory Iron -

8. Enjoy a panto (or two) The Christmas pantomime is one of the strongest remaining traditions from Malta’s past as a British colony, and it’s a must-attend for hundreds of Maltese families every year. This year, you can laugh your head off at Sleeping Beauty at the

Artisan Market - Photo: Mario Galea -

Christmas crib - Photo: Aaron Briffa -

splendid, recently-refurbished Teatru Manoel in Valletta, or at Jack and the Beanstalk at the MFCC complex in Ta’ Qali, limits of Attard. The productions are performed in English and run from late December to early January. True to the classic panto tradition, they’re typically peppered with raunchy or political jokes, but most of these will go right over the heads of the children, who will be too enchanted by the magical happenings on stage to notice.

9. Enjoy the Valletta 2018 closing ceremony Speaking of Valletta, Malta’s capital has had a very busy year indeed, hosting a jam-packed calendar of cultural events as the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2018. A special final celebration will bring the official ECoC year to a close on 15th December, with a

spectacular line-up of live music and entertainment, and a few unexpected flourishes, too.

10. Visit the Baby Jesus museum The Baby Jesus museum is a quirky little museum in Birkirkara which really finds its audience at this time of year. Collector Paul Pace was given a statue of Baby Jesus when he was six years old, kicking off a lifetime passion, culminating in a museum with 1,500 statues on display. The statues come in different sizes and are made of various materials, including wax, wood, plaster, terracotta, glass and clay, with the oldest statue dating back to the 18th century. The museum is found at 17, St Theresa Street, Birkirkara – for appointments, call on T: 2149 2111, M: 7949 2111 or E: 19


Unlocking the secrets of Malta’s prestigious art Caravaggio, Mattia Preti and Antoine de Favray are household names for the art aficionado on the Maltese islands. But what other secrets do these rocks in the Mediterranean hold? Rebecca Anastasi hounds down Malta’s impressive – including lesser-known – artworks found dotted all over the island.



St John’s Co-Cathedral - Photo: Chen Weizhong -

For centuries, Malta’s status as a colony – principally as the home of the Knights of St John and, later, a British colony – made it a landing spot for Europeans on their Grand Tour and for artists seeking the patronage of noblemen and women. Some, like the infamous Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, were simply on the run from the authorities and found the hospitable nature of this archipelago perfect for laying low for a little while. As a result of this influx, Malta’s own artists were influenced by the masters who came and went, but they adapted the mostly continental traditions to the light and tone felt on the islands, to imbue their work with the textures of the Mediterranean. Whether of local or foreign descent, these artists left their mark in the smallest of chapels and the largest of cathedrals; private residences and homes now thrown open to the public and their lives, loves and works can be explored by visitors to the islands, thirsting for something new.

Illustrious pieces in a famed cathedral The Beheading of St John the Baptist, the biggest painting Caravaggio ever created, is undoubtedly the most famous remnant of the great artist’s stay on the island. Secure in the annals of St John’s Co-Cathedral in the heart of the capital, this work alone has attracted thousands of visitors to this corner of the island, guide book clutched tightly in hand, camera stowed away and ticket price at the ready, all hoping to catch a glimpse of that magic which has made the renegade artist’s work famous. But, the commanding façade of the Cathedral hides a gamut of treasures, which are often overlooked in the stampede to get to Caravaggio’s magnus opus. “You wouldn’t imagine that behind the imposing façade, the church’s interior breathes the Baroque period,” Cynthia de Giorgio, Curator of The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation says. “Its embellished interior makes it an artistic and ➜

Beheading of St John the Baptist by Caravaggio - Photo: Clive Vella -



St John's Co-Cathedral ceilings - Photo:

precious architectural jewel in Valletta,” she continues, before going on to describe one key piece, which stands to attention in the centre of the nave – the main altar itself. “The church holds many religious artefacts and works of art which are somewhat forgotten, such as the main altar, made in Rome in the 1680s, and which holds a prominent place in the Sanctuary,” she says. This piece – described as “one of the most beautiful examples of work in precious bronze and marble” – arrived on the islands on a traditional wooden sailing board often used in the Mediterranean, known as a felucca, together with other works in marble and gilded brass. The solid work possesses qualities rarely seen, which places it in the heart of the island’s Catholic and military history, according to the Cathedral’s curator. “It boasts a central medallion in high relief representing the Last Supper, all Grandmasters Palace - Photo:

in gilded bronze, and also includes the arms of Grandmaster Carafa, during whose reign most of the work was completed,” she explains. The piece stands as a testament to the cultural age dominated by dramatic heavy-handed extravagance, inspired by the power of the church and its religious leaders.

Discover the art of power in elegant residences Although the Baroque held sway for much of Malta’s cultural history – and some say the style still retains its stranglehold on some aspects of local art, with much of the island’s religious art still taking inspiration from the period – some artists, such as French painter Antoine de Favray, adapted familiar elements, by imbuing them with personal concerns in their work. For Favray, his depiction of societal norms and expectations, such as in his painting, Grand Master Philippe Villiers de l’Isle

Adam Taking Possession of Mdina, found in the Grandmasters Palace in the capital, utilises much of what defined the Baroque period to convey the systems of power on display in the 18th century. “The painting depicts a moment in history when the Grandmaster of the Order of St John – Philippe Villiers de l’Isle Adam – took possession of Mdina,” history researcher Danielle Mallia says. “This was a very public ceremony which consolidated the Grandmaster's power on the island and which legitimised his authority over the islanders in the eyes of the public. It was also the occasion where Mdina municipal representatives could exert their own agency,” she explains. Indeed, Favray’s body of work, also consisting of commissioned portraits, seems to exhibit an interest in the power relations which dominated society at the time. His numerous pieces are the more striking for the prevalence of black and white robes – the signature dress of the order’s Grandmasters – as can also be seen in some of his lesser known art, some of which is on display at Casa Bernard in Rabat, a private residence which is open to the public. His portrait of Grandmaster De Rohan is a case in point. ➜ 23

HERITAGE Regal in standing and steeped with dignity, the painting places the head of the Order in the centre, with two pageboys – distinguishable by the lighter colours of their clothes – behind him, ready to attend to his needs.

Chapels and Cathedrals: Preti’s ceilings and titular paintings Churches of every size speckle the landscape on the Maltese archipelago and you will find an intimate chapel, a much-loved parish, or a breathtaking church in every town, village and hamlet. You will probably also find a work by the Calabrian artist Mattia Preti, who lived in Malta from 1569, and whose religious pieces, commissioned by the Order of St John, feature in places of worship across the islands. And, while his ceilings in St John’s Co-Cathedral – which took a staggering five years to complete – have been much fussed over, few are aware of the overlooked pieces draping the

Grandmaster De Rohan by Favray Photo: Casa Bernard


Painting by Favray - Photo: Wignacourt Museum -

walls, altars and ceilings in some of Malta’s corners of devotion. In the capital, the Church of St Catherine of Italy boasts a titular painting – depicting the final days of St Catherine, a scholar and a princess who lived in Alexandria, Egypt and was martyred in the 4th century – by Preti, who donated the painting to the church on his arrival on the island. The small chapel, which is perched on the edge of La Valette Square, adjacent to Malta’s new National Museum of Art, MUŻA, also features an ornate cupola, dominating the

interior, with gold detailing giving a sense of the heavens above.

Authorial compositions in Msida’s parish church Msida parish church, dedicated to St Joseph, is hardly at the top of visitors’ lists when they land on the islands. But the imposing building, commanding the former fishing bay – now spluttering with activity from morning to evening as a main route for buses and commuters heading to various parts of the island – has been used by parishioners for nigh on 130 years. ➜


Painting by Mattia Preti at Wignacourt Museum - Photo: Wignacourt Museum -

Few look up during church ceremonies and even fewer absorb the magnificent work by some of Malta’s foremost painters, including Emvin Cremona and Giuseppe Calì. Commissioned by the Catholic church in the 1950s and 1960s to complete several devotional pieces, Cremona, who completed his formative studies in Rome and was influenced by local stalwarts such as Willie Apap and Edward Caruana Dingli, worked on the pieces which would characterise the interior of St Joseph’s Church. This marked the beginning of a series of commissions assigned to him by the church and a long relationship flourished. And, while his devotional work has been praised on a technical level, the

painter found true inspiration in the modern – rather than Baroqueinspired – compositions, far from the strictures of the church’s artistic

leanings. Indeed, his most striking pieces – such as the Broken Glass series – can be found elsewhere, in private collections, as well as far away from the rock, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Maltese artist Giuseppe Calì’s contribution to the hallowed interior of St Joseph’s Church is no less spectacular. Of Italian heritage, Calì worked furiously his entire artistic career and, today, there’s barely a sacred space which does not feature some of his pieces. His best work is considered to be the Death of Dragut, now housed at the newly-inaugurated MUŻA, and, indeed, his altar painting, which, accompanied by those of his contemporaries Michele Cortegiani and Lazzaro Pisani, has all the qualities of artistic intent. And, it is this intent which drives visitors to the island to search out the treasures nestled in the hearts of homes, chapels, cathedrals and palaces – a quest for a different view of the world, one touched by creative magic.

Painting by Mattia Preti at St Catherine's Church - Photo: Mario Galea -



St John’s Co-Cathedral A gem of Baroque art

Half-way down Republic Street in Valletta, you’ll come face-toface with a rather austere church façade. It is in fact the conventual church built by The Order of the Knights of St John in 1577, soon after the Great Siege. The Order dedicated this Church to St John the Baptist, the last prophet who baptised Jesus Christ, who spent his adult life proclaiming his arrival. Over the years, it was transformed from a basic Mannerist church into the most outstanding treasure. Throughout the centuries, every grandmaster and many knights donated gifts of high artistic value, and made enormous contributions to enrich the church, with the best works of art by leading artists of the time. One of the greatest works is the Beheading of St John the Baptist, painted by Caravaggio in 1608. It is the largest work Caravaggio ever painted and the only painting that bears the Beheading of St John the Baptist by Caravaggio

artist’s signature, scrolled in the gushing blood from the Baptist’s cut throat. You can also admire St Jerome Writing by the same artist. Looking up at the vault of the main nave you can admire the vast paintings by Mattia Preti, the Italian artist who was commissioned with its embellishment. Preti painted episodes from the life of St John, from his birth to his martyrdom. He produced a masterpiece of dramatic scenes and illusionistic architectural effects. During the 17th century, the plain stone walls of the nave and the chapels were all carved, and gilded with a variety of foliage motifs, flowers, angels and many

other symbols. Marble sculptures and works in bronze adorn many funerary monuments of the grandmasters who reigned here. You will also be stepping on the most unique in-laid marble tombstones, spread beautifully across the entire floor area. St John’s Co-Cathedral is a unique monument of international importance – a gem of Baroque art, and a truly unmissable place of interest you should visit while on the island. For upcoming events and more information about St John’s Co-Cathedral, visit 29


Valletta Card

reveals the city behind the capital

The European Capital of Culture has shown that a year is not enough to savour the magnificent city of Valletta. Rising between two picturesque harbours, Valletta is a gem of natural, militaristic and artistic beauty, with a pulsating city life.

Valletta is a destination unlike any other and Malta Public Transport takes you to its very heart. The Valletta Card is the easiest and most convenient way to discover Malta’s unique capital city, with trips by bus or ferry, as well as access to cultural spots. At just €19, the Valletta Card offers an immersive package available for a 24-hour period. With the Valletta Card in hand, passengers can take bus journeys to Valletta and back on the extensive route network. It also allows unlimited travel on circular Route 133 with 30

frequent stops around Valletta, for quick trips within the city. The card includes two trips aboard the ferry service operated by Valletta Ferry Services, which crosses to Valletta and back from Sliema and Cospicua. Either point promises breath-taking views of the fortified city, as the formidable walls surrounding it open up to reveal the welcoming streets of Valletta. The ferry ride from Cospicua includes free access to the Barrakka Lift, rising from the shore straight to the city centre. Valletta Card users have entry to any of the following: The

Palace State Rooms, The Palace Armoury, The National Museum of Archaeology and Malta 5D. With so much to experience at each site, the only difficult part is deciding on the favourite ones to visit. The State Rooms are an exquisite look at four centuries of heritage going back to the grandmasters of the Order of St John. The Armoury, on the other hand, is a world-famous collection of original artillery pieces. To feel the wonder of Malta’s prehistoric beginning, visit the Museum of Archaeology, while Malta 5D offers a spectacular show about the island’s rich history in five dimensions. Available from Malta Public Transport sales offices and authorised resellers, the Valletta Card is the key to unlocking the secrets of Malta’s magical capital.


Discover Malta Located in Malta’s capital city, Valletta, within what was once the Sacra Infermeria of the Knights of Malta, is The Malta Experience. This audio-visual spectacular is one of the largest attractions in Europe in terms of duration, system and language commentaries. The 45-minute presentation can be listened to in one of 17 languages. In a purposely-built auditorium with a panoramic screen, sensational vision and a gripping commentary, The Malta Experience brings 7,000 years of history back to life. Shows are every hour on the hour, and after each show, one can also enjoy a tour of the Sacra Infermeria. Today, this beautiful building is known as the Mediterranean Conference Centre, but you can still step back in time and visualise its revolutionary past on a guided tour, and visit the longest hospital ward in Europe, measuring 155 metres in length and holding 247 beds.

The Malta Experience, St Elmo Bastions, Mediterranean Street, Valletta.


Medieval Malta

Very little is known about the medieval era in Malta, mostly due to the scant historical documentation available. Interestingly, some of the gaps were filled through the discoveries made from

two rescue archaeological excavations. Heritage Malta’s exhibition Core and Periphery: Mdina and Safi in the 9th and 10th centuries is the first of a series which is shedding further light on this fascinating epoch. For the first time, this exhibition is presenting a ceramic typology for the 9th and 10th centuries – one of the least understood, yet crucial moments of change in Maltese medieval history. These ceramics were unearthed during rescue archaeological excavations carried out in Mdina in 2008, and in Safi in 2015. The exhibition is being hosted by the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta and it will be open to the public until 31st January 2019. Admission is free of charge.

Further information is available on




Beat those

winter blues

Malta may be best-known as a sun and sea destination, but there is so much more to the island than that. From visiting historical gems to rejuvenating spa days, there’s something to thrill everyone throughout the winter months, as Jo Caruana highlights.

Winter is probably my favourite season in Malta. Yes, of course those endless summer days and balmy warm evenings are wonderful in July, August and beyond, but there is so much to discover and enjoy at this time of year that it’s impossible not to look forward to it.

Photo: Mario Galea -

To start with, the countryside looks absolutely gorgeous now that it’s finally a little greener and it begs to be explored. Whether in the north (in spots like Għajn Tuffieħa and the outskirts of Mellieħa) or the south (like Żurrieq and Birżebbuġa), you

can easily while away a few hours wandering off the beaten track and along the coast. If you like the idea of getting off the tourist track, you could start by jumping aboard one of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours, which will give you a sneak peek of most places that the island has to offer. Once you spot the ones you like best, you’ll be able to return and make the most of them – including weaving through the little villages, stopping for a ftira (Maltese flat bread) and a cup of sweet tea, and seeing the sort of sights that most visitors sadly overlook. It’s well worth it! ➜


THINGS TO DO If you find yourself in the south, then there are a number of other options for you. For starters, Heritage Malta – the guardian organisation that runs some of the island’s most priceless sites and venues – has a few fantastic options in the region, including the incredible Neolithic temples. Starting off at the fascinating Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Visitor Centre, where you can go back in time to hear stories from the era, you’ll be able to walk round these 7,000-year-old mega structures (under a handy canopy in case of rain!) and learn all about the very earliest things we know about Maltese history. Also in the region, you’ll find the fantastic ex-quarry-turned-culturaldestination, the Limestone Heritage Park and Gardens. Run by a family that has its roots in Malta’s stonecutting sector, you’ll be able to study everything there is to know about this captivating industry – and it will keep both young and young-at-heart visitors entertained and well-informed. ➜

Grandmasters Palace façade - Photo: Mike Watson -


Limestone Heritage Park and Gardens - Photo: Mario Galea -

Ħaġar Qim Temple - Photo:

THINGS TO DO If history is your thing, then there is nowhere better to visit than Valletta – the country’s gorgeous capital. If the day stays dry, then you can spend hours meandering through the grid-like streets taking in the highlights – from market stalls to al fresco eateries. But, if the weather isn’t playing ball, then this city also has your indoor itinerary covered, with a vast selection of museums and other venues to keep you busy. Some of my favourites include the Heritage Malta-run Grandmasters Palace, which will add a touch of glamour to any wet and windy afternoon, as well as the National Museum of Archaeology, which charts the island’s history through its stone. Another must-visit

National Museum of Archaeology - Photo: Chen Weizhong -

is the Malta Experience – a 45-minute film presentation that walks viewers through 7,000 years of Maltese history. ➜

“If the weather isn’t playing ball, the capital city also has your indoor itinerary covered.”

Teatru Manoel - Photo: Paul Camilleri -


THINGS TO DO The script is fast-paced and interesting, and the facts and figures truly enthralling, so you’re bound to learn something new. It will also provide information on so many of the other interesting things you’ll see on your travels here, making it easier for you to put the islands’ history into context. Valletta is also rounding up its year as European Capital of Culture 2018, so, if you love anything related to culture, there are bound to be a number of options to keep you entertained within the city’s bastion walls. For starters, Teatru Manoel – Malta’s national theatre and one of the oldest working theatres in Europe – is especially busy over the winter months. Most weekends you’ll find a play staged here (usually in English), or even an opera or concert. The Christmas season is reserved for the pantomime, when larger-thanlife characters take to the stage in hilarious costumes and put a local spin on a traditional fairy tale (this year, it’s Sleeping Beauty).

Ta Pinu Sanctuary, Gozo - Photo:


Cittadella, Gozo - Photo: Jürgen Scicluna -

It’s great fun for people of all ages, and is definitely worth watching this beautiful theatre come to life. If you’d like to extend your cultural reach across the water, head over to Gozo, where Malta’s littler sister island is also in full

bloom at this time of year. Among its cultural gems are two opera houses in the capital, Rabat (also known as Victoria), while other opportunities for things to do include a visit to the Cittadella and its Visitor Centre, and the wonderful Ta’ Pinu shrine with its marvellous stories of survival. During Christmas time, the delightful Bethlehem f ’Għajnsielem – a live nativity scene starring Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and a number of animals – is also a sight to behold as you travel back towards the ferry and make your trip to Malta. Finally, if all else fails… what could be better than a day or two of spa bliss? Malta is known to have some of the best spas in the Mediterranean, and they are dotted around the island for your convenience. Simply pick your treatment of choice, relax and unwind… it truly is the perfect way to beat those winter blues!


Why incorporate a company in Malta? In most jurisdictions, a company or other corporate vehicles, such as partnerships, foundations, trusts and funds have a separate legal personality from shareholders and the official of the company. This limits their responsibility to that of the company, not allowing claimants to pursue a claim directly against the assets of the shareholders and officials. Once the client chooses to incorporate a company, the question is then, where shall they incorporate the company? Setting up a company in the client’s home country may be convenient, however, the client may be missing out on a number of advantages that do not necessarily exist at home. Seeing what other jurisdictions offer that could be better suited for their scope is good practice.


Malta is a jurisdiction which is proud of its ability to cater for a wide range of international business needs. While having a high standard of regulation and implementation of international norms to combat money laundering, terrorism and crime in general, it offers international businesses the comfort of working with tailormade solutions for their unique business model. Having a company

in Malta would offer a whole host of advantages ranging from regulatory to fiscal to corporate.

Tax Advantages Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates works with tax experts in the home jurisdiction of each client, allowing our clients to feel comfortable with the decision of incorporating in Malta. The main legislation regulating income tax in Malta is included in the Maltese Income Tax Act and the Maltese Income Tax Management Act. Persons (including companies, other bodies of persons and individuals) who are both ordinarily resident and domiciled in Malta are liable to tax in Malta on their worldwide income. Persons who are either not ordinarily resident or not domiciled in Malta are liable to tax on any income and capital gains arising in Malta and on any foreign income, but excluding capital gains, received in Malta. Persons who are not residents and not domiciled in Malta may be liable to tax on income and capital gains arising in Malta. A company is considered resident in Malta if it is incorporated in Malta, or (in the case of a non-Maltese body of persons) if its control and management are exercised in Malta.

TAKE NOTE The tax accounting and refund system described below is available to Maltese companies (including partnerships en commandite, whose capital is divided into shares) and to non-resident companies carrying on activity in Malta through a branch. The Maltese company tax rate is 35 per cent. Malta is currently the only EU member that operates a full imputation system of taxation, whereby the tax charged to the company is imputed to the shareholder in the event of a dividend distribution by the company. This effectively means that a shareholder will not be charged to tax twice on any dividends received and could even receive a refund of tax if such income falls to be taxed at a lower rate of tax in the hands of the shareholder, than the rate of tax incurred by the company. The income of a Maltese company is divided into five different tax accounts. These are the Final Tax Account (FTA), the Immovable Property Account (IPA), the Foreign Income Account (FIA), the Maltese Taxed Account (MTA) and the untaxed account. Shareholders of Maltese companies are entitled to claim refunds of tax paid in Malta by the company on income allocated to the FIA and MTA, when such income is distributed as a dividend. Shareholders are normally entitled to claim a refund of 6/7 of the tax charged to the Maltese company, subject to a maximum of the tax actually paid to the Maltese tax authorities. In such as case, there would be a tax leakage of 5 per cent. Other refunds include 5/7 for royalties, and 2/3 refund when royalties are subject to a claim for double taxation relief.

Malcolm & Cedric Mifsud

Other considerations A Maltese limited liability company is a flexible legal instrument allowing swift changes if and when needed. Therefore, changes in the Memorandum and Articles of Association can be done swiftly, including in the increase or decrease of the share capital or the change in the appointed officials such as the directors and company secretary. Maltese law does not limit the nationality of the shareholders and officials of the company, therefore allowing that a company incorporated in Malta can be completely owned by nonMaltese nationals and/or residents. However, the rules of a genuine link to Malta and substance is still required for Maltese companies. It is useful to know that the language used in corporate affairs in Malta is English, and therefore all official documents are drafted in English.

How Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates can help Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates is a boutique business law firm. We specialise in giving commercial and corporate law advice to clients. We draft all documents and agreements required by clients to carry out their business. The firm owns a licenced corporate services company, Aegis Corporate Services Limited (, which administers all the companies incorporated by the firm. These services include due diligence services, compliance, accounting and audit services. Therefore, both the firm and the corporate services arm can take care of companies from incorporation to liquidation. For more information, get in touch on T: 2123 7172; E:; 43


Beautifully made in Malta

As times change and new trends threaten to take the place of traditions of old, we meet three people who are standing in the way of all that – championing three historic crafts that in their uniqueness, form part of Malta’s cultural identity. THE GANUTELL ARTIST By Sarah Micallef Ganutell artist Maria Kerr has been spreading the love for the intricate art form – which has roots going back to the 16th century – since becoming enamoured with it 20 years ago. “I used to design and embroider wedding gowns before ganutell became my passion,” she says, recalling her time at the ex-Stella Maris School in Balzan as a girl, where she first encountered it. “The school was run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and, besides academic subjects, the nuns were also keen on teaching hand work, of which ganutell was one.” Upon deciding to take up the craft seriously, Maria attended evening classes to refresh her technique, and it all took off from there. “I started my first website, and gave ganutell lessons all over Malta, Photos: Maria Kerr

Molla flowers using ganutell



A prepared thread basic petal - one of 10 different petals

Gold and silver bullion

during a popular TV programme, and even took it abroad,” she says, going on to write three books on the subject. Besides teaching the craft to local and foreign students, Maria is often commissioned to make ganutell fjuretti (flowers) for churches around Malta, as well as headdresses and bouquets for brides and girls receiving their First Holy Communion. She has written about it extensively, and has even had her work featured in a runway collection by Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons. Delving into its history, Maria explains that for a long time, ganutell was kept within the monasteries of monks and nuns before eventually spreading into villages around Malta. “Monks and nuns were the first Maltese ganutell artists who created beautiful flowers to decorate their churches. They used different materials such as paper, cloth, wood shavings, shells, thread, wire, beads and rhinestones,” she says. With the arrival of the Knights of St John to Malta, the delicate craft found favour with the wealthy, who used it to decorate their palaces. “Ganutell fjuretti were given as presents to important people, such as popes and royals,” Maria explains. Sadly, centuries later, during World War II, ganutell was at risk of dying

Copper core wires in different thicknesses and colours

out – that is, until its revival over the past couple of decades thanks to a handful of ganutell lovers, and in no small part, Maria herself. Explaining the technique involved, Maria says that ganutell flowers are mainly made out of thread and wire, and decorated with pearls, glass beads, sequins, gold and silver bullion, and fine rhinestones. There are also different techniques, which she lists as ‘Prepared Thread’, which constitutes thread and wire spun together on a wooden spindle; the ‘Molla’ technique, which, as the name suggests, features the use of a molla (spring or clip); and the ‘Chenille’ technique, a less expensive method of creating flowers by means of hand-made Chenille, which gained popularity after the war. Apart from a sizeable list of specialised materials, Maria maintains that ganutell requires “time, patience, perseverance, precision, neatness, a good feeling for colours, and above all, lots of artistic creativity.” And while ganutell continues to gain popularity, asked what she’d like to see in relation to her beloved craft moving forward, Maria admits, “I’d like to see this unique local art given its due importance, not only by the Maltese but also by the authorities.” ➜ 45



costing about €15, going on to explain that it would take an artisan between two to three days to make such a piece. ➜

Photos: Joanna Demarco

Joseph Busuttil – a bizzilla merchant based in the capital, Valletta – refuses to sell bizzilla (Maltese lace) which has been made by a machine. Having been collecting and merchandising hand-made bizzilla for the past four decades or so, his appreciation for the minute details of handwork and effort that go into each individual piece has set a standard of beauty and quality which isn’t quite comparable. “I do this work because I love lace,” he says. “However, bizzilla sells slowly. People will want beautiful bizzilla but are not

willing to pay for it, not knowing how much time actually goes into making one of these,” he maintains, pointing to a bookmark



“Look how fine it is, look at the detail,” he instructs, as he brings the piece of bizzilla closer. “Quality is quality, and I try to get the best quality. I have pieces which aren’t even made anymore. You do find some which would be cheaper, but it would not be the same as this here.” Opened by Joseph Busuttil's grandfather a century ago, Joseph Busuttil Hand Made Maltese Lace sells lace primarily from Gozo, made out of linen or silk. Mr Busuttil recalls how there was a time when his father would go and wait for the Gozo ferry to arrive at the harbour, to make sure he gets lace straight away due to fierce competition. However, that was a time when there was a greater demand for the craft. Back in the day, a beautiful piece of bizzilla was often the centrepiece upon each family table or mantelpiece. Nowadays, it is no longer a sought-after means 48

of decoration. With a decrease in demand came a decrease in shops, and Mr Busuttil laments on how many shops are nowadays selling machine-made bizzilla, labelling it hand-made. “That is one of the pities,” he says. “There are people who say that the lace

they are selling is hand-made but it would be made with a machine. It looks like mine, which is genuinely hand-made, but priced in such a way to rip people off,” he argues. Nowadays, he fears that the trade is slowly dying, with only a few people left making hand-made bizzilla, and not passing down the trade to younger generations. “There are differences between the old bizzilla and the one that is being made today,” he believes, pointing to a number of features within the threading that are unique to bizzilla from yesteryear. “Before, the quality of the thread was much better. The thread also used to be thinner, so it was even more difficult to create such work. And when it comes to patterns and details, there are ones which just don’t exist anymore. You cannot find the people to make them!" Without a demand for the craft, and with the only remaining artisans decreasing in number, what does the future look like for hand-made bizzilla? We can’t help but wonder. ➜

CULTURE THE GILDER By Lisa Borain Sixth generation craftsman Pierre Darmanin, of Ditta Darmanin, has been gilding for 39 years. “I’m in love with this craft. If I wasn’t, I would close down. It wouldn’t be worth my while,” says Pierre of his craft of gilding and restoring, which has been in his family since 1793. The craft is a rare one, with only a few craftsmen left practicing it, who have spent decades painstakingly learning its secrets taught by a dedicated mentor. “It’s a very delicate art. There are so many details that you learn with experience. You use glue, but how much glue? Then there’s the environment. Too much humidity is bad, but too much aridity isn’t good either. It’s not like a recipe where you can measure things. You have to feel it. Today, you can control things (such as conditioning the air) which you couldn’t before, but it’s essential to learn the old way first, to truly know the craft,” he says. While Pierre and his family are originally from The Three Cities, they have always had their workshops in Valletta. His predecessors would travel to Valletta from the south each day by boat. “This is where everyone was. You have to imagine what St Christopher’s Street was like in the 18th century. It was lined with the sunken workshops of carpenters and gilders offering their services. The street used to be referred to as it-triq tas-siġġijiet, which means ‘chair street’. It was then blasted in World War II, and when it was rebuilt, its character changed completely,” he continues.

Photos: Lisa Borain

Pierre focuses mainly on building Maltese clocks, known as arloġġ tal-Lira, from scratch, as well as painting, gilding, and

restoring church articles, mirrors and frames – and the demand is high. The prolific gilder is already booked up for the months ahead, and ➜ 51


some churches will have to wait longer still to get their statues restored for the summer festi. It takes roughly 19 days to build a clock, give or take, depending on particular intricacies, the gilder reveals, and Malta is the only country in the world that produces clocks precisely like these. “Its origin dates back to the reign of the Order of the Knights of St John. Originally, the clock was just an adorned box. The Maltese clock as we know it today came about when a knight requested a special design with a more adorned shape. Then, in the 19th century, noble and wealthy


people began to give one to their daughters as part of a dowry. There are four main colours; the black was for the knights, the blue for nobility, red was for clergy, and green for wealthy businessmen,” he maintains. What’s the best part of this vocation? “When you’re up high in a church restoring a piece of art. You’re up there, touching art where others don’t go. That’s something really special,” Pierre smiles. But is there a future for Pierre’s craft? “My daughter is an archaeologist, but I have taught her everything about gilding. We’ll see what happens there!”


The best of Maltese cuisine Maltese food is amazing – it’s a fact! There’s something about the rich, earthy flavours that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and it’s difficult not to finish what is on your plate, even though the Maltese are well known for their very abundant portions! On one of the busiest streets in Sliema, hidden between pubs and bars, you’ll find a very small restaurant which serves only typical local food, hence the name, il-Malti (The Maltese). Il-Malti boasts a charming Maltese vintage interior design, including original old tiles and nostalgic photographs, and serves traditional Maltese cuisine of the highest quality such as aljotta (fish soup), braġjoli (beef olives) and stuffat tal-qarnit (octopus stew), using only the freshest, quality ingredients found on the market. Apart from the à la carte menu, the restaurant prepares a few daily specials for dinner, depending on what’s in season, and also serves fresh fish and seafood cooked the traditional Maltese way. Not hungry yet? Let’s dig into some of the plates.

THE MALTESE PLATTER A Maltese meal would not be complete without a Maltese platter, including ġbejniet (cheeselets), pickled onions and sun-dried tomatoes, featuring the Mediterranean flavours the

Maltese islands are famous for. Let’s not forget the fresh bread served with tomato paste and olive oil!

out more? Pay us a visit, dine in or al fresco on our terrace at The Strand, Sliema. Find us on Facebook.

OCTOPUS Prepared using an in-house secret recipe, the fresh octopus is slowcooked to perfection – it is incredibly tender and flavourful. Want to find

Il-Malti is open daily for lunch and dinner between noon and 10.30pm. Reservations are highly recommended. Call on T: 2133 7349.




With the weather cooling down, we’re bound to turn to one of two options for a warming drink – a cup of tea, or a glass of something a bit stronger. Marie-Claire Grima picks out some of the best spots in Malta for a lunchtime cup of tea and a slice of cake, as well as the ones you can turn to for a drink later on in the evening.

JUST MY CUP OF TEA Whether you’re after the full English afternoon tea experience or simply a slice of cake and a warm cuppa in a welcoming environment, we’ve got you covered. If there’s one place you simply have to visit in Malta if you want to experience a traditional English tea, it’s Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar. In summer, tea is served in the garden, but in winter, you can luxuriate indoors, soaking up the richly historic atmosphere of this stately home. Palazzo Parisio serves a selection of teas which

ensures that anyone who stops by will find something that tickles their fancy, from traditional blends to contemporary fruit and herb infusions. Tea is served with freshlycut finger sandwiches, presented on a three-tier stand, together with freshly baked scones, strawberry preserve and clotted cream. Naturally, we can’t neglect to mention the lush selection of afternoon tea cakes and pastries, made in-house by the palazzo’s own patisserie. Afternoon tea at Palazzo Parisio is available Monday to Sunday from 3pm until 6pm, and it’s always best to call first.

If you’re looking for a slightly more scaled-down version of afternoon tea, or simply want to enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of cake in some seriously adorable surroundings, turn to Carolina’s in Balzan. The décor in this human-sized dolls’ house, decked out in various shades of pink and floral patterns, was inspired by its owners’ travels in France, and is decked out in vintage trinkets and accessories which they discovered while trawling through flea markets there, as well as with old black and white family photos. ➜


EATING & DRINKING Besides their version of afternoon tea, they also serve a wide range of cakes, cupcakes and even savoury dishes, and in the evening, you can even enjoy a Torino-style aperitivo. When mentioning cute cafés in Malta, you can’t leave out Flora’s. After having opened just a few years ago, the pretty little café in Naxxar square has become quite an establishment, with its cottagechic décor doing nearly as much to endear it to its loyal clientele as its mouth-watering selection of goodies. It’s no surprise that it’s become a beloved spot for baby and bridal showers, but if you’re not in the market for either of these, don’t let it daunt you – their cupcakes and milkshakes can be enjoyed by anyone with taste buds

Whether you’re after the full English afternoon tea experience or simply a slice of cake and a warm cuppa in a welcoming environment, we’ve got you covered. and a discerning sweet tooth. It’s also worth checking out their Facebook page to see if they have any themed events on. Nestled just a couple of villages away, in a largely residential area of Attard, you’ll find Café Santa Lucia. Established in 1975, this café is mostly frequented by locals and serves all kinds of baked goods, both savoury and sweet. It’s an excellent choice for a frothy latte and a hearty treat. Besides their traditional and well-loved cake offerings, they’ve recently introduced bubble waffles, served in a cone with ice-cream and decadent chunks of chocolate. 58

Of course, there’s one name in Malta that’s inextricably tied to cake, and that’s Fontanella. Their gloriously fudgy chocolate cake has achieved iconic status, but they have a vast range to choose from – indeed, their carrot cake and Baci cake are just as worthy of reverence. Fontanella also boasts a lovely location, tucked right in the heart of the ancient city of Mdina, and if you’re lucky enough to get a seat overlooking the bastions, you’ll be able to see a pleasant green stretch of Malta’s countryside. Fontanella is also a great place to get together with friends for a bottle of wine and a platter of cold cuts, which brings us to the next section. ➜

EATING & DRINKING EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY Whether the evening calls for an intimate do with a bottle of wine and good food shared between two, or a night on the town drinking cocktails, there are options to suit all sorts. Centrally located in one of Malta’s prettiest villages, Balzan’s Fra Giuseppe has been one of the locals’ favourite haunts for as long as anyone can remember, whether you’re catching up with a group of friends or spending a romantic evening one-on-one. Housed in a traditional old Maltese townhouse adjacent to the Balzan parish church, Fra Giuseppe offers that kind of instantly cosy ambiance that you’d just be craving on a wintry night. Wine is the go-to drink of choice here, with the Fra offering

quite a selection of wines from all around the world, but if you’d rather drink something else, including spirits or beer, you’ll find yourself very well-catered to. And we haven’t even mentioned the food yet – you can choose a Maltese platter, loaded with goodies like bigilla (a broad bean dip), olives and broad beans, sample some of the traditional cuisine the wine bar serves, or else check if the fondue is available. Nowadays, Valletta is replete with upscale pubs and bars, but just a few years ago, when it wasn’t quite the buzzing nightlife hotspot it is today, StrEat Whiskey Bar And Bistro was among the first to offer a speciality drinking experience in the capital, and has jealously guarded that reputation for all these years. ➜


EATING & DRINKING The bar, which is located in an old cellar in Strait Street, offers a wide range of whiskies to sample at very reasonable prices. The bistro also offers a selection of hearty meals and pub bites, so you can enjoy a flavoursome dish while sipping on your dram. Across the water from Valletta, you’ll find Birgu’s very own Don Berto. The place is extremely popular both as a restaurant for a full-blown meal, as well as a place where groups of friends can get together over a glass of wine or two and nibble on sharingfriendly foods such as home-made focaccia and charcuterie platters. Then again, if you’re looking for a traditional wine bar in the northern area of the country, it may be worth your while to check out Tomabnina in Mġarr. It’s located right in the heart of the village which is most renowned for restaurants specialising in rabbit and horsemeat dishes, and it’s a

quaint little place, which never fails to charm anyone who comes across it for a drink or a few nibbles. And last but certainly not least, if you’re a group of friends who are keen on a drink, but cocktails are more your speed, you should definitely check out Medasia in Sliema. Besides a wide range of spirits and champagnes, some of which you can also buy by the bottle here, Medasia’s speciality is cocktails. From tried-and-tested 62

favourites such as whiskey sours, mojitos and cosmopolitans, to in-house inventions such as the Qui-Si-Sa-Nice-Tea, you’re spoilt for choice. As for food, the name tells you all you need to know – Medasia offers a selection of moreish Asian-fusion food, including sushi, skewers, noodles and rice dishes. The place gets insanely busy, so – as with nearly every other place on this list – it’s always best to book beforehand.


Flavours of the Mediterranean Kinnie, Malta’s own favourite soft drink, is a unique-tasting, bitter-sweet soft drink with orange flavouring and aromatic herbs. Kinnie is best enjoyed ‘neat’, with a slice of orange and lots of ice. Highly refreshing, it is also an excellent mixer. These distinctive characteristics have made Kinnie a Mediterranean classic since 1952, loved by the local population and tourists alike. Over the years, in keeping with evolving trends in lifestyles and health awareness, a zerocalorie version, Diet Kinnie, was introduced, as well as Kinnie Zest – a sugar-free variant with an intense orange flavour. Kinnie is a great mixer, bringing life to a range of fantastic cocktails. These are some you should try while on holiday in Malta.

of Kinnie’s unique taste with the feisty character of prosecco makes this a match made in heaven. We hope you enjoy your stay in Malta, and find the time to do what really matters, like discovering Kinnie – Malta’s own favourite soft drink! The Kinnie range is available online at

Maltese Negroni Kinnie brings an extra bitter-sweet kick to this classic cocktail. With equal parts Campari, vermouth, gin and topped up with Kinnie, this twist on the classic cocktail is served with a slice of orange, and offers refreshing flavours of the Mediterranean. Kinnie Kiss Perfect enjoyed as an aperitivo, Kinnie Kiss is a light bubbly drink that is as refreshing as it is tasty – consisting of two parts prosecco and topped up with Kinnie, also served with a slice of orange. The fusion



Finer Hospitality, Catering and Events Infinitely Xara, which includes The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux, The Xara Lodge, Palazzo de Piro, de Mondion Restaurant, Trattoria AD 1530 and The Medina Restaurant, is now launching Xara Catering. Xara Catering has evolved to extend the finesse of our cuisine to other exclusive venues and events. We take pride in extending our culinary experience to your own personal venue or event, be it a corporate function, a wedding, a family occasion, a birthday celebration, a milestone celebration such as graduation or anniversary, staff parties, or any other event imaginable. However simple or elaborate, Xara Catering can provide for any memorable occasion. We understand that life is hectic, and that organising an event can add further unnecessary pressure, which is why Xara Catering’s service will allow you to be a host, while leaving the rest up to us. An important occasion should not be overlooked,

and Xara Catering promises to deliver guidance and support to ensure a successful and seamless event.

For more information, get in touch on E: or visit

A taste of Italy La Buona Trattoria del Nonno represents the culinary experiences and sentiments of the owner, Ben Muscat Snr, which he’s passed on to his grandsons, Jake and Kane Palmier, who are confidently upholding their nonno’s strong beliefs and passion for running a restaurant. Having set up several successful restaurants in the past, il nonno is still devoted to seeing that every plate leaves the kitchen come si deve – as it should. The newlyappointed front of house team is led by João Martins, previously a manager at a London restaurant, together with brothers Jake and Kane. The ribs are something of an institution here, named after Benny’s daughter, who created the marinade recipe. The juicy steaks and signature mojitos also come highly recommended.

La Buona Trattoria del Nonno, St Paul’s Street, St Paul’s Bay. To reserve a table, call on T: 2157 3182;



Hard Rock Cafe Malta Hard Rock Cafe Malta is the ultimate place for your Christmas activities! With iconic venues, excellent quality food, and a rockin’ service, it is truly the best place to be seen during the holiday period. Join us for a seated set menu or standing reception and open bar with your colleagues before the festive season, or bring your family and friends for our world-famous à la carte menu on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, for an awesome experience! Vault 17, Valletta Waterfront. T: 2123 3346; Level 2, Bay Street Complex, St Julian’s. T: 2138 0983; Malta International Airport, Departures Lounge, Luqa. T: 2369 6703 (Open 24/7).

La Sorpresa La Sorpresa is a family-run restaurant and pizzeria where customers are welcomed like friends and family. Colin and Doreen pride themselves on making consistent, high-quality food and service a priority. La Sorpresa restaurant offers both a Mediterranean-based à la carte menu, as well as a variety of set menus designed to suit every guest’s preferences. Our à la carte menu includes pasta dishes, mouth-watering steaks and other carvery dishes, fresh local fish, homemade pizzas, traditional Maltese dishes and other special dishes which change frequently. Our little guests have their own kids menu and gluten-free options are also available. Open Monday to Saturday 6-11pm; Sunday 11.30am-3pm, 6-11pm. La Sorpresa, Tourists Street, Buġibba. Contact Nicholas Farrugia on T: 2157 7301; M: 7925 4324.

Luna – The Restaurant at Palazzo Parisio The Luna Restaurant combines a variety of culinary concepts set in one of Malta’s finest privately-owned stately homes. Every corner assures you luxury, grace, elegance and a taste of history by the mouthful, offering breakfast, snacks, lunch, traditional English afternoon tea or dinner. Choose between the sublime interiors and the beautifully shaded tables on the garden terrace basking beside fragrant orange blossom and flamboyant bougainvillea. Luna, in all its forms, offers relaxation and understated luxury in an incredible and refined ambience. 29, Victory Square, Naxxar. Book your table on T: 2141 2461 Ext 2; E:;

Maltese Mama Maltese Mama serves authentic Maltese and Italian cuisines complemented by great service in a relaxing atmosphere. To start, patrons are offered a complimentary plate of traditional Maltese antipasti, served with fresh bread and galletti (water crackers). Starters include home-made soups, octopus, scallops, clams, the speciality shellfish platter and pasta dishes. A variety of main courses is also available, with specialities including fish and traditional Maltese dishes such as rabbit and braġjoli (beef olives). Maltese Mama, 19/2, Paceville Avenue, St Julian’s. T: 2737 7024; M: 7780 5312; E:



Mitħna Restaurant Mitħna restaurant is housed within a historical windmill built in the 1700s. The restaurant prides itself on using fresh seasonal produce. On request, it offers a variety of vegetarian dishes and is able to cater for any special dietary requirements. Part of its carefully curated menu includes revisited classic Maltese dishes like rabbit and date rolls (imqaret). Upon request, Mitħna offers a free pick-up and drop-off service in all Mellieħa areas. Mitħna Restaurant, Triq il-Kbira, Mellieħa. T: 2152 0404; M: 7947 8896; E:;; FB:

Palazzo Preca Restaurant Palazzo Preca Restaurant is repeatedly awarded as one of the best restaurants in Malta and Gozo. It is situated in one of the best-known historic streets in Valletta, within a beautiful 16th-century palazzo in Strait Street. An extensive and creative menu provides mouth-watering choices of food and fine local and foreign wines – and do not miss out on our delicious home-made desserts! Professional, dedicated and attentive staff will ensure that your visit is a completely enjoyable experience. Wednesday is our special night when the lights are turned off and the restaurant is entirely lit by candles, creating an intimate and romantic ambience. Open Tuesday to Saturday 12.30-3pm; 6.30-10.30pm. During winter, open for lunch on Sunday and closed for dinner. Bookings are recommended and are to be confirmed by phone. Palazzo Preca, 54, Strait Street, Valletta. T: 2122 6777; M: 9986 6640;

Shakinah – Indian Cuisine Situated on the St Julian’s seafront in Balluta Bay, Shakinah presents Indian tastes, scents and flavours in a selection of exquisitely prepared, Halal-Certified, colourful dishes. The fresh ingredients, oriental spices and interesting flavours are carefully hand-picked by our native-born Indian chefs. Great emphasis has been placed on the décor, mood and general ambience to ensure a true Shakinah special experience. Allow yourself to be transported on a magic carpet ride to the exotic orient in the heart of St Julian’s. Open Monday to Sunday 6-11pm. Shakinah, 5, Ġorġ Borg Olivier Street, St Julian’s. T: 2731 8000; M: 7731 8000; E:;; FB:

Ta’ Kris Restaurant and Maltese Bistro Right in the heart of Sliema lies Ta’ Kris Restaurant and Maltese Bistro, serving wholesome home cooking at unbeatable prices. Chef patron Chris uses the freshest ingredients to create tasty Maltese dishes like Dad’s famous braġjoli (beef olives), thick beef stew, veal escalopes and rabbit, and for those with a sweet tooth, the deliciously crunchy imqaret – a must-try date-filled pastry. Patrons are also spoilt for choice with the daily specials ranging from fresh fish to beef fillet and various pasta dishes. Everything at this price-worthy restaurant is served in the unique setting of a former bakery. Ta’ Kris is one of the best-rated restaurants by the Definitive(ly) Good Guide to Restaurants. Booking is recommended. Set menus for special occasions can also be arranged upon request. Open Monday to Saturday 12.30-11pm, Sunday 6-11pm. Ta’ Kris, 80, Fawwara Lane, Sliema. T: 2133 7367; M: 7933 7367;



Ta’ Marija Celebrating more than five decades of excellence, Ta’ Marija restaurant offers the ideal venue for colleagues, friends and family to celebrate any occasion with sumptuous food in welcoming surroundings, complemented by our exceptional service and merrymaking. Enjoy our all-inclusive carvery buffets on Saturday evenings and Sunday lunches for just €27.50 per person, or indulge in a Maltese extravaganza every Wednesday and Friday evening with a spectacular traditional folk dancing show and our mandolin and guitar duo! You may also choose to dine al fresco, enjoying views of the Mosta Dome, whilst savouring one of our signature cocktails and exquisite degustation menus. Ta’ Marija Restaurant, Constitution Street, Mosta. T: 2143 4444; E:;

Terrone Terrone is a restaurant in the charming fishing village of Marsaxlokk that combines rustic charm with contemporary regional cuisine. Focusing on southern Italian and local Maltese cuisines, and hand-picking the best local and organic produce, we aim to recreate a healthy and enjoyable way of dining. We are open every day for lunch and dinner, as well as breakfast on weekends (8-10.45am). The restaurant is situated on the Marsaxlokk seafront. Open Monday to Friday noon-11pm, Saturday 8am-11pm, Sunday 8am-10pm. Terrone, 1, Wilġa Street, Marsaxlokk. T: 2704 2656; E:;

Townhouse No3 Townhouse No3 is located in one of Rabat’s most picturesque alleys, within a converted townhouse that used to house one of the most popular bars after World War II. This designer-finished restaurant offers an elevated level of dining in the northern part of Malta. The menu changes seasonally, but the focus always remains on local produce, while the wine list boasts hard-to-find wines from boutique wineries. Open Tuesday to Saturday 6.30-10.30pm; Sunday noon-3pm. Sunday and Monday dinner by booking only. Private cellar by booking only. Townhouse No3, Republic Street, Rabat, Malta. M: 7900 4123; E:

Wood & Coal Wood & Coal specialises in delicious, tender, prime cuts of beef, ranging from fillet, tagliata and T-Bone to rib-eye, sirloin and rump steak, which sit alongside other meats on the menu, such as veal T-bone and veal chop. The accompanying Jack Daniels BBQ sauce hits the spot, especially during the cooler months, and the majority of Wood & Coal’s meats are available in two different portion sizes, making them suitable for everyone. Besides the regulars on the menu, Wood & Coal also offers weekly specials, such as a Tomahawk cut of meat. Gluten- and lactose-free options are available on most of the menu, including starters, pizza, pasta, burgers and dessert. Żgħafran Street, Attard. M: 7957 0073;



TAKE NOTE 12.30pm in Malta and from 7.30am to 11am in Gozo. Details of the roster are available on the local Sunday newspapers.

BANKS AND CURRENCY EXCHANGE Banks are normally open between 8.30am and 1.30pm Mon-Thur, between 8.30am and 3.30pm on Fri, and up to noon on Sat. Some banks open for longer hours. International bank cards are accepted and foreign currency is easily exchanged. Banks, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and exchange bureaux can be found all over the islands. USEFUL AND EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NOS 00356 International Code 112 Emergency Services 1182 Directory Enquiries 1152 Overseas Operator 195 Time Check 2124 9600 Flight Enquiries TOURIST INFORMATION OFFICES IN MALTA Malta Tourism Authority-run offices may be found at: Valletta 28, Melita Street. T: 2291 5440/1/2 Malta International Airport Arrivals Lounge, Luqa. T: 2369 6073/4 Gozo, Mġarr Gozo Channel Ferry Terminal. T: 2155 4538

Gozo, Rabat 17, Independence Square. T: 2291 5452/3 Marsaxlokk Xatt is-Sajjieda. T: 2165 1151 Mdina St Publius Square. T: 2145 4480 Mellieħa Misraħ Iż-żjara tal-Papa Gwanni Pawlu II 26 ta’ Mejju 1990. T: 2152 4666 Sliema Info Desk Plaza Commercial Centre. T: 2136 3691 St Paul’s Bay Misraħ il-Bajja (Buġibba). T: 2141 9176 Valletta Waterfront Pinto Wharf. T: 2122 0633 Birgu (Vittoriosa) Inquisitor’s Palace, Main Gate Street. T: 2180 0145

Public hospital in Malta Mater Dei Hospital, B’Kara By-pass, B’Kara. T: 2545 0000; E: Public hospital in Gozo Gozo General Hospital, Rabat. T: 2156 1600 CHEMISTS Chemists are found throughout the islands and are open during normal shopping hours. On Sundays they operate on a roster from 9am to

SMOKING No smoking is allowed in any entertainment establishment, including bars and restaurants, unless there is a designated smoking area. POSTAL SERVICES Most towns and villages have post or sub-post offices. Branch Post Offices in Malta and Gozo are open between 7.30am and 12.45pm Mon-Sat. Sub-Post Offices are open between 8am and 1pm, and 4pm and 6pm MonFri, and between 8am and 1pm Sat. Stamps can be bought from post offices, local newsagents, souvenir shops and hotels. ELECTRICITY The electrical supply is 230 volts, 50 hertz. The three-pin rectangular plug system is used, as in Britain. Adapters are very easy to find. TIPPING Gratuities are usually in the region of 10-15 per cent, as in most European countries. As a rule of thumb: taxi drivers – not expected, but up to 10 per cent; porters – €0.50 per piece of luggage; restaurants, unless a service charge is added to the bill, 10 per cent.



Head over heels for

Charles & Ron Charles & Ron is a contemporary lifestyle brand of high-end clothing and bags with a distinct Mediterranean flair and a dedication to superior quality. Maltese culture is an integral part of the Charles & Ron design ethic, and the brand’s vision is to inspire customers to be part of the ‘love affair’ with the brand’s instantlyrecognisable Mediterranean style. MEDITERRANEAN IDENTITY “Malta has always been of enormous inspiration to our

work, and throughout the years, we’ve enjoyed designing with inspiration from the Mediterranean and all it offers. For us, it’s important to incorporate certain aspects of culture, architecture and tradition, and show them in a different and unexpected way. We’ve incorporated these references into our brand since the beginning – they define us as a brand, and we believe it’s important to embrace and appreciate your heritage.”

CELEBRITIES AND FEMININE SHAPES “In the past year, we’ve had the pleasure of dressing many international celebrities, including

singer Jessie J, Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones), singer Ashanti, Ally Brooke (Fifth Harmony) and Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child). These moments have been very satisfying for us as designers, however, we take pride in designing for all kinds of women. The Charles & Ron woman does love statement pieces with a feminine silhouette and is never afraid to stand out in a crowd.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCESSORIES “Key items in our range are our Malta-inspired luxury scarves and our leather bags. Our handbags are made from the finest Italian leather and hand-crafted in Malta. By taking home one of our bags and/or scarves, you will truly be taking home the spirit and beauty of the Maltese islands!”

Charles & Ron, 58D, Republic Street, Valletta. T: 2124 0184. Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa, Attard. Minus3, The Point Shopping Mall, Sliema. 77


fun and festive trends

for the party season From metal hues to sensual fabrics and bright, festive colours, Martina Said rounds up the best fashion trends to end 2018 in style.

2. Femme feathers Feminine feathers are having a moment, and they look spectacular. From full-feathered skirts to featherembellished necklines, feathertrimmed dresses and sleeves, you’ll undoubtedly be the belle of the ball. ➜


Oscar de la Renta Charles & Ron

Michael Kors

1. Shine & shimmer Festive fashion wouldn’t be festive at all if it didn’t feature an extra dash of glitz and glamour, and this year, there’s plenty of it in the form of long

sequined dresses, metallic fabrics, and of course, plenty of gold, as seen in the collections of numerous designers, including that of Maltese designer duo Charles & Ron. Marchesa



Dolce & Gabbana

Hit the shops…

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

3. Trouser suits For those women who prefer a sharp suit over a short dress, now’s the time to wear it. Look out for trouser suits in bright and bold colours such as red and maroon, bringing you right in line with the festive season colour palette.

4. Statement heels Designers take things to new heights with their footwear designs around this time of year. Whether adorned with jewelled embellishments, featuring warm fabrics like velvet or even touches of gold or silver, your feet will be ready to party too! ➜

Check out Malta’s top shopping destinations.

VALLETTA Our stunning capital city offers so much more than history and architecture. In and around the beautiful baroque buildings that line the city’s streets lie several high-street outlets for a dose of retail therapy amid the culture and history lessons. Don’t miss: Republic Street, Merchants Street and The Embassy Complex

SLIEMA Sliema is the undisputed shopping centre of Malta. Look out for the main streets that house a variety of highstreet and designer brands, as well as the islands’ biggest shopping malls. Don’t miss: Bisazza Street, Tower Road, The Plaza Shopping Centre and The Point Shopping Mall

Dolce & Gabbana

Stella McCartney

ST JULIAN’S For the more discerning shopper, the area opposite the upmarket complex of Portomaso is home to a selection of designer shops that beckon you to explore what’s on their beautiful rails. A shopping complex just down the road from the nightlife capital of Paceville is also open on Sundays. Don’t miss: Bay Street Shopping Complex and Portomaso




5. Power shoulders Bring out your inner 80s vibe with a dress, suit jacket or blouse featuring structured shoulders. It’s a statement look that can hardly go unnoticed – throw in a seasonal colour or bold embellishment, and you’re ready to rock. 6. Wild side You’ll be seeing lots of animal print on the rails this year, ranging from zebra to leopard to giraffe and tiger too. This may be the only time of year it’s permissible to go wild on print – and if it’s animal fur that you’re after, go for faux.

Versace Roberto Cavalli


Calvin Klein


7. Soft as velvet ‘Velvet’, ‘winter’ and ‘party fashion’ in one sentence could only mean one thing: the festive season is here. From deep reds and jewel green to midnight blue and black, velvet is a must-have for fashionistas to flaunt at this time of year.


Ted Baker


The Point Shopping Mall Celebrating eight years of growth and success

Since opening its doors in 2010, The Point has become Malta’s favourite shopping destination for locals and tourists alike. It occupies a special and unique space in Malta’s shopping environment, attracting 2.5 million local and foreign visitors every year. The Point, in fact, enjoys a unique status as Malta’s retail jewel; it plays host to the largest concentration of exclusive brands in Malta, all conveniently located under one roof, within a stunning ambience. Strategically located in the heart of Sliema’s bustling centre, The Point offers a dynamic mix of the latest fashion, beauty, health, and lifestyle stores for convenience and shopping pleasure. The extensive array of food outlets has been hand-picked to appeal to a cross-section of tastes and budgets. Ample parking with 24-hour security

completes a package that is the last word in comfort, service and convenience for The Point’s visitors.

Open Mon-Sat 10am-7.30pm, and every Sunday 11am-6.30pm. The Point Shopping Mall, Tigné Point, Sliema. T: 2247 0300; E:;


Fabulous Evenings of Fun

From live music extravaganzas to parties that go on all night, December and January are packed with all sorts of night-time activities for you to enjoy during your stay. Not forgetting New Year’s Eve, of course! Jo Caruana picks her favourites.

This time of year, there’s so much to love about Malta: its countryside, its food and its historical hotspots. But did you

APS Teatru Unplugged

know this is also the perfect time to get stuck into everything that the island has to offer after dark? And boy is there a lot going on.

Concerts & Events APS Teatru Unplugged 21 7-9 December – Teatru Manoel, Valletta, Back for its 21st edition, this is one of the musical highlights of the season – made even more special because it’s performed in the stunning Teatru Manoel. It consists of five short, musical acts – so there’s usually something to keep everyone entertained. This year’s incredible line-up includes Ċikku l-Poplu & Friends, Fiona Cauchi, Colourblind, Relikc and Miklòs Veszprémi. ➜



Ghosts of Christmas Past

Ghosts of Christmas Past 13-16 December – Valletta Campus, University of Malta Theatre (ex-MITP) It’s a little bit rock and a little bit Christmas, but this concert is certainly all fun. Performed alongside a story that’s recited by Emanuel Tabone and Laurie Cornelius together with their teen companions Lisa Mangion and Crispin Gauci Peresso, you’ll enjoy the vocal talents of Chris Grech, Neville Refalo, Nadia Vella and Stefania Grech, accompanied by a choir of 16 powerful singers and four dancers. Valletta 2018 Closing Spectacle 15 December – St George's Square, Republic Street, Valletta, As Valletta’s year as European Capital of Culture comes to a close, this event will mark its culmination with this night-time performance 88

– after 350 events, the participation of 2,000 artists, and the attendance of more than 350,000 people. With plenty of surprises in store on the day, the organisers are looking forward to presenting a celebration befitting of this milestone, with a spectacular line-up of shows and music. This is an outdoor event, so we recommend dressing for all weather.

Magical Christmas Concert 2018 15-16 December – Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta This concert isn’t called magical for nothing; this is the fourth consecutive edition of this highlyanticipated event – and it’s one for all the family. Highlights will include the Malta National Children’s Choir in a 90-minute performance of Christmas hits, popular songs and Disney numbers, backed up by spectacular visuals, synchronised lights, animation and interactive games. The

concert will be creatively produced, choreographed and augmented with performances by guest artists.

MYO Christmas Classics 27 December – Castille Place, Valletta, www. For this year’s edition of its annual Christmas concert, the Malta Youth Orchestra, directed by its resident conductor Riccardo Bianchi, will team up with another youth ensemble, the jazz orchestra Big Band Brothers Jnr. The two ensembles will be playing a selection of Christmas-themed swing jazz and pop numbers, including original music composed by Alex Bezzina. The MPO’s principal percussionist, Daniel Cauchi, who is also the founder and leader of the Big Band Brothers, will be singing vocal standards during the concert, along with a number of special guests. ➜



Parties & Clubbing MIB Crew Showcase Malta 1 December – Tigullio, St Julian’s One for the Drum and Bass fans visiting the island, this event promises to be a round-up of the best sector talent in the country. The party will be held at one of Malta’s most iconic clubs, and will feature artists including Drobek,

4Ace, Jahh Roland, Naxon, Dissspin, Jon Roy, and I-Len.

Squadron Classics w/ Le Syndicat Electronique (Live) & More 1 December – Liquid Club, San Ġwann This event has been on the cards for a long time and the local clubbing crowd is looking forward


to it. Alaxis Andreas G will bring back one of electronic music’s most mysterious projects – Le Syndicat Electronique, together with his most recent Bruta Non Calculant, Acte Majeur aliases and Hiératique Records affiliates Swesor Bhrater and Myska. This is an exclusive event, so early booking is recommended.

Sonique Live Truth 12 December – Ball Street, St Julian’s ‘The Queen Of The 90s’ is back. World-renowned musician and DJ Sonique – who is known for her timeless songs Sky and Feels So Good – returns to Malta, supported by DJs Nate Darmanin and Keith Panelli. ‘A Night with Indie’ Xmas Edition 24 December – Haywharf Clubhouse, Valletta As the first Christmas edition of the popular ‘A Night with Indie’ series, this special event will feature I Break Horses – all the way from Sweden. It promises to be a big night for the indie/alternative/ electronica crowd on the island, with other sets by I.YOU vs CLINT, Steven Meli and Ben Vincenti. ➜ 91


New Year’s Eve The Valletta NYE Celebrations Featuring Ira Losco Live in Concert 31 December – St George’s Square, Valletta A stalwart in the island’s calendar, this outdoor event attracts thousands every year. Although there is lots to see through the city, St George’s Square will once again host the main stage, presenting performances by the very best of Malta’s local artists. The night will kick-start with local band Xarulu, followed by a set by popstar Ira Losco. It will be hosted by Corazon Mizzi and Owen Bonnici, with an energetic countdown by DJ Pierre Cordina, who will present a mash-up of the best dance anthems of 2018 together with stage special effects and fireworks to welcome the New Year. Finally, DJ Mykill and Trumpet Live will complete the jam-packed programme.


NYE Celebrations at the Valletta Waterfront 31 December – Valletta Waterfront With gorgeous views of the Three Cities, this is one of the best places to ring in the New Year. There are activities for all the family, live bands, and an aerial fireworks display at midnight.

Hugo's Terrace


CUSH NYE 2018 by Duncan F and ELP 31 December – Electro Lobster Project, Balluta If you’d like to follow one of the island’s trendiest crowds this New Year’s Eve, look no further than this party, featuring DJ Duncan F, as well as Julian Drury, HOUSEM8S Live, Alex Thomson and more. Tickets priced at €50 include open bar, and there will be a heated area outside under the stars in beautiful Balluta Bay. NYE at Hugo’s Terrace 31 December – Hugo’s Terrace, Paceville Award-winning Maltese band Airport Impressions will perform live at this spectacular party. With support from DJs Mia Wave and Leo Max, this event promises to be one of the biggest and most attended of the evening. Exclusive VIP sofas are available if you want to add a little luxury to the evening!

TAKE NOTE Photo: Anthony Vella -

Getting Around


alta is about 27 kilometres long and 14.5 kilometres wide. Short distances make it possible to make the most of your stay at a relaxed pace. The network of buses within the public transport system covers nearly all the islands. Car hire rates in Malta are good value. You may also enjoy a relaxing trip on the calm, blue Mediterranean Sea by taking an island or harbour cruise or cross between Valletta and Sliema by ferry at half hourly intervals.

Look out for

reduced bus fares through the 12 Single Day Journey Card and the Explore 7 Day Card

BUSES The public transport services offered in the Maltese islands operate on a network offering multiple connections and main termini in Malta’s capital, Valletta, and Gozo’s capital, Rabat. A total of 80 different routes link the different localities in Malta to either major hubs such as Valletta, Mater Dei Hospital and the airport or to other destinations, while 15 routes operate in Gozo. The public transport service runs daily between 5.30am and 11pm, with express routes (designated with an ‘X’) having limited stops and operating to and from the airport from different localities. Three digit routes link different localities together and, in most cases, do not serve Valletta. A journey planner, timetable information and details on bus fares are available at More details on T: 2122 2000 and on page 97.

TRAVELLING TO GOZO A regular ro-ro ferry service carries passengers and cars between Malta and Gozo. The trip takes about 30 minutes. For information and time-tables contact The Gozo Channel Company on T: 2210 9000, or visit CAR HIRE Most international car hire companies have a branch in Malta. Local companies too offer this service, with or without a chauffeur. Car hire rates are very reasonable compared to those in other European countries. TAXIS All taxis are fitted with meters and should charge government-controlled prices. Any complaints should be addressed to the Public Transport Authority on T: 2143 8475. A number of private companies also offer competitive chauffeur-driven services. 95

Date: May 2018

2018-05-04 16:49:00





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Guide Me Malta December 2018/January 2019  

Malta's leading independent visitors' guide

Guide Me Malta December 2018/January 2019  

Malta's leading independent visitors' guide