Valletta is the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2018

The European Union nominates two cities to be Cultural Capital of Europe once every year. This year their choice is the Maltese capital city of Valletta. Explore the diverse and exciting cultural program that is being set up as a celebration of Valletta’s nomination.
You’re in luck if you travel to Malta this year! Due to its nomination as the Cultural Capital of 2018, Valletta is preparing a truly extensive program of activities that will run for the entire year. This is an event that you’ll want to experience for yourself! Nowadays, the European Union elects two cities to hold the title of Cultural Capital for the year, but this was not always the case. Until 2004, the Union actually only elected one city to be the Cultural Capital in the entirety of Europe. In 2018, the Maltese Capital of Valletta and the Dutch city of Leeuwarden share this title. These two cities will be taking over this title from last year’s nominated cultural capitals of Aarhus in Denmark and Paphos in Cyprus. The nomination of cities as Cultural Capitals is meant to spread a greater understanding of the similarities and the diversity of the cultural heritage found in places all around Europe. Valletta is offering a Cultural Program in 2018 that is set up for this very occasion. In this festive program you’ll find anything from celebrations, concerts, performances art galleries and many more events. We have summarized the most interesting events of the year below. Taking a look through the official program for a more detailed overview of all available activities is definitely worth it.

Opening Ceremony

The program began with the opening week which took place in the week of the 14th to the 12th of 2018. On the 20th of January the official opening ceremony took place in the three most important locations, which are the St. George’s Square, the St. John’s Square and the Castille Square. The cultural program began with music, dances and performances which were performed by many different groups, one of them being the Catalonian theatre group ‘Fura dels Baus’.

Carnival in Valletta

The carnival festivities will continue in February. These festivities take place in the week of the 9th until the 13th of February 2018 in Valletta. There will be several parades with colorful parade floats and decorated vehicles. If you love street-based carnival festivities, you should not miss these parades! Incidentally, carnival is celebrated very extensively on the Maltese islands, which means that you do not have to stay in Valletta if you want to participate in all kinds of celebrations. You may also want to pay Nadur and Gozo a visit where you will be able to join the exciting activities as well.

Valletta's Green Festival

The main attraction of the Green festival that goes on for three days, is the Carpet made of flowers ‘Infjorata’. This carpet is made of 80 thousand potted flowers and is spread out across the St. Georges Square in Valletta. Additionally, you will be able to get the rare opportunity to view the historic treasures of the city, such as the arch bishop’s 4-hundred-year old palace gardens and the gardens of the Saint Katharina cloister. The Green Festival will last from the 4th until the 6th of May 2018.

Malta's Fashion Week

Between the 28th May and the 2nd of June 2018 Valletta transforms into a fashion metropolis. During the fashion week you will see a large gathering of catwalk models, stylists, make-up artists, photographers, bloggers and fashionistas. The fascinating fashion week ends with the Chamilia fashion awards, at which the greatest talents of the country are awarded for their works of the previous year. If you are interested in fashion, the end of May is the perfect time period for traveling to Valletta. You can get an impression of what it will be like in this video from 2017:

Valletta Pageant of the Seas

On the 7th of June 2018, Valletta’s Grand Harbour will be the location of artistic performances on the water. There will be performances of water games that were especially planned for this occasion as well as boats race planned by the local communities who will be participating on their self-made boats. A swimmers race will also be held on this occasion. For the finale of the evening there will be fireworks and lightshows.

Valletta Film Festival

Valletta’s Film Festival will be organized by the Film Grain Foundation and is Malta’s biggest Film event! There will be more than 40 Full length movies and 25 short movies that were filmed in different places in Valletta. This year the film festival will be divided into various theme and subject categories. Some examples of these are documentaries, ‘teens only’ and short movies. The category ‘without borders’ will also be returning to this year’s film festival, which focuses on different regions of the world. In this film festival the region that will be focused on the most is East Asia. In order to turn the film festival into a lively and all-around community friendly event, there will also be masters courses, conferences and debates about various topics on offer.

Malta's International Arts Festival

Malta’s international arts festival unites the most diverse art forms such as theatre, dance and music over a span of two weeks. Whilst there are of course local artists, performers from all around the world also come to present their arts at this festival. Some of the places they come from are Holland, Croatia, Spain and South Africa. The events will partly take place outdoors and partly in the open air in front of the historic scenery of the Fort S. Elmo. The festival will last from the 29th of June until the 14th of July 2018. If you want to get a taste of what it will be like you can check out this summary of the festival highlights from 2017:

Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival

The Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival will be taking place in August. The focus of the festival is not only on the Literature of Maltese authors, but also on the work of authors from the entire Mediterranean and beyond. During the festival there will be readings, music, poetry slams, movies and many more events. The dates of this festival are the 23rd to the 25th of August 2018.

Malta Jazz Festival

The Malta Jazz Festival is organized by Festivals Malta under the instruction of the Arts Council Malta, which collaborates with the judiciary and culture ministry, the local administration and the Valletta foundation 2018. This festival goes on for 3 days and will show its audiences international performers. There will be a lot of exciting events, like on-stage-collaborations, instrumental masters courses and workshops among others.

Science in the City

In line with the European Night of Explorers, Malta’s science and cultural festival returns to Valletta with an unforgettable, free afternoon full of family activities on the 28th of September 2018.

Notte Bianca

On the 6th of October it will be that time again: Notte Bianca, the so called white night, illuminates the streets of Valletta. In this night all restaurants, museums and churches are open for visitors until very late at night. On top, small street performers will be celebrating in the streets of Valletta and there will be numerous food stands.

Malta's Book Festival

Malta’s book festival has over 30 thousand visitors per year and thereby counts as one of the most important festivals of the Mediterranean islands. In 1979, the festival was originally called Malta Book Fair, but its name was then changed to Malta Book Festival in 2013. This festival, which takes place in November, attracts lovers of literature from all over Malta and the rest of the world. The program activities are book presentations, lyric and literature readings, meetings with authors, conferences and seminars. Literature lovers will get the chance to interact with authors and various publishers.  

Closing Spectacle

The official ‘Closing Spectacle’ will take place on the 15th of December at the St. George’s Square in Valletta. There will be a lot of music and dancing at this event as well.
We hope that our list of Malta’s cultural activities in 2018 has helped you and that you now know which attractions and events you most want to see. Valletta will only be Europe’s Cultural Capital once and we strongly recommend that you take part in the festivities for this very special occasion while they last.
Next Year’s European Cultural Capitals have already been decided. In 2019 the chosen cities are Matera in Italy and Plowdiw in Bulgaria.