Holidays

Carnival Knowledge

MALTA


The Fest: This independent 100-square-mile island in the Mediterranean throws a celebration that's heavy on history: The zany (and pretty darn enormous) floats reflect historical and folklore-related themes.

Party Central: Commoners hang in Freedom Square watching the open-air comedic and baroque musical performances. The Maltese social set does their thing at the Grand Ball held at the Casino Maltese.

The Costume: Street scenesters wear a loopy collection of getups: Expect pirates, devils, geishas, peacocks, and even a few Elvis-jumpsuited aliens.

Da Funk: The Maltese get their party started with the original names in rock—Bach and Vivaldi.

Da Drunk: Hopleaf, the local pale ale.

Historical Twist: The Maltese know their Carnival—they've been putting it on since 1535.

The Big Moment: Traditionally the centerpiece of the parade, the larger-than-life King Carnival float, a mad grinning figure with a jester's hat or crown, was put to the torch at the end of the four-day celebration.

The Hangover: The revelry comes to an end on Ash Wednesday with a mock funeral procession and the ushering in of Lent. Do as the Maltese do: Repent at 400-year-old St. John's Co-Cathedral.
–Alexis Brunswick

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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