Malta, and Valletta in particular, is already readying itself to host the European Capital of Culture in 2018. Culture is therefore high on the national agenda, and the arts have never been as prevalent in the country as they are now.
For starters, Malta’s theatrical scene is thriving, with more and more productions being staged in both English and Maltese year on year. If you’d like to watch a local (or touring international) show, then there are various venues to do so. These include the Manoel Theatre, which is reputed to be Europe’s third-oldest working theatre. It was built in 1731 by Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena and today hosts various dramas, concerts and operas throughout the year, as well as the popular local pantomime at Christmas. Guided tours of the theatre and its museum are held daily.
The Manoel Theatre is also one of the venues that features concerts by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. The Orchestra season covers 11 months of performances, featuring favourite and contemporary orchestral masterpieces, unfamiliar gems from the 17th to the 21st centuries by Maltese composers, community concerts, family oriented performances and children’s workshops. The Orchestra also performs at other popular venues which include the Mediterranean Conference Centre, St James Cavalier and Robert Samut Hall.
Recently Malta has also become known for its arts festivals, usually held in the summer months. These include the Malta Arts Festival, which boasts top-notch local and foreign performances in various locations across the Island, and the Malta Jazz Festival, which is held every July at the stunning waterside venue of Ta’ Liesse in Valletta. The latter features a line-up of top Maltese and international artists who perform an extensive mix of jazz styles.
Also celebrating the arts, but this time on the Island of Gozo, Festival Mediterranea is an annual mid-autumn celebration of culture and the arts in Gozo. Here you can listen to local music, join interesting walks and talks in historic places, and sample typically Mediterranean food and drink.
And for something truly traditional to the Islands, try the National Folk Singing Festival. This is a three-day celebration of Maltese folk music (ghana) as well as foreign folk singing, with craft demonstrations and typical local food also available.
Most of the arts in Malta are facilitated by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts. Aside from supporting artists and offering courses in Malta, it also hosts regular sculpture exhibitions, concerts and history talks.