In 2013, the Malta Carnival will be held from the 8th of February till the 12th of February 2013. Five whole days of colour, dancing and fun!


The word “carnival” comes from the Italian phrase carne vale. This phrase literally means “meat is allowed”. In the old days, during the forty days of lent, meat consumption was not allowed in Roman Catholic religion.

This is why carnival was always celebrated just before the fasting period in Roman Catholic countries.

malta carnival


Carnival in Malta: Historical Background

The Maltese carnival dates back to hundreds of years.

Il-Karnival ta’ Malta (or Malta Carnival in English) is very much part of the Maltese cultural calendar. Introduced to the Maltese Islands by Grand Master De Ponte in 1535, the Maltese carnival is held during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday.

gozo malta carnival

Grand Master De La Valette was of the same opinion of De Ponte and he too thought that the knights’ lavish festivities were a bit too much.

Carnival in Malta Today

Nowadays, the largest carnival celebrations take place in Valletta and Floriana.

Celebrations typically include masked balls, fancy dress parties and a parade of symbolic floats presided over by the King Carnival float which is supposed to be the best and most beautiful float of them all. Marching bands and costumed revelers make the streets of Valletta and Floriana come alive!

The carnival reaches its climax on the last day with a spectacular floats parade - a magical and fun experience for children and adults alike.

Why not participate fully and dress up as one of your favourite super heroes? Maybe you've always wanted to be a pirate, an astronaut or wear some other cool costume :) 

malta carnival


Check out our Carnival Costumes page and browse through a beautiful selection of carnival costumes for men, women and kids and absolutely stunning carnival masks.

Some villages in Malta and Gozo have their own carnival celebrations. These however are much smaller than those held at Valletta and Floriana.

One particular carnival that has been gaining ground over recent years is theNadur Carnival in Gozo.

In fact, thousands of Maltese people and visitors each year cross over to Gozo to join in the celebrations. The Nadur Carnival is renowned for its darker (sometimes macabre) and more risque themes. You will often see cross-dressers, ghost costumes and revelers dressed up as clergy folk. 

Traditional Carnival Dances

The Parata is the most popular traditional Malta Carnival dance. It is essentially a lighthearted re-enactment of the 1565 victory of the Knights of Malta over the Turkish Empire. The dance also includes an 18th century traditional court dance which is known as il-Maltija.


Carnival Sweets

As with any celebration in Malta, Carnival is associated with lots of food and drink.

Perlini which are colourful sugar coated almonds are eaten in abundance during this time. But perhaps the most popular local Carnival sweet is thePrinjolata. The prinjolata is a uniquely shaped cake made from pine nuts and Madeira cake and topped with cream. Mmmmm simply delicious!









Our Carnival Masks - Crayon Etching Slideshow: Ms’s trip to Malta was created with TripAdvisor TripWow!