A summer trip to Gozo would not be complete without a visit to a village festa. These are held between the last weekend in May and mid-September.
Each town/village holds its annual feast dedicated to its Patron Saint. A typical ‘festa’ lasts three days or longer. The church and village are decorated with lights and bunting and the colourful festa statues of Saints stand outside the church. The main festa statue of the patron saint is paraded through the streets and local musicians provide extra support to the priest and choir in a special mass.
Gozitan Festas are not only religious in nature however and there is plenty of secular fun as well. Bands march through the streets of the village and fireworks light up the skies as crowds enjoy traditional as well as fast food from the many street stalls. Tourists are always welcome and joining a festa is a great way to get a real taste of local life.
Il-Munxar – Feast of St. Paul – last weekend in May. This festa kicks off the season with week-long celebrations of the shipwreck of St Paul on Malta in 60AD (as described in the bible).
L-Għasri – Feast of Christ the Saviour – includes horse racing along the street.
Għajnsielem – Feast of St. Anthony of Padua.
Il-Fontana – Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Ix-Xewkija – Feast of St. John the Baptist – on the Sunday before or after June 24. Includes not only marches but concerts by the local Prekursur brass band and horse racing on the streets.
In-Nadur – Feast of Saints Peter & Paul – on 29th June which is also a national holiday. Includes an agricultural and crafts show, horse race on the street and concerts the local Mnarja brass band.
L-Għarb – Feast of the Visit of Our Lady to St. Elizabeth – Includes not only marches but concerts by the local Viżitazzjoni brass band.
Ta’ Kercem – Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour – includes concerts as well as marches by the local San Girgor (St. Gregory) brass band.
Ir-Rabat – Feast of St. George – centred on St George’s Basilica just off the main square, this festa includes horse racing along Ir-Rabat (Victoria)’s main street and concerts by the local La Stella brass band. La Stella, officially called La Stella Philharmonic Society, is based in one of ir-Rabat (Victoria)’s two opera house/theatres, The Astra. This festa is one of two held in ir-Rabat (Victoria). The other is centred on the Cathedral and takes place on August 15.
Ta’ Sannat – Feast of St. Margaret the Martyr – includes concerts by the local St. Margerita (St. Margaret’s) brass band and horse racing on the street.
San Lawrenz – Feast of St. Laurence – San Lawrenz is the only village in Gozo to be named after its patron saint. The festa statue of the saint is a fine example made by Gallard et Fils of Marseilles and it arrived in San Lawrenz on 4th August 1895. The first feast was celebrated six days later and has been celebrated every year since, even at the height of the Second World War.
Il-Qala – Feast of St. Joseph – first Sunday of August. Includes not only marches but concerts by the local Ite ad Joseph brass band.
Ir-Rabat – Feast of St. Marija (St. Mary) – 15th August. Includes horse racing along the main street of the capital as well as the Agriculture and Industrial Show at the Villa Rundle. There are also concerts by the Leone brass band, officially called the Leone Philarmonic Society and based in the Aurora Theatre, one of ir-Rabat (Victoria)’s two opera houses-theatres. This is one of two festas in ir-Rabat (Victoria), the other is centred on the Basilica of St George and takes place in July.
Iż-Żebbuġ – Feast of St. Marija – on the first weekend following August 15. Includes not only marches but concerts by the local band Sta. Marija (St. Mary’s) Band as well as horse racing on the street.
Għajnsielem – Feast of Our Lady of Loreto – on the last Sunday of August. Includes not only marches but concerts by the local San Ġużepp (St. Joseph) brass band.
Ix-Xlendi – Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – first Sunday in September. Apart from the marches and concerts, the festivities include the gostra, a diagonal pole along which competitors attempt to walk to reach the flag at the end and win the competition. Most slip off, of course and splash into the warm sea. There are also paddle-boat races and other water games too.
Ix-Xagħra – Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady (also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory) – on 8th September, which is also a national holiday known as Jum il-Vittorja (Victory Day). Includes not only marches but concerts by the local Victory brass band and horse racing along the street.
Ir-Rabat – Our Lady of Graces – first Sunday after 8th September.