Food, fun and feasts
While beaches thrive in the sunshine, nothing quite meets the sound of Malta’s beating heart as its nightlife. Once the heat of a summer’s day abates, the typical Mediterranean lifestyle of gorging on good food and celebrations takes over. Both Malta and Gozo are teeming with evening events throughout the year, but at no period of time is the nightlife on the Maltese Islands as vibrant as it is during summer. Late sunsets and warm summer air ensure that both locals and visitors alike spend most evenings celebrating well into the night.
The undisputed centre of Maltese nightlife is the area around Sliema and St. Julian’s. Spinola Bay has a wide array of restaurants with any amount of gastronomic delights from which to choose. From local dishes to international cuisine, the restaurants along this stretch of promenade offer open-air dining overlooking traditional fishing boats and boathouses below. The promenade that stretches from Spinola Bay in St. Julian’s all the way through Sliema comes alive in the evening. When the hot summer sun has given way to balmy summer evenings, out come the night-time strollers. Local Sliema residents as well as visitors pace up and down the promenade taking in the pockets of summer activity. One thing not to be missed are the ice creams available at the gelaterias along the way.
Back on the St. Julian’s end of the coastline, pubs and wine bars occupy the spaces between the restaurants. This is where Maltese clubbing and late night partying comes to life. Paceville, part of St. Julian’s but with a pulsing identity unto itself, is a hub for Maltese nightlife with several bars, clubs, an upmarket casino as well as an abundance of late night snack outlets.
Branching out from the nightlife centre of Malta, Bugibba in the north of the island has grown into a favourite holiday destination itself. The town’s panoramic promenade and abundant touristic amenities have ensured that Bugibba is a centre for fun-loving individuals. On summer evenings, Bugibba plays host to both local and foreign tourists because of its wide variety of bars, restaurants and funfair activities in the town’s energetic square and along its picturesque promenade. The casino and cinema complex have also developed into mainstays of the Bugibba lifestyle during holidays in Malta.
Down towards the other end of Malta, Marsascala is developing into Bugibba’s counterpart in the south because of its liveliness as a spot to spend nights out. As an ancient fishing village in a charming bay, Marsascala has a wide range of touristic amenities and leisure facilities. The town’s promenade is ideal for an evening stroll with scenic views across the inlet and over the fishing boats moored in the bay. With bars, restaurants, a cinema and a large children’s play area in the centre of the town, Marsascala is well worth a visit when staying in the south of the island.
When it comes to enjoying evening views and a unique night-time atmosphere, Valletta is the place to be. Recent renovations across Malta’s capital city have made it increasingly popular to spend evenings strolling around the city and wiling away the hours in its various wine bars. Housed in ancient fortress-like buildings originating from the times of the Knights of St. John, these cocktail and wine bars are the perfect way to end a scenic walk along the city walls with views across the Grand Harbour. Valletta is also well known for its theatre scene with productions at the beautiful seventeenth century Manoel Theatre, the fortress of St. James Cavalier and Pjazza Teatru Rjal (the converted site of the previous Royal Opera House). Down by the water in the Grand Harbour, the old storage warehouses and their facades have been renovated and the area – known as the Valletta Waterfront – has consequently turned into a buzzing scene of bars and restaurants.
Malta’s bustling nightlife calms down a little over the channel in Gozo. Clubs are limited when compared with Paceville in Malta but the small nightclubs and bars in Victoria, Xlendi and Marsalforn on Malta’s sister island of Gozo are always busy at the weekend. In fact, Gozo’s La Grotta nightclub has been hailed as one of Europe’s finest outdoor clubs. Xlendi, Marsalforn and Victoria are also where most of Gozo’s well-known restaurants are located offering up feasts of local delicacies and copious amounts of local wine.
No description of nightlife in Malta and Gozo would be complete, however, without mentioning the various events that provide the Islands with most of their vibrant flair. The Summer Malta Arts Festival (July/August), the Carnival (February), the Opera Festival (March), the International Jazz Festival (July), the Notte Bianca (October), the Notte Gozitana (May) and other major music concerts and theatre events ensure that Maltese nightlife never suffers a dull moment. Chief among these events are the village feasts that span the spring and summer months across Malta and Gozo. The village parish feasts – or festas – are celebrations dedicated to the parish saints of each village. Exploding petards, colourful night-time fireworks, local food and beer, and never-ending music beneath vibrant festoons and flags mean visitors are always in for a truly Maltese celebratory experience when visiting Malta in the summertime.
Check out our Events Calendar to find out whats on in Malta & Gozo.
Suggested Resort: St Julians