9 - 13 FEBRUARY 2018

Under the artistic direction of Jason Busuttil

Il-Karnival ta’ Malta has provided a platform for artists to showcase their creations for the past 91 years. It brings together people from all walks of life to celebrate Carnival through artistic floats, grotesque masks, dance performances, elaborate costumes and live music. The festival is spread over six days across the island with the main activities happening in Valletta. In the past few years some lost traditions have been revived while new projects have also been devised.

Il-Karnival ta’ Malta is one of the oldest festivals in Malta. Through it, new artistic creations are born while traditions are kept alive and old ones are revived. In the past years it has brought back satire, making the celebration more politically relevant.

It is a festival which gels families together and does not discriminate against age or social backgrounds when it comes to participation. Malta is one of the few countries which celebrates Carnival with artistic floats, dance and elaborate costumes.


Artistic Commitment and Innovative Approaches

Il-Karnival ta’ Malta has always been committed to showcase and promote art and craftsmanship among Carnival participants and audiences. It is a historical, traditional event organized and spontaneous, choreographed and improvised, theatrical and interactive. Il Karnival ta’ Malta provides a platform for artists and producers who work on floats, grotesque masks, costumes, designs and choreographic creations. It also assists emerging artists who would like to integrate within the Carnival community enhancing social awareness and participation encouraging the younger generation. Another aim of carnival is to promote a healthy collaborative festival where Carnival participants can share experiences in unified spaces around the city and beyond such villages and on the sister island of Gozo. This interdisciplinary festival brings together artistic works that cohesively and unilaterally educate audiences on same grounds, spaces and spheres, through a unique experience.

Another important aim for this historical festival is to diversify and be all-inclusive thus giving the possibility to reach and attract new audiences, including those who have never experienced the colourful world of Carnival. Whilst respecting heritage and traditions, it also pushes forward to revive past rituals, maintaining the philosophy of fun, entertainment and spontaneous merriment – the core of the festival encapsulates a joyful and social gathering while simultaneously adding more innovative approaches to further enrich past and present customs.

For the past four years, the Il-Karnival ta’ Malta has brought to life the historical Qarcilla, a poetic farce that had long been forgotten as part of a street traditional festivity. This year, there will also be two street performances, both of which include actors and comedians who previously were never part of Il-Karnival so that the theatrical aspect of the festival can be revived, innovated and developed further. The same goes for musicians. Until last year, musicians had not participated in the festival – the last time live musicians appeared in Carnival was 20 years aback. The artistic director encouraged the inclusion of live bands parading the streets, adding musical flair to the event and bringing on added flavours to the festival and further opening new stake holding participation for the artistic community.

Throughout the years, it has strived to improve the quality of its installations as well as provide a decent space where these creations can be produced, exhibited and stored. It is through this shift in mindset that a new project entitled The Malta Carnival Experience Project has been thought of, planned out and will become a reality soon. The new project will see to the construction of a Carnival village, which will that will be enjoyed by all throughout the whole year.


Community Involvement

Apart from the Carnival festivities on a national scale, the festival organises a number of peripheral events as well as broadcasting on television events in order to reach out to as wide a section of the community as possible.

Firstly, it organises educational interactive workshops in order to attract children from a young age, as well as short expert talks to draw in adults. Both are hands-on experiences which aim to instill an interest in Carnival among young and older audiences with the possibility of making them become active participants in the future. 

Secondly, with every year, it is seeing more local councils collaborating and organiseing activities within their localities. In 2017, a project was carried out with a particular neighbourhood in Valletta, DuwiBalli, where the stories of the residents were narrated through Carnival activities and collaborations among foreign artists, Carnival creators and residents. 

The aim of the festival is to sow the spirit of Carnival in further localities and communities and therefore attract new audiences. In fact last year part of the national activities were organised outside of Valletta for this very reason. Other localities, where the tradition of Carnival is alive and kicking, such as Ghaxaq where spontaneous Carnival happens, have been supported in order for them to further improve their product, whilst increasing their audiences.

The festival has also increased live broadcasts of its activities during the past years hence reaching out to audiences who cannot be present in Valletta or Floriana, where the main activities take place.

European and International Engagement

Although the festival is mainly organised on a national scale, it seeks out to collaborate with other countries to enhance the overall experience. The artistic director travels abroad to meet other organisers and discuss and share ideas about the organisation of the Carnival itself and the Malta Carnival Experience, which will be based on the Viareggio (Italy) model.

The festival also promotes artistic city twinnings. Two years ago Notting Hill sent dancers to Malta to parade during Carnival, whilst Malta sent one of its dance companies to parade in the English city. Last year dancers went up to Acireale in Sicily for the same purpose. Before the Arab Spring, dance companies used to travel to Tunisia on a yearly basis to showcase their costumes and dance choreographies.

This year an artistic float has been purposely designed and dedicated to the EU Presidency in Malta. The design was created by Steve Bell, renowned English political cartoonist.