The island of Gozo has a large number of community festivals commemorating Saints - these are usually accompanied by a feast and fireworks.  There is also a pre-Lenten spontaneous carnival, where anyone can dress up in costume and participate. The best way to describe it? Part Halloween ala Key West, part street theater. Groups of people may stop in the middle of a street and perform a skit - or someone may be simulating a shower while standing in a bathtub on wheels pushed by 2 hospital nurses!  You never know what you will see.

There is also an organized carnival parade complete with animated papier mache floats, brightly painted with satirical and allegorical themes. The floats are quite intricate, as their animations are revealed during a short performance while the float is stopped.  

Gozo's Festa Season lasts throughout the Summer. Every weekend sees a different village holding a feast in honour of its Patron Saint. The streets and the parish church are adorned with lovely festa lights the locals take to the streets. It is a unique mish mash of devoted religious ceremonies and processions, lively band marches and spectacular fireworks displays to close the festa in style.

Gozo being a tiny island an inherent competitive spirt prevails. This spurs the villagers to excel – much to the delight of visitors who are treated to unforgettable warm summer nights.

The following is a collection of other festivals and events that happen in Gozo throughout the year:

Ghajnsieleim Festa on Gozo

The Ghajnsielem Festa takes place in Ghajnsieleim Gozo in the last 2 weeks in August.  It is one of the biggest and longest festivals in Gozo. It celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Loreto.  A full description of the festival and a detailed list of festival events which spans a fortnight can be found on the Ghajnsielem website.  The festival culminates on the last weekend in August.  It starts with band marches through the street. 

Band march 

The band walks slowly through the streets playing while everyone walks beside it.  Whole families come out on the street and everyone is dressed up. At the same time fireworks go off with loud bangs and people throw paper off the rooftops.  Children play with this like snow.

Children playing with shredded paper 

On the Friday night a statue of the Lady of Loreto is winched onto a plinth in Independence Square and balloons and confetti are launched into the air.  On the Saturday night, there are several band marches and the statue is winched high across the main Square in front of the church.  At this point the band plays Viva x-Xemx and all the young people jump up and down singing. Many of the young people are dressed in clothes with the same flowery pattern - hats, trousers,shorts, shirts and dresses made of the same material, even some babies are dressed in this.

The main square on Saturday night 

At midnight as the statue reaches the plinth, impressive fireplanes whizz across lines stretched across the Square screeching and letting off huge sparks. The after midnight ground fireworks are lit up.  These are really huge, many of them massive wheels about 5 metres across blazing lights of different colours.
Ground fireworks
On Sunday there are further band marches and a band concert in the square which plays both modern film themes and tradtional music.  A procession with another statue of the Lady of Loreto, goes round the square with another band, and this statue is covered in gold leaf. The statue is taken into the church whilst everybody claps.

Our Lady of Loreto 

The festa gives a wonderful sense of community.  It is enjoyed by all ages and all nationalities as well as Gozitans and Maltese and is representative of the friendly and welcoming community that exist on Gozo.  The square on Saturday night

This festa is not to be missed. 

Festival Mediterranea

For the culture vulture, the Festival Mediterranea held annually in Autumn treats visitors to an intensive celebration of culture featuring opera, symphonic music, folklore, archaeology and cuisine. Here is the 2011 Brochure for more information.

Cittadella Festival

This festival usually takes place in October. The week-long Arts and Culture festival features choral and classical music concerts, folk dancing and art exhibitions. The feature of the week is an Opera performance. The Leone Philharmonic Society organizes this event

Xaghra Festa. 

On September 8th each year and in days leading up to it. A magnificent spectacle and not to be missed. Pics are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickcun... and here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickcun... with descriptions o f the events.