Every year in April, a world-class fireworks event is held: the Malta International Fireworks Festival. A great Maltese tradition that goes back to the dawn of time and a national pride that will enchant you during your stay in Malta during the festas every week from April to November…
The history of fireworks in Malta
Fireworks in Malta have an ancient historical origin: from the time of the Knights of St. John, in the 16ᵉ century, they are used to express joy on the occasion of the election of a Grand Master, the Pope, the birth of a Prince…
The explosives used for fireworks in Malta were extracted from mortars at that time. The first pyrotechnic creations were undoubtedly inspired by cannon fire and firearms. They are called “Musketterija”, “Solfarelli d’aria”, “Irdieden” (a very old artifice showing a very spectacular rotating jet effect).
During the 19 and 20ᵉ centuries, the art of pyrotechnics became professionalized in Malta to celebrate the events of the English crown, as the island was a British colony at the time.
Today, the Maltese tradition continues: every major national event, every holiday ends with fireworks in Malta!
The actors of the fireworks in Malta
More than 35 associations are specialized in fireworks in Malta: preparation of powder mixtures, computer programming of pyrotechnic shows, musical synchronization, positioning of explosives on barges for fireworks shot on water… Artificing in Malta is a passion and rarely a profession but always honored with great national pride. On June 18, 2011, the world record for the largest Irdieden or Maltese wheel, 32 meters in diameter, was set by a manufacturer in Malta (the Lily Company of Mqabba).
To know: Don’t be surprised to hear explosions, from 9 o’clock in the morning in summer, on the days of festas: you will see in the sky the smoke clouds resulting from the rockets sent to celebrate the beginning of the festivities! Sometimes it’s about testing, but it’s also about which commune (or parish) will make the most noise all day! The fireworks rivalry in Malta is also a national sport!
The next edition of the International Fireworks Festival in Malta
The World Competition welcomes every year fireworkers from Australia, Canada, Venezuela, Italy, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain and other nationalities. A national competition is also held to determine the best Maltese fireworkers.
It is usually held in April or May – the most grandiose show often takes place in late April with the finalists and enjoys an exceptional location: it is shot from boats maneuvering in the Grand Harbour in Valletta, Malta’s capital.
To find the program of the next edition of the Fireworks Festival in Malta, go to the Malta Fireworks Festival website.
Catherine’s Wheels, the contest.
Also known as “Nar tal-Art”, this festival is rarely mentioned in tourist guides but is very popular with the Maltese, bringing together about 20pyrotechnic associations, each with 2 Maltese models of their own wheel. It is always held in the main square in front of the church of San Pubrijo in Floriana, a few hundred meters from the main entrance to Valletta.
We recommend that you check out the Catherine Wheels contest. It often takes place in Floriana (Plaza Granary, not far from the entrance of the “CityGate” of Valletta).
Our tips for attending the fireworks in Malta
Places to see the most beautiful fireworks from April to November: Sliema – San Julian’s – Valletta – Zurrieq – The Three Cities. Some companies offer to attend the shows from a boat like Supreme Cruises or Fernandes…
Think about the night buses provided to attend the fireworks in Malta (variable price).
Detonations and crackling sounds can be violent and can frighten small children.
Maltese Lexicon :
* The musketterija: A hundred explosions of crackers in rapid succession, fired from the roof of a church or building. (we hate it!!!)
* The Solfanelli d’aria: a series of rapid shots faintly colored in the sky.
* The Irdieden or Catherine’s wheels or Maltese wheels: they are made of a metal structure with a spiral or round rotation mechanism and tubes filled with powder allowing their movement. When they ignite, they spin quickly, producing sparks and flames of all colors. Very spectacular!!!
Find here the calendar of festas in Malta and Gozo/