Tips to make the most of Gozo’s Carnival

Tips to make the most of Gozo’s Carnival

Carnival is a colourful and fun celebration in Gozo. For five consecutive days, the island’s intense, natural Mediterranean blue and green are rivalled by the vibrant colours of carnival costumes and floats that meander through the main towns and villages in upbeat mood. 

Historically a time of feasting before the onset of Lent, carnival in Gozo is deeply rooted in a series of older traditions, some of which date back to the Knights of St. John and which today have become woven in the mosaic of colourful costumes, celebrations and parades.

Experience the Older Carnival Traditions

Gozo has its own carnival customs.  Many years ago, children donned costumes as ‘maskarati’, and ran around the streets teasing anyone they met and in general being a nuisance!  Sometimes, they would string along a series of empty tin cans to make noises as they scampered through the otherwise quiet streets. Musicians would band up on a cart or ‘karrozzin’ decorated with palm fronds. Together they would go around the village or right up to Victoria in the pursuit of merry-making.   A crowd of people and children would often follow them to catch sweets thrown off from the cart.  These musicians would stop at traditional bars for a bout of singing, fully accompanied with guitars, accordion, and drum. Yet another carnival ritual involved some revellers who haunted the streets at nighttime dressed up in sheets and blankets.

Another custom, still alive today is the Kummittiva, a kind of folklore dance long associated with the village of Xagħra, where the dancers go round a maypole with ribbons.  

Join in the Fun in Victoria

Victoria’s carnival features street parades with grotesque masks, dance companies, triumphal floats, bands, and hilarious sketches guaranteeing five days of pure fun and colour. 

The Victoria carnival spectacle starts along Republic Street and reaches its climax at Independence Square (It-Tokk) where carnival companies exhibit the work they’ve done throughout the year be it costumes, triumphal floats, masks, or dances.

Dates: 17, 20, 21 February from 6pm

18 February 10am

19 February 2.30pm

Get Disguised for Nadur’s Spontaneous Carnival

Victoria’s family-friendly carnival contrasts greatly with Nadur’s darker carnival which is, without any doubt, one of the highlights of both the older and modern Gozitan Carnival.

Nadur’s Spontaneous Carnival is unique among the many manifestations of Carnival as it is deeply spontaneous. There is no organising committee and there are no rules. In Nadur the purpose of costumes is disguise – quite simply not to be recognised. Sunset reveals a multitude of masked and hooded creatures thronging the streets. People wear all kinds of funny and grotesque costumes, some satirical, and most remain silent to aid their disguise.

The Nadur ‘floats’ are often little more than carts released from their duties on local farms but there is an edge to the celebrations. Amongst the absurd costumes are to be seen placards daubed with remarks, most of them insults to public (and sometimes private) personalities. Many are indirect or veiled references that need the knowledge of a local to interpret them.

Dates: 17 – 21 February from 8pm onwards

Book a Gozo Holiday Accommodation

If you are intent on enjoying the carnival holiday in Gozo, we suggest that you look up places of accommodation and make a booking. Staying on the island of Gozo throughout the Carnival period is the best way to ensure you make the most of it.  All holiday accommodations in Gozo are only a short walk/drive away from the main Carnival celebrations in Victoria and Nadur. 

Most villages on the island also organise their own carnival in the village square and, although they’re usually on a smaller scale to the ones in Victoria and Nadur, they’re all very much a lot of fun. 

Bite on a Traditional Carnival Treat

In Gozo we love our treats, so make sure you treat yourself to the sweets that are associated with this time of year.  Gozo carnival is associated with colour candied almonds, known as ‘perlini’ and the ‘prinjolata’.  The latter, a type of cake, in the form of a dome, made from crushed biscuits, iced and covered with crushed nuts, dripping chocolates and cherries is too good to miss!