Every year in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta, the skies are ablaze with a dazzling display of fireworks. As the festival gears up for its 20th anniversary in 2023, it's worth exploring the history and fascinating details that make this event a must-see for anyone.
One of the most interesting things about the Maltese International Firework Festival is the way it celebrates both tradition and innovation. While many of the fireworks on display use traditional techniques and designs, there's also room for experimentation and pushing the boundaries of what's possible. In recent years, the festival has featured everything from 3D fireworks to pyro-drones, showing just how versatile and creative this art form can be.
The tradition of pyrotechnics in Malta dates back centuries to the time of the Knights of St John. The order celebrated important feasts and events with special pyrotechnic displays, which became an expression of rejoicing. Pyrotechnics were inspired by cannon shots and musket fire, leading to the development of the musketterija, solfarelli d'aria, and St Catherine's wheels. Today, this centuries-old tradition is still alive in the crowded calendar of village festas, with firework displays taking place practically every weekend between June and mid-September.
The first festival in 2003 was a huge success, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world. Since then, the festival has grown in popularity and has become a major event in Malta's tourist calendar. World-renowned pyrotechnic companies from all over the world compete to present the most impressive fireworks display. The festival lasts for several days, usually in late April or early May, and takes place in the Grand Harbour in Valletta, Malta's capital.
Of course, at the heart of the Maltese International Firework Festival is the sheer spectacle of the fireworks themselves. Each display is carefully choreographed to music, creating a mesmerizing blend of light and sound that's truly unforgettable. Whether you're watching from the waterfront or from one of the many vantage points around the island, the effect is breathtaking.
If you're planning on attending the Maltese International Firework Festival in 2023, there are a few things to keep in mind. This year the festival will take place between Monday 24 April and Sunday 30 April.
It will also be held in various strategic locations across the Maltese Islands. From the Grand Harbour for the opening and closing, to Haz-Żabbar to San Pawl il-Baħar and il-Mellieħa, and all the way up to Nadur in Gozo - this year's show is expected to be the biggest festival to date. And you should also make the effort to make the tour around Malta.
Below is more information on the different loaclities and what to expect...
The opening day of the festival will take place on Monday 24th April and is sure be a special affair. The Palace String orchestra will be on the main stage captivating the audiences with symphonies through the decades. Mellieha Fireworks, Pyro-Team Fireworks from Serbia and Pyroitaly will light up the sky in the first day of competitions.
The competitions will be back on Friday 28th April. This time, Pyro-Technic Transilvania from Romania, Nakaja Art from Poland, & Għaqda tan-Nar Marija Bambina VMB-1973 from Xagħra will be showcasing their dazzling fireworks.
The Grand Finale will be held on Sunday 30th April which will be the perfect closing night to a great tour of the fireworks.
The fireworks will travel down south on Tuesday 25th April. This will be the first time that the festival will be taking place in Haz-Żabbar. The village is famous for its unique celebrations during the village feasts and it is no surprise that the locality has been selected to exhibit traditional ground fireworks on the second day of the festival.
Labour Road will be filled with people and delicious Maltese food will be available from local stalls. Entertainment will be provided by by the local band clubs Għaqda Madonna tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel Żabbar A.D.1883 and Società Filarmonica Maria Mater Gratiæ Żabbar A.D.1883 which will give the audiences a taste of the traditional feast celebrations.
On Wednesday 26th April, head up north to St Paul's Bay to witness the unique Catherine wheels show organized by various local factories together with a pyromusical show. Drop-Out DJ Brass and Soċjeta' Mużikali San Pawl ta' San Pawl il-Baħar will be providing the entertainment. Expect beautiful colours and exceptional displays all night.
Head up to Triq Gnien Ingraw, Mellieħa on Thursday 27th April to witness the dazzling fireworks by the sea. The village is known for its festa and their love for fireworks is well known. The evening will be made perfect by the magical harmonies from the local band clubs Għaqda Korali u Orkestrali Maria Bambina, Società Filarmonica La Vittoria – Mellieħa and Ghaqda Muzikali Imperial.
All eyes will be on Gozo on Saturday 29th April. Head to the Belvedere in Nadur for exceptional panoramic views lit up by the exceptional firework display.
All in all, the Maltese International Firework Festival is an event that's not to be missed. Whether you're a lifelong pyrotechnics enthusiast or just someone who appreciates the beauty and spectacle of fireworks, this festival is sure to leave you awestruck.