It’s the most wonderful time of the year … and there are many wonderful events, activities, celebrations, markets, concerts, and more to look forward to taking place all across Malta and Gozo.
Heading to Malta for a special Christmas getaway? Need a little festive inspo for some unforgettable holiday cheer with friends and family? We’ve got you covered. Check out our Top 10 things to do this Christmas.
#1 – Explore the magic of Fairyland Santa’s City in Valletta
From the 8th of December until the 6th of January, Pjazza Tritoni in Valletta will be transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland that promises oodles of fun for the entire family. From fun fair rides with a festive twist and a cool ice-skating rink to a charming little Christmas market that’s perfect for pressie shopping, this is one fairyland that deserves repeat visits. Santa and his elves will also be greeting the kids and taking photos.
And as the World Cup in Qatar also coincides with the festive season, there’ll also be a dedicated World Cup Village complete with live matches on big screens.
#2 – Follow the lights on The Magical Illuminated Trail
The Magical Illuminated Trail returns to the Verdala Palace in Buskett. This enchanting after-dark adventure is perfect for the entire family and sees the winding garden surrounding this historic palace come to life with colourful illuminated sculptures, light installations, projections, and more wondrous curiosities that will delight the young and young at heart. This special Christmas event will run every evening between the 25th of November till the 7th of January. Booking ahead is recommended.
#3 – Experience the wonder of Nativity by visiting a Live Crib
Live cribs have become increasingly popular across Malta in recent years. These elaborate nativity scenes see actors play out the traditional story of the birth of Jesus complete with life-sized cribs, real animals, and Biblical-inspired costumes. Some keep things relatively sweet and simple; others are known for their complex productions. Here are a handful of popular highlights to explore:
- Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem (Gozo): 20,000 square meters of fields and some 150 actors transform this quiet stretch of rural land in Gozo into an immersive Bethlehem.
- Presepju Haj, Lija: A tradition that harks back some 50 years, Lija’s live crib is a local favourite.
- In Praesepio, Nadur (Gozo): Live re-enactments of the nativity story take place every day between the 14th December and 1st January in this charming little village in Gozo.
- Mosta Christmas Village: The piazza outside Mosta’s iconic domed church is transformed into a family friendly Christmas village complete with live crib and other festive activities.
#4 – Enjoy a stylish Christmas getaway at Radisson Blu Resort in St. Julian’s
Treat yourself to a unforgettable Christmas getaway by the coast at Radisson Blu Resort, St Julian’s. Enjoy a miles away from everyday experience with some well-deserved downtime where all your whims are expertly catered for. Unwind in a stylish guestroom with stunning sea views. While away a morning in the heated indoor pool. Pamper yourself all the way to seventh heaven with a visit to the spa. Plus, there’s a seasonal smorgasbord of festive dinners, lunches, and afternoon teas to look forward to at the hotel’s top-notch restaurants and bars.
#5 – Get all traditional with a Midnight Mass
Said to date back to the late 1880s, midnight mass in Malta is a special celebration where, traditionally, parish churches would be packed to the rafters with congregations commemorating the birth of Jesus. The churches are decorated in full seasonal regalia and the mass itself is extended to accommodate lantern processions, glorious carol singing, and the Sermon of the Child, which sees a young child recount the nativity story from the altar. It’s a beautiful and heart-warming ceremony that perfectly encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas.
While most parishes around Malta and Gozo will celebrate midnight mass, head to Valletta, Sliema, Rabat, or Mdina for popular packed-out masses in some of the islands’ most stunning churches.
#6 – Tuck into an early Christmas breakfast
As the bells toll following the midnight mass ceremony, Maltese families traditionally head out to a nearby restaurant or hotel to enjoy a super early Christmas breakfast, which is more of a post-midnight feast if we’re being entirely honest. These so-called breakfasts are typically made up of an English fry-up followed by festive treats such as Christmas pudding and Maltese honey rings. Christmas breakfasts are extremely popular in Malta so booking ahead is essential.
#7 – Shop till you drop at a Christmas market
Malta’s Christmas markets are the perfect place to hunt down more unusual, handcrafted, and boutique Christmas gifts for your nearest and dearest. Beyond the market stalls themselves, there are usually plenty of other festive activities to look forward to.
Christmas Village at Valletta Waterland: Valletta’s waterfront turns into a splendid Christmas wonderland every December with a fantastic market, puppet shows, face-painting booths, balloon art, live music, and more.
Sliema Christmas Market: Over one weekend in December, Sliema’s famous Bisazza Street sees a sprawling market line up outside its ribbon of popular high street stores. Head here for organic wines, stylish Christmas gifts, decorations, and more.
#8 – Discover Santa’s Toy Town at Popeye Village
Re-discover the joy of Christmas with a trip to Santa’s Toy Town at Popeye Village in Anchor Bay. Several huts and areas around this popular movie set from the Robin Williams film are transformed into a Christmas workshop with elves busily preparing toys for Santa to deliver on Christmas eve. There are also plenty of fun games for the family to enjoy as well as puppet shows, live animation shows, and hearty grub.
#9 – Marvel at a record-breaking Christmas Tree
Over the past few years, the village of Birzebbuga has made a name for itself thanks to its annual Christmas tree decorations and displays. In 2016, the parish even set the national record for the tallest Christmas tree structure, which reached an impressive seven storeys high. Each year the villagers attempt to outdo themselves with elaborate synchronised lights and more impressive festive decorations which festoon the piazza and surrounding streets outside their parish church.
#10 – Hark the herald angels sing at the Malta International Christmas Carol Concert
This spectacular annual event sees dozens of local and international choirs gather to perform unique Christmas concerts at different churches around Malta. Choirs give renditions of various popular Christmas carols and other songs from their respective repertoires. This year, concerts will take place between the 1st and 4th of December around the Three Cities, Kalkara, and Zabbar. For more details on the festival, follow their Facebook page.