Malta Diary; Valletta ’18 – Off with a bang – a “festa” extravanganza of song, dance and the spectacular
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As from 20th January 2018, Malta’s capital city Valletta (http://b-c-ing-u.com/2017/12/27/malta-diary-valletta-grand-city-ups-downs-diverse-zones-quarters-european-city-culture-2018/), the smallest capital city in the European Union, donned the crown of European Capital for Culture 2018 and kicked off a year of activities with a bang, a spectacle of song, dance, spectacular surprises and fireworks, a prelude leading to a year which will encompass 400 different cultural events and over 150 activities.
Malta is famed for its “festa” spectaculars, particularly during the summer months. No, we don’t run with bulls and no we don’t pelt each other with tomatoes. However, a Maltese festa is an extravaganza of the sound of brass bands, street marches, spell-binding external decorations of mainly intricate designs, fireworks, lights, splendidly decorated churches, liturgical functions and finally rounded off with a religious procession dominated by the titular statue – all mostly over a three-day period from Friday to Sunday evening.
Naturally, this is the background theme adopted by the Valletta 18 Committee, a theme of festive joy emblazoned by spectacular colours and specifically designed to be communally interactive as opposed to audiences watching static performances.
And it all kicked off on Saturday, a whole day of entertainment which is estimated to have drawn between 80,000 and 100,000 people to the city (that is 25% of the population of the islands) built under the guidance of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem under their French Grandmaster at the time, Jean Parisot de la Valette who unfortunately did not survive to see his city inaugurated in 1568 after he had gained a battery of European plaudits for his defence of the Maltese Islands against the invading Ottoman Turks in the Siege of Malta in 1565.
This will not be a lengthy article of long-drawn out descriptions. The pictures will do the talking and prove to be much better than words because … seeing is believing!
Briefly, most of the actions were concentrated on the city’s four main squares and the adoption of four different themes including the island’s history past and present, the future, and cultural themes in general. Roads were suitably decorated with activities along the routes and spectacular light shows were beamed on four main buildings and constructions, the recently refurbished Tritons Fountain (http://b-c-ing-u.com/2018/01/17/malta-diary-argotti-tritons/), the Office of the Prime Minister in the Auberge de Castille, The Presidential Palace in St George’s Square and the St John Co-Cathedral (http://b-c-ing-u.com/2018/01/10/malta-diary-vallettas-grand-panorama-european-capital-culture-2018/); also (http://b-c-ing-u.com/2016/05/25/23027/).
Perhaps the most spectacular event was that of a 30ft high articulated figure of a man, managed by ground performers, striding across Tritons Square. At the same time 60 Maltese male and female acrobats were suspended from a crane over the Tritons Fountain and performed contortions.
To cap it all, despite this mass crowd and all the activities there was not one report of a serious incident of any kind and needless to say – a great time was had by all!
One awaits with anticipation as to what the rest of the year will bring.
Pictures courtesy of TVM, Malta Today, Times of Malta, The Malta Independent.
“A ‘kiss my ass jacket’
Again, this is not a saying but a popular phrase that was used throughout the 50s and 60s. Its origins came with the fashion introduction for men of short Elvis Presley type jackets that reached their waist but did not cover their posterior which was left exposed (wearing underpants and trousers naturally!) It was seen as a cheeky and trendy fashion which earned it its description and was worn by ‘catch the eye’ frivolous young men to attract female attention!