The Malta Independent 22 January 2019, Tuesday

‘This Maltese festa will be marked by authenticity,’ says PM at V18 launch ceremony

Helena Grech Saturday, 20 January 2018, 16:31 Last update: about 2 years ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat joyously remarked that “this Maltese festa will be marked by authenticity” as he addressed the Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture opening celebrations.

Valletta has been decorated as never seen before, with historic buildings being given a much needed face-lift and thousands of people flocking to the capital to join in the festivities.


“We did not have to start from scratch. We simply had to look around us and tidy up those buildings and prepare our home to welcome our visitors,” he told the audience.

Photos Baskal Mallia and James Caruana

The opening ceremony was addressed by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, Parliamentary Secretary for V18 Deo Debattista, Valletta Mayor Alexiei Dingli, Valletta 2018 Chairman Jason Micallef and EU Culture Commissioner Tibor Navracsics.

Muscat thanked former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi “for his work to prepare Valletta for this day”.

He went on to say that that “the city of Valletta is an architectural, social and cultural jewel.”

He said the city is “a point of reference, the place where traditionally the Maltese and Gozitan people went to voice their opinion, culturally, at events throughout the year, and even politically through its representatives in Parliament”.

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca remarked that Malta’s “unique history” has shaped its people into a culture that “is made up of the best elements of European and Semitic values”.

“Our unique culture is made up of the best elements in a most harmonious spirit of peace. Since the time of our forefathers and foremothers, we have always felt duty-bound to share this spirit of peace with our friends and neighbours.”

President Coleiro Preca, in her classic way of delivering a heart-felt speech, also said: “When we acknowledge, respect and value our diverse cultures, we make a real investment in the essential strategies for social inclusion, solidarity and peace, while also ensuring prosperous, just, fair and equitable economies”.

Chairman of the V18 Foundation Jason Micallef excitedly spoke of witnessing “the birth of a 365-day Cultural Programme, aimed at stirring hearts and minds. A Cultural Programme that Valletta and Malta has never seen the likes of”.

Micallef said that from the outset, the priority has always been to maintain a quality standard of cultural and artistic work.

“Mark my words: Valletta will not be overlooked again,” he said.

“The heartfelt programme was precisely designed to forge connections, exchange ideas, overcome ideologies and spread happiness.

“It is for this reason that we chose our festa, the biggest cultural expression of the Maltese nation, as our primary narrative. This unforgettable experience filled with music, bands, colour, joy and fanfare has the amazing power to bring people from all walks of life together to work and celebrate”.

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici stressed how culture “truly nurtures the identity of people.”

“One can clearly see that culture is increasingly becoming a central point in our lives and our strategy when it comes to promoting culture, and making it more accessible to everyone is definitely working”.

He proudly exclaimed that a recent cultural participation survey showed that 91 per cent of the Maltese population has attended or participated in cultural activities.

Bonnici went on to describe the historical buildings which have been restored, worked on and refurbished. Such buildings include the Manoel Theatre, Palazzo Ferreria’s facade, Palazzo Verdelin and St John’s Co-Cathedral.

“Restoration is a fundamental pillar that aids us in leaving a legacy of our legacy of our historical heritage that will continue to thrive through future generations”.

Parliamentary secretary for V18 Deo Debattista described his sense of pride especially in view of the fact that Valletta is his home town.

He described the process of Valletta’s success after substantial contribution from a spectrum of people on the local scene.

“However, this success must not mean that we should rest on our laurels. Arrogance and complacency are to be avoided at all costs. We must remain grounded and keep improving on the good that is being done today”.

Valletta Mayor Alexiei Dingli highlighted how V18 is the perfect opportunity to showcase the city’s unique history with its beautiful architectural features.

“These activities will not only showcase our glorious past, but more importantly, where we’re headed. Valletta is today a global city, a melting pot of different cultures. And this can be clearly seen not just in the architecture of the city by in the people who make up the soul of the city.

European Commissioner for Culture Tibor Navracsics described his pleasure at addressing the opening celebrations.

“At a time when the EU is facing big challenges, we have to rethink its role and our ways of connecting with citizens – as well as our relationship with the rest of the world”.

He went on to say that he is convinced that Valletta will cherish the heritage of this year and will continue celebrating culture and art in the years to come.

He thanked all those involved and wished Valletta, together with the city of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands "every success". 


Il-Qawma tat-Tritoni - Triton Square

La Fura dels Baus, is a Spanish theatre company that is all about eccentricity, innovation, adaptation, rhythm, evolution and transgression. They constantly redefine space and change the public's role from passive to active. On this occasion they will be performing a spectacular, choreographed aerobatic show, featuring a human net above the newly restored Triton Fountain. They will be joined by a pool of local talent, including about 60 people.

Qalbna - St George's Square

ŻfinMalta will be performing a modern dance, choreographed by Paolo Mangiola, to original music composed by Cyprian Cassar. The show will feature dancers interacting with projected visuals by Blaze Animation and lighting effects by Mad About Video. Site - St George's Square

Elfejn u Tmintax - St John's Square

Elfejn u Tmintax is a brand new choral symphony which will be premiered on the steps of St John's Cathedral. The music is composed by Elton Zarb and the lyrics by Joe Julian Farrugia. The choir will be directed by Pamela Bezzina. The performance includes innovative lighting effects illuminating the centuries old façades of St John's Square. Site - St John's Square

Minn Qiegħ l-Imgħoddi għall-Quċċata tal-Ġejjieni 

3D mapping projections on the Auberge de Castille which combine CGI components, music and visual special effects. This 20-minute extravaganza celebrates the past and prepares for an imagined future. Site - Castille Square.

Tempo - 11:30 PM onwards - Pjazza San Ġorġ

TEMPO will see the infusion of Maltese International DJ Tenishia with the National Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Sigmund Mifsud. TEMPO will be closing the Erba' Pjazez Opening celebrations. The performance will be going through a journey into electronic dance music starting from the 70s onwards including 17 iconic tracks that have shaped the genre of electronic dance music throughout the years.

Apart from these spectacles, other performances will reach spectators in the surrounding areas: A guard of honour, celebrating the Maltese people, with bands playing on either side of a large street; Moveo Dance Company creating beautiful, evocative movements on specially designed swings and within the crowd; Rota, a huge wheel welcoming the crowd to the city of Valletta; Big Dancers - giant marionettes in synchronised choreography and light effects; Nibnu Malta, a gaggle of clowns interacting with the crowd in a comedy creation of Malta's national symbol, plus three marching bands accompanying the crowds from venue to venue.

And, on the way to the rest of the night's programme, the delicious, traditional warm chocolate drink, Imbuljuta, will be handed round to the crowd.

The full programme can be found at:




  • don't miss