The Malta Independent 26 September 2021, Sunday

Notte Bianca: Why can Valletta not sustain nightlife on a regular basis?

Malta Independent Monday, 7 October 2013, 07:49 Last update: about 8 years ago

Tens and thousands of Maltese and foreigners flocked to Valletta on Saturday night for Notte Bianca. The event has become firmly entrenched in the Maltese cultural calendar, seven years after the first time it was held. All museums are open and free, as are our institutional buildings. While this gives our citizens and visitors a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors, the city is illuminated and almost every establishment is open for business.

Art exhibitions are in abundance, as are street and open air performances. The city literally comes to life. History focuses on the seedier part of Valletta as Strait Street comes to life. In addition, the horrors of the war are relived, as bomb shelters and other exhibits are opened to the public. Nightspots and restaurants were teeming with activity as people stopped for a few drinks, or something to eat. It is a spectacle to be seen to be believed.

Some might say that there are far too many people and too many activities at Notte Bianca at one go, and this might hold true. But it is much better to see Valletta in this state than the dark and silent place that it becomes at night.

Sure, there has been a little improvement over the years. Little bars, bistros and live music venues have popped up here and there, but there is so much potential.

When one compares Valletta to other towns around Europe that have similar makeup, we see that artists, musicians and eateries have moulded themselves to the style of the city and become part of its fabric. When that happens, the patrons follow. This is not about filling up the empty houses in Valletta, this is about attracting people in from the outside. It is about getting people to come to the Capital City, which really does have so much to offer. Successive governments have tried to tackle the problem by simplifying the parking problem – but it is not enough.

Notte Bianca 2013 managed to break its own record and attract more than 70,000 visitors to Valletta. The  European Capital of Culture for 2018 deserves more.

Notte Bianca has been described as a living example of how different art forms can be used in order to generate income and interest in the cultural and creative industries. But how can it be sustained on a more regular basis. Of course, one would not expect 50,000+ visitors to come to Valletta every weekend, but surely, we must find a way to turn the city into more of a cultural, artistic and entertainment hub. 

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