Carnival Gozo 2018 was officially opened on Sunday 4 February. However it will reach its climax in its classical five day festival between Friday 9 February and Tuesday 13 February, exactly before the forty day long Lent time.
This year’s opening of the Gozo Carnival was certainly a spectacular one. Over 500 participants from various dance schools across Malta and Gozo participated in the opening session on the sunny Sunday afternoon.
But this is just the starting point. What’s coming up on Gozo in the next days is surely a must-see event. As a local, one cannot but notice the huge activity going on till late in the small villages and towns – preparations, rehearsals and final touching of all Carnival floats and colourful costumes.
The pictures below certainly do not do justice to the amazing performance of all groups during the Gozo Carnival 2018 official opening at Nadur.
Gozo Carnival 2018 starts on Thursday 8 February and lasts till Tuesday 13 February.
It is an annual event which lasts five days.
But did you know that in Malta and Gozo Carnival has been celebrated for almost 500 years?
But what is the meaning of Carnival?
Well, the word Carnival comes from an Italian phrase, carne vale, which means ‘meat is allowed’.
This is because Carnival is a five day long activities celebrated exactly before the 40-day long Lent time where in the Middle Ages, Roman Catholic religion did not permit meat consumption during Lent time.
Short History of Malta and Gozo Carnival
Carnival in Malta and Gozo was introduced in the year 1535 by Grandmaster Del Ponte.
That is exactly five years after the Knights of St. John came to Malta. First it was the Knights who used to take part in Carnival activities and later during the years, the local people started to take part as well.
Gradually but constantly, Malta and Gozo Carnival grew in popularity and complexity too.
This year is 483 years after the first Carnival was held in the Maltese islands.
But for some time, Carnival was not allowed in Malta and Gozo.
In fact in 1639, Grandmaster Lascaris ordered that no woman could put on masks or costumes representing the devil.
The population of the islands absolutely did not like Lascaris’ decision because Carnival had already became part of the local cultural activities on the islands.
Throughout the centuries, Carnival was always celebrated in February, just before Lent time. However, in Malta and Gozo, Carnival was celebrated in the month of May between 1972 and 1987.
From 1988 till to the present time, Carnival in Gozo and Malta is celebrated in its proper time – the month of February.
Gozo Carnival 2018
Nowadays, on Gozo, two types of Carnival are held each year – the organised and spontaneous Carnival.
Organised Carnival is held in capital Victoria and around several towns and villages of Gozo.
Preparations for the organised Carnival start very early, for some activities even a year before.
Different, small and large, colourful costumes as well as big Carnival floats are prepared by very dedicated Gozitans who made Carnival part and parcel of their lifestyle.
Various groups meet together and do weekly rehearsals. For instance, dance groups start rehearsing in the summer season, that is about six months before Carnival time.
Spontaneous Carnival is perhaps a more traditional Carnival more popular in the villages rather than in capital Victoria.
Nadur is certainly the place to be to enjoy the spontaneous Gozo Carnival 2018.
Similar to organised Carnival, it lasts five days or better five consecutive nights between Friday and Tuesday.
During these nights, people on individual or family or friends basis dress any sort of Carnival costumes and parade in the main streets and square of Nadur village.
No doubt, during the spontaneous Carnival, what you’ll see will surely exceed your expectations!
In Malta and Gozo, Carnival is a feast shared by all generations, young and old.
Carnival is so deeply rooted in Maltese history that became one of the annual principal events of the cultural calendar.
No wonder so many visitors return to experience the Malta and Gozo Carnival each year in February!