Malta at Christmas and New Year: A Magical Place to Be

By November 16, 2017Intercontinental Malta

Pondering where to go on holiday at Christmas? Stuck for December getaway ideas? Stop pondering and book a trip to Malta, where you’ll find plenty of festive cheer, minus the cold weather and boredom of Christmas at home.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with spending Christmas at home, but sometimes you just need to fly to a temperate Mediterranean island, and take walks by the beach whilst admiring the fireworks over the sea. If you agree with this statement, then you’ll probably find that Malta is one of the world’s best Christmas holiday destinations in the world.

Malta isn’t sweltering hot in December, but neither is it frigid cold. Maltese winters are typically mild, with temperatures averaging a very pleasant 15 degrees celsius in December. That’s probably as good as a typical British summer, only Malta in December is a little less grey and rainy than London in August.

malta in winter - warm and sunny

What to Do in Malta in December

But the climate isn’t Malta’s sole attraction. Unsurprisingly, the archipelago’s stunning architecture and beautiful natural scenery doesn’t just disappear in winter, so you should go to Malta in December for all the same reasons that you’d visit in July.

One of the big bonuses of visiting Malta “off-season” is that there are fewer crowds, and it’s much cheaper. Even the cost of transport takes a nose-dive in December, once all the summer tourists have left.

So December is the perfect time to visit all the city sights that you’d see in the summer, at a fraction of the price and hassle.

Where to stay in Malta in December

Flights to Malta and local accommodation will also be cheaper in winter.

Staying in a nice hotel and enjoying the mild Maltese climate sounds perfect, doesn’t it? But don’t forget that Christmas is also a very special time to share in Maltese culture and to experience the country’s rich festive traditions! Don’t know what these consist of?

No problem, let us take us through some of the highlights:

Christmas in Malta – The “True Meaning”

Christmas is celebrated in a big way on the Maltese islands. Malta still has a strong Catholic culture, and Christmas is obviously significant in Malta as a Christian festival.

Elsewhere in Europe, the religious nature of the religious feast has become overshadowed by the more commercial aspects of Christmas. This is less the case in Malta, and so Christmas in Malta is a wonderful opportunity to experience a more  traditional type of festive cheer.

In Malta, Christmas festivities reach their peak on the evening of December 24th, when midnight mass is celebrated in churches around the archipelago. Mass is followed by a colourful procession, with locals dressed up as the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and all the attendant nativity figures.

 

As well as festive events, Malta is also great for Christmas decorations. At Christmas time, houses across Malta are typically decorated in twinkling lights and ‘presepju’, which are basically special Maltese nativity scenes. These Maltese Christmas decorations can range in size, from small depictions of baby Jesus’ crib, to larger displays portraying the whole of Bethlehem, complete with moving parts and live animals.

If you are spending Christmas in Gozo, you should visit a very special presepju in the village of Ghajnsielem, where over 150 actors take part in a live animation of Bethlehem. This attraction is open most days from 6th December to the 4th January and is completely free.

There are more than a few other quaint traditions with which the Maltese celebrate Christmas, but you’ll have to explore Maltese villages in December to find out more.

Maltese Christmas Food – A Necessity

Food is the centrepiece of most Christmas celebrations the world over, and Malta is no exception. Christmas is after all a religious feast, so what do the Maltese feast on?

British traditions have heavily influenced the Maltese Christmas dinner, and so it is not uncommon to spot a plum pudding or  crackers around the table in Malta at Christmas. As in Britain, turkey is also the star attraction of Christmas  day dinner, but there are also plenty of other, less familiar treats.

Hot chestnut and cocoa soup is often served after Midnight Mass at Christmas, and another favourite is “Qaghaq tal-ghasel”, in English “honey rings”, which are rings of sweet pastry filled with a delicious treacle mixture.

Coming To Malta For New Year

If you’ve already made plans for Christmas, why not come to Malta for New Year?

On New Year’s eve in Valetta, the streets will be aglow with a lively festive atmosphere and the bars will be packed. Parties will spill out onto the streets across Malta, and the sky will light up with fireworks late into the (relatively warm) night.

christmas and new year in malta fireworks

Malta’s capital city, Valletta, is the obvious choice if you want to party the night away, but the fortified town of Floriana is also a popular New Year’s eve destination. The town has been closing down one of Malta’s busiest streets since 2010 for a massive, buzzing street party, and it’s always a great success.

After the fireworks, there are plenty of great clubs you can head to in St. Julian’s is where the island’s clubs are generally concentrated, although you should book your tickets well in advance.

Of course, the best option is to spend your entire winter in Malta, but if you’re short on days off, come for the last week of December. That way you can experience both Christmas festivities and New Year celebrations on the archipelago.

 

We hope we’ve got you into the Christmas Spirit! Haven’t booked your hotel yet? Check out our luxury rooms & suites here.