St Patrick’s Day, a national holiday that is indisputably the world’s most widely celebrated occasion outside of its native land.
In US cities they dye whole rivers green, and worldwide people quaff copious quantities of Guinness on this special day, Irish ancestry or no.
In Malta Paddy’s day is also a pretty huge deal.
Perhaps it’s the local Irish community or the fact that people in Malta love an excuse to drink before lunchtime, but St Patrick’s day is probably the biggest non-Maltese holiday celebrated in Malta.
In recent years there’s been an explosion of venues offering St Paddy’s day deals and special celebrations.
So, this March, where should you head for your St Patrick’s day festivities?
1. Ryan’s Pub
When you think drinking heavily and going out, St Julian’s springs to mind.
The crowds in Paceville on this special day are formidable, and you’ll be jostling to get served and scrumming to find a bathroom.
But surely, on St Patrick’s day, that’s all part and parcel of the fun.
When you’ve had six pints of Guinness in before three pm, it’s always good to be in a big, rowdy, green garment wearing crowd.
You may try and resist the idea of heading to Paceville this St Patrick’s day, but the odds are that you won’t manage to resist for long.
If you do give in to peer pressure and go along with everyone else to Paceville, you’ll want to find an Irish pub, obviously.
Dubliner, Corks, and Ryans are the three main choices in the St Julian’s area. Out of these, Ryan’s pub is probably a safe bet.
The Dubliner is the daddy of Irish pubs, but it’s also the most rammed, so Ryan’s makes a nice compromise.
Just don’t expect to skip the crowds – last year they ran promotions starting at half nine in the morning, but even by then the Guinnesses were slipping down throats fairly liberally.
Of course, St Patrick’s Day should traditionally be celebrated in an Irish pub drinking Guinness.
But, you’re in Malta, and you’re probably not even Irish, so if you’re in Paceville, you might as well celebrate in a club.
Tigullio is a popular St Paddy’s day venue.
Last year they had 32 DJs dropping beats across five stages, starting at 2 pm and carrying on late, late into the evening for the real troopers.
If you need to get a bit of Guinness in before you head clubbing, you could always check out the early morning promotions at Ryan’s before coming here.
3. Fat Harry’s Pub
Irish pubs aren’t the exclusive domain of Paceville. In fact, there are a lot more little Irish pubs in Buggiba.
You’re really spoiled for choice here, but the available Irish pubs are of varying quality.
From the simply named “Irish Bar” to “O’Reilly’s”, “Buckley’s”, and “Malone’s” there are literally dozens of local Irish pubs to sink a pint in, but not all of them even serve Guinness.
Fat Harry’s pub is the popular choice and a safe bet.
It’s also the place where you’re likely to find the most vibrant St Patrick’s day festivities.
They usually have a good bit of live Irish music to get you in the St Patrick’s mood, and there is, of course, plenty of Guinness.
One year they also threw in a bit of ska to the Celtic playlist, but hey, this is Malta.
4. St Patrick’s Festival in Valletta
Of course, you can’t expect much more than Guinness drinking on St Patrick’s day in Malta, but if you’re looking for a little more than purely boozing and partying, then you should head to Valletta.
The St Patrick’s Festival in Valletta has a big parade, which is always fun.
They also manage to stock the stages with plenty of Celtic singers and instrumentalists.
Last year there was a fair bit of river dancing and not a little crowd participation.
If you are fixing for a more cultural way to spend St Patrick’s day, or have kids in tow, then this a must.
Of course, it’s still St. Patrick’s day, so you can expect there to be lots of Guinness regardless.
5. Intercontinental Hotel Malta
If you truly want to celebrate St. Patrick’s day in style, then there’s no better place than the Intercontinental Hotel in Malta itself.
Of course, delightful food, wonderful company, and delicious drinks in a five-star hotel aren’t traditional ways to spend St. Patrick’s day, but you’re not on the emerald isles – you’re on a Mediterranean island.
One final thing to bear in mind when heading out for a heavy day of celebrating Irishness is how to get home come evening if you last that long.
Malta public transport is pretty good, and there’s a fantastic bus service across the islands.
You’ll need a Tallinja card, and this will work as your pass to Maltese public transport.
If buses are too much to handle after ten pints of Guinness, then you can always opt for a cab.
Ecabs are a popular and efficient service in Malta.