Birgufest, Malta. 9-11 October
This event taking place in Birgu (also known as Vittoriosa), which is one of Malta’s oldest and most historic cities, has now become an annual national event.
From inception the aim was to highlight Birgu’s historic and architectural beauty and the Birgu by Candlelight, now incorporated in Birgufest, was set up to highlight this in a romantic manner. The streets are lit up with a gentle glow by thousands of candles of all kinds.
However, Birgufest has developed into a larger event with a wider scope, offering numerous activities throughout the festival. The historic re-enactments, extended and cheaper museum entrances, and the opening up to the public of other venues of interest including churches, highlight the immense historic value of this city.
In addition, food stalls offering both Maltese and other food, various musical concerts – ranging from classical to modern, and various exhibitions, make this event truly an outing with something to suit all tastes and ages.
Birgu, one of the Three Cities, lies on one of the promontories jutting into Grand Harbour, opposite Valletta.
At its tip is Fort St. Angelo, perhaps the oldest fortification on the Islands. The strategic position of both fort and city over the millennia has led some to call this area `the cradle of Maltese history‘. Certainly settlers and rulers from the Phoenicians to the British all made use of the defences here. To honour the part played by the city of Birgu, Grand Master La Valette renamed it Civitas Vittoriosa, `Victorious Town‘. Vittoriosa was the first home of the Knights when they arrived in 1530. As such, it contains many important architectural riches. The Knights `auberges‘ (inns of residence), palaces and churches here are older than those in Valletta.
Highlights include the Church of St. Lawrence, designed by Malta’s most prominent baroque architect, Lorenzo Gafa’, the Inquisitor’s Palace, Fort St. Angelo and the Maritime Museum.