Coming from the far north in hopes for a Mojito and pool kinda Christmas Holidays? The Maltese Isles are close enough. The weather is usually mild and sunny round Christmas time with temps around 16-22 C (although we cannot guarantee it with absolute certainty), which is perfect for outdoor barbecues, or just chilling on a lounge chair with a good book or your favorite tunes. Again we cannot guarantee swimsuit weather, however, the last couple of Christmases have been consistently sunny and warm. If you happen to rent one of our villas, you just might be in for a treat: chilling on the backdrop of spectacular views of our beautiful island, soaking up some rays thus remedying your vitamin D deficiency and enjoying chilled or hot drinks in a wonderful company of family and friends.
Not much into chilling? No worries, there is plenty to see and do on the isles during our most important holiday season. Our December temperatures are perfect for spending ample time outdoors exploring the unique charm of our local towns and villages, enjoying the peculiar appeal of Maltese Christmas lights, taking long walks by the sea side or just chilling on the beach on a picnic blanket. For restless souls and restless feet there are a multitude of trails to explore, but we already covered that in one of our previous blogs.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed with choices? Let us direct you towards our must-see seasonal attractions.
Popeye Village: Santa’s Toy Town
Popeye Village (the original film set of the 1980s musical production) accessible all year round and offering great food and a host of interactive, fun activities, has become one of the most beloved tourist attractions for all age groups. Mind you, Popeye Village is also an extremely popular venue for private parties and fairy tale weddings in case you were looking.
Every year during Christmas season, the Popeye team gear up to deliver a special treat for big and small. You and your family will have the chance to meet and chat with Popeye himself and of course, there will be Santa and his helpers. Kids are welcome to watch the industrious Santa’s helpers work on Christmas gifts and ask them questions about how the gifts are prepared and delivered. All family members are encouraged to try out various games and engage in an exciting treasure hunt. Moreover, there are numerous hourly animation shows to choose from, a chance to visit Popeye’s Comic Museum and of course one cannot forego the glorious Christmas Parade. For the hungry and thirsty, a variety of delicious snacks and winter treats can be quickly and easily obtained. But please do not leave without tasting Popeye’s Special Christmas Punch.
Bethlehem in Gozo
Another Christmas wonder you do not wanna miss out on is the Bethlehem village in Ghajnsielem, Gozo. This life size crib come to life from December 9, 2018 – January 6, 2019. December 2018 presents the 10th edition of this magical event put together by local volunteers. Over the years the event has managed to gain popularity internationally and has placed as a top 10 Worldwide Christmas Destination. Owing to the loving efforts of these local individuals, you can now have a full experience of a live authentic nativity scene (performed by actors) depicting the Judea of 2000 years ago: villagers preparing food, baking bread and going about their daily tasks, shepherds tending to animals and a young couple lovingly taking care of their new born babe. Moreover, you are welcome to browse through the open-air market brimming with seasonal fruits and vegetables, various fish, local delicacies and traditionally made local crafts. You and your family can also enjoy taking a dghajsa (a type of Maltese boat) across the tiny river.
Interactive story telling, shows, games and trying your hand at using the traditional tools are there to be enjoyed by big and small. Yet before visiting, please kindly check for opening times on www.visitgozo.com (or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org) as the program changes daily and the opening times vary.
Before your enthusiastically embark on visiting this enchanting, one-of–a-kind Bethlehem replica on our tiny Mediterranean island, we must warn you, you will be faced with overwhelming choices of authentic, delicious, local treats to snack on and an abundance of local Mediterranean goodies to purchase as takeaways or gifts for your loved ones at home. Exotic local jam combos, local olive oil, Gozo honey, pastries and drinks as well as well as plenty of fun non-edible souvenirs are waiting to be discovered by you.
Not sure how to find this magical place? It is literally 5 minutes away (a straight stretch on foot) from the Gozo ferry station or a direct bus ride from Gozo’s capital Victoria (Bus number 301, get off at the stop Chambray). Oh and watch out for the Roman Garrison patrolling the tiny Bethlehem streets collecting taxes!
Christmas Markets Malta/Gozo
Pjazza Tigne from December 7- December 28
Located just outside the Tigne Shopping Mall, the Pjazza Tigne Christmas Market is an ideal place for recharging after your Christmas shopping at the Point. Whenever you need a break, just step out in our December sunshine and enjoy a crepe or a waffle and a glass of our Mediterranean mulled wine or a cup of hot chocolate under a gigantic Christmas tree.
Valletta Waterfront the whole month of December 2018
Valletta Waterfront is a lively, metropolitan area hosting a multitude of high-end bars, cafes, restaurants and entertainment during any season. This Christmas, however, it is a must-visit-place. The city of Valletta have organized a myriad of fun and free outdoor (weather permitting) and indoor Christmas activities throughout the month of December including the New Years Eve.
The Christmas joys entail free children’s entertainment including visits from Santa and a variety of concerts:
Carol singing and dancing by Dance Project (charity for Malta community chest fund) on December 22
Christmas Mass on December 24 starting at 8:00 pm
After-party with DJ von Brockdorff on December 31
For daily programs please kindly check www.vallettawaterfront.com.
Villa Rundle Garden in Gozo, December 21-23
Some say the Villa Rundle Garden is the very heart of Gozo. Named after the British General Leslie Rundle and located on Republic Street in Victoria, (capital of Gozo) it is truly a little corner of paradise in the city. Boasting a lush variety of native and exotic trees and flowerbeds, the garden offers a welcome shade from the scorching heat and moments of peace and serenity away from the hustle and bustle of the city. During the months of December, the Canary palms are decorated with Christmas lights, which is one of many delightful features of our Mediterranean Christmas spirit. If you are in Gozo in the coming weeks/days, take a peek at the Villa Rundle cozy and charming Christmas market featuring authentic Gozo produce: honey, oils, wine, olives, soaps, knitwear and lace. For daily opening times please kindly check www.visitgozo.com.
Christmas Parade Gozo, December 22
If you happen to be in Gozo on Saturday December 22, do not miss out on our one-of-a-kind Gozo Christmas Parade featuring our beloved Christmas characters such as Father Christmas, Snowmen, multiple cartoon heroes and of course, Christmas Trees and Christmas Bells who come alive just for the parade.
The highlight of the parade is usually the locals (Gozitans) joining in dressed up in beautiful elaborate costumes made exclusively for the occasion.
Shopping for Christmas Hampers
If you happen to be on our beautiful isles this December, don’t leave without buying at least one of our lavish Christmas hampers overflowing with Mediterranean goodies such as local sweets, jams, oils, spices, cured meats, pastries, chocolates and fine wines and bubblies.
We know just the places with the most original hampers comprised of Maltese and Sicilian specialties.
The Deli Malta in Swieqi is a lovely place to visit during the festive season.
The charming and kind owner Joanna will make you fresh salads with organically grown vegetables from their own Lady Bird Farm, delicious and filling wraps or ftiras, fresh smoothies, fresh juices and warming homemade soups on chillier days. Of course, you will also have the chance to buy a miniature traditional Maltese Christmas log, home-made mince pies (vegetarian) and elaborate luxury cup cakes to die for.
While waiting for your lunch, feel free to browse though the cozy deli displaying Maltese and Sicilian delicacies. It is believed the Sicilian jams, oils, spreads and other goodies contain powerful minerals from Etna land and are rich in natural vitamins.
Not to forget, Joanna has lovingly prepared a variety of gorgeous hampers for you to choose from and take with you (please kindly see the pictures).
The White Sheep Malta in Gzira
A bit off the beaten path yet relatively close to the seafront, situated in the town of Gzira, you will find a cozy little gourmet food shop/fresh lunch café called The White Sheep. Owned by three Maltese sisters whose mission is to provide high quality organic treats and upscale confectionery, jams, baked goods, farmhouse and artisan cheeses, fine wines and champagnes, The White Sheep is a real treat to visit during the festive season due to its abundant offer of Christmas goodies: fancy and original festive chocolates, Christmas cakes, homemade mince pies, luxurious Christmas jam combos and the finest Prosecco and Champagne.
Though not cheap, The White Sheep is probably your best bet for finding a truly luxurious and original Christmas hamper.
Abrahams is the largest and the fanciest gourmet food and fine wine/champagne shop on the islands. The spectrum of Christmas goodies ranging from cured meats, unique cheeses, olives, gourmet pasta varieties, spreads, jams, gourmet crackers and breads, an abundance of chocolates and Christmas cakes as well as the overwhelming choices of hampers will pleasantly surprise and pacify the fussiest of shoppers. Take a look at the pictures or better yet check out Abraham’s for yourself when in Gozo. You might end up overspending but hey, it is the festive season and we promise you won’t regret the purchases one bit.
Christmas Pilgrimage: the Ta’ Pinu Hill (Ta’ Ghammar Hill)
Feeling like taking a break from all the holiday frenzy? Tired of crowds of people and all the excitement? We can recommend a unique pilgrimage you can embark on this Christmas season to pray, meditate, contemplate, rejuvenate: A visit to the Ta’ Ghammar Hill (also known as the Ta’ Pinu Hill) in Gozo.
The Ta’ Ghammar Hill is situated right across the Ta’ Pinu Basilica: The most famous church on the Maltese Isles as many miraculous healings, successes and answered prayers are associated with visiting the Ta ‘ Pinu Basilica.
The hill climb may seem a bit daunting at first, but there is a wide and safe (albeit steep) path leading all the way to the top. Do not attempt to climb the hill from other angles with no designated paths as the rocks are lose and slippery and the surfaces are crumbly, unsteady and dangerous as we recently learned.
As you ascend, the steep climb will be somewhat mitigated by the magnificent views revealing different sides of the island. Moreover, during the winter months the hill is green and covered with sweet smelling daffodils. Towards the top of the path you will notice marble statues emerging, revealing the biblical account of the life of Jesus. The scenes commence with the Last Supper and unfold all the way to the crucifixion, the burial and ultimately the resurrection of Jesus. The pilgrimages up the steep hill go all the way back to the end of World War II, where pilgrims began to go up the hill to pray and repent. Later on a proposal was made to establish Via Crucis by erecting white marble statues as stations in the pilgrimage. The statues were brought over from Pietra Santa Italy, the original designs of the statues are those of Alfred Camilleri Cauci.
Whether you are a believer and would like to follow the Via Crucis to a tee or just someone seeking peace and serenity, visiting the hill is a unique spiritual experience and will most likely become the highlight of your trip to the tiny island of Gozo. There are stories of many visitors of different faiths both local and from all over the world having climbed the hill and their prayers for healing and miracles having been answered. Whoever you are and whether you have faith or not at all, we wish you a peaceful, beautiful and a truly magical Christmas experience on our island.