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Things to do in Malta during Christmas and New Year

It's nearly Christmas and there's still time to decide where to spend the festive season. If you want to be surrounded by dazzling Christmas lights and festive cheer, a holiday in Malta will do the trick. In December, Malta transforms into a wonderland full of festive events, dazzling Christmas lights and seasonal cheer. But where are the best places to spend Christmas in Malta? 

Read on to find out what Malta is like during the Christmas/New Year period!

Christmas Eve holds a special place in every Maltese heart. It's a time for festive cheer, gift exchange and celebrations.

What is Malta like during Christmas time?

Malta is a Roman Catholic nation with strong religious traditions.  At the core of the Maltese Christmas is a religious festival with many different celebrations activities and events all over Malta.

You'll love being in Malta during Christmas, followed by New Year's Eve. The country is generally a bit quieter during the winter months, but December is an exciting time.

You can attend Christmas concerts, handmade nativity exhibitions and stage plays at little parish churches.

In Malta, you'll find everyone is busy getting their Christmas gift shopping done. This means most of the shops stay open late ─ even on Sundays. You can hit the floor at clubs and famous restaurants, but make sure to always book first as it is such a busy time due to the number of company parties and celebrations.

Most village streets in Malta are decorated with Christmas decorations and sparkling with lights. Don’t be surprised if some blare out cheesy Christmas carols on loudspeakers across the roads!

Witnessing every house decorated with traditional crib scenes with small clay figurines representing shepherds, wise men and angels is heartwarming. Statues of the baby Jesus are placed behind windows or on balconies and lit at night. Houses are also festooned with the usual Christmas wreaths, candles and other festive lights and decorations. Almost every household has a traditionally decorated Christmas tree with tree lights and tinsel.

Valletta and Sliema are the most festive cities on the islands. Valletta is the capital of Malta and is situated around 20 minutes from the airport. This small city has winding streets and a superb range of shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It is the perfect place to spend the festive season. The Christmas weeknights are amazing to behold and the streets come alive with lively music and people milling around celebrating.

Tips for Christmas and New Year's Eve

Hotels and accommodation: Accommodation in Malta and Gozo during Christmas/New Year's Eve is quite busy. The rates are also on the higher side. If you plan to stay in Malta during Christmas and the New Year, make your bookings in advance to avoid disappointment.

If you love a calming atmosphere, you can chill out towards the North in Mellieħa or on the island of Gozo.

You'll find the most serene atmosphere in Malta here, with quiet beaches and beautiful countryside and sea views. You can see some local celebrations and other activities while enjoying the peace.

If you're a night owl, Sliema, St. Julian's and Valletta are the places to make a booking!

Shopping and entertainment

If you are up for last-minute shopping, head towards Sliema and Valletta. Note that the shops (including supermarkets and grocery shops) are only open until early Christmas Eve afternoon, so arrange your provisions in advance. Most shops stay closed on Christmas Day, while the larger shopping areas in Valletta and Sliema open on Boxing Day (if this doesn’t fall on Sunday).

Public transport at Christmas and New Year

You will likely get extended bus services on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. This applies to the St. Julian's/Paceville and Valletta routes. A reduced service usually runs in the period between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. Note that you're in a hurry to get somewhere, it is probably best to book a taxi.

New Year's Eve in Malta

Christmas time can be a family time in Malta, while the New Year's Eve events are created for the public. As well as enjoying the free fireworks, you can join in street parties and go clubbing until the New Year dawns.

Most locals prefer spending New Year's Eve in Valletta, where the party is wound up with a huge pyrotechnic display at the stroke of midnight. But there are also popular celebrations in St. George’s Square and on the Valletta waterfront. St. Anne’s Street in the neighbouring town of Floriana is another venue for a huge street party where people gather to celebrate the countdown. (WITH FREE ADMISSION, Hurray). St For club-hopping, the student areas of St. Julian’s and Paceville are the places to go. Booking is definitely recommended for these events.

Some additional tips:

  • All the venues and public spaces are heavily crowded on New Year's Eve.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings.
  • Pickpocketing is a common problem to avoid at these gatherings.
  • Carry as few possessions with you as you can.
  • Avoid driving and choose public transport for transit to avoid traffic and parking problems.

New Year's Day in Malta traditionally involves a large family lunch, coffee and traditional festive sweets. Locals choose to eat out for the occasion, with renowned restaurants offering dedicated menus (pre-booking is a must).

If you visit Malta on Christmas/New Year's Eve and really enjoy the experience, you can come back and stay here as a student and start your  career in this beautiful Mediterranean island with GBS Malta, which offers masters’ and bachelors’ degrees in many subjects. Offering a great campus environment for students, the institution is constantly moving ahead with its vision of "changing lives through education."

Frequently Asked Questions about Christmas/New Year's Eve in Malta

Malta is worth visiting at Christmas for its festive atmosphere, cultural traditions and mild weather.

Malta can be reasonably priced in December if you make advanced bookings. You can get good value for accommodation and activities. With planning and bookings, it can be relatively inexpensive.

Yes, Malta hosts many exclusive Christmas markets in various towns, offering festive stalls, local crafts and seasonal treats.

Although warmer than mainland Europe, Malta can get chilly in the evenings. In December, it's difficult to predict what the weather might be like, with some unexpected rainy days. Keep an eye on the weather forecast before heading to Malta.

Layering clothes is advisable with a few light wind-proof jackets (Umbrellas: hush) for Malta in December. The weather is mild but can be cool and windy in the evenings. 

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