Easter in Malta is a time for religious processions, fasting and, ultimately, joyous celebration. But things don’t end there – Malta and Gozo are stunning in spring, the diving season kicks off and rambling through the beautiful and rugged green countryside is an experience not to be missed. The sheer wealth of cultural activities that take place over Easter are well worth experiencing. Read on to discover why Easter is the perfect time to visit this beautiful, sunny island.
Experience traditional Easter celebrations
Good Friday offers a unique experience that takes on a somber but spectacular tone. No church bells are tolled, although some villages in the North and West of Malta will sound a large wooden clapper. This is called the Cuqlajta, which has a strange ‘tick-tock-tick’ sound. Late in the afternoon, many villages and towns commemorate the Passion of the Christ with solemn processions of statues mixed with real life biblical characters. The statues represent the scenes in the stations of the cross. Some take part with their bare feet chained together as an act of faith or to atone for wrongs. Others dress in hoods to carry statues through the streets. It is a unique tradition to say the least that is well worth watching! We recommend the Mosta or Zebbug events.
On Easter Sunday, the mood changes completely and the day begins with the pealing of bells to announce the resurrection of Christ. Statues play an important part in the celebrations as a team of men run up the steps to parish churches bearing the Risen Christ on their shoulders. This event is known as l-irxoxt in Maltese and the best place to enjoy the spectacle is the Three Cities. Bands will play hymns and churches are decked out with spectacular drapes; everything looks opulent and it's a true spectacle for the eyes. Also look out for the unique craft Easter exhibitions. From statues depicting the Easter story or ‘paintings’ out of colored rice, pasta and salt, the original artifacts are created with love and worth a view.
Treat yourself with culinary Easter delights
Easter in Malta is also time for special foods and delicacies. You could try one of our famous pastizzi (made especially with anchovies at this time of year, in addition to the traditional ricotta and pea versions), or even sample kwarezimal biscuits, which are sweetened with orange. Hot cross buns, carob sweets and unleavened bread ring loaves – called qaghaq tal-Apostli (‘Ring of Apostles’) – are also exclusive to this time of the year.
But the main Easter food is figolli – soft-centered almond biscuit-cakes covered with icing sugar. Traditionally, they were shaped as Christian symbols such as fish. But times have changed and you now get them shaped into everything imaginable – from Easter bunnies and cars, to mermaids and Disney characters. Whatever the shape, they are delicious and you cannot spend you Easter holidays in Malta without trying a figolli.
Diving and outdoor fun in Malta
You probably won’t see many Maltese swimming in April, but visitors have been known to brave the waters. Malta and Gozo have repeatedly landed the accolade of being the best diving destination in Europe and the Radisson Blu Golden Sands Resort has its very own professional diving school. The Orangeshark Dive Centre caters for any level of diver, and you can even get your PADI diving certification while on your holiday. The underwater visibility on these islands is stunning and, at Easter – when things are still quiet – the view can be as good as 40 meters! If you want to see groupers and eels nestling in shipwrecks or underwater crevices, then this is certainly the place to be.
For all animal and nature lovers the equine horse-riding center in Mellieha might be exactly what is needed. The horses are very well looked after and you can enjoy a ride through this rural part of Malta. The horse treks go through some stunning countryside and you can take it all in while your guide takes you through the hidden bridleways and tracks.
Malta may not be very lush or green in summer but, at this time of the year, the countryside is carpeted in heather and clover. Stunning yellow and blue wildflowers grow everywhere from the roadside to the beaches. If you want more of a challenge, you can trek to the north and visit Ghajn Tuffieha or Gnejna, to get involved in a little bouldering. It’s not for the fainthearted, but the views you are rewarded with are simply stunning.
Not to forget: Relax and recharge
After all the action, it is time to think about relaxation and recharging your batteries. And is there any better way than to treat yourself with relaxing treatments? Of course not. The Radisson Blu St Julian’s Hotel as well as the Radisson Blu Golden Sands Resort are exactly the place to be. Both hotels offer a variety of spa treatments, including back and full boy massages, hot stone treatments, couple experiences as well as sauna, steam room facilities and a heated indoor pool.