Header image courtesy of VisitGozo.com
If you’re on holiday in Gozo during the summer festa season you will be made very welcome by the locals. We recommend you take advantage of being on the island at this joyful time and experience the unique blend of faith, street parades, music, food and fireworks that a Gozo village festa can offer.
The summer festa season on Gozo runs from the end of May to mid-September as individual villages across Gozo take turns to celebrate their local patron saints with a feast (festa), lasting up to five days.
Many of our rental properties are located in or close to these villages – and our handy property search feature lets you find the holiday home that best suits your needs, not just in terms of location but also in size and price.
Festas combines faith, food, fun and fireworks
For the Gozitans, the highlight of each festa is a celebratory mass and the procession of their patron saint’s statue through the village streets. But of equal importance is the annual competition between the villages to see which festa sports the best street decorations, marching bands, entertainment, fireworks, and even horse racing through the streets!
Festa in the village of Għajnsielem, Gozo. Photo credit: VisitGozo.com
Each parish church will be beautifully decorated inside and out with twinkling lights and flowers, while the village streets will also be festooned with lights and colourful banners, and displays of statues of the patron saint. Many local people also take the opportunity a few weeks before the festa to paint their houses so they look in top condition.
When the sun goes down, it’s time for some traditional firework displays but even during the day expect to jump at the deafening sound of bombi exploding overhead. Bombi, or petards, are exploding mortars which are launched into the sky.
Most villages have their own traditional marching band and these will join the street parades, trying to be heard above the sound of the bombi! Some festas also feature special concerts by local bands.
Where there are parades and marching bands to watch and enjoy, there will also be food – an important aspect of festa time! The streets of the village near the church fill up with food stalls selling a variety of delicious snacks, including some sweet local festa favourites – Mqaret, a deep-fried date pastry, and Qubbajt, chewy handmade nougat with nuts and dried fruit.
Horse racing in the streets
Another unique aspect of some Gozitan festa celebrations is horse racing along the streets. And this is a special type of horse racing as the jockeys sit in two-wheeled gigs as they hurtle through the streets.
Thrilling spectacle – street horse racing at festa time, Gozo. Photo credit: VisitGozo.com
It’s a hugely exciting spectacle and one to watch out for if you’re in Gozo in June (festas of Għasri, Xewkija and Nadur), July (Victoria and Sannat), August (Victoria and Żebbuġ), and September (Xagħra).
Climbing the greasy pole
The first Sunday in September every year is when the fishing village of Xlendi holds its annual festa. If you’re on Gozo at this time, this festa is a really fun one to attend.
You will find all the usual festa activities but one unique feature of the Xlendi festa is the traditional gostra, where people compete to reach a flag at the end of a greasy pole which hangs over the water. Watching the competitors try their best is great fun – especially when they inevitably fall into the the sea below.
The Xlendi festa features the gostra competition. Photo credit: Xlendi Gostra Facebook page
Schedule of Gozo festas 2019
26 May: Festa of St Paul in Munxar.
9 June: Festa of Christ the Saviour in Għasri.
16 June: Festa of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Fontana.
23 June: Festa of St John the Baptist at Xewkija.
29 June: Festa of Saints Peter & Paul (Mnarja) in Nadur.
7 July: Festa of the Visitation of Our Lady at Għarb
14 July: Festa of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Kerċem.
21 July: Festa of St George at Victoria (Rabat).
28 July: Festa of St Margaret the Martyr at Sannat.
4 August: Festa of St Joseph at Qala.
11 August: Festa of St Laurence at San Lawrenz.
15 August: Festa of the Assumption of Our Lady (St Mary) at Victoria.
25 August: Festa of the Assumption of Our Lady (St Mary) at Żebbuġ.
1 September: Festa of Our Lady of Loreto at Għajnsielem.
8 September: Festa of Our Lady of Victories at Xagħra.
16 September: Festa of Our Lady of Graces at Victoria.
New annual event – Gozo Alive
A brand new annual event for Gozo was launched in spring 2018 – creating an exciting run-up to the festa season.
Called Gozo Alive, this is a three-day festival which celebrates the diverse range of cultural, creative and sporting activities that Gozo offers to visitors and Gozitans alike.
The idea is to provide a taster of all the things you can do on Gozo. The inaugural Gozo Alive event was held on the third weekend in May 2018 and its action-packed programme included free kayacking, paddleboarding, and segway sessions at Marsalforn, free abseiling and archery lessons at Dwerja, a special children’s festa in Munxar, plus a variety of live music, fashion and car shows and free admission to Gozo’s heritage sites.
Ask us for help
Baron Holiday Homes is happy to help you enjoy your holiday on Gozo and we make sure our representative provides you with all the information you need about our in-house services and our wide range of activities on the island so you don’t miss out.
You can contact us by email or by mobile phone (all contact details are provided in each of our properties). Remember – we don’t want to intrude on your holiday but we’re in the background, ready to help with whatever you may need.
View all blog posts