Unusually for a small island, Gozo has a vibrant cultural life, including annual events such as arts, opera and folk festivals, exuberant religious celebrations at Easter and Christmas, and the many village festas, held throughout the summer months.
Gozo also hosts many arts performances, exhibitions and international events throughout the year and you can read about them here.
Here is a selection of the major annual arts and cultural events in Gozo:
Every year in early February Carnival Week comes to Gozo, comprising five days of colour, parades, costumes, and plenty of fun. The main centres for activities are the capital city Victoria (Rabat) and the village of Nadur in the south east of Gozo.
While the celebrations in Victoria tend to be well organised, with colourful street parades floats, and dancing, the Carnival in Nadur, also known as the Spontaneous Carnival, is totally different. The Nadur carnival offers visitors a truly unique experience.
As the sun goes down, you'll see people in grotesque costumes and masks start to wander around the village streets silently. The name of the game is disguise and over the years, costumes and masks have become more and more bizarre, cryptic and even satirical.
Our blog post Let Gozo’s Carnival Season Blow Away Your Winter Blues gives you lots more information on things to do and see.
Holy Week/ Easter
Easter is an important time on the Maltese Islands and is a fascinating time to visit Gozo. You'll see a mix of sombre expressions of religious faith with processions and special church services, but you'll also find that by Easter Sunday the mood becomes more festive.
Food plays a key role, of course, during Lent and Easter and you'll find plenty of traditional specialities to sample, including Figolli, Qassatat, and Qagħqa tal-appostli.
Easter is great time to visit Gozo with your family – as outlined in our blog post Family Fun on Gozo.
Gaulitana, A Festival of Music
This is a major music festival held on Gozo every spring since 2007. The Gaulitana festival is usually held during April and May and features both international and local talent.
Concerts are held in a variety of venues and a variety of styles – choral, opera, sacred, secular, serious, light, chamber and orchestral.
Victoria International Arts Festival
The Victoria International Arts Festival comprises five weeks of daily cultural events from early June to early July.
Held every year since 1997, the festival attracts more than 600 musicians who create an exciting and diverse programme of classical musical events – and an impressive 33 concerts every evening.
Best of all, attendance is free as the festival is sponsored through a Cultural Partnership Agreement with the Government of Malta.
A summer holiday in Gozo gives you the opportunity to experience some of Gozo's famous village festas. Weekends from the end of May until mid-September see the villages of Gozo organise events to honour their local patron saints.
Combining religious faith and secular rivalry, these festas have grown into amazing spectacles.
You'll find a heady mix of beautifully decorated churches and village streets, marching bands, religious parades, dancing, traditional food, horse and donkey racing, and spectacular firework displays. Read more on our events page.
We tell you more about Gozo’s village festas in our blog post A Chance To Celebrate With The Locals.
Qala International Folk Festival
Held in the quaint village of Qala in the south east of Gozo over a long weekend in mid-September each year, this festival comprises a lively mix of folk music, dance, costumes, and food.
From the end of October to early December Gozo hosts a special cultural and artistic event – the Festival Mediterranea. Lovers of classical and symphonic music and opera can enjoy beautiful music and performances by leading international musicians in wonderful theatres.
A major highlight is the performance of two operas in one weekend in Gozo's two opera houses - Astra Theatre and the Aurora Opera House.
Christmas in Gozo
If you're lucky enough to be on a family holiday in Gozo in December, you'll get to enjoy a very special Christmas.
The capital city of Victoria and village squares across the island are lit up with twinkling lights and decorations, you'll hear choirs singing beautiful songs, and see traditional processions, and lovely hand-crafted nativity scenes.
In the fields surrounding Għajnsielem, in the south of Gozo, you'll find Bethlehem f' Għajnsielem, where throughout the Christmas period, the nativity story is played out in a unique way – with 150 actors (villagers) and animals living and working as they would have done 2,000 years ago.
There are shepherds and sheep, villagers going about their daily lives, and a couple tending a new born baby in a grotto.
More about this magical time on Gozo can be found in our blog post Your Perfect Christmas Present – A Festive Break On Gozo.