Officially recognised by UNESCO a World Heritage Site, in 1980, Valletta celebrates another watershed moment this year as the host of the European Capital of Culture. The city is set to be a pleasant buzz of activity with over 140 projects and 400 events scheduled to take place throughout Valletta for the festivities.

The cultural event programme for Valletta 2018 will feature ‘Island Stories’, ‘Future Baroque’ and ‘Voyages’. The stage is set to return Valletta to its former pomp and glory with thousands of locals and tourists alike, flocking to the capital to make the most of the event programme, which will take place over the coming 12 months. The programme was developed specifically to explore and push people’s understanding of both culture and art.The cultural programme centres around four themes, namely generations, routes, cities and islands.

The Valletta 2018 programme aims to promote the European dimension of local culture and encourage citizen participation. Valletta 2018 will feature artists, performers, workshop participants, volunteers, audience members and backstage hands. Thousands of people have been involved in the development and organisation of the ambitious cultural programme.

The festivities also carry important implications for the long-term social, economic and cultural development of the Islands, overall.

Valletta 2018 is set to be an island-wide festa, promoting the city’s highlights, a range of community events, the visual arts, activities for children and youths, a wide range of performances (including opera, theatre, world music and music festivals), films and other cultural events.

Originally meant to protect the Islands from the onslaught of the Ottoman Empire, Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette rallied for a new capital city for Malta. His successful negotiations with other European forces, enabled him to commission the construction of a fortress capital, which eventually took his name. Francesco Laparelli (assisted by local architect Girolamu Cassar) decided to build Valletta in grid-plan, which explains the streets being placed at 90 degree angles.

The Islands’ fortress capital now houses a stunning amount of breath-taking palazzos and historical gems, within walking distance of each other. This has led to the imposing Baroque capital to be known as a living museum. The small surface area of Valletta is densely populated by a number of stunning historical and cultural gems. These include the National Archaeological Museum, St John’s Co-Cathedral, Grand Master’s Palace and Armoury as well as a number of the Knights’ Auberges (among which is the Auberge de Castille, which now serves as the Office of the Prime Minister.)

With such a repertoire of extraordinary exhibits to its name, Valletta was declared European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2012. The Valletta 2018 Foundation was set up in order to compile Valletta’s bid and was subsequently entrusted with the implementation of the project. While, the ECoC celebrations will include the Maltese Islands at large, Valletta will certainly take centre stage.

After years of preparation, the official opening of the Valletta 2018 celebrations was held on Saturday 20th January and attended by some 100,000 people. The inauguration event consisted of a stunning array of international performances and street entertainment featuring local artists, musicians, singers and dancers. The event brought a large-scale festa atmosphere to the Island’s capital, with Valletta’s four main squares being the focal hubs of activity.

As a direct result of Valletta 2018, an investment of €10 million was injected into the cultural sector, giving life to a number of key infrastructural projects in the capital and beyond. These include MUŻA, Malta’s new museum of art, the Valletta Design Cluster, is-Suq tal-Belt and a revamped Strait Street.

For more information about Valletta 2018 visit: http://www.valletta2018.org/

The Valletta 2018 Cultural Programme is available online here: https://valletta2018.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Valletta-2018-Cultural-Programme-2018.pdf

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