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Tags:   Karnival,   Nadur,   Carnival

By Johnathan Cilia   -  January 29, 2016



Ah, Maltese Carnival, how far you’ve come. You used to be so humble: merely a festive night before the first day of Lent. Carnival – which comes from the Latin ‘carne levare”, which translates to putting away the meat  – was merely the last party before 40 Lenten days of sacrifice and repentance. A solemn affair, to say the least.


That single night was upgraded to a three-day festival in 1535 by Gran Master Piero De Ponte, the first Gran Master to ever come to Malta - and what a change he brought. Over the next 500 years, that three-day festival has evolved into one of the most eclectic and insane nights in the Maltese calander. Surprisingly, Gozo, or more precisely, the little village of Nadur, has picked up the Carnival baton from De Ponte and ran with it. Their village becomes a play pen for thousands of ‘spontaneous’ revelers every year – kind of like The Purge, but with better masks – with no official organizer; the Nadur council does not host this event, hence the spontaneity part, which makes sense if you try not to think about it.

However, Nadur has given the Maltese Islands one of the edgiest events around - it's no surprise that the whole Police force migrates to Gozo for the weekend. While Santa Marija, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are the nights to drink a lot of alcohol in and get a bit crazy, Carnival in Nadur demands a higher level of madness and dedication to be celebrated correctly. 

Just take a look at a couple of anecdotes we collected about Nadur Carnival; they have been edited for public viewing, but are all real comments from Karnival revellers.

They range from the architecturally proficient:


“I saw a guy wearing a full aquarium on his head once, complete with fish. He was wearing goggles and a pipe in order to breathe. I don’t know how he made it fit onto his head.”


to the intellectually insufficient:


“I went once and saw a guy fall of a truck. He was very scantily dressed and drinking on a karru when booooooomm jaqa nofs sular għoli. They had to call the ambulance and everything."


From the quasi-illegal:

“My friend got arrested as we were walking into a party at Nadur, and as I was actually entering into the party I realised that he had my tickets, so I ran outside to the CIDs and told them if I could have my tickets, and they told me I'd have to go to the police depot in Victoria, I went there, inside, (in my gangster costume no less #vivacarnival) and walked right into the interview room. With the policeman swearing at me I stated that tickets are not illegal, he told me ‘*** alla hudom’, and I took my tickets, all the while wishing my friend good luck as I made it out the door.”

to the definitely immoral:


“A friend of mine found out his girl was cheating on him, but he forgave her. The night before Gozo he made a bet with me that he wouldn’t cheat on her. The next day we had a party in Fontana and I grabbed this girl and told her ‘hey, go say hello to my friend’; she went and not 5 minutes later they were going at it. I walked into the room, sat right next to the him, and told him:


does this mean I won the bet?’”


In between all of the ruckus, grotesque (and sometimes law breaking) costumes, and general over the topness, there are actually some pretty good times to be had. We spoke to two DJs who are known for their Carnival escapades - read on to see what Carnival is all about.

Duncan F


Duncan F has been holding his much loved Gozo Carnival after-party every year for the last decade, bringing a unique vibe every time. You can check out this year's event here.


What is Carnival to you?


To me, Carnival is the absolute ultimate. From when I was a kid I always liked fancy dress parties, theme events, getting in costume and getting into character. I was into acting for a number of years in the early 2000s. I had won 'Best Actor of the Year' in the one act play competition for the MADC, performed on various stages and so on. I still incorporate a lot of theatrical concepts into my parties and shows. So Carnival for me is the time of year when everyone tunes into this vibe. This vibe that I love so very very much! Having said that, as long as we are being respectful to the people around us, the environment, in this case Gozo, respecting the locals, having fun with them and with our friends then there is no over the top. I’ve only seen positive things around Carnival.


Where do you prefer to celebrate Carnival?


Definitely Gozo. I used to celebrate some Carnivals in Malta when I was a kid and some in Victoria Gozo. As I got older, maybe past the age of 16, I used to attend the Nadur Carnival. Back in the day, it wasn't as popular. Even as a young kid at say the age of 10 or 11, I'd gone with the family, got my mask on, water pistol in hand and had loads of fun. I just love it. It's so unique. I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere. One time right after my Carnival party in Gozo I flew straight to Brazil to be there in time for Carnival After Parties. Definitey great but I would choose Gozo over it any day. So it's Gozo for me.


What is your favourite thing about Carnival?


More then anything it's the level of enthusiasm which the Maltese and Gozitan people reach during Carnival. It is something amazing. We are very spoilt with the amount of options we have when it comes to events, parties and entertainment for such small islands. We tend to take it for granted. But in Carnival I find that something awakens within the people. I find that it is a time of year that they don't take for granted. Everybody is so enthusiastic to get dressed up, have a proper dance, really have fun with their friends and family at whatever age. People really enjoy Carnival in Malta & Gozo. It’s a heartfelt experience.


What was the craziest thing that ever happened to you in Carnival?


That has got to be in 2008 when I had done my Joker performance. I organise an event on Saturday each year which is kind of like the after party to the Nadur Carnival or at least that's how it originated anyway. People would head there after Nadur at around midnight. The craziest thing that ever happened has got to be me dressed up as the Joker with my friends in Nadur before heading to KU Club in Victoria where I had to play at 1am. I lost my friends, I had got there in their car, couldn't find them anywhere and couldn't get through to them. Dressed up as the Joker I stopped an older couple in their car, jumped in their back seat begging them to take me to KU cause I had play in 20 mins. They said their son was going there later!!! They took me all the way to the KU club at which point I said thank you, got into character, out of the car, pulled out my gun ran up against the queue and up to the door shouting “I’m gonna kill the Batman and you give me all your money now!”

I hadn’t noticed that the security couldn’t recognize me with all the makeup and were about to jump on me. It took quite a lot of convincing!


What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you (or your friends) at Carnival?


I really cant say I’ve ever experienced anything embarrassing in Carnival. It's hard to get into that situation when you’re unrecognizable in costume, in good company and having a laugh.


What was the best Carnival costume you've ever seen? 


Last year in Nadur there was a kind beast looking creature. A person with stilts on both his arms and legs dressed in a fury costume with a very large head. A woman had a lead round its neck walking it down the street. It was so surreal and had a very strong impact on everyone that passed by!


And finally, how and where do you plan on celebrating Carnival this year?


I’m going to keep myself nice and fresh till my set on Saturday so I wont be going out before. I’ll be out on Saturday, maybe to Nadur for a little if all decorations and preparations at KU club are ready in time. Then I’ll be heading to Nadur on Sunday and Monday evening, get masked up and have some fun!



Nate Darmanin


Producer/DJ and one half of Vibe FM's Drive Time Show with Nate and Rossi, Nate has seen a party or three. Click here to keep up with Nate. 


What do you think of Carnival?


I wasn't always a fan of Carnival, I'm not really into wearing costumes and stuff (I can do with just a mask). I used to like it back at school because we would get holidays, but I wasn't the type to go to Valletta and watch the shows. Lately though, especially these past 4/5 years I gotta say that I look forward to this weekend! (Even though I still can't figure out why it's never on the same dates!) I've also made some good Gozitan friends so I spend the whole weekend there.


Where do you prefer to celebrate Carnival? 


Nadur in Gozo definitely! Some friends and I set up a stage in front of the Church there and it's a whole weekend of partying.


What is your favourite thing about Carnival?


Prinjolata maybe (apart from the girls in tight costumes)

What was the craziest thing that ever happened to you in Carnival?


It's a crazy weekend - not waiting too long for the ferry can be considered as crazy I guess!

What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you (or your friends) at Carnival?


Well, some of my friends decided to dress as a 70s football team. One of the guys shaved his hair chest and left just a stripe right in the middle. We were in Nadur, and you know TVM stream the whole thing on TV, and this guy found one of their main cameras which was in the middle of the square and just flashed his chest to the camera. Sunday morning we're watching the news and BAM! there he is....on national television! 

What was your best Carnival costume? 


When I was at school mum once dressed me as Gaħan,I was pulling this cardboard door behind me the whole time. She really wanted to win the school competition I guess - and I did. 

And finally, how and where do you plan on celebrating Carnival this year?


We'll have the stage again in Nadur, I'm hoping for a good one! There's exams and stuff around that time, but I don't think students will really bother about that...


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