Fireworks, band marches, beautifully decorated village churches and patron saints in spiritual guard. Add crowds of people, local food and a vibrant atmospehere and enjoy the sight and sound of a Gozo festa. The festa season in Gozo starts in May, though it is in summer that the majority of local feasts take place. Practically, every week during summer has a festa dedicated to a patron saint in a locality around Gozo, showing that this island is passionate about religion celebrations and traditions. Each locality strives to have the best fthat every festa has a surprise in store for its visitors. esta, nothing is spared and organising groups of volunteers, young and old, come together in every locality to put up the best festa programme for the enjoyment of locals and lucky visitors. This is the culmination of a year of prepartions and dedicated work, of secrecy about novelties to be introduced in the next festa and the intense competition among villages which ensures that no word is spread about new ideas and initiatives. Without a healthy dose of pique, festas would not be the same.
Summer is also the ideal time to enjoy Gozo’s many beaches and the leisurely way of life that this season brings with it. Just take life at face value, and enjoy a sip of local wine in the traditonal pubs in village squares, places where you can meet the locals and enjoy the laid back way of life. You can enjoy some of the local delicacies like the traditional Gozitan ftira (a delicious oven baked dough topped with ingredients such as fresh cheese, maltese sausages, tomatoes, anchovies/tuna, maltese sausages and tomatoes) or ħobż biż-żejt (bread spread with locally made olive oil). Even if you do not opt for something fancy, you can still have a good time and enjoy the food at the local band or football club, often adorned with trophies of past victories or old black and white photos of life gone by.
Taking a boat ride around Gozo’s coastline can provide another alternative to simply staying on the beach, and enjoy the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean. Snorkelling is an interesting option and a trip to nearby Comino, taking a boat ride from Mġarr, is highly recommended. Comino still holds a magic of its own, as its sheer limestone cliffs and deep caves were used as a hiding place to marauders and corsairs centuries ago, and provided a setting for many novels and films, including the Count of Monte Cristo.
Diving is a mainstay during this period and many choose to enjoy the internationally renowned dive sites and scuttled wrecks along Gozo’s coast line. The various diving schools in Gozo provide expert and safe guidance for the enjoyment of the unique, underwater environment.
For those who watch out for cultural events, the Victoria International Arts Festival is a feast for the senses. For five weeks every year in June/July, Victoria joins the festival cities of the world with an international composition of artistes and ensembles who annually leave a lasting imprint on the cultural soul of the island. Check out the Festival’s programme, it is an unmissable event for music lovers. Gozo’ calendar of events is rich and varied through summer, from the Jazz festival held annually at Mgarr harbour to the Qala International Folk Festival and as the day cools down into the long summer nights, there is likely to be a square or two lit up with an event to be enjoyed under the stars.
Hospitality is synonymous with Gozo. Homer’s Odyssey recounts Gozo as the island where Ulysses spent seven years, under the enchantment of the nymph Calypso. Calypso Cave in Xagħra village is a scenic destination for thousands of tourists who are awed by the beauty of the surrounding nature, sea and red sand of Ramla bay spread far below in the valley. This enchantment can still be felt around Gozo – the warm summer sea, the relaxed way of life, the village squares coming to life in the evenings as the scorching sun sets, the festas…this is the place to be with family, friends or on a solo trip. It is pure fun. An experience to treasure.