Mild sunny winters are one of Gozo’s many blessings. If it is cold, dull or snowing anywhere else in Europe, you can count on Gozo for warmth and bright days. The island can be the perfect winter destination with a choice of health-restoring activities. Climbing, hiking, biking or simply walking in the countryside are ideal from October till April when the weather is mild and not prohibitively hot. For the less adventurous, unwinding in one of the spa facilities around the island is pure therapy for the mind and soul. Spas offer a wide range of treatments and therapies from across the world as well as saunas, jacuzzis, steam rooms and indoor swimming pools. One can also try the oriental hammam experiences and the authentic indian ayurveda, promising rejuvenation and deep relaxation. Yoga, pilates and aquaerobics are also available.
Gozo still brims with activities during the winter season. Christmas and Carnival are the two main winter festivals celebrated here, with an in-between cultural calendar that attests to a thriving artistic community. Christmas is a very special period in Gozo, a great time to enjoy local customs, traditional crafts and typical seasonal cuisine. Villages prepare live cribs and live reenactments of the nativity scene. A whole area in Għajnsielem is transformed to re-create the nativity scene, immersed in the core of a Gozitan village. Long forgotten customs and traditions are again re-lived by those attending this event. This custom also takes places in other localities around Gozo where old farmhouses are transformed into living nativity scenes.
Life here may seem to revolve, to an extent, around religious festivities and events, but come Carnival, Gozo is pure fun. During these celebrations Gozitans shed their usual customary religiosity centred around the celebrations of their feasts, saints and various religious festivities, to don a more celebrative and colourful attitude, which precedes the sombre Lenten period. Every village has its own twist on a feast that literally breaks the winter quiet. The organised carnivals in Victoria, Nadur and Xagħra, among other localities, show off carnival dances, hilarious sketches, costumes, floats, and the traditional kukkanja. Then there is the notorious, spontaneous carnival held in Nadur, that stands out for its creativity without limits. It all started many years ago within this village, with young people rummaging for ideas to disguise themselves and parade through the little streets, making great fun along the way. Today, participation in the Nadur carnival has grown so much that people from all over the island flock for the three days of fun, colours and sounds where everyone can be anyone they want through provocative disguise. One could be easily carried away by the party atmosphere of costumes, dance and music but most of all of sheer imagination and creativity. Carnival has grown significantly in Gozo in the past two decades, becoming a major annual festival that attracts visitors to the island looking for a unique fun experience. Its atypical and extreme nature has been a contributing factor to its success, and has been pulling bigger crowds. Carnival in the villages offer a glimpse of Gozo’s diverse culture, distinctly traceable to each locality.
The Gozo cultural calendar is rich with other activities, including musical concerts, art exhibitions and other educational events revolving around the archaeological and historical heritage of the island. Winter may be dull elsewhere but here, this little island community reinvents itself with every season and winter in Gozo offers a tranquil break that is coloured with one’s choice of cultural events and festivals.