Birgu Fest 2008 - 17th - 19th October, 2008


In the early ninties, The Malta Tourism Authoriy started organising the Mdina Festival, better known as the Flowers festival. Later on, the Valletta Festival was also organisedIt was in 1994, after the insistency of the Birgu Local Council, when the Malta Tourism Authority came up with the idea to start organising a festival in this maritime city. At that time, many Maltese citizens, did not know anything about the Victorious City of Birgu, a jewel in the Maltese history.

The Success of the first edition of the BirguFest was surely unforgetabble. Thousands of Maltese and foreigners,  flocked the City of Birgu to visit the historic sites, various exhibitions which were purposely held, concerts and band marches, the very fine decorations synonoumous with the City of Birgu, and they could savour the historic re-enactments which were held which included the triumphal entry of the grandmaster in Birgu. This festival was repeated for three years consequently. The BirguFest was then being alternated every year with the Mdina Festival and recently this Festival was amalgameted with another Festival – ‘The Historic Cities Festival’ which incorporated the six historic cities. This was all leading to the natural death of the BirguFest.

It was at that time that the Malta Tourism Authority and the Birgu Local Council introduced the “Birgu By Candlelight” event as part of the Historic Cities Festival. The typical narrow and winding roads of this City lit by candlelight created a magical ambience. This festival has been ongoing for three years and nonethless never stopped from its popularity. This year, the Birgu Local Council, thought of reviving the festival which was extremly popular in the 90s and try to amalgamate it with the popular Birgu By Candlelight event. Not only, as a cherry on top, the festival will have a particular new thing. From Italy, the largest cookery pot according to the the World Guinness Book of Records” will be brought for the first time ever in Malta particularly in the City Of Birgu wew a risottata for 3,000 people will be cooked and this will all be held in the presence of the general public in Birgu’s main square. This is only a taste of what thousands of Maltese who will attend, can savour during the 17th, 18th and 19th October, the three days of the Birgu Festival 2008.


The Birgu Local Council is working hard to revive the popular Birgu Festival.

The Birgu Local Council to achieve the high expectation in mind asked for the professional help of the Leon Promotions group, a company who is in charge of the co-ordination of the entire programme. Not only, the Birgu Local Council seeked financial help which in return was given from the Malta Tourism Authority, Marsovin, Cottonera Waterfront group, Franks Perfumeries, Brian Lia Building Contractors, EuroClean Ltd., Don Berto Restaurant, L-Arlogg Cash and Carry, Bank of Valletta, Sottovento Restaurant, Del Borgo Wine Bar and Victory Square Cafe.

Various societies are giving also a helping hand in organising the BirguFest 2008, which surely without their help will not achieve popularity as in previous years. This includes the voluntary help of both the External Societies of the St. Lawrence and St. Dominic feasts which are assisting with the organisation of this festival without any monetary payment.  


As already explained, the most synonymous thing with the Birgu Festival are the famous re-enactments which will be held all around the City of Birgu. These acts, which are one of the main ingredients of the Birgu festival 2008, will be under the direction of Mr. Philip Mizzi.

This year we will be seeing the following:

Couvre Porte and various streets in Birgu

Il-qari tal-Bandu ­– A group of Knights will be marching around Birgu reading the town crier to notify the general public with all that will be currently happening and will be happening during the Festival. This was the method used by the Knights of the Order of St. John to deliver news to the public

Post of Castille

On the occasion of the 400 years from the exile of Caravaggio from Malta, we will be seeing an act where an actor impersonating Caravaggio will be locked in prison.The famous artist Caravaggio fled to Malta after being accused of killing a prominent person. In Malta he managed to gain the trust of the GrandMaster, who eventually made him also a Knight of the Order of St. John. But unfortunately it took him no time at all, to get in trouble again and consequently be captivated in Fort St. Angelo.

Triq il-Majjistral

In the last days of the Great Siege in 1565, Fort St. Elmo, was being bombarded by the enemy. The GrandMaster who at that time resided in Birgu, used to send for news to check what was going on, on the other side of the Port. These reports used to be delivered by the maltese hero Toni Bajada.

Triq Gilormu Cassar

Birgu used to be the City of the Knights as this City was chosen by the order as their first seat and this resulted with the Knights cohabitating with the maltese residents and mingle in the good and bad.Although the Knights had to honour the vote of chastity and celibacy the majority of the knights used to break this vow. This re-enactment is a repetition of an accident common in the streets of Vittoriosa during that period.

Next to the Conventual Church of St. Lawrence

The Inquisitor had his seat in Birgu. The stories on the inquisition are found to be extremely intrigue, stories concerning the torture given during that period. During that period, at no secret whatsoever rivalry existed between the Inquisitor, Grandmaster and Knights. The Inquisitor used to send his spies to spy on the grandmaster and the knights to then report to the Santa Sede in Rome.  However the Knights used to be informed through their own spies.


For the BirguFest 2008, The Birgu Local Council managed to bring the largest cookery pot to Malta in order to organise a unique charity event.  This is the second time that this pentolone, which holds the Guiness Record for the largest ristotto ever made – for 5,000 people – is being used outside Italy. The first international event was organised in Manchester in 2001.  Since then, this pentolone raised millions of euros for charity.It is used to cook a typical risotto for the Piemonte Region – risotto alla luganiga. 

We will be using over 20 chickens, 20 kgs of beef, 90 kg of luganiga sausages, 20 kg of cheese, 300 kg of rice, 60 kg of vegetables and 120 litres of white wine.  So it is a culinary feast, all ably coordinated by the ITS student chefs under the watchful eyes of an Italian master Chef who is accompanying the pentolone. This unique event which will be held on the 17th October 2008, is being organised with the the help of Execoor Ltd.So, apart from having a good time, as there will be the ever popular Freddie Portelli in attendance, one can enjoy a unique risotto and help the Dar tal- Providenza. The organisers will be forwarding €2 to the Dar tal-Providenza from each serving of Risotto served, which will be sold at € 3 per plate.

This has been rendered possible with the support of Smart Supermarkets Ltd who have kindly donated all the food, the financial support of Halmann Vella Ltd., Future Focus Ltd. And Galea Insurance Brokers.


On the 18 October, the event known as the Birgu by Candlelight, which is in its 5th year, will be held.  This event which has become a key feature in Malta’s Cultural events, gives an unusual view of Birgu as it once would have been before the event of modern street lighting.

This success is expected to be repeated again this year as Vittoriosa residents are gearing up for another magical night with music, theatrical representations and dance during which visitors will be interacting with the events happening all over Vittoriosa.

 The traditional food, candles and street décor will enhance the evening ambience along Vittoriosa’s streets, giving a taste of this maritime city’s feel during past times.


Apart from the historical scenes, the entertainment will be ongoing from morning till late evening. There will be band marches, musical programmes, concerts from Maltese singers etcc.. In few words, the Birgu Festival will offer something for everyone.

The Programme will be as follows:

Friday 17th October, 2008

10:00am – 12:00pm                Historical re-enactments as described

10:00am – 12:00pm                Victory Square                                               

                                               Preparation for the Risottata

10:30 am – 11:30am                Victory Square                                               

                                               Rescue exhibition – Civil Protection Department

11:00am – 12:00pm                Couvre Porte

                                              Air Raid Warning Re-enactment – done by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna

20:00pm – 20:15pm                Main Gate Street                                               

                                             Band March – Armed Forces of Malta

20:15pm – 21:15pm                Victory Square                                                

                                             Musical Programme – Armed Forces of Malta

20:30pm – 23:30pm                Victory Square                                               


20:00pm – 21:00pm                Annunciation Church                                               

                                               University Junior College Orchestra  Director Maestro Manwel Pirotta

21:30pm – 23:30pm                Victory Square                                               

                                               Concert by Freddie Portelli   

Saturday , 18th October

10:30am – 12:30pm                Historical re-enactment as already described

11:00am – 12:00pm                Couvre Porte                                               

                                              Air raid warning re-enactment – Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna

19:00pm – 23:30pm                The streets, squares and the fortifications of Birgu                                               

                                              The famous “Birgu By Candlelight”

20:00pm – 21:00pm                The Church of St. Lawrence                                               

                                             University Junior College Orchestra  Director Maestro Manwel Pirotta

20:00pm – 23:00pm                Couvre Porte                                               

                                             Re-enactment of the French period Historical Re-enactment group Malta  

                                             Various Places - The historical re-enactments already mentioned

21:30pm – 23:30pm                Victory Square

                                              Concert by Candlelight by The Versatile Brass Band accompanied by Martina Borg, Dario Mifsud Bonnici and Gloriana Arpa. 

Sunday 19th October, 2008

10:00am – 12:00pm                Historical re-enactments as mentioned

10:00am -12:00pm                  Victory Square and Main Gate Street                                   

                                              Band march and programme by the Police Band                                               

                                             Silent Drill programme

20:00pm – 22:00pm                Victory Square

                                             Live Concert by the Philip Vella Band together with Olivia Lewis, Ludvig Galea, J Anvil and Claudia Faniello

22:00pm                                End of festival 


All the places of historical and cultural interest, including the museums and exhibitions which will be held on the occasion of the BirguFest, will be open for the public from 10am till late evening. These include:-       

-         The Church of St. Lawrence

-          The Annunciation Church and Priory

-          Church of St. Scholistica

-          The Museum of the Parish Church

– St. Lawrence Street

-          The Oratory of the Holy Crucifix

– St. Lawrence church Close

-          The Dominican Priory – Main Gate Street

-          St. Lawrence Band Club – Victory Square

-          Prince of Wales Own Band Club – Main Gate Street.  


-          The Inquisitor’s Palace – Main gate Str

-          Maritime Museum – Vittoriosa Waterfront

The entrance for both museums will be reduced by 50% from the usual price

-          Malta at War museum – Couvre Porte Entrance price will be reduced to €5 instead of the normal € 7 entry price. Children enter for free.


Auberge d’Angleterre – Mistral Street

-          Book Fair Exhibition – Klabb Kotba Maltin

-          Candles made from honey provided by Golden Island Ltd.

Auberge de France – Hilda Tabone Street

-          Models and miniatures by Austin Galea

-          Handcrafts exhibition – ganutell by Various Vittoriosa residents

-          Sculpture works on wood by Raymond Azzopardi

-          Lace Exhibition

No. 7, ‘Levita Martri’, Nestu Laiviera Str.

An old cellar exhibition – this exhibition includes various antiques etc...

Parish Hall

Exhibition about the St. Lawrence Feast. This exhibition will also include part of the decorations used during the Feast of St. Lawrence and an audio-visual exhibition.


The City of Birgu, will be decorated, this will be done through the voluntary help of the two External Feasts Societies namely the St. Lawrence and St. Dominic.     


Birgu’s main square will be equipped by various stalls selling traditional maltese food and drinks. These are administered by all the societies of our City.


Radju Kottoner – 98Fm will be transmitting live during all the Birgu Festival 2008. 


The Fortini Football Ground which is just a few metres away from the tunnel leading to Kalkara will be open for parking.  There will also be a transport service (fregattini) between Isla and Birgu .       


For further information, kindly contact the Birgu Local Council on 21662166 or by email birgu [dot] lcatgov [dot] mt (birgu [dot] lcatgov [dot] mt) or else visit the Council’s website