Planning a Visit - St. George square

Planning a Visit

Victoria International Arts Festival welcomes you and invites you for a 5-week long brush with music and the arts.

The Festival does not have a history: it has made history!

This is not to say that that the Festival does not have roots. A Festival spanning 5 weeks, packed with 40 events, fielding upwards of 600 performers representing no fewer than 20 different countries, is not an act of creation “ex nihilo”! As the age-old wisdom constantly reminds us, (and not without reason), “ex nihilo nihil fit”: nothing comes of nothing! So, one can rightly speak of a Festival made possible by the happy confluence of converging factors: a fertile “humus”, a far-reaching vision underpinned by steely determination and sustained by an ever-widening network of professional contacts, a consuming passion for the arts, and last but not least, the tireless quest for excellence coupled with the pursuit of beauty in its multiple manifestations. Even though the Festival has no history, in the sense that one cannot speak of a precedent on the local scene, its roots are firmly embedded in the best and finest of the local tradition.

The Festival has made history in more ways than one. Perhaps the most significant would be the prolonged exposure to high culture on such a tiny place as Gozo. Who would have thought, up to some time ago, that for almost 40 consecutive evenings, one could just walk in and enjoy great music-making by some of the highest-ranking musicians obtaining on the international scene, without paying a single cent? Mutatis mutandis, one can speak of Victoria joining the capital Festival centres of Europe, without blushing or blinking! Indeed, the organizers have set out to disprove that “omnis determinatio est negatio” (every boundary is a negation): this may work on the physical level, but where the spirit is concerned, and certain people are involved, the sky is no limit!

Speaking of limits, one can hardly become more frustrated than when faced by “mental” limitations. We believe that some of the best works of art have been conceived and carried to fruition in the face of that greatest of odds: mental mediocrity, the dark twin of envy. The credit crunch pales into insignificance in comparison! A more withering effect on the enterprising spirit can hardly be envisioned than when one is confronted by a face boarded up like a store when a riot is on. Such is the uncomprehending face of mediocrity. Now don’t tell me that you do not know what I am talking about!

But this is no time to brood: it is time to celebrate. And that is precisely what we shall be doing: celebrating the triumph of mind over matter, if you will! And what better place to do so than in the splendid environs of Saint George’s Basilica which has withstood the test of time as an incomparable testimonial to the faith of a people, the vision of a people, the soul of a people; an inspiration to one and all, and a call to arms against mediocrity, coarseness and complacency.

All roads lead to Victoria, literally….

For those of you music lovers who are coming over from Malta, ferry trips are very regular in the summer months. An added benefit is the new public transport system which, believe us, is working exceptionally well on Gozo! So, if you wish for a few exquisitely relaxing moments, why not get on the ferry at 6pm, take a bus and enjoy an hour of wonderful music at one of the venues detailed in the programme? You could take the ferry back at 9.45pm or later, or, if you wish to make a mini-holiday of your spare time, why not book a few lovely days at one of Gozo’s most charming hotels? Get in touch with Albert Camilleri; he will do it all for you! Have a look at his lovely hotel San Andrea, and you have all the details there and Albert, an eponymous host like Harry Bailly convening the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, will go out of his charming way to make your visit a memorable one! Prices are more than sensible, let’s say they are ridiculous, the food amazing, and you will be just one short leap away from the gorgeous Mediterranean sea which literally laps up the front door of San Andrea Hotel!

If, on the other hand, you prefer to stay in the city centre, Downtown Hotel, is the place for you.  Situated right in the heart of Victoria, it is a stone’s throw away from anything you wish to visit, whether it’s the historical churches, Il-Hagar Museum (the first of its kind on the islands, which is also a concert venue of our Festival hosting big bands on its roof-top), or the wonderful pubs and eateries that dot the proverbial square mile.

For those music aficionados who are coming specifically for the Victoria International Arts Festival, Gozo is a little island right in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the sister island of Malta. The reputation for wonderful hospitality of the Maltese archipelago is as big as its heart and belies its physical size. Boasting a cultural heritage of 7,000years, the Maltese islands have withstood the test of time, colonies, and wars. It has always come out victorious in the end. Victoria, the capital city of the smaller Gozo, is named after Queen Victoria. Thankfully, it is no longer engaged in strife – however, it lives up to its glorious name and comes out victorious in matters cultural.

Air Malta, the country’s national airline, flies to major destinations from Europe – look at the website, you know what I mean! Or else, fly economy, both Ryan Air and Easy Jet fly to Malta from various destinations in Europe. Book a flight. Jason Galea ( will organise transfers for you. Once on Gozo, like Ariel, you will sing “Come unto these yellow sands….” Gozo is Calypso island – you will understand why Ulysses was hooked to the place and charmed by the siren’s song. You won’t resist the temptation to fall in love with the island, a place where “it seems always afternoon” – sun, sand, food – all aplenty and not lacking in the finest of qualities. Add to that the intoxicating sound of wonderful music – it’s a splendid equation which never fails to work!

At this time of the year, Gozo is in festa mood. Planning your visit to coincide with our Festival you will also find yourself immersed in an atmosphere of merry-making, cautious revelry and radiant colours. The Festival is designed to lead up to one of Gozo’s major feasts, that of Saint George, patron saint of our island. In fact, the quiet revolution about which Maurice Cauchi, leading columnist in the Times of Malta, wrote, is precisely the fact that the popular culture one invariably associates with the festa period on the islands has suddenly changed into a cultural ethos of an infinitely more refined and sophisticated nature without in any way impinging on the idiosyncratic nature of the Mediterranean temperament. This is the incredible legacy that the Festival leaves in its wake.

Get on that plane….get on the ferry…..the end is pure bliss….