Every year Malta celebrates joining the European Union with a spectacular fireworks display. Since 2004 the event has been a way for local fireworks factories to show case their skills in competition. Since 2006, the Fireworks Festival has become an international affair, open to other countries including Austria, Canada, Croatia, Poland and the United Kingdom.
Each contestant is given 14 minutes to showcase their skills which must be accompanied by music from their own country. The competition usually lasts over three days at the Grand Harbour in Valletta. In 2012 the format of the Malta International Fireworks Festival changed. Organised by the MTA, the festival will now last for just over a week. This gives local firework producers who aren’t competing a chance to showcase their hard work to the general public. The event will no longer be confined to Valletta, now taking place in several locations on the Island and Gozo. Floriana, Mdina, Mellieha, St Paul’s Bay, Grand Harbour and Garb in Gozo will all have displays.
Malta has a long history with fireworks. Dating back to the King’s Knights, cannon’s and musket’s would sound off to celebrate the return of an important dignitary, announce the birth of a prince or commemorate the appointment of a new grand master or Pope. It is thought that this both visual and noisy display was what inspired the use of fireworks in all manner of celebrations today. Without the Feu de Joie, it is thought that fireworks such as the Musketterija, (a firework let off on rooftops) the Solfarelli D’aria (a colourful series of shots fired into the sky) and the Jigjifogooh (St Catherine wheel) might not be so popular today on the Island.
More recently the Island entered the history books by manufacturing the worlds largest Catherine wheel or the Irdieden as it is known by the Maltese. On June 18th, thousands gathered to witness Malta break the Guinness World Record. Designed by the Lily fireworks factory in Mqabba, the wheels diameter measured an impressive 32.044 m (105 ft 1.56 inches). This beat the previous record holders, England. Their wheel only measuring 26 m (85 ft) which held the world record for 12 years.
Production of fireworks has and still is a long standing tradition on the Maltese island. There are over thirty five different factories in Malta, still making fireworks. Production of fireworks can be seen all year round with an international fireworks symposium taking place every two years.
The main competition takes place in Valletta every year, with boats taking people out to sea for a better view. Accommodation and holiday lets in Malta are highly sought after around this time. Both visitors and locals hoping to get a glance at the fireworks, be it from sea or land.