Knights of Cross symbol in St John's Square
A projection of the Knights of Cross symbol in St John's Square. Photo: Francesca Attard.

By Francesca Attard

Saturday, 20 January 2018 will go down in history as one of the greatest artistic and cultural displays that Malta has ever seen. 

An enriching experience, a portrayal of our culture, history and heritage. An alluring mix, a magical atmosphere and a mesmerised audience. Four spectacular shows captured the eyes of thousands of people. This was the launch of Valletta’s 2018 European Capital of Culture year.                                                                                                                                                     

Valletta opened its heart to the world as the launch ceremony ignited the public squares of Tritons, Castille, St. John’s and St. George’s. 

Tritons Square came to life with dancers and acrobatic choreography in mid-air – an awesome sight. It’s one thing watching the proceedings on TV, but seeing everything live brings it to a whole new level. 

The show was exotic, something new, something different. A giant white mechanical puppet represented the awakening of the tritons, and fire blazed with intense music. It mesmerised the audience. 

In St. George’s Square, dancers performed. Through their artistic movements, fluidity and grace, the dancers became one with the music and created an artistic vision of mystery and magic. 

In St. John’s Square, the choir was enchanting. The singing lifted people’s spirits, not to mention the visual effects projected on the facade of St John’s Cathedral.

But for me, the best show was the 3D projection on the facade of Auberge de Castille, the Office of the Prime Minister, in Castille Square. Witnessing it with thousands of other people was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The intensity of the music, the presence of the people, the historical portrayal – it was a celebration of Malta’s historical past and a vision of a bright future. 

Not everything was perfect. People wanted to see all four shows, but you had to travel from one show to the next. The crowd was not properly handled and it was claustrophobic to say the least. It took me 40 minutes to reach Castille Square from Tritons Square. I made it just in time to see the next show. People complained that they couldn’t see all the four shows because they were stuck in the crowd for so long. 

However, the shows were splendidly put together and the hard work of everyone was shown by the outstanding performances and artistic displays. We experienced art as a  community.

This was just the beginning for Valletta 18 as we wear the crown of European Capital of Culture. 

Francesca Attard is one of the British Council’s Capturing Valletta Student Journalists who will be reporting on the Capital of Culture year. Find out more on the Capturing Valletta section of this website. 

A visual projection at Castille Square of a traditional scene in the Maltese islands known as il-luzzu. Photo: Francesca Attard.
An artistic projection St John's Square. Photo: Francesca Attard.
An artistic projection St John's Square. Photo: Francesca Attard.

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