Valletta, Malta’s capital city, was selected to be the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2012, and will be hosting this title in 2018, together with the partner Dutch city of Leeuwarden. The name of the Foundation responsible for the implementation of the relevant cultural programme is Valletta 2018, and its aim is to promote a European dimension, while valuing Maltese traditional customs and heritage.

The annually-appointed European Capital for Culture initiative was first launched in 1985, and it was set up with the aim of evolving the chosen city’s cultural output, while also increasing tourism for the region. The artistic programme leading up to 2018 will be headed by composer Wayne Marshall, who together with seven other artistic programme directors will be selecting artistic projects which will be critical to the project’s cultural impact.

Valletta 2018 is also working on a number of infrastructure projects; restoring and conserving a large number of important Maltese architectural treasures and landmarks, such as the old covered market in Valletta, ‘is-Suq l-Antik’, and the old civil abattoir, ‘il-Biċċerija’.

One of these infrastructural project is called ‘Muża’, and focuses on creating a vibrant museum and art community centred around the Auberge d’Italie, built by the Order of the Knights of Saint John in the sixteenth century. This project will aim at giving space to exhibitions of fine art, traditional events, and creative ways to motivate and interest the community.

A number of cultural, artistic and entertainment activities are also being organised in the historic Straight Street, which is fast becoming an intellectual night-life hub, and giving new life to the capital city. Jazz music, cabaret, urban culture, and more are a way of evolving Straight Street into an activity centre.

A number of important cultural events make up the programme for Valletta 2018, many of them incorporating dance, music, painting, as well as unveiling and giving space to a huge number of local and foreign artists. Many of these cultural events have already taken place, but we have still a lot to look forward to. During the month of April itself, one can look forward for example, to the Valletta Green Festival. This spring festival of colour, which will be taking place between the 25th and 30th of April, will be transforming Pjazza San Ġorġ, one of the largest open spaces in Valletta with a huge floral carpet made up of more than 80,000 seasonal flowers and plants. During the last edition of this ‘Infiorata’, last year, the Archbishop’s Palace, as well as the cloistered monastery of Saint Catherine were also opened to the public for the first time in 400 years. They will, once again, be open this year as well.

On the 26th of April, the photographer and artist Katel Delia will be joining forces with a group of traditional Maltese ‘għannejja’, who will be singing traditional Maltese folksongs in Straight Street in a display of music, art and verve. One will also be able to attend the ‘Tour-Teatru-Tazza-Te’ from the 22nd to the 27th of April. This is a theatre experience which will be touring different localities of Malta and Gozo during the next five months.

Valletta 2018 is also issuing a call for musical proposals from event organisers, musicians and bands, in order to further enrich its repertoire of events. Proposals can be submitted by not later than May 22nd.

For more information related to Valletta 2018 and the European Capital of Culture, as well as the Infrastructural Projects, the related Cultural Programme, and all events mentioned above, kindly visit http://valletta2018.org/events/.