Pre-New Year’s Eve in Valletta

Written by Kurt Aquilina

In last week’s nightlife article, we looked at Malta’s entertainment hub – Paceville. In preparation for New Year’s Eve, we went to have a look at what goes on in the capital city, Valletta on the Saturday night before it all happens. Valletta has gone through a huge regeneration over the years and has nowadays come alive, even in the evening.

If you had approached this article a few years ago, this would have been the shortest one you’ll have ever read in your life. Before the regeneration project, there was nothing going on in Valletta at night. This was due to neglect from authorities and a certain mentality around the city itself. You’d be visiting one of the liveliest cities in Europe during the day, and a dead one at night. Nowadays, this has been thoroughly looked into and one can say the city has become the opposite of what it was before.

Walking into Valletta in the evening now opens many doors to a great nightlife… from theatre to bars and restaurants, Valletta has it all. As soon as you enter Valletta, one has many choices: The Valletta Waterfront, Republic Street, St. George’s Square, Straight Street, Merchant Street, the Barrakkas (Upper and Lower) and many more. All of these areas offer some of everything. If you’re looking for something to eat, each place in Valletta has a different experience to the rest, most probably even with a different view.

Strait Street, dead after the British left Malta, has been rejuvenated and turned into a hub for middle aged men and women to lounge and have a glass of wine with friends and/or loved ones.

The Valletta Waterfront hosts a number of great restaurants offering a great selection of different cuisines. All of this, with a view of the Grand Harbour and the Valletta Cruise port. Merchant Street is usually alive during the day, full of businessmen/women discussing the job at one of many local cafes and restaurants. At night, it shifts to a romantic restaurant strip away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The ‘Barrakkas’, mainly the Upper Barrakka area offers another selection of restaurants. However, it plays host too many different events such as wine festivals and even weddings amongst others. It is also very close to Valletta’s entrance and also the Prime-minister’s office and central bank.

Republic Street is Valletta’s main street. It offers all of the basics, as well as being a link to all other Valletta activities. Apart from the usual bars and restaurants, Republic Street is home to Valletta’s cinema.

If you’re into Theatre, Valletta’s Royal Opera House, Manuel Theatre and the City Theatre offer a great spectacle whenever a show is in session. Besides this, there is also the St. James Cavalier which is a cultural masterpiece, hosting most of Malta’s artistic events.

Our night in Valletta began at around 9PM. The city was as alive as ever, full of people making their way to one activity or another. We made our way through Republic Street, a street full of people, mainly teenagers who seem to hang out there on a weekly basis. In fact, it looked just like your regular Saturday night.

The city’s decorations lit the streets and the occasional sound of festive music could be heard in the background over the voices of the mass of people enjoying their night in the streets of Valletta. Of course, the type of entertainment here is different than what we saw in Paceville. There are no clubs here, just bars and restaurants –a different style of night out.

A night out in Valletta isn’t exactly something we were used to doing, so we thought we’d go with the flow and start from the first bar we saw in Republic Street. The place was full of thirty/forty year old men and women, socializing over a glass of wine. Music was playing, despite not at enough volume to beat the sound of people’s voices.

As soon as our drinks were finished, we moved over towards St. George’s square to have a look at the New Year’s Eve celebration stage which was ready for the next day. Most people sat at their tables in the many restaurants around the square. However, we thought why not try straight street. So we popped into one of the bars to order a few beers. We took a table outside to get a better view of the nightlife. The area was considerably quiet, besides one of the bars. The place looked like it was having a party inside but played music which did not exactly go well with the ‘Strada Stretta’ theme and décor.

We took our party to the other side of Valletta after that. We stopped at a pub close to Merchant Street which was also pretty calm. This was the overall feel of Valletta’s nightlife. We knew it was going to be a relaxing night out and so, this feel came as no surprise to us.

As we made our way to the Grand Harbour side of Valletta, something which struck me was the group of people jamming around playing songs with a guitar inside another pub. It was like every pub was writing its very own story that night and this was different than the others. The place was alive and the people were united together singing Carlos Santana and Oasis songs.

In relation to our Paceville experience, this night ended much earlier than the other. This was mainly because it was much less wild compared to Paceville. Nights out like this take you to the other side of Malta’s nightlife, one which is certainly more civilized. That was all we have for you today and for the year 2017! We hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve had for you until now, and we wish you all the best for the year to come!