Festival Marittimu Senglea – the Senglea Maritime Festival – is being held on 5 and 6 June, 2010, along the Senglea waterfront.
Senglea, or L-Isla as it is known to the Maltese, is a jewel of the Three Cities. This promontory, which sticks out into GrandHarbour behind the defences of Fort St Angelo, has unique land and seascapes that lend themselves perfectly to hosting this maritime festival.
According to Senglea Mayor Joe Casha, the council is organising the festival to safeguard the town’s historical and cultural heritage while raising awareness of the potential of the locality, which can be developed further.
“Thanks to its fortifications, historic buildings and strong links with the sea, Isla is a natural choice for the hosting of a maritime festival. There is so much that can be discovered in Senglea and we are all looking forward to encouraging people to embark on this voyage of discovery,” he said.
Hon. Chris Said, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Local Councils, praised Senglea and its Mayor for the organisation of this event. He said that government has created a ‘Cultural Activities Scheme’ through which it is helping in the financing of such activities. Last year 36 Local Councils were awarded 120,000 euros. The scheme was very successful so much so that this year the fund was increased to 250,000 euros and 54 Local Councils have already applied to make use of it. “Helping in the preservation of local identities and in promoting Maltese and Gozitan culture is what this scheme is all about.”
Last May the festival was held on one day and for this the local council received the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) award, a project co-funded by the European Union. The theme was Aquatic Tourism, reinforcing Isla’s identity as a maritime city. This award is being displayed this year during the festival at the Macina (see below).
Art, crafts, history, dance, music, exhibitions, parades and re-enactments will be among the attractions. The festival starts on Saturday, 5 June, at 7 p.m. and continues the next day from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m.
Among the must-sees on Saturday and Sunday are street arts and crafts by people from Senglea along the promenade; members of the Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce showing off their art and ceramics; and the Għaqda Kummissjoni Festa are holding a display on the Order of St John.
On Saturday evening the stairs leading to the seafront of Senglea will be lit by candlelight and there will be a display of military vehicles.
On Sunday there is a display by the Birzebbuga Yachting Club; a fishing competition by the Blue Sea Angling Sport Club; a display of abseiling by the St John’s Rescue Corps and the Malta Outdoors Abseiling; and other displays by the Għaqda Dilettanti Sajjieda Barklori Isla, the Koperattiva Sajjieda Marsaxlokk; Malta Canoeing Federation; Msida Sea Scouts; Rkaptu tas-Sajd Antik Mġarrija; Senglea Historical Society and the Senglea Regatta Club.
Several Sicilians invited for the Festival Marittimu Senglea, namely “Il Gozzo Di Marika” Association, are showing a traditional fishing boat from Syracuse while the Associazione Pescatore Marittimi Professionali are holding an Italian fish display throughout Sunday morning.
A focal point of activities will be the Macina, which will host static exhibitions, audio-visual displays, lectures and performances on both days, while the Saturday evening outdoor performances will be on the main stage near the AzopardoMonument, with the Drop Out Band at 8.30 and Ix-Xatt – a theatre dance song spectacular following at 10.
Something is happening on all three floors of the Macina. The Caravaggio Hall on the ground floor plays host to the European Destination of Excellence for Aquatic Tourism Awards, won by Senglea Local Council, and to a Caravaggio art display put on by the Caravaggio Foundation.
There are four venues on the first floor. In the Projection Room, the Malta Maritime Pilots are showing wartime photographs of Malta Convoy vessels and the NavalAviationMuseum is showing photographs of Senglea in ruins following World War II enemy bombing.
In the Exhibitor’s Room there are exhibits of the Malta Maritime Pilots of Sea pilots at the time…, and the maritime collection of the Society for Scale Modellers. In the Terrace Room, a display of ropes and knots and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority is showing Maltese balconies and gossip boxes.
On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, BDL is hosting the launch of Belt ta’ Qalbi by Joe Galea; and of Royal Navy and its Tug Boats by Michael Cassar. Both launches and book-signing sessions are being held in the Literature Room.
There are five venues on the second floor. The Maritime Hall hosts a collective exhibition of maritime art with the theme ‘Senglea – Eve of a Renaissance’ by John Martin Borg, Caroline Said Lawrence, Anthony Calleja, Peter Vella de Fremeaux, Henry Alamango and T.M.P. Duggan. The artists also focus on religious icons, feats, regattas and the architectural beauty of Senglea’s churches, bastions and intimate lanes.
The Theatre Room will host a lecture with projections on Caravaggio Art at the Macina entitled “The light of the past still enlightens the present…” The same room will host an International Workshop, Suspended Spaces, funded by the European Union and organised by the Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit. This is being held on 4 June from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2-4 p.m. In addition, on 6 June Kevin Attard is presenting contemporary art theatre, the monologue Ir-Ritwal.
Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation and the Isla Local Council are showing projects on the rehabilitation of Dock 1 and the proposed Senglea Capital projects respectively in the Vault Room. Heritage Malta is showing Malta’s maritime heritage in the Heritage Room; and Gino Zarb is showing Royal Navy ship badges in the Iron Room.
On Saturday evening there will be no fewer than four re-enactments along the Senglea promenade: from 7 p.m. there are two, one by Malta Command World War II Living History Group and the HRGM. The third is a Victory Kitchen re-enactment complete with paraffin cookers, utensils, women serving food, senior naval officers, including a Captain and his lady and the Chief Construction Officer of Shipwrights and his wife, members of the military, prostitutes and sailors.
In the fourth re-enactment Archpriest Emanuel Brincat of Senglea Basilica organised the Maria Bambina Evocation, leaving from Our Lady of Sorrows Street to the Senglea waterfront during which there will be various stops displaying historical incidents, including a boat arriving with a letter to be hand-delivered to the Archpriest announcing victory in the capitulation of the Italians on 8 September, 1943, amid scenes of elation.
There are three re-enactments on Sunday morning, with the Life of the Knights and Maltese from 10.30 a.m.; The Macina… at work from 11 to 1 p.m.; and In Guardia pageantry from 12.30 p.m. During the Macina re-enactment, men in period costume and a galleon will be used to demonstrate the function of the sheer legs to clean the underside of the vessel’s mast.
Parades and band marches will be held along the waterfront on Saturday by the Sea Cadets and on Sunday by the Big Friends Guggen Band, the Menhir Folk Group of Qala, Gozo, the Msida Sea Scouts and Tama Tnabar.
There are cultural tours of Senglea on Sunday morning leaving every half an hour from near the Azopardo Monument provided by the Institute Tourism Studies.
Among the sponsors of the Festival Marittimu Senglea are: the Parliamentary Secretariat for Local Councils; the Malta Tourism Authority; the Ministry of Education; Heritage Malta; the Italian Embassy; the Italian Cultural Institute; the Seashells Resort at Suncrest; the Malta Maritime Pilots; Charts; Virtu Ferries; Firetech; Air Malta; Grand Harbour Marina; BDL; S&D Yachts Ltd; Macina Development Co. Ltd; Cassar Ship Repair Ltd; JB Stores; Green MT; the Grimaldi Group; Coca-Cola; Bank of Valletta; Go; Palm Shipping Agency Ltd; HSBC Bank Malta; Malita Shipping; John Ripard & Son; Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit – Education and Culture DG Culture Programme; Domeman Glove Co. Ltd; Sullivan Maritime and Emmanuel Delicata Winemakers.