Malta's Valletta becomes Europe's Capital of Culture

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On Saturday 20 January, after years of preparations, Valletta was officially inaugurated as the European Capital of Culture 2018.

Valletta's four main squares each hosted cultural performances while the streets were filled with music, bands and impressive performances until the early hours of Sunday. According to the organizers, around 100,000 people, nearly a quarter of Malta's population, turned up.

The festive theme dominated the opening ceremony, with footage and images of fireworks as well as statues used as a backdrop to the speeches at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. 

"Malta is once again prepared to punch above its weight"

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said during the opening ceremony at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. 

European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics spoke about the opportunity of safeguarding and promoting Europe's cultural diversity as Capital of Culture, underlining how culture contributed to the continent's society and its economy. He presented Jason Micallef, who chairs the Valletta 2018 Foundation, with the commemorative plaque for the European Union's Melina Mercouri Prize, in recognition of the excellent work invested by the Valletta 2018 Foundation, the city and the whole country in the preparation of becoming Capital of Culture.

Over 140 projects and 400 events have been planned in 2018 in Valletta and various locations across the country, including the neighbouring island of Gozo, around three main themes: Island Stories, Future Baroque and Voyages.

In 2018, Valletta is sharing European Capital of Culture status with Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.


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