With a new flagship gallery and music galore, the 2018 joint European Capital of Culture is putting on more than enough exciting events to shake off its pretty-but-sleepy tag
Old Valletta has seen some intense years: 1565, for example, when it was besieged by Ottoman forces; and 1941, the height of the Axis powers’ attempts to bomb or starve Malta into submission. But 2018 looks set to be an equally memorable, and much less harrowing, time, as more than 400 projects mark its year as European Capital of Culture.
Malta has managed to shed its pensioners’ package holiday image, reinventing itself with boutique hotels and festivals. And Valletta itself, a city barely touched for centuries – except by Luftwaffe bombers – has changed, too. A decade ago, its 40,000 office workers would depart the city every evening, leaving its ancients streets with barely a bar or restaurant to lighten the gloom.