5 queer-friendly reasons to visit Malta this holiday season – from Cirque du Soleil to Santa’s City

Cirque du Soleil contortionists

With temperatures sitting comfortably in the late teens, Malta makes for a great autumn and winter destination for queer travellers.

The small archipelago has been ranked number one on the Rainbow Europe list of LGBT-friendly destinations for five years running, and with its progressive social attitudes and legal rights, much of the island — and its activities — are inherently inclusive.

What’s more, Malta has some of Europe’s lowest COVID-19 rates, with new cases in the low double digits and more than 80 per cent of the population fully vaccinated. There’s plenty to see and do on the island during the milder months including an exclusive Cirque du Soleil show, making it ideal for a festive getaway.

 Let Cirque du Soleil transport you to FIERI

Cirque du Soleil performers

Cirque Du Soleil have created an exclusive show for Malta. (Tristan Fewings/Getty)

Malta’s historic capital, Valletta, will play host to the famed Canadian troupe from 25 November to 19 December. Returning to the Mediterranean for the first time since lockdown began, Cirque du Soleil will be running 28 exclusive 75-minute performances on the island. While the new show will include all the signature acrobatics and visual artistry that Cirque du Soleil is known for, FIERI has been created with Malta specifically in mind and is inspired by the cultural roots of the archipelago. Cirque du Soleil has always stood with the LGBT+ community, cancelling a string of North Carolina shows in 2016 to protest an anti-LGBT+ law.

Indulge in fresh seafood at Malta’s Michelin-starred restaurants

(Visit Malta)

Seafood is at the centrepoint of Maltese cuisine, with the archipelago having year-round access to an abundance of fresh fish. Malta’s restaurants have been widely acknowledged for their food — five have been awarded Michelin Stars, three have a Bib Gourmand award and 23 others have been accredited with a Michelin Plate Award. Head to 59 Republic in Valletta for Mediterranean and French notes, to the 500-year-old The Medina Restaurant in Mdina, or to Ta’ Frenc’ for a more intimate yet rustic setting, situated on the road between Victoria and Marsalforn.

Discover the world’s most intimate wine-making country

(Visit Malta)

Three-hundred days of sunlight kiss the Maltese land each year — paired with a light sea breeze that enriches the soil, this creates an ideal temperature and environment for wine-making. Locally-produced full-bodied red, refreshing white and unique rosé are all available. Many local wineries and vineyards are open to visitors in what is the world’s smallest winemaking country: Emmanuel Delicata Wineries, for example, has an impressive portfolio of over 90 wine awards — visitors can visit the 17th century cellars and join a weekly wine-tasting tour run by in-house experts.

Journey back into Maltese history

(Visit Malta)

For history fans, Knights of Malta is a captivating experience based in the silent City of Mdina that tells the tale of those who ruled the Maltese islands for centuries. With a backdrop of the Casa Magazzini, which was built by the knights, visitors can witness the 3D audio-visual show: a realistic series of 34 tableaux hidden deep inside the bastion walls. Various buildings and monuments created by the knights remain scattered across the archipelago, while the fortified city of Mdina, which was once the capital, holds other impressive historical sites, like St Paul’s Catacombs and the Roman ruins of Domvs Romana.

Experience Malta’s rich culture – and get ready for Christmas

(Visit Malta)

There’s plenty of places to experience Maltese culture, both traditional and modern. On the island of Gozo, there’s Ta’ Dbiegi, the oldest crafts village, with some of the finest handmade items available to purchase on the island. The former capital, Mdina, meanwhile, is the hub of old culture and history. In the modern capital, Valletta, visitors can head to MUŻA, the national museum of art and heritage. For LGBT+ families interested in more modern culture, it’s worth visiting Fairyland Santa’s City in Valletta this time of year — an adaptation of Santa’s story, complete with a grotto, ice rink and mulled wine.

All visitors to Malta are required to present a completed Public Health Travel Declaration, Passenger Locator Form (PLF) and a valid vaccination certificate recognised by the Superintendent of Public Health (age 12+). 

This must show a full course of vaccination – either two doses, or one dose of a single dose vaccine – with EMA approved vaccines: Comirnaty (Pfizer), Jannsen (Johnson & Johnson), Spikevax (Moderna), Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca), with batches that are authorised by the national regulatory authority of the administering country, with 14 days after the last dose. Click here for the latest information.