A Carnival float-maker depicted the loss of his father – who passed away tragically last year – in this year’s King Carnival float.
Charles Axisa had constructed the King Carnival float for 18 years before he died tragically in a workplace accident last year. His sons Carlos, Clyde and Clint – who is also the President of the Għaqda Parteċipanti Karnival – have kept his work alive by dedicating this year’s King Carnival float to his memory.
The King Carnival float leads all other floats and opens the Carnival defilé. It is also the only float that participates in all the five days of Carnival.
A team of around 25 people – with ages ranging from 17 to 50 – work on the King Carnival float. Work begins around the last week of July but design and planning start as early as mid-May. The process for the construction of the King Carnival float includes the design, planning and building of the float as well as colouring, adapting music to the theme, costumes and choreography.
From the return of satire to the wandering farce qarċilla, this year’s Carnival includes a number of novelties. These include the return of the Miss Carnival Queen Competition as well as artistic direction by Carnival director Jason Busuttil. Also for the first time this year, a Public Choice Award will be held where audience and TV viewers can vote for the best Carnival 2014 element – including a dance, costume or float. Each phone call costs 50 cents which does not include the price applicable for a normal telephone call towards a fixed line. An sms costs 49 cents. Any telephone system can be used: Go, Vodafone, Red Touch or Melita. Prizes include mobiles and a weekend break. Televoting and sms voting are open until Wednesday 5th March at noon.
Other novelties at this year’s Carnival hark back to the past. For the first time in 40 years, Carnival will be held in St George’s Square, bringing the festive atmosphere to the heart of the old capital, where it was held up to the early 1970s. The return of satire, too, is a novelty with its roots buried in the past. And the first known qarċilla – which also makes a return this year – was written for the 1760 Carnival by the poet Fr Feliċ Demarco.
During the qarċilla, a man dressed as a notary read out a marriage contract in rhyming verse full of witticisms – some verging on the obscene – to a bride and groom. This year’s qarċilla, penned by Trevor Zahra, will be performed by a number of actors, including Joseph Galea. They will wander around the streets of Valletta on Saturday evening, re-enacting a parody of a wedding ceremony.
Saturday evening is also when the Carnival festivities will reach their climax. This year – another first – they will also run through the night, in a non-stop celebration. Yet another first is the twinning with Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest festival of popular culture. Also, this year a group of dancers from the Adult Training Centres of Agency Sapport will present a dance at the National Carnival. And then there are the dance competitions, float defilés, swarming streets and exuberant costumes that are so much a part of Carnival. For a few days, Valletta is in party mode.
Meanwhile police have cautioned that children should wear wristbands with their guardians’ contact details and that Valletta should be entered and exited from Glormu Cassar Street (near Castille) rather than the much narrower City Gate entrance.
(MCCA Press Release)