19 Apr 2017
9:45 am - 4:30 pm


Deeply rooted in Malta’s history, the feast of San Girgor has been a popular traditional event since the 1500s.  The event, which according to popular belief is related to a general vow by the public on their deliverance from the plague, goes back to 1543 but may have started as early as 1519.  The popular event is celebrated on the first Wednesday after Easter Sunday and originally consisted of a pilgrimage by confraternities from all Maltese parishes starting from Mdina and ending with a religious ceremony at the Żejtun parish church.

Today, the pilgrimage is somewhat shorter and starts from the chapel of St Clement in Żejtun.  From there, participants – accompanied by the archbishop and the metropolitan chapter, the archpriest, the clergy, and the Archconfraternity of St Joseph of Rabat – go to the Żejtun parish church where the miserere is sung.  The pilgrimage then continues to Żejtun’s old parish, popularly known as San Girgor, where mass is said with the participation of all present.  After the religious function, the crowd makes its way to Marsaxlokk to relax and enjoy the rest of the day with traditional music and għana, food, and – for brave ones – their first swim.

In its drive to encourage and strengthen the traditional and folk elements of this feast, the Festivals Directorate within Arts Council Malta will be supporting the event.  This year, In Guardia re-enactors will take on the role of knights from the Order of St John and will accompany the procession to the old parish church, San Girgor. Along the way, artisans will be working on their particular traditional crafts.

After mass, a group of għannejja and musicians will entertain the crowd with short traditional songs.  They will then get on two animal-drawn carts prepared for the occasion and make their way to Marsaxlokk, following the old route to the fishing village.  At Marsaxlokk, two platforms will be set up where, throughout the afternoon, a folk programme which will include two of the main types of traditional għana – daqq tal-prejjem and botta u risposta – will be held.  Nearby, there will also be a number of stalls with traditional crafts such as the loom, filigree, pottery, cane work, glass and lace.  It will surely be an interesting afternoon, which can be enjoyed by Maltese families and foreigners alike.  An event which will continue to strengthen our folk traditions, deeply-rooted in history while at the same time keeping them alive and relevant to today’s society. This event is organised by Arts Council Malta in collaboration with the Zejtun Local Council and the Marsaxlokk Local Council.


Wednesday 19th April – Zejtun and Marsaxlokk Bay

09:45 Pilgrimage from the chapel of St Clement towards St Catherine’s parish church where the miserere will be sung.  Mons. archbishop will be leading the pilgrimage, together with the metropolitan chapter, the arch-priest, the clergy and the Arch-confraternity of St Joseph of Mdina at Rabat.

From St Catherine’s parish church the pilgrimage will continue to the old parish church known as St Gregory’s church.  In Guardia will take its position next to the cross on the side of the parish church and, from there, will accompany the pilgrimage towards St Gregory’s church. In Guardia will be mostly representing the religious section of the Order of St John. Artisans will be working on several traditional crafts along the route.

10:30 Mass at St Gregory’s church with the participation of all present.

10:45 Għannejja Joe Aguis (tas-seba’ rġiel) and Anġlu Theuma (il-kina), guitarists Johnny Saliba (ta’ Birżebbuġa) and Victor Grech (iż-Żabbari), two animal-drawn carts and In Guardia will take their place on the parvis of St Gregory’s church.

Maltese traditional games such as passju, żibeġ and boċċi will be played on the parvis of St Gregory’s church.

11:00 After mass, a press conference regarding Għanafest will be held on the parvis of St Gregory’s church.

11:20 Għana and Daqq tal-Prejjem on the parvis of St Gregory’s church.

11:30 Għannejja and musicians will start their journey to Marsaxlokk on animal-drawn carts.

Midday Animal-drawn carts with għannejja and musicians arrive at Marsaxlokk, passing through the promenade.

Stage at the centre of the promenade of Marsaxlokk

12:15 Daqq tal-Prejjem – Guitarists: Group 1

12:25 Għana Botta u Risposta – Għannejja: Group 1

1:10 Frank O’Neill

1:40 Daqq tal-Prejjem – Guitarists: Group 2

1:50 Għana Botta u Risposta – Għannejja: Group 2

2:30 Makkjetti –Michael Birgnioni (il-ġurdien)

2:40 The Greenfields

3:05 Daqq tal-Prejjem – Guitarists: Group 3

3:15 Għana Botta u Risposta – Għannejja: Group 3

4:00 Closure

Stage at the end of the promenade, further up from the convent where għana used to be sung spontaneously

12:30 Daqq tal-Prejjem – Guitarists: Group 3

12:40 Għana Botta u Risposta – Għannejja: Group 3

1:20 The Greenfields

1:45 Daqq tal-Prejjem – Guitarists: Group 1

2:00 Għana Botta u Risposta – Għannejja: Group 1

2:45 Frank O’Neill

3:15 Daqq tal-Prejjem – Guitarists: Group 2

3:25 Għana Botta u Risposta – Għannejja: Group 2

4:05 Makkjetti – Michael Birgnioni (il-ġurdien)

4:15 Closure



Group 1
Guitarists: Johnny Saliba (ta’ Birżebbuġa), Victor Grech (iż-Żabbari)
Għannejja: Joe Agius (tas-seba’ rġiel), Anġlu Theuma (il-kina), Anthony Coleiro (kulajru) and Alfred Desira (l-Indjan)

Group 2
Guitarists: Reuben Schembri (il-fusinu), (it-tfajjel tad-danny) and Vince Carabott (il-bukku)
  Żeppi Ellul (iż-Żebbuġi), Żaren Ellul (ta’ fellusu), Kalċidon Vella (id-danny) and Mario Xuereb (ta’ Gerald)

Group 3
Guitarists: Calcidon Vella (ta’ mustaċċa), Joe Bonello (skuti)

Għannejja: Manwel Ellul (il-beġiġ), Fredu Abela (iż-Żejtuni), Joe Busuttil (il-bużu) and Anthony Carl Cutajar (il-pikkolin)

More information about this event can be obtained from Arts Council Malta on 2339 7000 and on website www.għanafest.com