Despite being densely populated Malta is still very much a rural land in character and culture, and traditional customs and celebrations (festas) lie at the heart of Maltese society.
Between June and September, every town commemorates its parish's Catholic saint, which amounts to more than 80 separate celebrations held all over the island. Each festa culminates in a full weekend of boisterous merriment led by processions and brass bands and constant fireworks.
During their particular festivity, each town is draped in banners and bunting, the church's exterior is lit up by hundreds of multi-coloured light bulbs, and the interior festooned with decorations. Village-folk dress their best; for many, this marks the event of the year, and is the one time they take exception from their prudish propriety, with feasting, dancing and plenty of drinking.
The most interesting aspect of the feasts are the almost constant displays of fireworks. Towns unofficially compete with each other to give the best display, with those of the villages of Mqabba and Hal Lija currently the popular favourites.