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Malta; Mediterranean destination with a rich culture

Do you need some spiritual and cultural nourishment this summer? Malta is one of the Mediterranean's most cosmopolitan destinations housing a veritable treasure trove brimming with cultural experiences that inspire. While Northern Europe is finally inching towards warmer weather, the heart-warming spring sunshine is already basking in the Maltese islands. Discover Malta's heady mix of art, fashion, music, sun and the exquisite cocktail of culture.

The charms that contribute to Malta's and Valletta's growing cultural reputation are already evident year-round, ranging from its stylish cosmopolitan cafes, a top-notch range of award-winning restaurants and a lively theatre, opera and music scene. But summer is truly the time which makes Malta shine; a time when average temperatures bring the sun-worshippers onto the golden beaches and international-quality music and art festivals like the Malta Jazz Festival, the Joseph Calleja concert and Isle of MTV draw partiers and performers from around the globe. Design-conscious fashion hunters will find plenty to like in Malta too. Valletta was named a UNESCO World Heritage City and bursts at the seams with chic restaurants, museums, pretty parks, expansive piazzas, fashion boutiques and high-end jewellers in the resurgent area around the new Parliament building.

Malta is packed with attractions and places of interest; Hotel Phoenicia sits on the doorstep to this UNESCO capital city Valletta, which will be European City of Culture in 2018. Only a short stroll from the hotel past one of the Mediterranean's most glorious fountains, Valletta enjoys a rich cultural life with regular plays and concerts, as well as scores of exhibitions and street events. The Museum of Archaeology and The War Museum at Fort St. Elmo are very popular. The latter is home to an impressive Sunday military parade in full period costume. The world's largest collection of gobelin tapestries hang in the magnificent Grand Master's Palace and the world's most beautiful floor and a famous Caravaggio bedeck St. John's Co-cathedral.

Those looking to add in a dose of the great outdoors won't be disappointed by the sweeping seascapes of both the Grand Harbour and the sister island of Gozo which is full of eco-activities such as trekking, diving and mountain-biking. These can be accomplished by going through miles of interesting bike paths and trails past the world's oldest pre-historic temples and tantalizing Punic remains. For a more casual outdoor experience, stop by Gozo's sprawling fields with a delicious picnic lunch and just enjoy the warm weather and the gentle hum of bees lazily collecting their pollen from the myriad wild flowers that coat the gentle landscape.

Malta is still a relative bargain despite the island's position in the premier league of Mediterranean destinations, with the fastest growing cultural economy in the region, an eclectic blend of local and international events, entertainment and exhibitions take place in Malta and Gozo.

Malta will be alive with the sound of jazz this summer, at the Hotel's Phoenicia's 'Rotunda' on Wednesday 16th of July when Phoenicia's 7.5 acre garden hosts 'Jazz on the Fringe' in the form of trio with Sandro Zerafa on guitar, Matyas Szandai playing the doublebass and Lionel Boccara tapping out on the drums. Entrance is free for guests and the performance commences at 8:00pm.

Jazz on the Fringe is a 12-day programme compromising of local jazz music, which brings together some of Malta’s renowned jazz musicians and international performers to play in various music venues, restaurants and bars around the island. In the days preceding and following the main Malta Jazz Festival, a number of events, including master classes and open-air concerts will also be held. The Fringe gives everyone the chance to share their jazzy gifts.

The 24th edition of the Malta Jazz Festival will include world-class acts and rising jazz stars at Ta’ Liesse between the 17th and 19th of July. The festival will host some of the biggest names in jazz, including Tom Harrell Colors of a Dream and Brecker Brothers Band Reunion “The Heavy Metal Bebop Tour”. Other rising stars include vibraphonist Warren Wolf and Kneebody, a band which crosses genres with ease.

The Isle of MTV Concert is the apex of a week-long festival of live music. The annual Isle of MTV music event in Malta is an MTV Network International production. A world class line up of artistes will play in a free live concert on the Granaries in Floriana next to Hotel Phoenicia in front of a crowd which annually tops the 50,000 mark on the 25th of June 2014. Once again this promises to be one of the summer’s must-see musical events. The Isle of MTV Malta is unique in offering young people across Europe an exclusive opportunity to experience some of the world’s best new and established artistes here in Malta, and for free. This event has become an important annual destination for music lovers.

Although a late bloomer, The Malta Arts Festival is a festival comprising of a wide variety of art forms, such as theatre, dance, music and art between the 14th of July and the 2nd of August. This Arts Festival rivals the more established by inviting top performers of international repute in its constant commitment to present events of the highest quality. International and Maltese artists appear on the Festival’s platform in an extravaganza of artistic events.

For those interested in food culture, Maltese cuisine is steeped in rabbit, fresh fish, timpana (baked macaroni with pastry topping) and small pastry parcels called pastizzi often stuffed with ricotta or mushy peas. Malta has its own budding breed of celebrity chefs like Phoenicia's Executive Chef Saul Halevi, creating tasty, innovative Mediterranean-influenced menus. In addition, Maltese wines are now winning prizes alongside those of long-established European neighbours like Italy and Spain. The contemporary food scene in the capital is one of the most vibrant and delicious in the world.

With 7,000 years of history, the cultural sites to visit within 30 minutes drive of the capital are endless. Megalithic temples, underground catacombs, churches and forts are not to be missed: Fort St. Angelo in Birgu is adjacent to the world-class Malta Martitime Museum packed to the rafters with treasures from Malta's 5000 years of maritime heritage. At the Mediterranean Conference Centre, interactive walkthrough and multimedia attractions offer an overview of Malta's history in under an hour.

Malta's former capital, the ancient fortified medieval city of Mdina, right next door to Rabat, is not to be missed. For a romantic stroll like no other, wander the lamp lit streets of Mdina at night. Don't miss the wonderful Palazzo Falson filled with furniture, art and fine collections, and enjoy its rooftop tearoom with panoramic views over the bastion with a spectacular view of much of Malta and Gozo beyond.

With so much to be immersed in, you may find it difficult to take the flight home.

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