VALLETTA, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- The historic city of Valletta has become a colorful and musical heaven with marching bands, street performers and dancers as Malta celebrates the carnival from Feb. 9 to 13.
Main events began on Saturday, focusing on the children's carnival, with a competitive dance show, in St George's Square, followed by competitions for adults. A parade of floats and grotesque masks will run throughout the remaining days of the carnival, with a climax on Tuesday during the grand finale.
A record number of companies will also be participating in competitive dance shows this year.
Carnival enthusiasts start preparing for the carnival from the previous year's event, developing a concept for the floats they are to prepare as well as colorful, elaborate costumes they need to create.
One such enthusiast, Charles Azzopardi, told Xinhua that he has been taking part in carnival activities since he was young, taking over from his father and grandfather.
"For us, this is the most important event in our lives. We invest a lot of money in creating floats and recruiting dancers. The aim of carnival is to make merry, bring smiles on people's face and this is what keeps us going," he said.
Another enthusiast, Franco Vella, said he involves his entire family and extended family in the creation of the floats and costumes, with everyone lending a hand to create something truly spectacular.
Carnival has had an important place on the Maltese cultural calendar for just under five centuries, having been celebrated since at least the mid-15th century.
Enthusiasts are bracing themselves for bad weather predicted over the next few days which may disrupt the festivities and ruin the work done over the past year.
Rain and strong winds are forecast to lash Malta from the weekend, with thundery showers expected on Sunday and isolated showers until Tuesday.
In 2019, a severe storm damaged several carnival floats sheltered in two huge temporary tents. ■