Julian Zarb | Wednesday, 06 May 2009

Events – Are they enough to create the spectacle we expect?

Last weekend, the Malta Fireworks festival took place over the Grand Harbour. This was, yet, another opportunity for us to consolidate the numerous events that are organised throughout the whole year on these islands. It was interesting to see that the synergy between an NGO and the commercial sector is beginning to provoke initiative to create unique experiences for these activities. Over the two days of the Festival, Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna and island Caterers teamed up to provide the ideal setting for a ringside view of the spectacle of colour and light over the unique splendour of Malta’s Grand harbour, reputed by some to be the largest natural harbour in Europe. A buffet dinner was served on the old Saluting Battery below the viewing balcony of the Upper Barakka Gardens. Island Caterers Director Edward D’ Alessandro said that this year’s event indeed provided the ideal basis for an interesting annual activity.
We have, here, the necessary ingredients:
The view of the three walled towns opposite to Valletta; a 180 degree panorama of the inlets and main seaway that has seen numerous historical landmarks spanning almost 2000 years;
The display provided by the colourful fireworks that we sometimes take for granted in these islands. During the summer months our islands come alive with the weekly events at every town and village dedicated to the patron saint. The highlight of these religious festivities are the skilful displays of light and art created by the fireworks;
The history that is inculcated into every stone of the builidings, bastions and gardens around the Grand Harbour, prove of a living history that is crying out for regeneration;
The most social aspect of the event, the provision of food and beverage that can be given a different theme to complement the evening, using the skills and capabilities of our local chefs and culinary experts.
So how should we present these ingredients to provide the best attraction possible? The main agent that will bind the ingredients together and mould it into a successful event is, surely, the idea of a thematic focus. This means that events could be given some purpose and aspect for association, something which will allow the visitor or spectator to feel part of the activity, interactivity is an important added ingredient that will add value to any product or service. We need to use our creativity and innovation to develop a new perspective for our islands.
Last week I described a scenario for unique creativity. This would mean that we develop festivals throughout various localities and offering a diverse selection of thematic products and services. Using the same principles of this diversity, imagine three events around the Grand Harbour – a spectacular display of arts and colour, an event on the sea within the harbour and a cultural and commercial event within the three cities and Valletta and Floriana, this will not only provide the diversity of themes but will also reduce the congestion of traffic and crowds within the areas.
The idea that was first developed as a Fireworks Festival, the added value of blending history with gastronomy on the Saluting Battery and the potential for using the historical and scenic backdrop to create a unique attraction could result in a sustainably viable project that will benefit both the commercial as well as the social sectors of the community.


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06 May 2009

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