All you need to know about the 2023 Malta Book Festival

With so much going on and a little bit for everyone, here’s a handy guide through some of the programme’s highlights, and logistical information that will make your visit to the Malta Book Festival 2023 all the smoother

The Malta Book Festival, the largest cultural event dedicated to books and reading in Malta, will be taking place between 18 and 22 October at the MFCC, Ta’ Qali. Boasting a jam-packed programme featuring a variety of local and international participants, this year’s edition of the festival carries the theme #beyondbooks, highlighting literature’s ability to transcend the written word.

This year’s festival will be divided across several thematic areas, each drawing inspiration from our quirky quartet of mascots: Ray il-Qarrej, an imaginative fisherman whose nose is always stuck in a book (Is-Sala tal-Qarrejja, sponsored but the Energy and Water `Agency); the enigmatic writer Filip il-Kittieb, whose passion lies in the performed word (Is-Sala tal-Kittieba); Ċiċi l-Ispettatriċi, the curious cat who purrs at the sight of a literary show (Is-Sala fil-Pjazza); and Mia s-Semmiegħa, the music enthusiast who jams to aural stories (It-Teatru).

Jacob’s Brew will be serving coffee and hot drinks at their pop-up truck situated right on Ċiċi’s turf, at the venue’s common area. The National Book Council is proud to collaborate with this entity, whose philanthropic ‘pay it forward’ spirit spreads just the kind of positive message that the festival is eager to foster.

With so much going on and a little bit for everyone, here’s a handy guide through some of the programme’s highlights, and logistical information that will make your visit to the Malta Book Festival 2023 all the smoother.

Events programme

This year’s edition of the festival carries the theme #beyondbooks, highlighting the book’s potential to transcend the written word and manifest itself in various media – from illustration to audio, theatre to film adaptation. The programme of events boasts around 100 events spread out over five days – free of charge and held in designated halls – that range from shows and activities for the family and students, to book launches and discussions, writing workshops, performative readings, and professional meet-ups between the public and book industry stakeholders.

Click here for a full programme of events.


The exhibitors remain the life-blood of the Malta Book Festival, and there’s some 50 of them this year! From established publishers to exciting newcomers, along with other entities keen to tap into the vibrant energy of the Festival atmosphere and its varied clientele, our exhibitors fill the halls with great reading material while hosting book signings and other activities. Find the full list of exhibitors here, and make a note to say hello to your favourites during the festival!

Children and families programme

The Malta Book Festival always offered an excellent opportunity for the National Book Council to make good on its educational mission, and this year is no exception. The Festival will welcome school visits during weekday mornings, with young pupils being privy to live shows and book-browsing sessions, as they will also benefit from a €5 discount voucher for book purchases. The National Book Council is proud to collaborate with award-winning playwright Simone Spiteri with age-appropriate theatre shows inspired by a selection of Terramaxka Prize-winning works, featuring a surprise appearance by a popular author.

Crucially, Il-Kamra Sensorja is another important way that the festival ensures an inclusive approach. This autism-friendly space, calibrated for low stimulation and coming with some basic sensory items and autism-friendly resources, allows children on the spectrum to have access to storytelling activities in a safe and inclusive environment. Access is allowed to children accompanied by their parents/educators. Il-Kamra Sensorja is managed by Inspire Foundation in collaboration with APS Bank.

The Energy and Water Agency, another regular partner organisation, will also be delivering valuable awareness-raising sessions for young listeners, fostering an appreciation for water conservation and other important issues.

International guests, workshops and masterclasses

Apart from offering a joyful and varied celebration of the book in all of its forms, The Malta Book Festival also aims to serve as an exciting fixture in the local cultural calendar, thanks in large part to the international guests that grace its programme. This year, the Malta Book Festival will be welcoming best-selling Irish crime writer Sam Blake, as well as her agent Simon Trewin — the latter of whom will be on his second visit to the Festival. Blake and Trewin will not merely be greeting readers and fans, they will actively be helping out aspiring authors to both improve their craft and navigate the publishing industry, through free-of-charge workshop and masterclass sessions. UK children’s books editor and debuting novelist Charlie Castelletti — who boasts Maltese heritage — will also be delivering a masterclass on writing for children and young readers, while the founding members of Praspar Press, which is focused on publishing contemporary Maltese writing in English, will deliver a session on editing. And bringing the process full circle will ‘How a Book is Made’ — an informative seminar on the complete life-cycle of book production, delivered by Gutenberg Press.

Taken together, these events chart the book’s journey from conception to publication, while offering insights which help build bridges

Showstoppers taking you #beyondbooks

No festival would be complete without crowd-pulling events, and a collaboration between Teatru Malta and the National Book Council will be delivering on that front. ‘VII/Fidwa’ — a musical-theatre medley performance led by rising-star duo The New Victorians, cherry-picks songs from two beloved sold-out shows from the TM repertoire, each of which centre around key moments in Maltese history where the common populace rose up against oppressive forces. The show is the Festival’s only ticketed event, and those interested are encouraged to book their tickets now. While VII/Fidwa certainly takes us #beyondbooks in a very powerful way, a roundtable discussion chaired by podcast superstar Jon Mallia — taking place on 21 October — will attempt to chart the course of the Maltese literary scene through a conversation with an eclectic group of writers: Trevor Żahra, Loranne Vella, Aleks Farrugia, Nadia Vella and Lon Kirkop. Meanwhile, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura will be drawing from the celebrated works of Italo Calvino for ‘What is a Gap?’, a playful performance by Ateliersi which hinges on wordplay and audience interaction.

The exhibitions

The visual component of literature and the written word will very much be coming alive during the Festival. The NBC is proud to host Il-Malti: Il-Mixja Sal-Għarfien Uffiċjali, organised by Heritage Malta and L-Akkademja Tal-Malti, and illustrating the history of the Maltese language — from its Semitic roots up to its current status as an official EU language — through a fascinating collection of books and documents, contextualised through carefully crafted informational material.

Held for the second year running and in collaboration with Arts Council Malta, the From Illustration to Book exhibition — encompassing a variety of eras and styles and allowing visitors to witness the evolution of Maltese book illustration first-hand. Meanwhile, the Interactive Mural — another collaboration with the Arts Council, together with the Malta Community of Illustrators — will invite four artists to participate in the creation of a mural, through live drawing sessions led by Matthew Demarco of Bloom Creative/Maltatype.

Other events organised by the National Book Council – celebratory evenings, audiovisual work, poetry

The Malta Book Festival also serves as an ideal platform to commemorate both our literary forebears and up-and-coming names which will define the scene in years to come.

This year, the National Book Council will be honouring the legacy of historian Henry Frendo, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 edition of the National Book Prize, with the premiere of a new documentary produced by Blank Canvas Creatives and financed by the NBC.

The film aspect of the #beyondbooks theme will also be evident in a panel discussion on Take Two’s upcoming adaptation of Clare Azzopardi’s novel Castillo, which will also serve as the project’s trailer debut ahead of its run in cinemas. The panel — made up of writer-director team Carlos Debattista and Abigail Mallia, together with actress Simone Spiteri and Azzopardi herself — will discuss the layered dynamics of literary adaptation as it pertains to this particular project, which was made possible with the help of the National Book Council’s Feature Film fund.

And as per annual tradition, the Festival will host the prize-giving ceremony for the Doreen Micallef National Poetry contest for the fifth year running, with readings from the winning poets and the presentation of the Modern Poetry in Translation Summer 2023 issue, which featured a special focus on Maltese poetry translated into English.

Getting there

The National Book Council will be ensuring that, besides ample parking space at the MFCC north entrance, everyone can reach the Festival by public transport thanks to enhanced bus routes offered by Malta Public Transport. The current routes leading to Ta’ Qali will be increased in frequency from Wednesday to Sunday.
Click here for more information.

Opening hours

The Malta Book Festival runs between 18-22 October at the following opening hours: on Wednesday and Thursday from 9am-1pm and 5:00pm-9pm; on Friday from 9am-1pm and 5:00pm-10pm; on Saturday from 9:30am-10pm, and on Sunday from 9:30am-8pm.

The full programme of events for the 2023 Malta Book Festival is available online here. For the latest updates, please follow the NBC website, and the NBC Facebook page and Malta Book Festival 2023 Facebook page.