Celebrations taking place in Victoria for the feast of Santa Marija
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The feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, also known as Santa Marija, is being celebrated in Victoria.
This weekend in Gozo will be one of the busiest times of the summer tourist season – a long weekend for this very popular feast, which traditionally attracts both Maltese and tourists to Gozo. Thousands are expected to visit the island to enjoy the festa celebrations.
Hotels and other types of holiday accommodation, together with local businesses in Gozo, are looking forward to the increase in business, with the promise of bumper bookings, as many Maltese cross over to the sister island.
The feast of Santa Marija on the 15th of August, is also being celebrated in seven villages in Malta, Attard, Dingli, Ghaxaq, Gudja, Mosta, Mqabba and Qrendi.
External celebrations on Saturday the 13th of August
10.00pm Festive marches as the Santa Marija statue (I 956) is carried shoulder high around the historic centre of Victoria.
12.30am The Santa Marija statue is raised on the column In Independence Square to a rooftop fireworks display all around Victoria's main square.
External celebrations on Sunday the 14th of August
11.00am Children's parade from the Gozo Cathedral within the Citadel towards the Aurora Opera House. The Leone Band accompanies the children who will be carrying a super-sized flag bearing the band's coat-of-arms.
9.15pm Synchronised rooftop.fireworks from the Aurora Opera House.
9.30pm Triumphal festive march along Republic Street, the bands entertain hundreds of revellers and supporters along the way from the Aurora Opera House to Savina Square.
12.30am Mechanised ground fireworks (Catherine-wheels) in Savina Square.
Full Programme for Feast day of Santa Marija, Monday the 15th of August
At 9.00am Concelebrated Pontifical High Mass by HL Mgr Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo on the occasion of the feast of Marija Assunta, at the Cathedral in Victoria.
At 11.00am the Traditional Band march will get underway through the streets of Victoria, with the 12th May Band of Zebbug Malta and the St Joseph Band Hamrun..
11.30am: The Prize Giving Ceremony will take place at the Il-Wirja ta' Santa Marija, in the Villa Rundle Gardens.
At 2.30pm there will be the horse racing in Republic Street, with prizes presented by the Minister for Gozo, Dr Anton Refalo and the Mayor of Victoria, Dr Samuel Azzopardi.
The Grand Finale of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, also known as Santa Marija, will be celebrated in Victoria in the evening.
5:00 pm: The Last Mass at the Cathedral for the day, celebrated by Mgr. Paul Cardona, archpriest of the parish of St. George (Victoria).
6.15pm Band marches played by the Victory Band of Xaghra, from the Parish Centre to the Cathedral Square.
At 7.00pm the statue of Our Lady will start on the procession, with the participation of the Gozo Cathedral Chapter, Parish Clergy, the Leone Band, and the Chorus Ecclesiae Cathedralis
At 8.00pm the St Joseph Band Club of Ghajnsielem will march to the the Cathedral Square where they will play a musical programme under the direction of Frankie Debono.
Also at 8.00pm Xaghra's Victory Band will play a musical programme on the bandstand in Independence Square, under the direction of Joe Galea.
There will be a grand fireworks display on Gelmus Hill at 10pm before the entry of the statue of Our Lady into the Cathedral, which will be welcomed back to the Cathedral Square and into the Cathedral en flambeaux.
This will be followed by a band march at 11.00pm by the Leone Band from the Cathedral parish centre to Independence Square.
On this special day, the Mass at the Cathedral will be at: 4.15am, 5am, 5.45am, 6.30am, 7.15am, 8am, 9am (of Mass), 11am and 12pm. Last Evening Mass at 5pm.
Other events taking place to celebrate the feast are the Il-Wirja ta' Santa Marija, at the Villa Rundle Gardens in Victoria.