Christmas at the Nativity Village, Gozo
I'm very pleased to see that even in today's world, with all the social changes and modernization, one can still come across something as special as Gozo's Bethlehem. Keeping the tradition of animated Nativity Village alive and giving locals as well as tourists the chance to witness this unique show during the Christmas period.
Bethlehem f'Ghajsielem is in its ninth year of reproducing the greatest story ever told - The Story of Nativity - through several attractions spread over 20,000 sqm. Thousands of visitors come the the little village of Ghajnsielem, located just 5 min walk from Mgarr Harbour, throughout the month of December to appreciate the work of approx. 150 volunteers, who bring Gozo's Bethlehem to live.
It was quite surprising for me to learn that the area, where the Nativity Village takes place, known as Ta' Passi was until 2008 just abandoned and uncultivated fields with accumulating refuse. It took number of villagers of Ghajnsielem to try and convert the area into a mini-Bethlehem, an experiment that turned into a huge success.
This is the main entrance to the Nativity Village located just couple of meters from the main square of Ghajnsielem. Once you walk in, you see a detailed map of the area, so you can familiarize yourself with the Bethlehem and see what you can be looking forward to in this life-size crib.
One of the very first attractions is the Bethlehem Inn, where you can indeed rent a room and stay for a night for a truly authentic experience. What do you think? Would you dare to stay?
There is couple of buildings with panoramic roofs that you can climb up to and enjoy some gorgeous views of the Bethlehem and surrounding areas.
As you can see from the following images, there is fresh water flowing along all these structures through a small stream with various water features, just like the one on the photo below.
What I also really like about this Christmas attraction are all the animals you get to see. Malta doesn't have Zoos that I'm used to from the Czech Republic or the neighboring countries that I've visited. There is a petting Zoo in Ta'Qali, a mini Zoo at President's Kitchen Garden in Attard and maybe couple of other places, so it's nice to see these guys again. There are chicken, ducks, geese, guinea pigs, goats, donkeys, cows and horses, but I'm sure I forgot something.
Bethlehem f'Ghajsielem is an animated Nativity Village that offers naturalistic reproduction of the environment of Bethlehem with the main attraction being the Grotto where Mary and Joseph are tending their new born baby Jesus with donkeys and cows near by. This animated village includes apart from already mentioned 150 actors also 3 newborns to play the role of baby Jesus. Yes, that's right, no dolls, but real babies!
Don't forget to walk over the wooden rope bridge, which is great fun by the way, and notice the shepherds underneath you.
Once you get off the wooden rope bridge continue over the next wooden bridge right across the river, where you can also embark a boat and enjoy a cruise to the other side of the river. I really wanted to try this attraction when I was visiting last weekend, but it wasn't working at the time, so hopefully you will have better luck. :-)
During your visit of Bethlehem f'Ghajnsielem you will come accross number of dwellings inhabited and animated by whole families to remind everyone that Christmas is a celebration of a family. There will also be carpenter and blacksmith's dwellings, the bakery, a market selling fresh food and veg as well as a tavern offering local food and wine.
If interested you can also try several local crafts and admire some antique agricultural hand tools. The Bethlehem is very interactive and fun activity for all ages, which makes it a must see attraction during Christmas time.
Above you can see the secondary entrance/exit to the Bethlehem, situated just next to the roundabout on the main road from Mgarr. The entrance to the Bethlehem in Ghajnsielem is free, but I would like to encourage you to leave donations for all the great work the volunteers do to keep this Nativity Village alive. The schedule for the upcoming days is as follows:
Sat 23rd 4.30pm - 8.30pm
Sun 24th 2.30pm - 6.00pm
Mon 25th 3.30pm - 8.00pm
Tue 26th 2.30pm - 7.30pm
Sat 30th 4.30pm - 8.30pm
Sun 31st 2.30pm - 6.00pm
Mon 1st 3.30pm - 8.00pm
Sat 6th 4.30 - 8.00pm
Sun 7th 2.00pm - 8.00pm
Bethlehem f'Ghajnsielem will also include re-enactment of the Adoration of the Magi on the Epiphany when the three Wise Men will depart on horseback from Malta to Cirkewwa terminal where they board a ferry and then make the triumphal entrance to the Nativity village. This will take place on the first Sunday after New Year's Day and is the Bethlehem's closing animation.
Hope you will also find some time during this festive season to visit this unique attraction. That's all from me now & Merry Christmas everyone. :-)