Festivals Malta has announced an “alternative cultural programme” for Carnival, in a vague statement that appears to rule out the traditional street parade for a second year in a row.

The organisers released a statement after rumours emerged on social media that the event had been postponed due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Held in Valletta every February, the event usually attracts large crowds to watch the parade of colourful floats and dancers. 

Festivals Malta said its "alternative cultural programme" will "continue to celebrate our country’s artistic expression and cultural traditions, while also safeguarding the health of the participants and the general public".

It said its programme would include an exhibition of costumes and Carnival related photography, an interpretation of the Qarċilla in Spazju Kreattiv, as well as various carnivalesque installations throughout the streets of Valletta. 

Its omission of any mention of the traditional street parade suggests it will not be held this year.

However, asked to clarify, a spokeswoman said more details will be provided "in the coming days".

Last month, health minister Chris Fearne banned stand-up events in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases, driven by the Omicron variant.

Following his announcement, New Year's Eve celebrations were cancelled and replaced with a TV programme. 

Carnival activities were cancelled last year in a bid to clamp down on rising COVID-19 infections, with celebrations streamed online and carnival floats left as static installations in public places such as roundabouts. 

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