The government is in the process of applying for EU funds for the long-promised Carnival Village that will be set up in Marsa, Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said. 

EU funding is also being sought for the restoration of Villa Guardamangia, which for some time served as Malta's residence for the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Bonnici was speaking to journalists on Monday following a press conference on this year’s Carnival celebrations. Carnival will take place this year between February 9 and 13.

The minister was asked for an update on the Carnival Village, a project now known as the Arts and Culture Complex. 

Owen Bonnici replying to questions on Monday. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

The project was originally featured in the Labour Party’s 2013 electoral manifesto. Three years later, almost €4.2m of EU funds was allocated to it, and the scheduled end date for the project was set as June 1, 2020.

Yet, despite a site in Marsa being chosen, and tenders on the excavation works awarded, over 10 years later, there are still no updates on the project.

Those EU funds, sources told Times of Malta, were instead diverted to other projects.

Last year a spokesperson for the Ministry for Culture told Times of Malta that although the project had stalled, there are plans to revive it through a new wave of EU funding.

Giving an update on the project on Monday, Bonnici said now that the restoration project of the Grand Master’s Palace was complete  and the MICAS project was well underway, the ministry could focus on two of its big priorities in the culture sector. 

“The two priorities are the restoration of Villa Guardamangia and the Arts and Culture complex in Marsa,” Bonnici said.

“We already have the land in our hands (Marsa) and most of the buildings have been demolished, so once we have the EU funding - which we are applying for under the new programme - we will be working on implementing this promise.”

Bonnici said some people doubted that the ministry would manage to restore large projects such as St Elmo, Fort St Angelo and the Grand Masters Palace, but all projects had been completed.

"Just as we managed to complete other large cultural projects, we will also manage to complete this one," he said.

An artist impression of the site presented in 2015. Photo: Matthew MirabelliAn artist impression of the site presented in 2015. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Plans for the Carnival Village consist of 18 large warehouses for floats, eight smaller ones for the building of masked figures and the sewing of costumes, a visitor’s centre, a dance studio, a souvenir shop, an audio-visual room, a museum, and a cafeteria. 

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