Y'S Friends and the Casino Maltese are jointly organising the third Gran Ballo La Vallette in aid of Dar Niki Cassar, the YMCA's shelter for the homeless in Valletta.

This year's edition of the Carnival ball will be held on February 25 at the Casino Maltese in Valletta, and has a dual aim: to raise funds for the needy and to revive the Casino's traditional Carnival ball and establish it as an annual event.

Casino Maltese president Manuel Mallia said the venue, ideal for a masked ball, would waive venue fees in line with its goal to help organisations with "noble aims", such as the YMCA.

The homeless shelter caters for 22 people, but handles an average of 65 cases a day. It does not have the money to engage more full-time social workers, event co-ordinator Edgar Mifsud said.

Last year, the YMCA offered services to 9,000 people, 75 per cent of whom managed to move on in life, he said.

Organisers hope to bring a glimpse of Venice to Valletta, with people in period costume and a variety of entertainment, from jugglers to fire-eaters, as well as the rogue, lover and poet Don Giacomo Casanova, the central character of the Venetian carnival.

More details and booking information is available at www.granballo.com.

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