The thousands of UK clubbers who descended on Qawra for a four-day electronic music festival last week have infuriated residents but were “welcomed with open arms” by hoteliers.
“I woke up in the morning on Saturday and found so much urine and vomit on my front steps it was unbearable. Then in the evening, I told this group of drunk youths to keep it down and they told me they would ‘bend me over’,” said Jessica Micallef, who lives near Buġibba’s main square.
She was one of dozens of residents left fuming by the second instalment of the Lost and Found electronic music festival organised by UK DJ Annie Mac.
The event, arguably the largest the island has ever seen, was based in Qawra, with parties also held in Rabat and Ta’ Qali.
While welcomed by local clubbers as a major music event attracting some of the world’s top DJing talent, the festival has also been in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
I woke up in the morning on Saturday and found so much urine and vomit on my front steps, it was unbearable
Forty-one foreigners were arrested following drug raids held prior to and during the festival. While the police made no link between the arrests and the festival, sources said that nearly all those arrested were due to attend it. Between March 29 and 30, the vice squad, together with the customs law enforcement section, arrested three people who were found with ecstasy pills, as well as suspected cocaine and ketamine in amounts not associated with exclusive use. The three were arraigned and sentenced to four years in prison as well as a fine.
Last Thursday, the police ar-rested 23 persons after they were found in possession of ecstasy and cocaine following an operation conducted by the vice squad and the Qawra district police.
Some have already been charged in court.
On Friday, the police arrested another 15 persons in Rabat after they were found to be in possession of ecstasy
The latest charges were filed yesterday, with five Britons all found guilty and fined for possessing ecstasy pills.
While residents lamented the large amount of litter in Qawra and the surrounding areas, business owners yesterday said they looked forward to the next event.
“We are normally busy but this was astronomical. Events like this are a major boost for us. I understand how difficult it can be living with the mess, because I live here too,” taxi company owner Anthony Mamo said.
Meanwhile St Paul’s Bay mayor Graziella Galea said she had been in touch with the police prior to the event to ensure a greater police presence compared to last year’s festival.
The council also worked to increase public sanitation works to minimise disturbance to locals.
While acknowledging that the event still bothered residents due to the loud music and rowdy behaviour of revellers, it was also a boost for the local economy.
“We need to try and find a balance and improve on enforcement as we did from last year to this,” Ms Galea said.