The government plans to set up a Carnival Village combined with a place where bands can practice by 2018, Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said today.

He said the €6 million project will be set up in Marsa instead of what is known as the Government Garage near Albertown.

He said €80,000 have been spent so far in the preparation of the plans, which are to be submitted to Mepa.

A consultation process will be held with the carnival enthusiasts and others wishing to use the facility to discuss how it will be run.

It was hoped, the minister said, that having the two facilities together would enable Maltese artists to work together. The carnival village, he said, would also breathe new life into carnival.

The carnival village will consist of 20 warehouses, three storeys high, where floats can be built. The complex will include workshops for the building of the floats and for dress makers, rehearsing spaces for carnival groups and a section for bands are artistes where gigs can be held.

There will be a 200-seat theatre, an amphitheatre, an interactive museum and parking facilities.

Anabelle Attard, festival director at Malta Arts Council said that for now the project is being called Centru Gdid Ghall-Artisti.

Dr Bonnici said William Mangion, a singer engaged as government consultant, was involved in the project and would give technical advice.

In 2012 Mepa had issued a permit for the building of a Carnival Village in Corradino but the decision was taken to shift to Marsa because it is closer to Valletta.

The Government Garage will be relocated by the Infrastructure Ministry.

Jason Busuttil, Carnival Director, gave details of this year's carnival. (See full programme on pdf below)  He said festivities open this Thursday when the Bandu is pronounced in Valletta. There will be celebrations in Valletta on Friday.

Children's Carnival will be held in Valletta on Saturday morning and the Qarcilla will be held at 4.30 outside St John's Co-Cathedral on Saturday.

A Dutch band will be taking part in the celebrations.

The defile' will be held on Saturday at 4.30 p.m and Sunday at 12.30 p.m. in Valletta and Tuesday in St Anne Street, Floriana at 6 p.m. Dance competitions will be held in St George's Square.

MONTI MOVE

Asked about the Monti, Dr Bonnici said he agreed with the transfer of the market to Ordinance Street, adding however that one still had to see whether the stalls would spill over across Republic Street (towards the new Parliament).

He said the stalls would give an opportunity for artists to exhibit their products in a prime site when the market closes.

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