Malta’s strategic geography at the crossroads of the Mediterranean has contributed to its rich history and ever-growing cultural diversity.With a myriad of influences from the Mediterranean and beyond, the Maltese Islands are an ideal meeting point for an event as diverse as the Malta World Music Festival, which celebrates the beauty of cultural diversity through the expressive medium of music. The year 2018 will see the second edition of the festival unfold with another great line up of local bands and a number of highly acclaimed international world music acts.

Among this year’s highlights include Grammy-nominated collective Afro Celt Sound System who will be headlining Friday night’s concert. Formed by Simon Emmerson back in 1996, Afro Celt Sound System are a European and African based collective who’ve been a ground-breaking force in music ever since the beginning. With sales now topping one and a half million albums and two Grammy nominations to date, Afro Celt Sound System has been at the forefront of bringing worldbeat to the masses having performed at concerts and festivals all over the world.

Cushion, who will be flying the flag for Malta, will kick off the festival on Friday night. This local Indian fusion outfit draws heavily from the Indian tradition, with dominant sitar licks and eastern vocalisations, all backed with keyboard ambience and pulsating bass and drum patterns. Their live performances often include professional dance choreography, fire juggling and buugeng acts.

Friday night’s line-up is completed by Refugees for Refugees, a band of ten musicians under the leadership of the Belgian oud player Tristan Driessens who are actual refugees originating from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tibet. The band’s sound builds bridges between the musical heritage of their respective homelands.

Chart-topping Spanish artist Ana Alcaide will open Saturday night’s festivities. Ana has played a pioneering role in the introduction and popularisation of the nyckelharpa in Spain. Rooted in ancient traditions yet resolutely modern, her compositions deftly blend musical styles from different cultures.

Alcaide will be followed by TRAD.ATTACK!, a trio of musicians who play their own interpretation of Estonian folk, which fuses rock, folk and bagpipe music. TRAD.ATTACK draws inspiration from archive recordings of the great Estonian folk singers and instrumentalists who created and performed music for work, leisure and festivities in olden times.

The festival will draw to a close with a set from Electrik GEM! Guitarist Grégory Dargent and his motley band of instrumentalists – which includes oud, gadulka and tarhu players – merge sounds from the Balkans, the Middle East and the Orient as an attempt to musically transcribe the modern multifaceted Mediterranean metropolis.

The 2018 edition of the Malta World Music Festival promises to take festival-goers on an expansive musical journey across time, cultures and place.

This year’s edition will be taking place between the 18th and 19th May 2018 at Fort St Elmo in Valletta. Visit the Malta World Music Festival website for more information.