Acoustic Session, Bars, Electronic Music, Progressive Rock, Reggae & Dub, Venues

An interview with Maria Portelli from Zion Reggae Bar

Escaping Central Malta, I head South looking for Zion.

Words by: Luc John Claude


A band of rose settles on the horizon. In the afterglow of sunset, people around me seem to be relieved to finish their Thursday, grab some food, suck down a drink or two and prematurely ease on the weekend. Reggae covers are playing and my beer is getting sweaty.


Zion Reggae Bar is one of the bastions of reggae culture in Malta, one of the first seasonal bars to emerge along with Juuls to really promote the genre back in 2007. Ivan the owner is a dread-clad traveller who previously had a small bar in Birzebbuga and felt the need to expand. Drawing inspiration from different places around the world, he started the Zion Reggae Bar in what was basically an empty field on the Marsascala seaside.


I sit down with Maria Portelli, the go-getter, the motivator and the manager of Zion. Taking her job in full vigor, she is behind the smooth running of the restaurant, event planning and colorful marketing campaigns that catch our attention over social media. We order another beer and talk about what the place is all about:


So why come to Zion?

MP: “People usually come for the concept of the location and they appreciate the good food and cocktails. I believe the kitchen is the engine of any catering business, and Zion is proof of this.”




Tell me about the music.

MP: “Zion’s main scene is obviously reggae, which is a rather unappreciated one in Malta. Aside from reggae we are able to cater to all kinds of music.”


And she is right about that. Zion certainly has the perfect setup for live music – a lifted stage that is covered along with a proper dance floor and a large backyard to kick it. There are three bars and plenty of greenery, a factor that is missing for many in central Malta.


What can we look forward to?

MP: “Halloween! Zion turns into a giant horror house for the night. Costumes are a must and the more horrific the better”.



Zion lit up by hundreds of candles for Halloween.


What do you like most about Zion?

MP: “Zion is dynamic, it makes room for alternative music scenes from rock to reggae to plenty of other genres.”


Zion runs several weekly events such as Alternative Tuesdays and Electronic Thursdays where you can listen to a new genre every week such as latin, electro swing and electronic music – take it from us, you won’t get bored.



Bombastic Paolo Baldini’s DubFiles play live at Zion. Check them out here.


In Rastafari tradition, ‘Zion’ stands for a utopian place of unity, peace and freedom. It is the opposite of what they call ‘Babylon,’ the oppressive, exploiting and materialistic world that we live in. Do yourself a favor: escape Babylon, head down south and discover Zion!


Upcoming Events at Zion Reggae Bar:

September 1: Deck the Decades 70s Funk

September 2: General Levy live at ZION

September 5: ALT Tuesdays ft D.A.M Events


All photo credit goes to Zion and their photographers. For all question about ownership feel free to contact us directly. 

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