The very first music and cultural festival in Saudi Arabia returns to AlUla this month. The new six-week format runs from 21 December to 12 February and features an exciting curated programme of international music, equestrian and gastronomy.
Kicking off the festival with style is the Tantora Celebration taking place in AlUla Old Town from 21 – 25 December which heralds the start of the winter season with an immersive light and sound show and roving actors.
A highlight of the festival will be the sophisticated new event Hegra Candlelit Classics. Located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra, an atmospheric set up with hundreds of candles lighting up the 2000 year old intricately carved Nabataean tombs will provide a unique backdrop for a series of musical events on December 24th and 31st. The music will feature and be curated by Stefan Lombard, renowned South African classical pianist. He has ensembled a team of global musicians to perform an exciting set of classical, contemporary and Arabic music including violinist David Best, cellist Dorette Roos and oud player Simon Stengel. The event promises an emotional and elegant east meets west experience.
Other immersive experiences in the heritage sites include theatre with a difference, taking place in nature or in the streets such as the Path of Poets performance in the cultural oasis, and The Traveller Ibn Buttuta in Old Town.
The AlUla Citrus Festival on two successive weekends in January will be a vibrant celebration of the produce for which AlUla is known. Festivities will include artisan market stalls and music and local farmers will showcase and sell their produce.
In an exciting new activation for cinema-goers, the new Cinema ElHoush offers an outdoor cinema setting in the AlJadidah district – a new arts precinct adjacent to AlUla Old Town – from December 23, 2021 to Feb 28, 2022. The cinema will operate Tuesday through Saturday nights offering a choice of two movies per evening. Movies will include those recently shown at Cannes Film Festival and Venice Film Festival and will be premieres for the Kingdom.
AlUla has a long and deep history with Arabian horse culture and this year’s equestrian events will have something for everyone.
Taking place for the very first time is a new haute couture event Hegra Cavalry Fashion Show. Taking place on 27 January, this high-fashion event which combines modern-day style with ancient history takes place among the 2000 year old UNESCO World Heritage Site. The unique and intimate runway event has both four-legged and two-legged models strutting their style to impress fashionistas and horse-lovers alike. Serious fashion buyers will be walking away with exclusive one-off fashion statements.
On the 29th of January the competitive Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Race returns for a third time. A demanding 120km horserace through the desert, this race sets the benchmark on endurance racing worldwide. The last time the race was run was February 2020, where 200 riders from 17 countries raced for 7 hours from sunrise to sunset through AlUla’s stunning desert landscape. Victory was for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his mare Utoufa de Lap (F3 Stables).
The inaugural AlUla Desert Polo event in January 2020 put Saudi Arabia on the map as a new and exciting polo destination. On February 11 and 12, the Royal Commission for AlUla supported by Saudi Polo Federation is delighted to host the event again in AlUla. Four teams will compete in the Desert Polo Arena once again featuring international polo stars as well as invited Polo patrons. Guests will be able to buy tickets to attend both days.
At Maraya, the AlUla Moments concert series will continue with an exciting mix of regional Arabic artists, as well as some familiar and some new international names making up the music program for Winter at Tantora.
AlUla favourite Andrea Bocelli returns to perform once again to his adoring Saudi and international fans. Back by popular demand, it will be the fourth time the maestro performs in AlUla after an emotional performance with his children in April 2020.
Alongside those already announced, regional artists include improvisational composer and singer Abdulrahman Mohammed, the Saudi artist who transmits via his YouTube channel launched in 2008 – his artistic experience in the world of improvisational and experimental alternative music. Abdulrahman is known for singing and composing music for traditional heritage Arabic love poems which are written in standard Arabic language, such as “Ya man Hawah”, and “Lamma tlaqaina”. Also, Abdulrahman’s experimental improvisational musical project “The Hope Will Never End” is documented on his YouTube channel and took more than 10 years to be completed. He performed in the most distinguished international theatres and in universities and participated in many of the alternative music festivals. Now Abdulrahman is on a date with his fans in AlUla to celebrate the new year on the stage of the world’s biggest mirrored building, Maraya.
Maraya will host next the prolific Egyptian composer, conductor and pianist, Maestro Omar Khairat, followed by a special concert for the Lebanese soprano and actor, Magida El Roumi.
The artists will all be performing at the newly enhanced Maraya, complete with new rooftop restaurant, Maraya Social.
DATES OF MUSICAL PERFORMANCES
- Abdulrahman Mohammed – 7th January
- Omar Khairat – 14th January
- Andrea Bocelli – 21st January
- Magida El Roumi – 28th January
Tickets for Maraya concert series for composer and singer Abdulrahman Mohammed, Maestro Omar Khairat and the super star Magida El Roumi go on sale today, November 25th.
Tickets for Bocelli and Hegra Candlelit Classics from December 2nd, while all tickets for equestrian events will be available for sale from December 12th.
To book your ticket, visit www.experiencealula.com