JEDDAH: The winter season of events at AlUla prides itself on having everything from astronomy to gastronomy, but this year it will excel itself.
Among the events planned for the jewel in Saudi Arabia’s heritage crown is an haute couture fashion show — for horses.
Other equestrian highlights this year will be the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Race and AlUla Desert Polo.
Events will begin on Dec. 21 this year and run until March 30, 2022, and fall into four categories — Winter at Tantora, AlUla Arts, AlUla Skies, and the AlUla Wellness Festival, all providing a feast of arts, culture, music, and wellness.
Most musical performances will take place in the beautiful Maraya Center, and a candlelit symphonic concert at the UNESCO world heritage site of Hegra will begin proceedings.
Amira Abbas, who visited the festival in 2020, was thrilled to hear the announcement: “When I first went to AlUla it was magical, truly one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I am already excited to get back to the calm and quiet of the place. I will take at least a week off my schedule and plan a trip.”
The visitors will add to their knowledge of the site and the Kingdom through archaeology and cultural workshops taking place at the heritage sites.
AlUla Arts festival will commence February 2021, bringing together events centered around artistic talents. The “art of our time” exhibition will boast cutting-edge contemporary art created by Saudi artists. Alongside the exhibition is the Cinema El Housh, an outdoor cinema that will be showing the beauties of the oasis and other landscapes within AlUla. Saudi filmmakers will also contribute to these projects.
Another festival that will take flight is AlUla Skies, which will give tourists the chance to float over the Hegra in a hot air balloon, glide in a vintage plane over the oasis, and take a helicopter above the Madakheel. Back on land, adventurers can take the star-gazing tour titled “Constellations.”
Ohoud Abdallah, 27, spent three days touring the heritage sites of AlUla last year and told Arab News that she was not able to enjoy the skies on her visit: “It is a childhood fantasy of mine to go ride in a hot air balloon; last time I couldn’t because my timing was off. I am absolutely thrilled to see that it is coming back and there is nothing more I want to do than to float off in a balloon or just sit under the stars after being cooped up in my house for so long.”
Alula Wellness Festival, running from March 17 to 27, will focus on the well-being of the mind and body, including yoga, meditation, mindful practices, and an exhibition that will use space, light, and sound to provoke the senses.