ALULA: Winter at Tantora commenced on Wednesday, with the sundial the festival named after marked the change of the season and the start of the planting season in AlUla, known as Al-Marba’aniya.
AlUla’s most-prominent landmark, the "Tantora" sundial is found in the old town. The winter festival is named after the sundial because of the essential role it played in the lives of the city’s people.
This culturally significant festive season has always been filled with celebrations. The community has always been proud of their time-old traditions, and they continue to revive it every year.
“We’re extremely happy that our culture and traditions are being showcased in this beautiful manner to the rest of the world,” said Abdulmalek Ahmad Nseef, 20, from AlUla. “Our city has really been thriving ever since we opened our doors to visitors from all over the world.”
Winter at Tantora is a six-week festival that is part of the two-month AlUla Moments, similar to Riyadh Season, which is back for its third edition. Visitors to the festivities will be able to experience a range of activities and engage in cultural exploration over the six weeks.
The Tantora Celebration that started on Dec. 22 lasts for five days, focusing on sharing the traditions and culture of the AlUla Oasis.
“It’s been a very warm welcome for us, and we’re really happy to be here,” said Michael Halimi, who visited the Kingdom with his family from France.
“I think we’ve met some of the kindest and most honest people here,” Halimi’s daughter Sarah told Arab News. “It’s the curiosity of the unknown that brought us here, and we’re really glad we came.”
Different areas have been set up in AlUla’s Old Town to showcase the local heritage and aspects of daily social life.
Visitors engaged in four experiences as part of the five-day celebration, including a 45-minute theatrical performance of the iconic Arab explorer Ibn Battuta, followed by a shorter performance teaching people about the significance of Tantora’s architecture.
Visitors can then check out the farmer’s market and purchase local goods sourced from the oasis farms, and then finally end the evening by planting crops in the AlUla soil, fully immersing them in the spirit of the Tantora celebration.
The experience starts at 6 p.m. and at 8:30 p.m. and lasts for around one-and-a-half hours. Tickets can be booked via the official website www.experiencealula.com.
Winter at Tantora features other experiences such as visiting Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Sadu Escape, Elephant Rock, a safari excursion showcasing panoramic views of AlUla’s beautiful natural skyline of mountainous rock, the Maraya platform, which has become host to the world’s greatest artist and talents, as well as pop-up restaurants and food trucks.