Winter at Tantora Festival announced in Al-Ula

January 16, 2019

Mariam Nihal

This winter, the archeological jewel of the Kingdom, Al-Ula will play host to a special season of events and festivities. The Winter at Tantora festival will be the first event of its kind to be held in the breath-taking UNESCO World Heritage site. Designed to showcase the wonders of Al-Ula to the rest of the world, the festival announces the reawakening of this magical region as Saudi Arabia’s first tourist destination.

Al-Ula, which lies north of the Arabian peninsula is home to numerous archeological sites and is a meeting point of many civilizations. Winter at Tantora Festival reflects this heritage and showcases the historical depth of the region to the world, which has been witness to the development of Al-Ula society on many different levels including agriculture, astronomy and construction. During the festival, feature weekends will include the Tantora Festival, The Wonder of Winter – A Celebration of Light and Life, the Hot Air Balloon Festival from 31st Jan to 9th February 2019, and Fursan Festival which will play host to the prestigious Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup on the 2nd February.

Stars Under the Stars

Beginning on December 21, there will be a series of eight weekend concerts from some of the world’s greatest musicians.

Under the dazzling night skies of Al-Ula, you can experience the transcendent power of virtuoso talents such as Mohamed Abdo, Majida El Roumi, Renaud Capuçon, Omar Khairat, Lang Lang, Um Kulthum, Andrea Bocelli and Yanni.

Each will perform in a stunning, purpose-built concert hall, which showcases the natural majesty of Al-Ula’s scenery, thus bringing together the beauty of music and the beauty of nature in a way that has not been seen before. To add to the already memorable event, on the sixth weekend, Egyptian legend Um Kulthum will give her world-first ‘performance’, via a hologram show.

The reception area inside the halls will have visual shows of classical artworks by world-known painter Van Gogh.

With just 500 tickets available to each concert, guests wishing to witness this unique event can either book a day package or a full weekend package – both of which will allow them to be part of Al-Ula’s re-emergence on the world stage.

Authentic Experiences

Winter at Tantora is also a local festival where Al-Ula’s proud residents will welcome you to discover the wonders of their region and culture.

With a name inspired by a sundial located in Al-Ula’s old town, used by the local population for years, as both a mode of telling time and a marker of the changing of the seasons, Winter at Tantora, is a celebration of life, culture, heritage and beauty.

Guests of the Winter at Tantora Festival can take part in an exclusive visit to the archeological and heritage sites that are closed for renovations and will be open solely to the select group of Winter at Tantora ticket holders.

Enjoy unparalleled star-gazing opportunities hosted by experts revealing the wonders of the universe and the constellations. Or discover authentic cuisine available at one of the many pop-up restaurants.

Hot Air Balloon Festival from 31st Jan to 9th February)

The skies of Al Ula will be brought to life with a Hot Air Balloon Festival. Set to enthrall children and adults alike, the spectacular event is a must-see for all. An array of brightly coloured and patterned beautiful balloons will take to the skies, against the enchanting backdrop of Al-Ula.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

Endurance Cup (2 February 2019)

Held for the first time in Al-Ula, The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup will take place on the 2nd February in partnership with the Saudi Equestrian Federation and the Royal Commission for Al-Ula. The endurance race will see the participation of 80 riders and have one of the largest prize pots for endurance races in the region.

About Al-Ula

Al-Ula county, located 300km north of Medina, is a place of extraordinary human and natural heritage. The Wadi Al-Qura (the Valley of Villages), a lush oasis valley that runs through Al-Ula, sheltered by sandstone mountains, created a perfect environment for civilisations to flourish. The Dedanites, Lihyanites and Nabataeans all built cities here.

The Al-Ula region is a natural crossroads and was an important trading route used from at least the first millennium BC. Positioned on the ancient Incense Route between Southern Arabia and Egypt, Al-Ula became a hub of commercial and cultural exchange, its cities and oases important stopping-points for traders of frankincense, myrrh and other precious commodities.

About Tantora

An ancient marker for the changing of the agricultural season, Tantora is a sundial located in Al-Ula’s old town. It has been used by the local population for hundreds of years as both a mode of telling time and a marker for the changing of the seasons. It takes the form of an obelisk, constructed as part of a wall.

Tantora has, over time, become the focal point of an annual festival marking the start of the winter season. The local population celebrates this beginning as the return of agricultural activity in the region. It has become a local tradition of increasing popularity over the years, showcasing the ancient human traditions of creation, development and progress. ​

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