Azimuth Festival: A world of creativity in the heart of AlUla

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Saudi Gazette report

ALULA —
The Winter at Tantora festival wrapped up its spectacular second season with Azimuth – three days of food, art and music. Bringing together talents from the East and the West, Azimuth kicked off with a gastronomic journey followed by a musical extravaganza featuring Jean-Michel Jarre, The Chainsmokers and Tinie Tempah amongst others, and concluded with a day of cultural exploration.

The festival set the tone on the first day by enthralling the visitors’ tastebuds with signature dishes from world-famous restaurants Annabel’s, La Cantine du Faubourg and Sass Café topped off by a soirée on the rooftop of the Maraya Concert Hall, offering awe-inspiring views as well as delicious concoctions designed by globally awarded drinks experts Mr Lyan Studio.

The culinary extravaganza continued across all three days with Brazilian head chef Alex Atala of D.O.M. as well as Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske Valtierra of Contra and Wildair — two of New York’s rising stars — taking on the mantle of chefs-in-residence for the duration of the event. The trio married the flavors of the East and the West in a series of feasts that featured fusion fare such as Brazilian Falafel, Grilled Grouper with Banana Puree and Steamed Rice Tabbouleh.

The beats rained down on the main day of the festival, with a concert that brought together voices and melodies from all corners. Curated by electronic music visionary Jean-Michel Jarre, the concert saw international stars The Chainsmokers, Tinie Tempah, as well as regional crowd-pullers Hollaphonic, DJ Molekaah & Sara G, Omar Basaad and Hamza Hawsawi entertain the crowds from noon to midnight.

Jean-Michel Jarre, who played an electrifying set that highlighted AlUla’s otherworldly landscape, said: “Conceiving and designing a futuristic stage-set here in such a mind-blowing timeless natural environment is most definitely not only a privilege but certainly one of my most exciting creative projects to date. Inspiration was such that I specially composed a new track for my performance here called Azimuth.”

In keeping with Winter at Tantora’s strong art program, Azimuth also presented two complementary installations by British contemporary artist Lauren Baker called ‘Frequency Of The Sun’ and ‘Frequency Of The Moon’ in addition to “Horizon of Day and Night’ by conceptual art studio Shuster & Moseley, led by Claudia Moseley and Edward Shuster. Startlingly original and dynamic, the installations elevated the majestic dignity of the surroundings with its presence, while paying homage to the cosmic theme of the festival.

The festival wrapped up with a final day of discovery. Guests explored the true stars of AlUla – its remarkable heritage sites including UNESCO World Heritage Site Hegra as well as the arresting Elephant Rock and historic Hijaz Railway.

“Azimuth Festival highlighted AlUla’s historic role as a meeting point but also its cultural and creative heritage through the originality of its music, food and art. We have gotten off to a good start and look forward to upping the ante for the next edition,” said Abeer Alakel, Chief, Special Initiatives & Partnerships, Royal Commission for AlUla.


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