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The Second Winter at Tantora Festival launches in Saudi Arabia

The Second Winter at Tantora Festival launches in Saudi Arabia
December 21, 2019

The Royal Commission for AlUla has launched its Second Winter at Tantora Festival of Culture, Heritage and Celebration in AlUla, North West Saudi Arabia.

Winter at Tantora is a three-month celebration showcasing international music, art and culture connecting East and West as AlUla has done for thousands of years. The festival will cover 12 weekends from 19th December and host a wide range of events from the world-famous Dakar Rally; international ballooning festival; the world’s second longest endurance horse race; the world’s first desert polo tournament and welcome pop-up restaurants from globally renowned restaurants.

The launch comes just months after Saudi Arabia introduced tourist visas to citizens from 49 countries making the Kingdom more accessible than ever with the UNESCO World Heritage site at Hegra in AlUla among those featured in a global marketing campaign.

The festival is part of the Cultural Manifesto that was launched by the festival organisers, the Royal Commission for AlUla, in Paris in October as part of a long-term strategy to transform the region and open the region as a global living museum and place of culture, heritage and the arts.

The spectacular mirrored wall Maraya Theatre with its 500-seat capacity and operatic sound quality will welcome performers including Omar Khairat to Andrea Bocelli.

Festival visitors will also be able to meet and engage with young members of the AlUla community who are benefitting from a diverse range of training programmes in hospitality; culture; nature and the environment and studying overseas including 24 men and women at the FERRANDI Paris culinary institute in Paris.

These young chefs will work alongside Michelin-starred experts during the festival creating world-class cuisine that will incorporate local ingredients from the fertile AlUla valley and blending traditional recipes with modern cuisine.

RCU Chief Executive Amr AlMadani advises “Festival visitors will be given a unique opportunity to visit and experience one of the world’s undiscovered places and its spectacular heritage sites before we reopen them to the world in October 2020.

“They will get a tantalising glimpse of a place that been a cultural crossroads for thousands of years and the chance to see it from the serenity of a hot air balloon; the adrenaline of soaring over the desert and mountains in an open seater biplane or exploring hidden canyons in traditional vintage Land Rovers.”

The Royal Commission for AlUla has also completed major infrastructure work at AlUla airport – increasing capacity fourfold to 400,000 visitors a year and upgrading local mountain resorts to enhance the visitor experience.

RCU consider that AlUla will be a worldwide destination for those seeking to experience an integration of the natural and cultural heritage as one living environment.

RCU believe that by safeguarding their precious landscapes and cultural heritage - this open-air museum will be the “Kingdom’s gift to the world creating remarkable and lasting memories.”

‘Authentic AlUla’, the opening weekend, is a celebration rooted in AlUla, to mark the start of the winter planting season at the iconic Tantora sundial from which the festival is named. It is the first of 12 specially themed weekends.

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established to protect and safeguard AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in North-West Saudi Arabia. RCU is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of country’s most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world. RCU’s development work in AlUla encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education and the arts, reflecting the ambitious commitment to cultivate tourism and leisure in Saudi Arabia, outlined in Vision 2030.

Image of international ballooning festival at AlUla courtesy of The Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC on twitter)

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11th July 2019 - Backlash sees Nicki Minaj pull out of Saudi Arabia festival

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1st November 2017 - Sir Richard Branson to turn 50 Saudi Arabian islands into luxury tourism destinations

30th October 2017 - Saudi Arabia to allow women to attend stadium-based sport

11th October 2017 - Saudi Arabia reveals US$2.7 billion plan to expand entertainment sector

25th February 2010 - Saudi Arabia to build $13 billion ‘tourist city’ on Gulf coast


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