AlUla, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – 21st November 2023: The Royal Commission for AlUla – under the banner of AlUla Moments now announces the full calendar of events for 2023 meaning visitors can plan their 2023 adventures to coincide with the five festivals and six marque events and on offer.
AlUla continues to make a name for itself as one of the world’s hottest new destinations with visitors snapping up tickets to 2022 events including concerts at Maraya, AZIMUTH, the Wellness Festival and Ancient Kingdoms Festival.
WINTER AT TANTORA
Returning for the fourth time is the eagerly-anticipated Winter at Tantora. From 22nd December 2022 until 22ndJanuary 2023, Winter at Tantora will feature cultural events, musical concerts, wellness, nature, fashion, dining and more.
The Tantora Cultural Celebration will kick off the WAT festival as it does every year. This year the celebration will run for 4 days offering locals and visitors a chance to gather in the Tantora piazza and welcome in the new season with traditional festivities of music and dance.
In food, Flavours of AlUla, offers a colourful new event celebrating the fusion, fun and art of food. Visitors can expect cooking demonstrations, tastings and many instagrammable moments inspired by the flavours of AlUla, Saudi and further afield. The Citrus Festival will also return offering farmers a unique opportunity to showcase the citrus that AlUla is famous for in unique and engaging ways. From the Pomelo to the Torounge, citrus is one of the dominant fruit grown wildly in the oasis and on farms around the region. Tastings, a citrus market, cooking and more will be on offer.
In dining, there are many new and exciting restaurant opening during the Winter at Tantora period which will have foodies spoilt for choice. From international restaurants in stunning spaces to home-grown concepts offering delectable dishes from nearby, AlUla is fast becoming a destination dining hotspot.
In Ashar Valley, a series of exciting luxury retail pop-ups are sure to delight – with brands to be announced soon. In AlUla’s virbrant new arts district, AlJadidah, a homegrown market concept space will showcase talented designers from Saudi and there will be music from The Saudi National Music Band. Eco-gardening, agriculture workshops and guided walk experiences will be on offer in the oasis and cultural and archaeological workshops in the heritage sites. Five Senses Wellness retreat will make a return and musical concerts will continue in Maraya including the now sold out Majed AlMohandes on the 23rd of December 2022.
The game of Kings is back with the Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo 2023 taking place on the 27th and 28th of January 2023. As in the previous editions, the tournament features four teams led by players from the legendary La Dolfina Polo team playing alongside local and international guests. The event will take place at the specially designed arena among the majestic landscapes of the Equestrian Village. Meanwhile the Uber-chic crowd will compete in the fashion stakes, showcasing their favourite winter looks while they cheer on the riders at this unique international event.
After an extremely successful first edition in AlUla, Saudi Tour returns from the 1st to 5th of February 2023. In collaboration with the Saudi Arabia Cycling Federation, cyclists from around the world will descend on AlUla to challenge in the third edition of Saudi Tour between the beautiful surroundings and nature of AlUla. Cyclists and sports fans will experience the destination at moderate weather and with a large selection of activities to fill their evening time.
AlUla Trail Race will be an open-to-everyone fun event for both experienced and amateur runners / walkers. The race will allow participants to explore the stunning landscapes and nature of AlUla while rewarding their body and mind. AlUla Trail Race 2023, 23rd – 24th February, will be a destination-running event with a focus on environment, nature and the thrill of competing in an ancient untouched land.
On 4th of March 2023, the highly-competitive AlUla Endurance Cup 2023 will return in its fourth edition and will welcome more than 200 riders to compete on the desert track with the finest horses from around the world. The two stars-ranked competition – organised by the Royal Commission for AlUla and Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation (SAEF) – is a sanctioned International Equestrian Federation (FEI) ride and covers a distance of 120 km, which participants complete by riding four loops. Prizes up to USD 4.2m are on offer. Equestrian enthusiasts and interested spectators will have an opportunity to experience an exciting day out, with entertainments and food and beverage on offer while connecting AlUla’s ancient Arabian horse heritage culture.
Extreme Adventure AlUla is one for those seeking high-adrenaline, high-heat in a highly challenging environment. With a series of physical challenges and obstacles maximising the surrounding nature and landscapes of AlUla - from abseiling, hiking, cycling, dune buggies, rock climbing and many more – adventure is part of AlUla’s DNA, this extreme adventure challenge is one for outdoor and nature enthusiasts and fitness gurus to add to their calendar from 7th to 10th June 2023.
Running from 9th to 12th of February, the first-ever marquee fashion event in Saudi Arabia will be presented in AlUla Catwalk. With a weekend of fashion, music and art event inspired by the plight of the critically endangered Arabian Leopard, AlUla Catwalk is designed to raise awareness of important measures being taken to restore the animal to the wild. The Arabian Leopard trail will be launched, there will be a photographic exhibition in nature and an auction and bazaar will celebrate the artistry of fashion in the majestic surroundings and landscapes of AlUla.
AlUla Arts Festival is set to be a must-visit event on the global arts calendar. The 2023 festival, from 13th to 28thFebruary, will offer a diverse, curated selection of art workshops, immersive experiences and international art exhibitions. The flagship event for 2023, opening on 17 February 2023, is FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla. This exhibition curated especially for Maraya, AlUla by the Andy Warhol Museum - the internationally renowned American institution that holds the largest collection of the artist’s work and archive - highlights one of the world’s most famous and recognisable artists’ personal fascination with fame and celebrity. Some of the artist’s most famous silk-screen artworks will be available to visitors for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
Following Ramadan, Eid AlFitr will coincide with the second edition of AlUla Skies Festival presented by SAUDIA. A highlight of the AlUla Moments calendar, from 20th of April until 4th of May 2023, the event will see 200 colourful balloons flying high over the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra. The beloved ballooning experience in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Ballooning Federation is one to book early. Alongside the balloons will be a series of immersive events that celebrate the vast open space of the ancient desert and the galaxy above such as elevated stargazing experiences and much more.
After the hugely successful and critically acclaimed AZIMUTH 2022, the flagship music festival will return in 2023 with four days event from 22nd to 25th of September. Taking place once again during the Saudi National Day Holiday, the eclectic event will offer a mix of local and international artists and DJs, art activations and more in this bespoke and intimate music event.
Having played host to Usher, Westlife, John Legend and One Republic in recent months, Maraya will continue to bring a mix of international and regional artists to entertain Saudi and international audiences. In addition, AlUla’s unique landscapes are offering musical events with recent examples in AlUla Old Town and Elephant Rock.
AlUla Wellness Festival will return from 26th of September until 16th of October, bringing the best of the world of wellness, restoration and relaxation to AlUla in the biggest wellness event in the region. Situated on the old incense trading routes, AlUla has been always a place for restoration and relaxation to travelers in ancient times and pilgrims passing from north of Arabia, Egypt and beyond going to the south of Arabia and Yemen. The flagship event of the wellness festival – The Five Senses Sanctuary – will return with an exciting mix of international and local practitioners of the 2 weeks offering yoga, meditation, talks and fitness in the stunning surrounds of the oasis.
HERITAGE AND CULTURE
Ancient Kingdoms Festival will return for its second edition from 17th November until 3rd December 2023. The First edition of the festival – currently running – introduces the connection between the three linked ancient oases of North West Arabia – AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma - and offers a sneak peek of immersive experiences set in historic and natural landscapes as part of the Ancient Kingdoms Festival.
Heritage and culture is central to everything on offer in AlUla. Cultural workshops and experiences are weaved throughout each of AlUla’s festivals and marque events. From the art workshops available at Madrasat Addeera and throughout AlUla Arts to the archaeology sessions as part of Winter at Tantora.
Ramadan and Eid AlFitr in AlUla – 22 March to 22 April. With respect to the mindfulness and time for reflection during Ramadan, AlUla will continue to offer activities for visitors and special offers that focus on relaxation and restoration for friends and family offering disconnect to reconnect opportunities during the holy month. While the hotels, resorts and a large variety of restaurants will bring the best of traditional Ramadan offers to those fasting, international visitors will also experience the unique culture of Ramadan during the perfect moderate weather of this time of year.
As a year-round destination and with temperatures well below that of the major cities in the region, AlUla Summer Events will offer a range of activities and offers in summer 2023. Running from 1st August until 1st September, the summer calendar will include adventure, culinary, events, kids and family activities, heritage and cultural tours and many more.
Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Officer at RCU said: “Since our year-round opening in October 2020, we have introduced events that celebrate every season of the year. In AlUla today we can offer the finest experiences in line with our vision for a sophisticated destination focused on heritage, culture, arts and adventure. We have an outstanding line up of events, alongside our year-round heritage and nature experiences. You can either do it all, or do nothing in AlUla and just enjoy the surroundings.
With more direct flights from Dubai, Cairo, and with Paris and Aman coming, plus accommodation capacity increased, AlUla is gearing up for a full year of festivals and events; and we look forward to welcoming visitors from the region and around the world.”
Along with four main heritage sites open all year round, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra, the variety of arts, food and beverage offerings has increased significantly. The new AlJadidah precinct is home to the Incense Road market with cafes, retail, arts and cultural experiences delighting locals and visitors.