Riyadh Season is back bigger and better.
The arts and culture festival begins on Wednesday with thousands of events planned across the Saudi Arabian capital over five months.
With so much announced and scores more to be unveiled, here are 10 things to know about Riyadh Season as it begins.
1. What is it?
Basically, a five-month party in Riyadh.
Organised by the General Entertainment Authority, Riyadh Season will host 7,500 events covering everything from music and arts to food and sport.
2. When is it?
The arts and culture festival begins on Wednesday and runs until March 2022. Expect nearly all entertainment in the city to run under the banner of Riyadh Season and to be marketed accordingly on social media.
3. Where is it being held?
Riyadh Season will take place in an area measuring 5.4 million square metres and will be spread across 14 thematic zones.
This includes the food and family hub of Boulevard Riyadh City, the luxurious shopping district of Via Riyadh, the family leisure area Winter Wonderland, the desert dunes of Riyadh Oasis and the cultural hub of Khalooha.
For the full list of zones, click here.
4. What's there to eat?
There will be plenty of dining options across all zones, with more than 200 restaurants and 70 cafes set to take part.
While details of the venues that have signed up for Riyadh Season will be revealed soon, what we do know is that Via Riyadh will be the place for high-end restaurants and Oasis Riyadh will offer local and traditional dining experiences.
Al Murabba zone will also be the setting for up to 10 restaurants and cafes making their debut in the kingdom.
5. Who will perform?
Music lovers are in for a treat, with 70 concerts featuring regional artists and six performed by international acts.
A couple of acts have already been announced for this month, with rapper Pitbull performing as part of the Riyadh Season Opening Parade on Wednesday at Boulevard Riyadh City.
The Egyptian Orchestra will also be performing in the zone on Thursday, November 28.
More concerts will be announced soon.
6. What happened to MDL Beast?
One of the world’s biggest music festivals will return as part of Riyadh Season and under new name: Soundstorm.
Running from Thursday to Sunday, December 16 to 19, in a purpose-built location in the outskirts of the city, the festival recently announced its first tranche of headliners, including Deadmau5, Tiesto, Steve Aoki, DJ Snake and electronic music pioneer Jeff Mills.
Also to be launched in the run-up to festival is the XP music conference, from Monday to Wednesday, December 13 to 15. The event will gather the music industry’s leading creative and business minds for three days of discussions, workshops and masterclasses. It will take place at Jax in Riyadh's art district.
7. There will be football tournament
Get ready to see the man, the myth, the legend Lionel Messi in the kingdom as part of the Riyadh Season Cup.
To be held in January 2022, the tournament will feature the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side (including the Argentinian superstar, Brazil’s Neymar and France wunderkind Kylian Mbappe) alongside local clubs Al Hilal and Al Nassr.
8. See the Crown Jewel
The WWE will return to Saudi Arabia with wrestling spectacular the Crown Jewel set to take place in Riyadh's King Fahd International Stadium on Thursday.
The event will have WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch defending her title in a triple threat match against Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks.
The bout will mark the third WWE women's wrestling match to take place in the kingdom, with the first being the 2019 encounter between Natalya and Lacey Evans.
9. There will be safety measures in place
At present, Riyadh Season is following the health and safety protocols outlined by the General Entertainment Authority in August.
This means only fully vaccinated adults will be permitted to attend events and activities. Children under the age of 12 will be exempt from the requirement if they do not show any Covid-19 symptoms, including fever, a cough, a runny nose or sore throat.
Riyadh Season tickets can be obtained through the kingdom's track and trace mobile application Tawakkalna and through the website.
Prior to entry, adults need to show they are fully vaccinated on the app, while children under 12 can gain access under the status of ‘Uninfected’ or ‘Not Exposed’.