Al Hosn Festival 2021: classic cars, coral sculpture workshops and a coffee tournament

The festival will take place at the historic Al Hosn site from November 25 to December 4

Visitors will be able to experience what daily life at Qasr Al Hosn would have been like during the mid 20th century, at the 'A Day in The Palace' exhibition. Khushnum Bhandari/ The National
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Al Hosn Festival, one of Abu Dhabi’s most celebrated annual cultural events, is returning this month with a 10-day programme that celebrates the UAE’s heritage, craftsmanship and art.

The festival, which will take place at the historic Al Hosn site from November 25 to December 4, will feature film screenings, performances, art installations, culinary experiences, crafts and design.

The event is organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, and comes as part of the institution’s mandate to preserve and promote the emirate’s heritage, showcase its cultural scene, and provide a platform for artistic experimentation and public engagement.

“Al Hosn is a symbol of the emirate’s rich history and a source of enormous pride for our people,” Saood Al Hosani, undersecretary at DCT Abu Dhabi, said. “This annual festival serves as the ideal platform for celebrating both our vibrant Emirati heritage and creative, innovative contemporary art scene. We invite the community to come and experience a stimulating programme of cultural activities for all ages, which allow them to reconnect with the past, understand where we have come from, and look forward to the future.”

Al Hosn is the original urban block of the city and comprises the historic Qasr Al Hosn fort, the Cultural Foundation and the House of Artisans.

The festival will open with a parade of 50 classic cars in celebration of the country’s Golden Jubilee.

A thematic and chronological programme will then guide visitors across Al Hosn’s buildings and outdoor areas. A series of activities revolving around Emirati heritage, storytelling and crafts will take place around Qasr Al Hosn and House of Artisans.

Visitors will be able to experience what daily life at Qasr Al Hosn would have been like during the mid 20th century, at the A Day in The Palace exhibition, which will feature pictures, audio testimonials and interactive elements.

Elements of Abu Dhabi’s intangible heritage will also be celebrated at House of Artisans through the demonstrations of Emirati craftsmanship and artisanal techniques. Immersive experiences such as sensory tours and creative photography stations will also be offered.

The journey then continues through the Maker’s Village, which will feature artists and designers from local and regional concept stores, fashion designers, and culinary outlets. Open-air film screenings will take place throughout the festival, programmed by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, as well as the second edition of the Gahwa Championships. The competition, which pays tribute to Arabic coffee, will challenge participants across five categories, testing their knowledge of Gahwa’s heritage and their skills in selecting and roasting beans, as well as their preparation methods.

Creative workshops for all ages will also be offered at the Maker’s Village, including sessions in coral sculpture and Arabic calligraphy.

The festival will also showcase contemporary artistic works that interpret the ever-evolving urban landscape of Abu Dhabi.

The visual arts programme of the Cultural Foundation portrays the evolution of Abu Dhabi, from its traditional past to its modern and contemporary expressions. A centrepiece of this is the Al Mujamma exhibition, an interactive archival installation encapsulating memories of the UAE community. The venue is also holding a retrospective for the Moroccan artist Mohammed Chabaa and an exhibition, Food for Thought: Thought for Change by Karachi-born artist Rasheed Araeen.

Cultural Foundation will also present a special performing arts programme in its indoor and outdoor theatres, featuring renowned musicians and artists. Additionally, interactive installations and workshops will be available at the Courtyard and the Children’s Library.

The entry fee is Dh15 for children aged 5 to 12, and Dh30 for adults. The entry ticket includes a site pass with access to workshops and family courtyards; it excludes separately ticketed performances at Cultural Foundation.

More information is available at

Updated: November 06, 2021, 11:21 AM