Pitbull brings the party to Riyadh Season's glittering opening ceremony

The Cuban-American rapper was welcomed to the stage by WWE wrestling star The Undertaker

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Riyadh Season kicked off in explosive style with Pitbull performing amid fireworks.

A reported crowd of 750,000 people congregated in the Saudi capital's central boulevard district to attend the opening ceremony that had a parade and a performance by the Cuban-American rapper.

Welcomed on to the stage by WWE wrestling star The Undertaker, Pitbull delivered a typically upbeat set.

Backed by dancers, he dropped fiesta-themed bangers such as Don't Stop the Party, International Love and his latest single, I Feel Good.

"Everybody in Riyadh, thank you so much for having us. It's a pleasure and honour to be here," Pitbull said in a backstage interview.

"I have been to Saudi Arabia before and travelled the world and all the people from Saudi Arabia say how they loved our music and I want to say thank you so much, I appreciate it. Shukran."

The ceremony also featured an opening address by Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, which organised the festival.

He described the second Riyadh Season as bigger and better.

“In the first season, our motto was ‘Imagine’ and in the second season, our motto is ‘Imagine more’."

In addition to Pitbull's gig, the ceremony included a parade featuring a drone display, live bands, costumes, acrobatic and traditional dance displays.

And this is only the beginning.

The ceremony marked the first event of a planned 7,500 to be held as part of Riyadh Season.

Running until March 2022, the festival will take place in an area measuring 5.4 million square metres and spread across 14 thematic zones.

The calendar is packed with nearly 80 concerts, WWE wrestling spectacular Crown Jewel and a football tournament featuring a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side with Argentine super-star Lionel Messi.

There will be plenty of dining options across all zones, with more than 200 restaurants and 70 cafes set to take part, 10 of which will be making their debut in the kingdom.

Also on the cards is the return of one of the world's biggest dance music festivals.

Running from Thursday to Sunday, December 16 to 19, in a purpose-built location in the outskirts of the city, Soundstorm recently announced its first tranche of headliners, including Deadmau5, Tiesto, Steve Aoki, DJ Snake and electronic music pioneer Jeff Mills.

With more event announcements to come, the way to keep track of all the latest happenings is on the Riyadh Season and General Entertainment Authority’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels.

Updated: October 21, 2021, 9:06 AM