Tamer Hosny, Nancy Ajram and DJ Carnage: Riyadh Season Boulevard opening weekend proves a huge success

An estimated 600,000 people flooded the Boulevard on launch night

One massive firework display, 1,500 performers and a crowd of about 600,000 marked the opening of Riyadh Season's Boulevard zone on Thursday night. Crowds gathered to celebrate the launch, as 25 floats made their way down the boulevard as part of a spectacular parade, which is thought to have been the biggest the kingdom has ever seen.

On Friday night, thousands more flocked to Riyadh's new entertainment destination to see Egyptian singer Tamer Hosny and Lebanese star Nancy Ajram perform.

Over the next three months, about 100 events will take place as part of Riyadh Season, bringing millions of visitors from across the kingdom and the world to the Saudi capital.

Riyadh Season falls under the banner of the Saudi Seasons initiative, during which 11 similar events will take place across the kingdom. Riyadh's programme started on Friday, October 11, with a concert by K-pop supergroup BTS, and will run until mid-December under the theme "Imagine".

The Boulevard's opening weekend not only saw fireworks and performances by international talents, but also the official launch of the zone's food and beverage outlets, an outdoor cinema and fountain shows. The area will play host to a wide range of events throughout the three-month season, including children's activities, sporting events, musical performances and theatre shows.

Who would've thought that we'd see all of this in Riyadh, and in our beloved country?

It is made up of three main venues: the Mohammed Abdu Theatre, which has capacity for 22,000 guests, the 6,000-seater Abu Bakr Salem Theatre and the 2,000-seater Baker Al-Sheddi Theatre.

Turki Al Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, also made a speech, welcoming Riyadh residents and visitors to the boulevard. "I want to share a story with you all," he started, as he told the crowd about his middle-class upbringing and how different the country in which he grew up is today. "Who would've thought that we'd see all of this in Riyadh, and in our beloved country?"

People turn up in force

Riyadh traffic police estimated about 600,000 people gathered on the 400,000-square-metre boulevard on the opening night, which is reportedly 10 times its official capacity.

Ultimately, the Riyadh initiative's aim is to attract a total of five million visitors throughout the three months, including 100,000 foreign tourists who will take advantage of the newly announced visa rules.

The Riyadh parade that marked the opening night is thought to have been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, parade to ever take place in Saudi Arabia.

There was also a surprise performance by DJ Carnage, which made crowds go wild as the Guatemalan-American record producer hit the stage dressed in full Saudi attire.

"A huge thank you to @Turki_alalshikh," he wrote on Twitter to his 300,000-plus followers. "What you did for your country last night... was so special... thank you for having me... we made history."

The boulevard is one of 12 main destinations that will comprise Riyadh Season. Others include the Riyadh Motor Show, Winter Wonderland, Stadiums, Diplomatic Quarter, Al-Malaz, Wadi Namar and Riyadh Safari.

For more information, visit riyadhseason.sa