A foodie's guide to Winter at Tantora festival in AlUla

Packed Saudi cultural and art event is one of the region's longest-running

Eat al fresco at Somewhere restaurant in AlUla. Mariam Nihal / The National
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The open-air museum city of AlUla is hosting the region's longest-running art, culture and music festival.

Running from December 21 until January 27, Winter at Tantora aims to educate, entertain and inspire visitors with a host of activities that include 200 performers showcasing the essence and history of the region.

With more than 200,000 years of history, AlUla was home to some of the most influential civilisations in the world, including the Nabataeans, Dadanites and Lihyanites.

One of the highlights of the festival is the range of culinary offerings and speciality cafes dotted around the city's Old Town.

Here are some not to miss.


A glitzy stop in the heart of AlUla lit up by red-coloured glass chandeliers and shimmering interiors that transport you to another world, this restaurant serves Mediterranean and South American cuisine with a focus on fresh ingredients.

The fine-dining experience takes place under dim-lit skies adorned with a galaxy of stars.

Must try: Steak and miso black cod.

Tomoor AlUla

Indulge in local date varieties, speciality coffee and a range of creative desserts at this cool spot. Almost always packed, the cafe comes with a majlis-style seating area outdoors, complete with a bonfire that is surrounded by quaint wooden tables and coloured rugs.

Must try: The hot chocolate with a twist of cardamom, which pays homage to the restaurant's Saudi roots.


All the way from Al-Ahsa in eastern Saudi Arabia, the speciality coffee shop is located at the centre of Old Town. The cafe also sells souvenirs and mugs painted by local artisans.

Must try: Their hawsawi cookies, made with locally infused ingredients such as carom seeds, black caraway and nutmeg, with a shot of freshly brewed coffee or a latte.


One of the most popular restaurant's in AlUla, Somewhere is known for its food, decor and location. Set in the midst of a palm oasis complete with a flowing stream, diners can sit back and admire the surrounding natural beauty, dating back thousands of years. It also gained popularity on social media when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was spotted there last year.

Must try: Mediterranean breakfast with hummus, fresh home-made jams and cheese, shakshuka eggs, Arabic breads and platters, freshly brewed coffee, mocktails and decadent Arabic desserts.


This spot is known for its stuffed waffles with either sweet or savoury fillings as well as an impressive assortment of drinks. They also serve fresh juices and creamy smoothies that mix Madagascar vanilla with berries and mango.

Must try: Spicy tuna and Nutella waffles.


This high-end Saudi macaron shop serves flavours with a regional twist, such as raspberry macaron from Taif, date and tahini macaron from Qassim, orange macaron from AlUla and basil-infused macaron from Al Madinah.

Must try: Saudi coffee with cardamom macaron.

Heart of Oasis

This open-air fine-dining restaurant offers a range of Italian favourites from burrata salads, steaks, pastas and desserts.

Must try: Burrata salad and oven-baked salmon for the main course, and tiramisu and date cake for dessert.

Winter at Tantora runs until January 27. More information is available at www.experiencealula.com

Updated: December 29, 2023, 2:05 PM