Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Festival has opened in Al Wathba, bringing desert festivities and cultural traditions to the emirate.
Running from November 18 to March 18, the cultural event began with an epic drone show over the desert.
Hundreds of drones formed moving images in the night sky — depicting President Sheikh Mohamed, UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the late President, Sheikh Khalifa.
The drones also depicted falcons and Arabic messages.
Visitors attending the opening night also enjoyed a firework display and plenty of festive fun, including fairground rides and a glow-in the dark garden.
A military heritage music performance and traditional song and dance spectacle were also part of the opening night.
Guests also enjoyed the first of several Emirates Fountain shows — with the towering fountain coming to life with music, lights and more than 600 water jets.
Under the theme Hayakum, which means welcome in Arabic, this year’s Sheikh Zayed Festival continues the event’s tradition of honouring local customs and showcasing UAE heritage.
Running for four months, the family-friendly event features light shows, a horror house, horse riding, camels and go-karting.
There is also a Children's District specifically for families. A colourful flower garden comprises 400,000 flowers imported from the Netherlands.
New this year is the Art District, where visitors can take part in acrylic pouring workshops. The Emirati Civilization Pavilions showcase the role of Sheikh Zayed in building the nation.
This year's festival will also show all the action from the World Cup in Qatar, with large viewing screens showing the matches. Major celebrations are also scheduled for National Day and the new year.
The festival features more than 15 theatres that will show several cultural and entertainment events on a regular basis.
It has more than 25 pavilions from countries around the world, each showcasing traditions, goods, crafts and food.