Saudi Arabia’s Al Ula region will be celebrated with the return of Winter at Tantora.
The four-month programme of events, running from December 21 to March 27, features an expansive array of offerings spanning music, arts, fashion, food and wellness.
Held in the historic Al Ula region, which dates back more than 2,000 years and is the former capital of the ancient Arabian kingdom of Lihyan, Winter at Tantora aims to offer an immersive experience with four eclectic festivals set amid stunning surroundings.
With more details to be announced soon, here are five things to look forward to during the season.
1. Winter at Tantora (Tuesday, December 21 to Saturday, February 12)
The popular seasonal festival returns with concerts, exhibitions and horse races.
The programme for the festival, which will feature performances by five regional stars and three international artists, will be announced soon. The event will begin with a candle-lit classical music concert at the glittering Maraya hall in Al Hegra archaeological site.
Also on the programme are a range of equestrian events, including the return of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Race, Al Ula Desert Polo competition and the couture horse fashion event, Ikmah Fashion Calvary.
The region’s produce will also be highlighted with the Citrus Festival, while the Harrat Observation Desk will be open for stunning sunrise and sunset views of Al Ula from the top of the Harrat Uwayrid mountain.
Archaeology workshops and cultural displays will also be on offer at various heritage sites and in Al Ula’s Old Town.
2. Al Ula Arts (Sunday, February 13 to Saturday, February 26)
Al Ula’s physical and cultural diversity will serve as the inspiration for the arts festival.
Returning under the theme Art of Our Time, exhibitions will feature the kingdom’s leading and innovative names.
Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning movie industry will be on show with Cinema El House screening local art house films while venues Al Jedidiah and Oasis will be a hub for cultural activities throughout the festival.
3. Al Ula Skies (Sunday, February 27 to Saturday, March 12)
To truly appreciate the wondrous landscape of Al Ula, you need to reach for the skies.
Al Ula Skies provides visitors with a bird’s-eye view of Al Hegra’s ancient heritage sites and the rock formations of the Madakheel canyons through hot air balloon and helicopter rides respectively.
Another immersive experience can be had with Constellations, a state-of-the-art stargazing event featuring cutting edge technology and music.
You can book your activity from Sunday, February 27.
4. Al Ula Wellness Festival (Thursday, March 17 to Sunday, March 27)
The Oasis site in Al Ula will be home to all things wellness through fitness and the arts.
The Five Senses Sanctuary will provide yoga, meditation and mindfulness classes throughout the 10 days, while a more vigorous experience can be had through group led treks on Al Ula’s Eco Trail.
Those looking for a moment of reflection should visit Garden of Moments, a quiet haven and arts installation fusing space, lights and sound.
5. Go on hiking trails and indulge in meals by Michelin-star chefs (Tuesday, December 21 to Sunday, March 27)
In addition to the major programme of events, Winter at Tantora will also offer other features running throughout the festival.
A new bike track traversing the landscape has been constructed, in addition to a zip-line and hiking trails at Madakheel.
Foodies will also have the option of hearty local and gastronomic dishes with various restaurants including Maraya Social, a rooftop restaurant by Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton.
Al Ula Moments include free and ticketed experiences, with more information available at experiencealula.com