Envision a vast expanse of land, holding hundreds of years’ worth of rich and timeless history. Now, imagine sweet symphonies reverberating against this magnificent backdrop full of natural beauty and cultural heritage. The annual Winter at Tantora festival presents this and much more at AlUla. By Amitha Ameen


Themed “Choose Your Wonder”, Winter at Tantora, after a successful debut in 2018 that saw over 37,000 visitors, will return with its highly anticipated second edition on December 19, 2019. Annually curating an assorted line-up of performers, experiences and events, the event should be on the bucket list of any true-blue melophile.

Andrea Bocelli

This year’s event will welcome back Tuscan tenor, Andrea Bocelli, who will make his second appearance at the festival on January 31, 2020. The diverse festival programme also includes Egyptian composer, pianist and conductor Omar Khairat (December 27) and Greek pianist Yanni (February 7) as well as a number of chart-topping international artists.

These world-class musical performances will take place in the Maraya Concert Hall, a state-of-the-art present-day architectural wonder, thanks to modern engineering and advanced acoustics. The 500-seater hall has a large mirrored façade, which emerges like a mirage in the desert, staying true to its surroundings.

Winter at Tantora will leave people with grand and awe-inspiring experiences.

The festival will see the Celebration of Beethoven (January 4–6), a homage to the great German composer on the 250th anniversary of his birth and the multi-media theatrical production ‘Jamil and Bouthayna -A Love Legend from the Oasis of AlUla’ (February 14), a Caracalla dance inspired by the glory and history of AlUla. The event brings together a line-up of celebrated performers from around the world, spanning diverse genres, including Timeless Pop, Opera and Classical Music.

For instance, golden-voiced tenor José Carreras will headline the festival’s Spanish Prestige weekend (January 9-11) and the Modern Legends weekend will see disco-soul-funk legends Kool & the Gang, supported by Sister Sledge (February 27th), ahead of much-anticipated performances by Lionel Richie and Craig David (February 28th).

But, its not just music that attracts visitors from near and far. The festival offers visitors the opportunity to witness and be transported to ancient cities of Hegra and Dadan, that are brought to life with the help of expert storytellers, augmented reality, image projection and so on.

One will also get to dine within historically significant sites with Michelin-starred chefs curating bespoke experiences for the visiting gastronome, whilst enjoying the star-speckled night sky.

The most anticipated event this year is the AlUla Desert Polo, all set to make its debut on January 16-18, 2020 as part of the Winter at Tantora cultural festival. Organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla in partnership with the Saudi Polo Federation, Desert Polo will feature some of the most renowned players and patrons in the world of polo.

For a dose of adrenalin, there’s the AlUla Balloon Festival, vintage aircraft flights, the second-largest endurance horse race in the world and plenty more specially curated activities, that lets guests truly enjoy AlUla.

The festival aims to nurture and bring back the distinctive culture of the bygone era by showcasing AlUla’s everlasting history, heritage and culture. Winter at Tantora will run from December 2019–March 2020.

For more information visit experiencealula.com

Related: AlUla’s Tantora Festival Offers The Perfect Wintry Affair In Saudi Arabia