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Tantora, a breathtaking cultural extravaganza, to begin on Dec. 19
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 09 - 2019

ALULA —The second edition of Winter at Tantora festival, which will run through Dec. 19 to March 7, in the historical region of AlUla, will be a breathtaking extravaganza for art and culture enthusiasts from around the world after its first successful debut in 2018.
A wide range of performances, events and cultural, artistic and heritage shows will be the hallmark of the festival at the UNESCO World Heritage site. This year's festival will be organized under the title of "A journey through time in a timeless historical site."
This year's season will include the participation of international artists who will hit the stage on the distinctive Maraya theater by performing different styles of arts, including performance of Enrique Iglesias on Feb. 21; US pop legend Lionel Ritchie on Feb. 28, who confirmed in a statement that it will be his first visit to the Kingdom which he considers an exceptional opportunity and experience, in addition to artist Omar Khairat and the artist Yani who make their show up for the second time.
The festival will include a play inspired by the glories and history of AlUla to be staged on Feb. 14 by Caracalla Dance Theater titled "Jameel Bouthaina" and a concert of Beethoven music on Jan. 3, 2020.
The festival's events will also include a range of activities designed for arts, culture and adventure enthusiasts as well as lovers of history and sports, including a balloon festival, and the activity of "Classic aircraft flights", in addition to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup for Endurance, the second largest endurance race in the world.
It will also include experiences of cooking under the stars to be organized by international Michelin-class chefs.
The season will also host other attractions such as heritage markets along with areas designed to provide high-end international brands, whereas visitors can make tours throughout the ancient historical sites, dating back to about 2,000 years and enjoy a unique experience that takes them on a journey through time using virtual reality technology.
The festival is inspired by the ancient deep-rooted traditions of AlUla governorate which was historically used to celebrate seasons changing including the start of winter, allowing visitors to enjoy the true essence of the this province beginning from its heritage and diverse markets to local performances.
The season allows the visitor to enjoy such a distinctive set of activities in a historical site that stands witness to the greatness of human civilizations of which their edifices are still alive today. This year's festival will be held under four themes: Re-embodiment of heritage; Oasis of Culture; Adventure and Exploration; and the Resort.
• Re-embodiment of Heritage: It includes recalling and summoning heritage through seeing replicas of fantastic sights of ancient historical cities, not only as archaeological monuments but as living communities, whereas visitors will learn how ancient civilizations lived through diverse experiences narrated by professional storytellers and the guests are given the opportunity to experience historical sites and practically share local traditions that were performed there.
Moreover, visitors will have the opportunity to experience the latest technology and innovation such as virtual reality and smart device applications to exhibit fun interactive experiences filled with knowledge and information about these sites.
In addition, the activities of the season will cover a variety of cultural aspects by offering special culinary events, including popular food in the winter park and fine culinary arts from across the region, available in the market of Wadi Al-Qura and other natural sites.
• Oasis of Culture: It will present international stars from around the world within a variety of artistic and cultural performances at the modern 'Maraya Theater', which can accommodate 500 visitors, reflecting the beauty of the high mountains, unique nature and rich cultural history that surrounds the area of AlUla. The theater's guests can enjoy the spectacular performances and shows of classical and operatic artists from around the world.
• Adventure and Exploration: It is designed for fans seeking thrill and excitement, where a high dose of adrenaline will be provided by a variety of events ranging from "classic aircraft flights" that provide visitors with distinctive adventures and sightseeing from the top aboard old aircraft dating back to World War II, to a quiet flight across the sky.
On the other hand, the second "Balloon Festival" in AlUla provides a popular destination for balloon enthusiasts across the region to experience the sky flying with a fleet of 100 balloons, explore the wonders drawn by thousands of years on the land of AlUla and enjoy flying individually at sunset.
Visitors also can enjoy more than 200 jockeys from around the world who will compete for a 120-kilometer track at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup of Endurance Race, the world's second largest race of its kind.
• The Resort: It will provide exclusive tours under the stars in the presence of international Michelin-class luxury restaurants created in sites of archaeological significance and scenic nature.
More details about the festival's distinctive events can be had by visiting www.experiencealula.com
Festival tickets will also be available to the public in the beginning of October.
The Winter at Tantora is being held in the governorate of AlUla, located in the northwest of the Kingdom, an exceptional place being characterized by the charm of its natural beauty and ancient civilizations, and the headquarters of ancient treasures dating back to thousands of years.
AlUla is located on the ancient incense road between southern Arabian Peninsula and Egypt, and has become a hub of commercial and cultural exchange as a rich oasis that has created an ideal environment for the prosperity of civilizations.
The first season of Winter at Tantora festival 2018 had hosted more than 37,000 visitors from around the world over 10 weeks. It also witnessed the participation of well-known international celebrities and artists such as Andrea Bocelli and Yanni as well as the distinguished Arabian singer Majda El Roumi and the Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang.
Based on the outstanding success of the first season, the program's activities for the second season 2019/2020 will be extended for another two weeks and are expected to attract 40,000 visitors to enjoy the rich cultural and heritage performances and shows.


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