AlUla moments: Events and festivals

Despite being out in the desert, AlUla has an impressive events programme to rival many major cities, and attracts international artists and musicians with its unique natural setting.

No venue is more unique than Maraya. AlUla’s masterpiece sets a world record for being the largest mirrored building. 

Sitting in the Ashar Valley, the mirage-like building rises from the desert, reflecting the beauty of its natural surroundings. Inside, the venue is a cultural hub hosting huge concerts and classical performances, art residency programmes and arthouse films. So far it has welcomed global superstars ranging from Andrea Bocelli and Enrique Inglesias to Lionel Richie and Seal. 

Lovers of events and festivals should visit AlUla between October and March, when the AlUla Moments programme kicks into action. 

This comprises four main festivals: 

WINTER AT TANTORA 

Between December and January, this six-week music and arts festival is named after a sundial, which is culturally significant to the farmers of AlUla who relied on it to tell the time and recognise the seasons. The season is filled with high-end events and star-studded concerts, adventurous activities and immersive heritage experiences. Previous performances have included artists like Alicia Keys and candlelit concerts of classical and contemporary music. 

ALULA ARTS FESTIVAL 

Usually spanning mid February to the end of March, this festival champions modern art as well as celebrating the area’s ancient rock art. Last year’s edition included a special exhibition named ‘FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla’ at Maraya, produced in partnership with The Andy Warhol Museum. The installation showcased the artist’s interest in the power of public figures and celebrity. Highlights included silkscreen prints of Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammed Ali and Dolly Parton. Also on the agenda was 100 Best Arabic Posters in Al Jadidah, highlighting graphic designs from the Arab world. 

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AlUla skies festival, April-May

ALULA SKIES FESTIVAL 

From the end of April to mid-May, the skies of AlUla come alive as colourful hot air balloons float serenely on the desert thermals and helicopter tours take off to view the area’s ancient cities from above. Stargazing took centre stage last year, with an immersive constellation show using high-tech drones to highlight the star formations as guests dined on celestial-themed canapés. There was also Symphony Under the Stars, a techno music concert played under the colossal Arch Rock. 

ALULA WELLNESS FESTIVAL 

The Wellness Festival celebrates AlUla’s history as a place for respite and relaxation. Over 11 days, healthy lifestyles and holistic living is in focus, with the first ever Five Senses Sanctuary, which offered yoga, meditation and mindfulness classes led by world-renowned practitioners.

The 2023 Wellness Festival saw composer and pianist Murray Hidary leading a ‘silent’ music performance via headphones. The Garden of Moments offered a sensory experience, with patterns of sound and light activated by peoples’ movements and interactions in the atmospheric shadow of Jabal Ikmah while Fitness X Music brought high energy and a rush of endorphins with fitness classes next to the cool palms of the Oasis Heritage Trail.

Become an AlUla specialist

Extensive training material is available at alulaspecialist.com, covering historic sights, accommodations, sustainability, experiences and events taking place in AlUla. This one-stop shop for travel agents includes three training modules, a series of seven new short training videos, as well as imagery, agent perks, a directory of product suppliers and more.

alulaspecialist.com