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  • Writer's picturetimeless travels

Winter festival opens in one of the most stunning settings on offer

Are you a music lover with a sense of adventure? Looking for something new, different and exciting to do this winter? Then look no further. Winter at Tantora (WaT) is essentially a music festival - but with a difference - as it is held in possibly one of the most stunning and unusual venues ever seen. The impressive line-up includes Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras, Il Divo and Lionel Ritchie, but it is the setting that really steals the show. This is because it is held in the stunning region of AlUla County in North-West Saudi Arabia, a place of extraordinary natural beauty and cultural heritage with 200,000 years of history - which doesn't open to the pubic until October 2020.

The festival runs from 19th December 2019 to 7th March 2020, and WaT aims to bring 12-weekends of wonder to the AlUla Oasis, inspired by its spectacular scenery. Home to archeological treasures, natural beauty and magnificent monuments that span millennia, AlUla is set on the ancient incense route between Southern Arabia and Egypt. It became a hub of commercial and cultural exchange because a lush oasis valley ran through it, creating an ideal environment for civilizations to flourish. The festival is therefore one of the first opportunities for visitors to experience and explore this area.

The festival is therefore one of the first opportunities for visitors to experience and explore this area.

Alongside international artists, the diverse festival programme also includes Egyptian composer, pianist and conductor Omar Khairat (December 27th) and Greek pianist Yanni (February 7th) as well as a number of chart-topping international artists.

All performances take place in the Maraya Concert Hall, a state-of-the-art 500-seat facility with a mirrored facade, which emerges like a mirage in the ancient rocky landscape. The venue will host the headline performers as well as the Celebration of Beethoven (January 4th – 6th), an homage to the great German composer on the 250th anniversary of his birth and the multi-media theatrical production Jameel Buthainah (February 14th), a caracella dance inspired by the glory and history of AlUla.

Alongside world-class performances, guests can enjoy other activities and excursions which include the AlUla Balloon Festival, vintage aircraft flights, the second largest endurance horse race in the world, culinary experiences curated by Michelin starred chefs, and traditional souks.

Weekend and one-day itineraries are on offer and feature three different packages for different budgets, which cover accommodation, transport, cultural and adventure excursions as well as attendance at the headline performances. Weekend guests can also bolt-on themed experiences in line with their interests, such as AlUla from Above (adventure), Authentic AlUla (culture) and Gastronomy (cuisine). Music fans as well as adventure lovers can purchase tickets to individual headline performances or indulge in an experiential itinerary spanning a day or a weekend.

Home to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra, AlUla is a place of pristine and unexplored beauty. With 200,000 years of history ensconced in its vast landscape, the region is expected to emerge as one of Saudi Arabia’s key tourist attractions, following the announcement of the Saudi Arabian Tourist Visa in September. The recently announced programme allows travellers to obtain one-year, multiple-entry visas to spend up to 90 days in the country. Visitors from 49 countries and regions will be able to apply for the visa online ( or on arrival into Saudi Arabia through electronic kiosks or at immigration counters. Other visitors will be able to apply for the visas at the Saudi consulate in their home country. Saudi Arabia intends to extend the e-Visa scheme to other markets as further developments are made to the Kingdom's tourism infrastructure.

 “As a stop along the Incense Route, AlUla was once a part of the great corridor between the East and the West. It was a port of trade and a gateway between cultures, enabling dialogue and diversity. With the Winter at Tantora Festival, we are celebrating AlUla’s historic role in this region as well as its long tradition of bringing together varied voices and ideas,” said Amr Al-Madani, Chief Executive Officer, The Royal Commission for AlUla.

If you have a weekend free in the next couple of months, and love ancient sites combined with music, ballooning or culinary delights, then Winter at Tantora is for you.


The Winter at Tantora festival will take place from December 19th, 2019 – March 7th, 2020 in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. Details about the festival, its line-up and exceptional surroundings can be found at with tickets on sale now. To stay up to date, follow @WinteratTantora on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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