With the highly anticipated Ancient Kingdoms Festival fast approaching, AlUla Moments has released full details on the incredible activations taking place during this epic upcoming celebration of AlUla’s captivating history.
The Ancient Kingdoms Festival is back in the limelight with its second edition from November 16th to December 2nd, returning with a series of mesmerizing experiences sure to captivate imagination, spark curiosity, and ignite a shared sense of connection with the ancient past.
Designed to delight and destined to present unforgettable journeys of wonder and discovery, the flagship festival invites the culturally curious and instinctively adventurous to explore the ancient oasis city’s rich heritage. A world-class program will see visitors delve into history as vibrant participants rather than passive observers, enabling all to uncover timeless destinations, unveil millennia-spanning cultural sites, and encounter legends and legacies of the ancient world.
From cultural celebrations, after-dark excursions, and hands-on history for families, to culinary experiences inspired by ancient narratives and journeys curated into newly-discovered historic sites, festival-goers will venture into the past through new and exciting points of access.
What’s more, they will witness the intertwining of the past with the present while exploring the legendary landscapes and the relationships between AlUla, Khaybar, and Tayma – the three interconnected ancient oases of Northwest Arabia.
Activations kicking off the festival include the Journey Through Time Parade. Illuminating the stories, legends, and legacies of the ancient incense road and the life and memories of AlUla, this activation is a vibrant and creative expression that invites the world to encounter histories in new ways that stir the senses, spark curiosity, and generate a sense of ‘shared humanity’.
Another is Ikmah After Dark. Celebrating Jabal Ikmah’s recent inclusion as a UNESCO Memory of the World International Register, visitors will encounter the spirit of this ancient place in an experience that blends Arabian hospitality and refreshments, hands-on carving activities, and a spectacular illumination show – all inspired by the inscriptions left behind by historic civilizations.
Elsewhere on the opening weekend, the other activations being launched are the King Nabonidus Parade, a journey through time as visitors celebrate all things Tayma in a dramatic show experience starring the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire; and The Palace Guest. A spectacular monument to power and prestige, visitors will be transported back in time at Ibn Rumman Palace during a celebration inspired by its enduring stories.
This year, AlUla’s annual heritage festival also celebrates the landmark 15th anniversary of Hegra’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Activations to celebrate the landmark milestone include The Living Museum Tour, a new augmented reality experience where guests can access all areas ‘behind the tombs’; Hegra After Dark, a history-inspired fantastical immersive experience and journey in the shadow of some of the site’s most spectacular tombs; Life at Hegra Exhibition, a free-flow experience showcasing 15 finds from archaeological excavations; and Hegra Nature and Wildlife Tour, where visitors can explore the spectacular landscape and discover epic geology.
The 2023 Ancient Kingdoms Festival also thrusts the spotlight on Khaybar, where the geological treasure and natural wonders within are discoverable through activations such as Khaybar Camp, where visitors can find traditional food and drink alongside handicrafts and family-focussed heritage performances; Oasis Soundscape, a celebration of music and nature where sound, performance, and landscape beautifully combine in a setting like no other; and Takya Restaurant, where traditional Saudi Arabian dishes can be experiences overlooking views of the Khaybar forts and oasis.
Tayma is another focal point and a place where visitors can explore history-inspired experiences that shed light on the depth and complexity of the Kings, Queens, and ancient communities that lived and thrived thousands of years ago.
Alongside the King Nabonidus Parade, these experiences include Tayma Camp, offering delicious food and authentic handicrafts alongside cultural performances, camel riding and falconry; and Tayma LIVE!, an exciting re-enactment show bringing to life and telling the story of the ‘land of the kings’ through music and performing arts. Furthermore, the Mirzam restaurant is located right by Bir Haddaj, one of the largest and most iconic wells of Arabia, and takes guests on a culinary journey combining architecture, landscapes, and a delicious menu.
Additionally, visitors can look forward to a multitude of Oases Discovery activations – all of them new for the second edition of the Ancient Kingdoms Festival. The Memory Sanctuary was curated in collaboration with the people of AlUla and is a multisensory homage to the Oasis. Here, guests can design nostalgic desserts, liquid nitrogen slushies, and 3D-printed wafer in an experiential dessert laboratory.
Meanwhile, Ancestors Hampers and Life & Memory Chest are two extraordinary picnic experiences inspired by memories of harvest season in the Oasis. Visitors can choose the portable family-friendly Ancestors Hampers or an elevated gastronomic feast served in a giant Life & Memory Chest – and enjoy their delicious contents.
Elsewhere on the Ancient Kingdoms Festival program, a series of cultural workshops will be held under the theme ‘Programs for Future Ancients’.Designed for young minds and their families, these activities are informed through extensive consultation with archaeologists.
- Ancient Inscriptions Academy – children can create their own stone artworks, inspired by the inscriptions & rock art of this special site.
- Mudbrick Workshop (Oasis) – Hands-on heritage awaits in the Oasis! Using a recipe handed down through generations, mix and mold mud inspired by the life and memory of AlUla’s people.
- Hegra Unlocked – A fun-filled treasure hunt in one of the world’s most astonishing historical sites, revealing the lives of the people who once called Hegra home.
- Archaeology Alive – Set in one of the world’s most active archaeological sites, dig to discover the people of Dadan in this interactive activity.