10 brilliant things to do in Riyadh over the long National Day weekend

A three-day weekend? We’re all for it…

Saudi Arabia celebrates its 92nd National Day on Friday September 23. Seeing that it falls on a weekend, it’s a public holiday for the public and private sectors tomorrow (Thursday September 22), which only means one thing – it’s a long weekend for most of us (and we’re not complaining).

With plenty to do over this three-day weekend, expect to witness the largest ever celebrations in the history of the Kingdom. We’ve compiled the very best ways to spend your well-deserved time off.

Here are 10 brilliant ways to celebrate the Saudi National Day in Riyadh from Thursday September 22 to Saturday September 24.

Thursday September 22

1. Check-in into JW Marriott Hotel Riyadh

JW Marriott Hotel Riyadh

Make the most of your extra day off by heading out on a staycation, and the JW Marriott Hotel Riyadh is one to check out. From now to September 25, those booking the South View Room can enjoy an additional day courtesy of the five-star hotel when booking two-night stays. The package includes breakfast at the new, signature all-day dining restaurant, late checkout at 4pm, and a 10 per cent discount on all spa treatments. While you’re there, why not sign up for the Spa Moment package? For SAR992, it combines a 60-minute classic massage and a 60-minute European hammam, with access to the outdoor pool for 60 minutes for an additional SAR92. With separate facilities for men and women, including a sauna, steam rooms, and indoor plunge pools, the Spa Moment package is available until September 30.

JW Marriott Hotel Riyadh, King Fahd Rd, Sahafah District, Riyadh 11564. The South View Room starts at SAR 1,230 per night. The spa is open daily from 11am to 10pm. Tel: 011 511 7741. Marriott.com

2. Laugh out loud at this stand-up special


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It is said that laughter is the best medicine, and we’ve got just the prescription for you right here: live comedy night. Smile Entertainment, the pioneer producers of stand-up comedy in Saudi Arabia, is bringing some chuckle-worthy jokes to Riyadh. Names on the performing line-up include Mishal Samman (who went viral in the Middle East appearing on the Late Late Show with James Corden), Markus Birdman (a veteran of the Edinburgh Fringe), Khalid Khalifa (one of the first Saudi stand-up comedians to perform in English), Ken Garr (who performs at Brad Garrett’s comedy club in Las Vegas and Hollywood improv), and British comedian, comedy writer, and radio presenter Stephen Grant. And if you’re perfectly capable of laughing at yourself, take a seat at the front row – you’ll likely find yourself the target of some good-natured ribbing.

Live at AMC, Sept 22, 8pm to 9.30pm, AMC King Abdullah Financial District 1, Riyadh. Book your tickets here. Rating R18. The ticket price starts from SAR195. @smileentksa

3. Treat yourself to this celebratory cake from Chunk

This beloved bakery is celebrating Saudi Arabia’s 92nd birthday with the limited edition National Day cake, made with vanilla, cardamom and black lemon for a sweet-tart flavour. The creation is made even more decadent with the addition of its unique topping.

Chunk Bakery & Café, National Day Cake, SAR290, various locations, including Riyadh Park Mall, daily 8am to midnight. @hello_chunk

4. Get tickets for an exclusive Cirque du Soleil show


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This enchanting Cirque show is an abstract celebration of all things Saudi – from the Kingdom’s rich culture and its people to its values and future dreams. Pair that with Cirque’s signature aerialists, acrobats and incredible set design, and you’ve got yourself one unparalleled show.

Cirque du Soleil, until Sept 24, 8pm, Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University Grandstand, Airport Road, King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh 11564. Book your tickets here, or you can purchase them at Virgin Megastore Riyadh at Al Nakheel Mall, Panorama Mall, and Riyadh Park Mall. The ticket price starts from SAR25. @enjoy_saudi

Friday September 23

5. Watch the fireworks


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Happy 92nd Birthday, Saudi Arabia. At 9pm on Sept 23, massive fireworks will go off simultaneously in 18 cities to illuminate the Kingdom’s sky in green and white. The displays will paint an artistic landscape showcasing the national identity at an altitude of up to 300 meters as residents and citizens watch the fireworks and share the times of joy and rejoicing in the memory of National Day.

National Day Fireworks, Al-Thaghr Plaza, Hittin, Riyadh, Sept 23, 9pm to 9.05pm. The exact location for the best spot to watch the fireworks can be found here. @enjoy_saudi

6. Check out the Royal Guard parade

The Saudi Royal Guard Command brings you several shows and performances, from marching around some of the main streets of Riyadh to cavalry shows and a majestic national procession, with the participation of the Saudi royal anthem band and classic cars headed by the Royal Guard.

Royal Guard Convoy, Sept 23, 9pm to 10pm, Qurtubah Power Station, Riyadh 13413 (near Riyadh Front Exhibition & Convention Centre). The exact location can be found here. @enjoy_saudi

7. Celebrate Saudi’s 92nd at MNKY HSE


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A post shared by MNKY HSE – Riyadh (@mnkyhseksa)

In celebration of Saudi Arabia’s 92nd Birthday, MNKY HSE is having a special DJ set by guest DJ Boyka. Indulge in a tantalising array of Latin American dishes while enjoying live entertainment performances all night long. Too many options to choose from the extensive menu? We suggest ordering the set menu instead.

MNKY HSE, Sept 23, 6.30pm to 2am, 6927 Prince Turki Ibn Abdulaziz Al Awwal Rd, Hittin, Riyadh 13512. Tel: 800 440 0041. @mnkyhseksa

Saturday September 24

8. More National Day activities at the Saudi Aviation Museum


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Aviation enthusiasts, if you still haven’t checked out the Saudi Aviation Museum, now’s the time to go. This weekend, the museum is hosting an exciting National Day event filled with family-friendly activities. And while you’re admiring the military aircrafts, don’t forget to load up on goodies from the various vendors, too.

National Day Festival, Sept 22 to 24, 4pm to 11pm, Saqer-Aljazirah Royal Saudi Air Force Aviation Museum (Riyadh), Eastern Ring Rd, King Abdullah Dt., Riyadh 12451. Tel: 053 775 5788.

9. Enjoy the last of National Day celebrations in DQ


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Come down to the Diplomatic Quarter and participate in the festive carnival, celebrating the history and heritage of the Kingdom. There will be a folklore show, interactive games, and live music performances.

National Day Event, Sept 21 to 24, 7pm to midnight, Grassy Park, Diplomatic Quarter, Al Safarat, Riyadh 12511. @saudidq

10. Tuck into traditional Saudi food at Aseeb Najd

For a taste of authentic Saudi cuisine, head to Aseeb Najd in the AlYasmin district. The new luxurious restaurant, with its suave, modern architecture and strikingly decadent interior, is a beautiful space that embraces the Kingdom’s heritage and culture. Expect some of the finest Najdi specialities and enjoy local dates served with delicious Arabic coffee.

Aseeb Najd, Alyasmin, Riyadh 13325, daily 7pm to midnight. Tel: 9200 28226 / 055 400 3213. @aseeb.najd

Images: Provided / Instagram