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All you need to know about AlUla Arts Festival when it returns in February 2024

The third edition presents three flagship events alongside exhibitions, tours, workshops and more…

A trip to AlUla offers a lifetime of inspiration – in its wind-sculpted red rock, soothing green palms, and even the startling contrast of bright blue sky against the shimmering golden desert.

AlUla Arts Festival

Needless to say, the ancient city is brimming with arts, culture and events, celebrating its fascinating heritage. And one festival that you can’t miss is the AlUla Arts Festival.

Returning for the third successive year from Thursday February 8 to Saturday February 24, the multi-arts festival presents a world-class programme featuring flagship events, immersive exhibitions, and creative initiatives for a city-wide celebration of all things art.

AlUla Arts Festival cinema screenings

From cutting-edge exhibitions and street-art tours to cinema screenings and lively performances, here’s what we can expect at the three-week festival.

Desert X AlUla 2024

Desert X AlUla

At the heart of the festival is its exceptional trio of flagship events. Desert X AlUla returns for its third edition from February 8 to March 23, 2024, placing visionary contemporary artworks by Saudi and international artists amidst the extraordinary desert landscape of AlUla. Free and open to all, Desert X AlUla is the first site-responsive exhibition in Saudi Arabia, fostering exchange between artists, curators and international and local communities, shaped by a curatorial vision that takes the desert as its inspiration.

Wadi AlFann

Known as the ‘valley of the arts’, Wadi AlFann – a new cultural destination for contemporary art, where large-scale, site-specific works by some of the most compelling artists from around the world will be permanently placed in AlUla’s stunning desert landscape – is set to open in 2026.

Manal AlDowayan

However, opening at this year’s AlUla Arts Festival as part of Wadi AlFann’s pre-opening programme is an exhibition by Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan, titled ‘Oasis of Stories’, showcasing her participatory work capturing stories from AlUla’s communities.

‘More Than Meets the Eye’ Exhibition

AlUla Arts Festival

This exhibition completes the flagship event line-up, where visitors will explore modern and contemporary artworks by Saudi artists. With support from prominent Saudi art collectors, the exhibition will honour modern and contemporary art history in Saudi Arabia, documenting the story of artists and recent movements. The exhibition is part of the pre-opening programme for the contemporary art museum in AlUla, a museum of regional and global contemporary art with the Arab world at its core.

Other city-wide celebrations

Workshop silk screen studio

Visitors can look forward to a host of live performances, photography exhibitions, street art tours, cinema screenings, and hands-on workshops. The latter will be available at Madrasat Addeera, AlUla’s mixed-use creative hub, and range from palm weaving, pottery, and jewellery to geometry, 3D strictures, textiles, and many more. Culture enthusiasts can also visit Design Space AlUla, which will open during the Arts Festival with its inaugural exhibition.

AlUla Arts Festival, AlUla, Feb 8 to 24, 2024. @alulamoments

Images: Provided