The Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival, named after the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates, is held every year in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba area to celebrates the cultural heritage of the United Arab Emirates. Festival visitors can discover the culture and heritage of the UAE through its arts, crafts, gastronomy and customs. Inside the UAE pavilion you will find exhibitions, events, falconry and a local market reflecting the traditional Emirati life. Other than the UAE, you will find many other countries pavilion inside the festival showcasing their traditional arts and craft, products, food and cultural performance.
On one Friday in the month of January we decided to visit Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival. Weekend is kind of lazy days but have to go out so after finishing our household chores, we are ready for visiting the heritage festival. Kids are super excited for their fun filled evening. The place is around 20 KM from our residence. We left our home at 4:30 PM and reached there with in 30 minutes.
There is plenty of parking space outside the festival entrance Gate on both sides. from the parking area there are two small entrance gate with thermal scanners due to covid restrictions. After this you will find lot of ticket counters on each side. Ticket counters are manned and they accept cash and credit card both. Entrance ticket prices are very reasonable to spend an evening at such a beautiful place. For children’s below 3 years it’s free and above that it’s AED 5
After buying the ticket when you enter the Fort like structure the security person will direct male and female in separate directions for frisking before entering the place. Next to the male and female frisking area there are information desks in case you need them.
Inside the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival
The whole place is designed circular in shape with different pavilions around a circular path, sitting and refreshments area in between a large water fountain in the center. Every year the water fountain theme changes, and this year the central theme is a spacecraft model in the centre of the water fountain pool with projection screen on it. There are small towers around for projecting laser lights and playing music. Every now and then they play the laser light and fountain show showcasing the Emirati history, culture and achievements on the spacecraft model projector screens along with the achievements in the space sector. UAE become the first Arab nation with a dedicated space program and the country’s first astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori been to international space station in 2019. This year is also important for the UAE space program since it’s unmanned Mara mission, the Hope probe, reached the red planet which is coinciding with the 50th anniversary of unification of all seven Emirates into one nation.
There were pavilion of different countries and in every pavilion, there was a stage for cultural performance from the countries around. We started visiting the pavilions from the UAE Pavilion where a musical performance was going on by the local performers. After visiting some pavilion, we stopped for tea break. There are many small kiosks selling refreshments with a large sitting area between the exhibition area and the central fountain.
After having break, we continue to move through other pavilions watching cutural performance of different countries which we all were enjoying. We have seen as many performances as we can. The most energetic and power-packed performance was from the Russians.
After Twilight the place looks more beautiful with so much colorful lighting and illuminated decorative items around.
One of the interesting Pavilion was from Abu Dhabi Agriculture and food safety authority showcasing the Agriculture possibilities and the plants cultivated in the desert. There was one room which was dedicated for the the hydroponics cultivation, which is the future of farming industry. This is the first time I have seen the hydroponics way of farming which I have seen before only in TV documentaries. Hydroponics offers many advantages, and the most important one is the less usage of water compared to the conventional farming of similar product.
There is a kids zone area which is also worth visiting even if you don’t have any kids. There are miniature models of landmarks from different countries. There is also a 7D cinema, physics lab for kids, Bob the builder construction room, jumping Castle and an open-air cinema.
Next to the kids zone you will find many fast-food trailers and large sitting area with chairs and tables for dining. In a cold winter night with outdoor sitting, what’s better than a hot pizza. We ordered vegetable pizzas and wedges, as it was our kids favorite.
If you want to skip the fast food then there are many restaurants inside the festival other food courts which offer a full meal. There are also restaurants inside few pavilions which serves the traditional meal of those countries. If you are a vegetarian, then the options are very limited.
We have visited almost all the pavilions before, so after having the pizza we went near the water fountain pool to relax and watch the next light and fountain show. It’s 9:30 PM and we don’t have any plan to leave. Kids are eagerly waiting for something they are excited and came here, the Fireworks show.
If you are visiting on Fridays, you can end your day with a spectacular fire work show, which will last for around three minutes. This firework show is held every Friday at 10 PM (the timing on the website is not correct) and can be enjoyed from inside or outside the festival venue. The Sheikh Zayed Festival has set Guinness World records for the longest-running fireworks show, that lasted for 35 minutes to welcome 2021.
After watching the fireworks, we left for our home. We have lots of fun and we spent a lovely evening at Sheikh Zayed heritage festival.
• Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival is held every year from mid of November to mid of February. Everyday it’s open from 4 PM to 11 PM except on Thursday and Friday when it’s open from 4 PM to 12 AM.
• Entrance ticket costs AED 5. For children’s below 3 years and people of determination it’s free.
• The fastest and convenient way to reach there is by own/rental car or taxi. There is a cheaper option which is free as of now are the buses operated by Abu Dhabi municipality. These buses depart Abu Dhabi central bus station every hour from 3pm to 7pm every day. Return services are also hourly starting from 5 PM to 11 PM, every day.
• Plan your trip on Fridays so you can enjoy the fireworks.
• ATM and exchange houses are available inside. Washrooms are conveniently located at the entrance and around many pavilions.