Monday, January 21, 2019

Winter at Tantora: A Magical Mystical Tour

Winter at Tantora is an incredible event like none other ever before here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Amidst the stark picturesque beauty of the city of Al Ula, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Winter at Tantora Festival started on December 20th and will run through February 9th.  Each weekend concert over the eight weeks features a different theme high quality entertainment spectacular followed by a magnificent feast matching the theme of the evening.


The venue for the concerts is a brand new stunning concert hall named Maraya (Arabic for "mirror"), built among the unusual and ravishing natural landscape of Al Ula. Set amidst the gigantic sandstone rocky mountain formations and drifts of soft sand dunes, the beauty of Maraya lies in its simplicity.  The visible exterior surface of the structure is encased in large mirrored panels, which create a wondrous illusion reflecting its breathtaking setting.


The concert hall seats only 500 and the seats are comfortable and cushy white leather chairs. There are no bad seats in this theater, as the aisles between rows are extra wide, and the acoustics, audio and lighting technology are state of the art. To the right, left and in front of the stage, dramatic digital imagery is projected onto the walls and floor, creating a magical experience for the audience.  Behind the stage is an enormous window revealing the backdrop of huge sandstone rocks behind the building. The rocks are lit with colored lighting during the show. The overall experience is one of undeniable wonderment. 


I was fortunate to attend the truly magnificent performance of Lang Lang, a supremely talented and gifted world class concert pianist.  Seeing and hearing Lang Lang perform the amazing pieces he played was an incredibly moving experience.   It was as though the music was actually coming through him to the piano.  He is an animated performer, with tremendous depth and precision.  His concert was flawless perfection.

An additional ongoing fine art exhibition at Maraya during the Winter at Tantora Festival is a visual delight featuring the artwork of Van Gogh. It is a show in itself with his masterpieces projected onto the walls in the large gallery, engulfing the entire hall.  It's almost as if the paintings come to life with imagery and movement.
Van Gogh Exhibition at Maraya, Winter at Tantora - Model: @ParisVerra 
Among the other amazing talents still left to participate in the festival are: Um Kulthum (Jan. 25th); Andrea Bocelli (Feb. 1st); and Yanni (Feb. 8th).  If you are interested in attending any of these events or to learn more about Winter at Tantora, CLICK HERE For the Yanni event, you can get a 20% discount by using this code:  BlueAbaya7   Hurry!!! Availability is limited.

Packages are available for just the one day of the concert or for the whole weekend, including cool tent accommodations (with all the comforts of home!), a variety of inspiring tours, transportation, helicopter rides and hot air ballooning over the amazing landscape of Al Ula, and much much more.


Thanks to my awesome pal Laura / @BlueAbaya, we had an incredible time we will never forget. She knows more about places to visit in Saudi Arabia than anybody I know. You should check her out on Instagram and Twitter - @BlueAbaya, or on her blog Blue Abaya.  I'll be writing more about our adventures from this past weekend so stay tuned!

Laura has also written a fabulous comprehensive guide and history of Madain Saleh, the historical archaeological site outside of Al Ula, with lots of fantastic photos - CLICK HERE to access it.

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