A large influx of regional families has contributed to Summer in Abu Dhabi, the month-long family blockbuster running at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), smashing its attendance records.
Since opening on June 21, more than 56,250 visitors have descended on the festival’s four jam-packed halls. Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), the festival organiser, anticipates the figure will reach 100,000 before the mega family event closes on July 19.
Spanning nearly 19,000m², the festival features a bigger-than-ever summer playground, fun fair rides, games and dozens of family-friendly activations. Additionally, an amazing Sea Lion show has proven hugely popular with children of all ages. Running three-times daily, the jaw-dropping act sees a trio of hilarious aquatic mammals perform a host of side-splitting stunts, such as break-dancing moves, ball-juggling tricks and one flipper hand-stands.
“I work in Abu Dhabi and decided to bring my family over for the festival,” said Ali Saeed, from Muscat, who accompanied his wife and four- and two-year-old daughters to ADNEC. “The event is very diverse and has a wide range of activities for kids - my daughters’ loved the sea lions. Personally, I like that my whole family was asked questions when we arrived and again when we left; this shows the organisers want to keep improving the event every year.”
Another attraction pulling in the crowds is a mammoth Ice Age Village featuring stars from the hit movie series. With multiple activities inspired by the characters’ silver-screen exploits, highlights include crazy slides, inflatable igloos, a wintery snow machine and snowball play pits.
“We saw the advertising on television and came to Abu Dhabi just for the festival,” said Jasem Mohammed Al Mannai, from Doha, who is visiting the emirate with his 17-year-old son and two daughters, nine and three. “My girls loved playing with snowballs in the Ice Age Village – it is like a small winter world. It’s great that they got to meet characters they know from the movies. We would definitely come again.”
Elsewhere, the Show World theatre continues to wow visitors of all ages with its ever-changing line-up of musicals and ‘On Ice’ stage shows. This week’s shows, which end on July 12, include Peter Pan on Ice and a 20-minute Louna musical performed in English and Arabic. Performance timings are listed on the festival’s official website: www.summerinabudhabi.ae
“The regional audience is a key catchment demographic for us, so it’s great that the festival’s dynamic line-up of shows and bigger-and-better attractions have provided additional incentives – along with our hotel and flight promotions - for GCC travellers to visit Abu Dhabi this summer,” said Faisal Al Sheikh, Events Manager, TCA Abu Dhabi.
Underpinned by the kid-friendly festival at ADNEC, TCA Abu Dhabi’s seasonal destination campaign also encompasses more than 50 of the emirate’s leading hotels, attractions and tour operators, which are offering a compelling catalogue of two-for-one and other discount deals to woo international visitors and UAE residents.
Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national airline, is also backing the destination’s summer push with an exclusive family offer on inbound services to Abu Dhabi from several Middle East and Africa gateways. The carrier’s bonanza deal lets kids under 11 years old fly for free when accompanied by a full fare-paying adult passenger, while youngsters aged 12-16 can fly for half price when accompanied by a full fare-paying adult.*
The Summer in Abu Dhabi festival at ADNEC is open from 3pm – 9pm Sunday through Thursday and 2pm - 10pm Friday through Saturday. Entry is just AED 40 (US $11) for adults and AED 30 (US $8.5) for children under 12 years of age. Tickets can be bought at the door.