7 family-friendly thrills at Liwa International Festival

Unleashing Adventure: 7 Family-Friendly Thrills at Liwa International Festival’s Desert Wonderland
Abu Dhabi, UAE, 26, Dec, 2023: The Liwa International Festival, organised by Liwa Sports Club with the support of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, is back and bigger than ever to give visitors the chance to experience the mesmerising landscapes of the region, where adventure and family fun know no bounds.

The Liwa International Festival 

Located in Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi’s Western Region, Liwa is best known for golden dunes, endless horizons and hidden histories where families can uncover a treasure trove of delightful experiences. The festival runs until December 31 and harnesses the allure of the desert landscape to make it the perfect place for a variety of activities.

Blending Emirati heritage with fast-paced entertainment and experiences, this hotly anticipated event draws motorsport enthusiasts, nature lovers, culture-seekers, and families alike. From falcon, camel and horse racing to monster truck jams, bike drag races and car stunt competitions; camping and glamping stations; live music and stage shows; homegrown food trucks plus a pop-up by local SALT; to pottery, henna, and Emirati cultural displays – the line-up for Liwa Festival is packed with something for all ages.

Here are seven ways to enjoy the very best of the region while at the Liwa International Festival.

1    Camp under the desert stars

Liwa, with its vast, pristine landscapes, is a draw for desert adventurers. The star-studded sky stretches wide above, unobstructed by urban interference, and makes for a remote and memorable camping site. Pack your tents and sleeping bags for a tranquil night amid Liwa’s rolling dunes or opt for either a Bedouin or safari tent, or an air-conditioned glamping pod at the Liwa International Festival. With winter winds blowing in, tell stories over a crackling bonfire, fire up the grill, and savour the tranquillity only nature can offer gazing at the stars.

2   Visit Liwa Village

The Liwa Village is back for its second year running, promising an extensive, curated range of culinary, retail, e-gaming, and entertainment tailored for every family member. This December, visitors can enjoy an elevated experience marked by culinary delights, shopping, entertainment gaming, and overall fun for the entire family. Amidst it all, savour a quintessential Emirati desert experience that promises to leave an indelible mark on your memory.

3   Watch the world’s tallest dune be conquered

Dune after towering dune spans the Empty Quarter, but the famous Tel Moreeb dominates the skyline. At more than 300 metres high, it is considered one of the world’s tallest dunes and is a favoured destination for motorsport thrill-seekers. At the Festival, a variety of events such as Moreeb Dune Cars Champ will see professionals and enthusiasts tackle Tel Moreeb for some high-octane entertainment.

4   Discover history amid the sands

While at the Liwa International Festival, learn more about UAE’s history through the remnants of the past left behind. Liwa Oasis and the Empty Quarter house breathtaking relics of the past, including a variety of 19th-century forts that once fiercely protected the area. In the green oasis stand two forts dating back over a century, along with seven others reconstructed in the 1980s, or venture out beyond into the desert where the original Umm Husn Fort awaits. The forts are free to visit and stand at least three metres tall with round water towers, high walls and gun holes – an awe-inspiring glimpse into the Bedouins’ past.

5   Revel in nature and the outdoors

From the desert to its green oasis, Liwa harbours hidden gems that you can only encounter on foot. Set off on nature trails and hikes to explore the region’s lush flora and fauna that call Liwa’s beautiful environment home. Sunrise and sunset make for picture-perfect trekking conditions, ensuring cool winds guide your way, and revel in the majesty of the desert as the sun and moon switch shifts.

6   Plan a desert picnic or barbecue

Rally friends and family at the Festival and prepare for an unforgettable day in the desert. If camping is not your cup of tea, a half-day soaking in the sun, breeze and views over a picnic is the way to go. Set up a cosy picnic with camping chairs or a sizzling barbecue to make your own feast. Bring a transportable grill, throw on some coal, fresh kebabs and meat and feast like royalty amid breathtaking vistas. Whether you seek an unforgettable adventure, a rich cultural encounter, or a serene camping trip beneath the stars, the Liwa International Festival is the perfect way to enjoy all of the region’s charms in one captivating setting, creating cherished family memories to last a lifetime.

7   Participate in Smart Farm workshops

Liwa, renowned for its diverse landscape of lush oases and expansive deserts, places a strong emphasis on agricultural growth and sustainability. The newly launched Smart Farm Workshops provide an exciting opportunity for everyone to learn more about local farming, sustainable solutions, and agricultural innovation. Join the ‘Ground Application Technique & Safe Handling of Pesticides’ workshop on December 24 for a science-led exploration of responsible farming practices. On December 28, delve into food tech innovation with a workshop on Watermelon Market, the F&B ecosystem that connects hotels, restaurants, and cafes in the UAE with local farmers. On December 29, discover the secrets of crop rotation in the ‘Principles of Crop Rotation’ workshop, vital for soil health and sustainable agriculture. Elevate your Liwa Festival experience by taking part in these workshops and unlocking a deeper connection with the region’s agricultural endeavours.