Al Wathba Sheikh Zayed Heritage festival men carrying UAE flags on horseback

Sheikh Zayed Festival – Emirati Heritage Event in Al Wathba Opens For 2023-24

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner Team

The Sheikh Zayed Festival is an annual outdoor event showcasing the best of Emirati culture. Held under the patronage of his highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the festival bears the name of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in recognition of his role in preserving Emirati heritage and cultural values as well as unifying the nation.

The festival includes a range of daily activities from traditional dance shows to camel races, falconry to arts and crafts. There are also high-tech shows and stunning firework displays, fairground rides and markets, and the unforgettable chance to try a whole host of Emirati food and drink.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the UAE during the festival, you really shouldn’t miss it!

Dates For the 2023-24 Sheikh Zayed Festival

The 2023/24 Festival will take place from the 17th of November 2023 to the 9th of March 2024.

Open weekdays from 4:00 PM until midnight and weekends from 4:00 PM until 1:00 AM

Visitors can learn more about the schedule and events for this year by visiting

What Does it Cost to Attend the Sheikh Zayed Festival?

There is a small entry fee to enter the festival of 10 AED per person. Note that those under 3 years old, People of Determination and those over 60 are exempt from paying the entry fee.

You can buy your tickets in advance online through the festival’s website if you would like to avoid queuing on the day of your visit.

Where Do I Find The Sheikh Zayed Festival?

The event is held in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, approximately 40 minutes to the southeast of Abu Dhabi island.

GPS Co-ordinates: 24.2217° N, 54.6869° E

Most visitors drive to the site, but as a visitor, you can catch a taxi/Careem, or there is a local bus route servicing the grounds.

See the bus timetable from Abu Dhabi Central Station here.

What Should You Expect at the Sheikh Zayed Festival?

Prepare yourself for an experience like no other at the Sheikh Zayed Festival. Taking ancient traditions and modern technology, the Festival seeks to demonstrate to visitors the true essence of the UAE.

There are numerous pavilions featuring interactive exhibitions that highlight the history and heritage of the UAE, as well as a daily programme of events featuring traditional shows, competitions, races and arts and crafts activities.

Markets and traditional food stalls add to the festive atmosphere and are all designed to immerse visitors in a real Emirati cultural experience. Spectacular fireworks add the icing to the cake every Saturday night at 10.00 pm.

This is a family-friendly event with many activities specifically created for children. Kids can get hands-on with things like basket weaving and falconry, as well as watching live performances in the children’s theatre.

Other highlights include:

  • The Heritage Village – with different industry and craft installations.
  • Extreme Weekends – a car and motorcycle stunt show.
  • Fun Fair City – a selection of rides and amusements.
  • The ice-rink – that’s right! Don’t miss the opportunity to skate in the desert!
  • Karting & Paintballing
  • Pavilions dedicated to countries from around the world featuring information about their own indigenous culture and traditions.
  • Drone Show – See the night sky lit up by hundreds of drones.
  • The Emirates Fountain Plaza – a stunning water feature with a sound and light show that you will find truly mesmerising!

Shows and events change year upon year. You can check the schedule for 2023-2024 here.

al wathba festival bedouin on camels - now called the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival held annually every winter

Celebrations Held at Sheikh Zayed Festival

The Sheikh Zayed Festival is a great place to celebrate National Day on December 2nd, when the sense of pride in the UAE and its culture and traditions is truly palpable. There are extra special performances, marches, and other specially scheduled activities.

New Year’s Eve is another great time to visit, as 2024 will be welcomed with a huge fireworks display and lots of festive cheer.

Further Planning Tips For Attending the Sheikh Zayed Festival

At the gate entrances, you will find service centres offering wheelchairs, children’s pushchairs and shopping trolleys. There is an on-site clinic, and childcare facilities are also available. Police and an ambulance crew are also stationed at the site. There is ample parking, but valet parking is available should you need it.

With so many shopping opportunities, you’ll be pleased to know that ATMs can be found on-site.

The Festival welcomes People of Determination and offers wheelchair access and accessible toilet facilities. Golf buggies are also available for hire for people with mobility issues.

Please note that all guests should dress modestly and avoid public displays of affection. Pets and bikes are not permitted.

More Cultural Places & Events in Abu Dhabi

You may also be interested on your trip to the UAE to explore:

Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi

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Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our hotel or tour recommendation links.

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