Guide To Visiting Janadriyah Cultural Heritage Festival With Children- How to make the Most out of it?
The annually held Cultural Heritage festival Janadriyah is definitely one of the most important cultural events of the year and a must visit for all expats in the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia. This is when you can immerse yourself in the Saudi culture, enjoying what the real Saudi-Arabia and the friendly hospitable Saudi people have to offer.
Janadriyah Festival for National Heritage is like a window to Saudi culture, customs, history and way of life. You will get to experience hands on how diverse and rich in heritage Saudi Arabia really is.
I’m always encouraging expatriates to attend this festival, and I wanted to write a guide to ease minds of those going there with children. Janadriyah is a perfectly safe place to visit and free for everyone!
Visiting Days: Family days are beginning from Monday 8th February 2016 everyday until February 20th.
No Entrance fee or parking fees,
Free maps of area in English at entrance.
Janadriyah Village Coordinates: GPS co-ordinates: 24.958592, 46.794462
Location Google Maps:http://goo.gl/maps/184ur
Moms Bring with you: Stroller, headscarf, wet wipes, hand disinfectant.
Dads/Drivers: Best place to park your car: from main entrance road, drive toward the gates and park on the lefthand side parking lot, opposite to Najran pavilion. Recognizable from the tall tower and giant Saudi flag.
The best time to visit for families with children would be on the weekdays, weekends get super crowded and entering/ leaving the area can take hours. It’s best to arrive as early as possible, so be at the gates when they open. Officially the festival starts at 4pm, but on many occasions they will open the gates much earlier. There are plenty of vendors outside the gates selling everything from toys, all sorts of trinkets, Saudi foods, flags and more. With luck it’s possible to find Saudi ladies who will make quick beautiful henna tattoos for 15 sr on visitor’s hands.
On weekends the festival area will get very crowded especially after Ishaa prayer it’s going to be fully packed. The parking lot is disorganised and can get chaotic. Enter from the front gate, which is directly opposite the highway. Upon entering the area (admission is free for everyone) make sure you take a map from the info stands;
Staff will provide small children with wrist bands that have the parent’s mobile number on them in case they were to get lost in the area. A stroller would be a must because the area is huge and takes many hours to walk around it.
Start out by exploring the Jizan Province and Farasan area directly to the left from the gates. A large white wall marks the entrance. The Jizan dancers are fun to watch, their dance is very lively and the beat is fast and gripping. Children will love the show, the traditional fishing boats and there’s a camel running a sesame seed mill. From this area you can buy beautifully scented jasmine flower necklaces and flower hair bands for the kids (and why not adults too).
The recommended area to visit next to the Jizan Province is the Qassim region. It’s the one with the highest watch tower and the surrounding marketplace. For kids there’s camel riding at the square.
Don’t miss the camel caravan, Arabian horses and the traditional black and white Bedouin goat hair tents next to the Qassim square. there’s also a traditional Saudi farm where you can see how farms where run back in the day.
Try these Saudi foods from Qassim Province:
The sweet Kleja breads made by the Bedouin women in a special Kleja-oven on site.
Various kinds and shapes of delicious mammoul (sweet biscuits filled with date paste and jam).
Dates! Qsssim Province is famous for its annual dates festival, ask to taste different types of dates.
Another area children will enjoy is the big Eastern Province marketplace, located on opposite side of the Medina building marked by a large gate with wooden doors. Here you can go on donkey carriage rides, climb on a huge fishing boat, see boa snakes and join in on the Saudi traditional children’s games. There’s also a nice Saudi restaurant here in the middle of the market worth trying out.
Visit the Eastern Province area nearby if you’re interested in seeing the hunting falcons and for a chance to hold one. You’ll also find a replica of the Qara caves of al Hofuf (caves if Ali Baba!). The architecture is beautiful inside and outside of the houses of Dammam area. Here you’ll see Saudi craftsmanship skills at their best, sandal cobblers, basket weavers, dallah coffee pot makers, fishermen making small sailing boats and much more.