Janadriyah Cultural Heritage Festival for Families

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! 

QUICK TIPS:

Visiting Days: Family days are beginning from Monday 8th February 2016 everyday until February 20th.

Visiting Hours: Gates open officially at 4 pm. Usually right after Asr prayer they will start letting people in, everyday until midnight. Arrive early to avoidkids janadriyah guidemassive crowds.

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.

Park to the left of this road.

 

There is something for everyone at Janadriyah! Here are some tips on fun activities with kids and where to find the best places at the Janadriyah village for families. The vast festival area may seem daunting for first time visitors, there seems to be endless places to see and it might be hard to choose which areas to go to, but this guide will help you make the most out of your time at Janadriyah festival.

 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;

they will have English language maps too. Maps are not available anywhere else!

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 must-visit Province area is Medinah al Munawara, easily recognizable from the golden dome. Skip the food here (somewhat overpriced) but try to catch the men dancing the famous “spinning” dances. This area also has a nice bazaar for buying souvenirs such as Arabic coffee pots, tea cup sets, hand-made colorful baskets, lovely oudh and perfumes. You can also get fresh organic herbs and tea, lots of different Saudi spices plus there’s a traditional bread oven to grab some fresh bread from.

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.

For the girls and moms it’s worth visiting the women’s only hall where you can experience and see traditional Saudi women’s attire, music and dances.
Women

Women’s area entrance Janadriyah

For the boys and dads there’s the Saudi National Guard exhibit next to the Makkah area where you can see tankers, helicopters and other military equipment.
Don’t miss the traditional Sword dancing shows, “Ardha” which can be found in all the province areas.
Aardh Dancing from Ha

Aardh Dancing from Ha’il province Janadriyah Festival

Janadriyah is definitely the best way to take a quick course on the Saudi culture and customs!

saudi girl traditional dress

Complete Guide to visiting Janadriyah, Saudi Arabia’s National heritage and Cultural festival in 2016, click here!

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  • Susie of ArabiaMarch 28, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    I sure hope I can attend one of these years… It looks like one of the best events in KSA – great pics!!!ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1March 29, 2013 - 2:03 am

    Nice building.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 29, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    Thanks for the expanded description. Going there without any knowledge means we’ll miss a lot.

    er, any news on Jackie Chan turning up?ReplyCancel

  • SNMarch 31, 2013 - 8:32 pm

    Thanks for the great description. I’m excited to go. Is it possible to get wheelchairs at the festival? My aunt is elderly and really wants to go. Hope you can let me know.ReplyCancel

  • LaylaMarch 31, 2013 - 10:28 pm

    The latest on Jackie Chan is that he is indeed on his way to visit the festival :)

    SN I am sorry but I don’t have the answer to that one..I can recall seeing people in wheelchairs there but have no idea if they were provided by the organizers or not, sorry :(ReplyCancel

  • LaylaMarch 31, 2013 - 10:36 pm

    Susie I would be more than glad to show you around!!ReplyCancel

  • LaylaMarch 31, 2013 - 10:36 pm

    hey there big, thanks for the comment lolReplyCancel

  • ChoniApril 4, 2013 - 8:26 am

    Just found your excellent blog this morning Laya and love your wonderful photographs of events, people and atmosphere at Janadriyah…I have always missed the event but am going this year and really excited about it. Is their a camera rule or protocol at the festival…should I ask before taking a shot?ReplyCancel

  • LaylaApril 4, 2013 - 10:00 pm

    Choni-thank you for the kind words and hope you enjoy the festival!
    No policy for that, and you will notice people are quite relaxed about it!ReplyCancel

  • […] Is it safe? Can I go with my small children? In short, yes. Same precautions that you would take at any larger event applies. The biggest safety risk would be to loose your child in the area, which can be prevented by some measures, read more about them here. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Filed in: culture | events | gender segregation | Janadriyah | photography | saudi men | Saudi women | Saudi-Arabia | things to do in Riyadh | tourism | westerners6 comments Janadriyah Cultural Heritage festival of Saudi Arabia is held annually on the outskirts of Riyadh at the Janadriyah Village. This post depicts images from the festival in 2011. For more information about the folk festival itself, the timings and dates of Al Janadriya, check out Blue Abaya guides to the festival:    Why I Love The Janadriyah Festival Complete Guide to Janadriyah Festival Top Ten Things to do at Janadriyah  Janadriyah Cultural Heritage Festival With Children […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 2016 visiting hours, dates for family and single days, maps, location, directions, festival guides, tips for parents and more. For more Janadriyah updates, like & follow Blue Abaya on Facebook and follow us on […]ReplyCancel

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