Your Complete Guide to Al Janadriyah Cultural Heritage Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia brought to you by Blue Abaya.
An Updated guide to visit the National festival of Heritage and culture can be found here: Janadriyah 2016 Festival Guide.
Find all you need to know about the Janadriya festival including the dates and visiting hours for 2015, family and single days, maps, location, directions, programs, pavilion guides, tips for parents, activities for everyone and much more! Dates planned for the Janadriyah festival in 2015 are: February 4th- February 22nd 2015.
What is the Janadriyah (also spelled Jenedriyeh, Jenedriya, Janadria, Al-Jenadriyah, Arabic: مهرجان الجنادرية) Heritage Festival?
An annually held, heritage and folk festival of Saudi-Arabia. Janadriya will be held this year for the 30th time in the Janadriyah village on the outskirts of Riyadh. The Janadriyah village was built specifically to host this festival. This is the largest festival of its kind in the Gulf, attracting millions of visitors from all over the region each year (in 2014 over 3 million people visited the festival during the course of three weeks).
A large festival area, which covers 1.5 sq km is divided into sections according to the different Provinces of Saudi Arabia such as Jizan (Gazan), Asir, Riyadh, Hail, Tabuk, Eastern Province, Makkah, Medinah, Taif, Al Baha, Qassim, and Najran. Each Province area will have buildings which are replicas of the architectural style typical to said region. Each year there’s a visiting country at the festival and in 2015 it will be Germany. Germany will have their own cultural pavilion at Janadriyah, all the info and their program can be found here: http://germanyinksa.com/
“The annual Jenadriyah Heritage and Cultural Festival, organized by the National Guard under the command of the Crown Prince, plays a crucial role in preserving the Kingdom’s national heritage. The festival begins with a traditional camel race and is intended to embrace all aspects of Saudi Arabian traditions and culture.” Official Janadriyah site (Arabic): http://www.janadria.org.sa
“The National Festival for Heritage and Culture at Al-Janadriyah is the most important national occasion expressing the ancient Saudi history and the perception of the booming present to paint a creative canvas. From here you can smell the perfume of originality which emphasizes our Arab identity and enhances our national heritage.” Saudi Tourism page
Where is Janadriyah Village? What is the location exactly, driving directions, map of area, GPS co-ordinates?
Location Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/184ur
The Janadriyah Village is located on Janadriyah Rd, opposite the Salwa Garden Village. Further along the same road are the King Abdul Aziz Race track and Thumamah National Park sand dunes. Three roads from Riyadh lead to Janadriyah. Check the Google map to see which one is closest to you and for driving directions. It takes about 30- 45 minutes from Riyadh city center to reach Janadriyah depending on the traffic.
Attached Google maps location of the festival area.
When can I visit? Can I go with my husband/family/single male friends? 2015 dates and timings as follows: The festival “operetta” grand opening is for males only and the consecutive weekend is also male only. in 2015 Singles (male only days) are February 4th- 8th.
Family days at Janadriyah begin 9th until 22nd February. Gates open 3:30 pm, close 12 midnight on weekdays, 2 am on weekends.
Family days are when single women (on their own or with their family members) and married men with their families are allowed to enter.
Note that sometimes single males might be able to enter with a large group of expat families (eg tour group) by sticking with the group strictly at all times. The religious police are on the look-out for single males and all single males will be escorted out of the festival if found unaccompanied by family members. The Haia are very strict in particular with the Saudi youth, however expats might get some leeway in this matter.
What can I do at Janadriyah festival? There are so many places to see and things to do that one whole day is not enough to see everything. Upon entering the festival area, make sure you grab the map of the area from the info stands, they have English maps too and will happily advise you with any questions.
You can watch camel races, or ride a camel, see falcons and Arabian horses, see what the interiors of houses of different areas in Saudi Arabia look like. You can try traditional foods, watch sword dancing, learn about the history of Saudi Arabia, visit small museums, art exhibitions and much much more. For the Top Ten Recommended Activities at Janadriyah click here.
Is it safe? Can I go with my small children? Can I go alone as single female? In short, yes. The same precautions, which you would take at any larger event apply. The biggest safety risk would be to lose your child in the vast and crowded area. There are some measures parents can take to prevent this. Read Blue Abaya’s Guide “Janadriyah Festival with Children” to find out more.
The Saudi National Guard and CPVPV members (Hai’a, religious police) are present in all areas of the festival ensuring the safety of the visitors.
How do I get there? Where do I park? Keep in mind that millions of people visit this festival every year and the crowds can get overwhelming in the evenings after Ishaa prayer and the parking lot becomes chaotic. It might be very hard to find the way back to your car or even to get out of the parking area. There are taxis waiting at the gates of the festival, so if you arrived with taxi, you can get a ‘white taxi’ back to the city without prior reservation. For those arriving with drivers, the easiest way to exit the area during the worst rush hour would be to have the driver wait at the side of the main road, directly opposite the gate and just walk there. If you wait at the gate for your driver to arrive, it could take up to an hour to enter and exit the parking area!
Why should I visit the festival? Find out the answer here!
Have fun and enjoy the experience!