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Saudi Arabia's Riyadh Season Is One of the World's Largest, Most Impressive Winter Festivals

Riyadh Festivals
by Eben Diskin Oct 5, 2023

As the hotter weather cools down in the northern hemisphere, people are getting ready for the chilly (or at least, chillier) weather and all the travel experiences that come with it. In Saudi Arabia, the cooler months are among the best times to visit the country. One of the reasons is for the monumental event that is Riyadh Season.

Riyadh Season is a state-sponsored entertainment and sports festival that happens in Saudi Arabia’s capital every year from October to March. It started in 2019 as part of Saudi Vision 2030, the broad national effort to increase tourism in the country, and has since exploded in popularity and size. The event is organized by different zones and attractions, which range from highlighting Saudi culture to showcasing various athletic spectacles, as well as international food and entertainment. If you’re planning a trip to Saudi Arabia this winter, make sure to spend a few days exploring this sprawling festival. Here’s what to look forward to during Riyadh Season 2023.

Boulevard Riyadh City

One of the festival’s most popular zones is making its triumphant return this year. Revamped with 60 percent new experiences, including a Barbie world, House of Hype VR experience, and Disney Castle with Disney-inspired shows, Boulevard Riyadh City – located in the Hittin neighborhood – is certainly the center of the action. Sports are a huge part of this zone, with the opening of a Legend Museum, the world’s largest museum dedicated to soccer that’s home to 30,000 pieces of memorabilia. The region’s very first striking gym, conceived in collaboration with Mike Tyson, will open its doors in this zone, and another museum, the CR7 museum, will be dedicated solely to the athletic feats of Cristiano Ronaldo. Two different world tennis championships and WWE matches (featuring John Cena) will also take place.

Boulevard World

Like Boulevard Riyadh City, Boulevard World is another favorite making a return this year. Expanded by almost 40 percent since last year, the zone contains a huge shopping area with over 1,180 shops, 120 restaurants, tons of artistic shows, and entertainment experiences designed to capture various international flavors. Explore different food stalls and markets to taste cuisines from all around the world, and listen to live musical performances from a variety of international artists. Think of it as Riyadh’s version of the Epcot World Showcase.

Wonder Garden Riyadh Season

A brand new zone this year, the Wonder Garden is the largest mobile amusement park ever built, located in the northern part of the city. The zone will feature over four amusement park gardens, and be home to over 70 rides and experiences, two arcade halls, 15 stores, 26 restaurants, and over 60 roaming acts and shows. When you’re not getting an adrenaline rush on one of the rides, you can hang out by Flamingo Lake with over 50 flamingos, or wander the Bloom area full of floral-inspired art installations. There’s also the Butterfly Garden, which has over 1,000 different types of butterflies.

New zones to look forward to

Wonder Garden isn’t the only new area coming to Riyadh Season 2023. You can also look forward to Boulevard Hall, Al-Murabba (a previously temporary zone now becoming permanent), and the Souk Al-Awalain shopping market (with a weekly auction). There’s also the Riyadh Zoo and Al Suwaidi Park. The zoo, which has previously made an appearance at the festival, has expanded by 25 percent with more animal attractions, as well as a park with diverse cultural events and musical performances.

Riyadh Season begins with a bang on October 28 with the Baddest Man on the Planet fight between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou.

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