The Big Time: Ultimate Guide to Riyadh Season 2023

The Big Time: Ultimate Guide to Riyadh Season 2023

Great fun, countless adventures and larger than life moments - this is your complete guide to everything Riyadh Season 2023
10 November 23
Ultimate Guide to Riyadh Season 2023

The most anticipated event of the year in Saudi has begun, kicking off with a bigger bang than ever before.

On October 28, Riyadh Season 2023 made a grand entrance - under its new The Big Time! theme - with the Battle of the Baddest. The heavyweight boxing match saw Britain's Tyson Fury, the current WBC heavyweight champion, and Cameroonian French Francis Ngannou, an unbeaten MMA champion, battle it out in the ring.

This combat fight event of the year undoubtedly set the tone for the quality of entertainment to expect over the next three months - and with more than seven million square metres of entertainment and a never-ending itinerary of events, you'll need to keep your fitness levels up to take it all in.

Luckily, we've done the hard work for you by highlighting some of the most exiting experiences in various categories to ensure you don't miss out.

For a full list of all the Riyadh Season 2023 zones you should visit, click here.

Best for Foodies

Its incredible how many renowned, world-class restaurants and cafes will be in one place this year, serving up possibly every food combination known to humankind. Whether you love French fine dining or crave a late-night-triple-stacked, greasy cheeseburger, you'll find the best of both worlds and everything in between at Riyadh Season 2023.

For those who adore all things French, make sure to secure reservations at Les Deux Magots, paying homage to the original Parisian venue, and at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, a fine-dining institution. You can also explore Instagram's favourite spot, La Favorite Saint-Paul, straight from the heart of Paris, introducing French cuisine with a contemporary twist.

If your palate is please by more international fare, start with Japanese cuisine at Clap, a gourmet haven renowned for its artistic fusion of flavours and impeccable presentation. There is also WAGYUMAFIA, known for serving only the rarest cuts of Wagyu beef, sourced from 20 carefully selected Japanese farms. The UK's Gymkhana brings its Michelin-starred London restaurant to Riyadh, with a nod to British-Indian culture. And don't miss Joan's on Third, one of LA's most beloved institutions.

Check out all the restaurants at Via Riyadh, right here.

Having said all that, there's a time for fancy sit-down meals and there's a time for soul-satisfying food from a truck. The Riyadh Food Trucks Park will give you good reason to delete and food delivery app for the next three months, as you'll find yourself frequenting this festival more often than you might have expected.

You'll find a little bit of everything at the Riyadh Food Trucks Park, from Miami's beloved Ms Cheezious, one of the best food trucks in America, serving its signature grilled cheese sandwiches, to Mike Majlak's famous 10/10 Burger (oh soo good). Savour the flavours of Korean food with a modern twist from Seoul Street Cafe, or the deliciousness of Ugly Noodles, known for their dan dan noodles, juicy dumplings, and Hong Kong classics.

Best for Families

Let's face it, Riyadh Season is all about spending time with loved ones, and fortunately, this year's edition exceeds all expectations. So, take some notes and let the family dive in.

The start of the family fun at this year's event: a universe of magical shows, courtesy of Disney. Featuring musical renditions of Aladdin, Encanto, Frozen, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King - the latter accompanies by a high-energy drumming workshop celebrating the animated film's iconic soundtrack.

There's a world of other gems to explore though, such as the World of Barbie, where (pink) dreams are made. Following the worldwide mega-movie hit, this is your chance to revel in the iconic doll's lifestyle, with a selection of interactive Barbie-themed activities.

Our full guide for family-friendly activities at Riyadh Season 2023 can be found right here.

Big name popular family and kids favourites include a life-sized version of Monopoly, arguably the world's most popular board game, Blippi Wonders, one of the largest edutainment experiences and Cocomelon Playdate, where children and families engage with their favourite characters in an interactive environment.

For the little ones, there's the wonderful world of PlayOCity, powered by Hasbro. This immersive experience includes the Power Rangers, My Little Pony, Transformers, Tonka, Hungry Hippos, Connect 4 and so much more.

The excitement doesn't stope there! You have teh entire zone of Wonderland Garden and all it offers, the Riyadh Toy Festival is teeming with games and beloved cartoon characters, and The Cool Arena is an ice skating experience complete with training sessions. Riyadh Season guarantees a thrilled and tired family by the end of each day, thanks to all these diverse entertainment options.

Best for Sports Fans

Where you're an indoor or outdoor sports lover, prefer fast and furious action, or are happy to spend ages watching a match, there are plenty of sporting highlights waiting for you.

The Season began with the Battle of the Baddest, a face off like no other, and then was followed by the WWE Crown Jewel showdown, where top WWE superstars including the legendary John Cena and LA Knight took to the ring. For those who prefer to actively take part in sport, the brand new Mike Tyson Boxing Gym, the first specialised striking gymnasium in the region has opened its doors. An elite, dedicated and knowledgable team will train people in sparring, boxing and other combat sports.

There is also the Riyadh Season Cup, serving up and exciting tournament this year, feature the world's top ranked female and male champions. And the squash-tennis hybrid sport of padel will make an appearance for the first time this year, as the world's bet professional padel players compete in the Riyadh Premier Padel tournament.

If you love a good team sport, the Riyadh Season Cup might be up your alley, with an international football side invited to take part alongside Neymar's Al-Hilal and Al Nassr, home to Cristiano Ronaldo. A series of other international games will also be played, so keep an eye out!

The football extravaganza continues with the Legend Museum for football enthusiasts, home to over 30,000 rare sporting items. There is also the CR7 Signature Museum as well, curated around Cristiano Ronaldo's life story.

If all that wasn't enough, Riyadh Season has also partnered with 433 to host global football legends and experiences, transporting you between the real and digital world and hosting the global 433 Awards for the first time ever.

Last but not least, the Team Falcon Nest is where Team Falcons and non-Falcons can gather for esports gaming and recreation.

Best for Music Lovers

Riyadh Season boasts 33 shows and concerts - featuring top local, regional and international performers - taking place at venues throughout the city. One of the most anticipated (and largest in the region) is MDLBeast SoundStorm.

Last year, the MDLBeast SoundStorm festival entertained a crowd of over 700,000 at its pop-up desert location, and this year's edition has an impressive line up of the best regional and international electronic music artists. And, if you're not sure you want to wander into the desert for good music, thee are plenty of other options available.

Along with a host of concerts, there's the Disney Castle Experience, a musical experience that brings you closer to the iconic music of Disney's much-loved animated worlds. Everyday, live concerts will be held in front of the iconic and magical castle.

Additionally, don't miss out on Khaleeji Nights, featuring performances by local artists at Boulevard City's theatres, and Arabian Nights, showcasing famous Arab artists. For a diverse cultural music experience, make our way to Suwaidi Park, where each week a different country's music will transport you on a global musical journey over seven exciting weeks.

Amidst all these experiences, be sure to catch the roaming entertainment acts at Boulevard World and in the Wonder Garden, you'll find an extraordinary musical floating parade and other roaming shows inspired by the magic of space.

Best for Fashion Fans

If style is your thing, the best place to start at Riyadh Season 2023 is the Ana Arabia exhibition, showcasing the works of 200 designers and creatives from the worlds of fashion, jewellery and more. Boulevard Eve, a resounding success with beauty lovers, returns this year as a much larger event. And, Jacques la Coupe, the award-winning specialise in hair-styling and colouring will make a special appearance.

Multi-brand store Mwaz is curating over 70 exclusive selections from global brands, limited edition pieces from international artist collaboration, and personalised experiences. Joining them are global power brands like Tom Ford, Dolce and Gabbana, and Zegna, opening its first global flagship store. Closer to home, there's the brilliant haute couture of Elie Saab, ASHI and Saudi's homegrown luxury brand, Westerly.

Looking to step up your shoe game? Check out the expert craftsmanship and timeless designs of Sergio Ross. For a bit of added sparkle, Roberto Coin and Maria Tash are great choices for jewellery.

Best for a Laugh

The LINE UP is a highly anticipated comedy show, boasting a diverse roster of comedians from at home and abroad. Acts taking to the stage include, Maz Jobrani, an acclaimed Iranian-American comedian, actor and writer celebrated for his clever humour and incisive takes on cultural matters. Then it's Ahmed Ali Butt, a Pakistani entertainer renowned for his comedic roles on TV and in film.

From the local circuit, Bader Saleh joins the line up, a Saudi comedian and actor celebrated for his observational comedy, which humorously reflects everyday life in the Kingdom. And finally, Khaled Al Khamissi completes the fun; an Egyptian writer, actor and comedian whose satirical creations tackle societal issues within Egypt and the broader Arab region.

Check out the full line up and booking links here.

Best for Culture Vultures

Noor Riyadh, renowned as the largest of its kind in the world, will transform the city with an extensive collection of large scale light artworks, both on the ground and in the sky. Under the theme, The Bright side of the Desert Moon, this magnificent festival will be complemented by an art exhibition that stretches into the new year.

For those who have a penchant for sculptures, head to the captivating world of Richard Orlinski. The visionary French artist has entranced the globe with his colourful contemporary works that are as bold as they are fascinating.

Merwas, the largest entertainment hub in the region, is on a mission to showcase Saudi talent on the global stage. It has an academy, 22 studios, a production network, and even a radio station - and you're invited to explore the realms of film and cinematography within its walls.

Best for Cinephiles & Theatre Lovers

It doesn't matter if you've been to every cinema imaginable, you're in for a treat at the ultra luxurious Renaissance Theatres. With seven fully private cinema halls, the new cinema experience at Via Riyadh is a cinematic experience like no other.

See the unique theatre rooms available to book, here.

Riyadh Season also offers an array of live entertainment including plays that will make you laugh, cry and be swept away by the drama, along with a selection of standup comedy shows and magic acts. With events taking place in numerous theatres around the city, there is something for all to enjoy.

Best for Nature Lovers

Those seeking a wilder experience, Riyadh Zoo is a must-visit. The newly upgraded and expanded zoo offers incredible experiences for the entire family. The highlight, without a doubt, is the Red Panda Experience. Don't miss your chance to see this endangered animal for he first time in the Middle East.

Take a stroll through the Enchanted Forest, a paradise for animal lovers where you will encounter bears, llamas and gazelles (from afar). Stop by The Swamp to see white tigers and crocodiles, and head to the Ape Escape Area to spend some time with the playful chimpanzees. Alternatively, you can choose your favourite animal to feed, be it elephants, chimps or even giraffes.

Explore Boulevard Forest for more rare animals and Boulevard Dolphinarium for a wildly entertaining show. The planet also hosts dolphin shows and has an animal forest that will keep the family entertained for hours.

Back at Wonder Garden is where you'll find Flamingo Lake, Bloom which is filled with stunning flowers, and the Butterfly House where you can easily pass time looking at the stunning selection of over 1000 butterfly species that call this place home.

This year's edition will also feature the fist ever Dog Festival; two days filled with Saluki races, dog shows and contests where the region's top dogs will display their canine brains. beauty and brawn. and if you can't bear to be parted from your own furry friend, bring them to Luca World, where you'll find a world of fun, including indoor and outdoor games, alongside a number of gardens and a cute cafe.

Best for Alternate Reality

If you've had your fill of this world, maybe it's time to step into another. House of Hype is where the real world and virtual reality collide, resulting in more than 30 different interactive experiences. This is a universe of beautiful and bizarre worlds filled with places to explore. There is also Meta-World VR, where illusion meets reality in a rather convincing digital fantasy land. At Zero Latency, don your VR headset, pick up your controller and dive straight into the action. Visit Takenda, an entertainment centre where people of all ages can lose themselves in VR and arcade games.

Best for Thrill Seekers

If you're the type of person who sits in the front seat of rollercoaster and never screams, then you'll find an array of adrenaline-fuelled ways to fill your day.

The first unmissable stomach un-settler is the Skydrop, the world's longest mobile rollercoaster, casually flinging you around while reaching speeds of up to 110 kilometres per hour. If you're up for another round of thrilling excitement after that, make your way to Taxi Mania, a rollercoaster suitable for all ages (and cast-iron stomachs), featuring 257 metres of gut-wrenching twists and turns.

At Wonder Garden you'll find Adventure Rides, multiple attractions designed for those brave enough to take on high speeds and sharp turns. To top it all off, get behind the wheel in an adrenaline fuelled race at Doos Karting for the ultimate thrill.

Best for Action and Survival Gamers

For those who enjoy a good battle, Riyadh Season has you covered. Combat Village promises an expansive adventure with its dynamic combat simulation, shotgun and shooting ranges, laster tag and a medieval theme park featuring a dragon's dungeon maze, sword duels and an archery arena. Meanwhile Battle Dome provides an immersive battlefield where players engage in combat using laser light guns, amid obstacles and realistic settings.

Best for Horror Buffs

If the number of horror experiences at Riyadh Season 2023 are any indication, it seems that in Saudi, we have a love for the thrill of getting scared out of our wits.

Try a night of fright at Zeela House, and see if you can make it through its haunted maze of ghosts, zombies and eerie encounters. For a real adrenaline rush, there is Five Nights at Freddy's, where you can attempt to escape from Freddy and his friends in a digital reality maze. If you manage to make it out, The Island of the Dolls awaits, here you will be faced with the daunting task of freeing the spirits of deformed dolls in a terrifying island adventure.

For a change of pace, travel back in time with Mummy Quest, embarking on an archaeological adventure to decipher the secrets of an ancient cemetery. Then, set sail at Pirates of Boulevard Lake, where a ship that was buried for hundred of years has suddenly resurfaced. Pirates have taken control of the vessel, but haunted spirits onboard are unwilling to give up the treasure

If your nerves are still intact, take a breather and then check into Horror Hotel... If you dare.

Best for Petrol Heads

If there's one thing the Kingdom lovers just as much as football, it's probably cars - from the classics to the cutting edge. So, it makes sense that this Season has something for all those motor lovers out there. Riyadh Motor Festival gets into full gear this December, showcasing the latest technologies and trends in the automotive industry.

January welcomes a second big motoring event - the Riyadh Car Show - showcasing a collection of the world's most striking vehicles, making it the destination for car enthusiasts and collectors. For the automotive afficionados who want to take their passion up a notch, there is the Seven Car Lounge at VIA Riyadh, where the world's newest, most luxurious and fastest cards can be found.

And, there you have it!

Three months of magic, madness, and marvellous entertainment. It doesn't matter where you go, what you watch, which rides you choose, or what concerts you go craziest at. One thing is for certain: come the end of Riyadh Season 2023, you're going to be happily exhausted.

Keep up with all the goings-on at Riyadh Season 2023, right here.