Lights, history, crowds, performers and artists – it’s like a carnival sans the music and dancing. With the backdrop of history to it, you will not be able to find a festival like this across the GCC.
Now in its 3rd year, the festival runs from the 6thof June till the 5th of July, each night from 10 pm till around 2 am. The festival is a celebration of Hejazi Ramadan traditions, thus the name ‘Ramadanana Kida’ (Our Ramadan Is Like This).
Right in front of the Historic District of Al Balad is an exhibition venue that is solely used for festival purposes. It houses numerous restaurants, crafts shops and small clothing stalls. Here one can gorge on some Hejazi dishes and go on a shopping spree, buying souvenirs and clothing items representing a mishmash of traditional and modern.
Most of the stalls are run here by young Saudis. The amount of creativity they bring to the table is clearly visible in their stalls. From juice being served in an empty light bulb to coffee being made in sand and organic shawarmas, the fresh breath of creativity is a welcome change in otherwise run-of-the-mill bazaars in Jeddah.
From the exhibition venue one has to cross the road to reach the entrance of the Historic Balad area. There, tour groups in various languages conduct tours on regular intervals taking visitors around the UNESCO World Heritage Site with each tour lasting around 60 to 90 minutes. Bear in mind, that the festival is for families only and entry for single men is not allowed.
The tour passes through the maze-like lanes of Al Balad, passing through houses that have been restored, some of them dating back to almost a century ago. The lighting system installed brings out the full splendor of the place, making visitors feel as if they are walking in an open-air museum, amongst the finest the region has to offer.
During the tour, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Jeddah’s oldest bakery that continues to sell traditional bread. Also, do not miss is a visit to the Al Shafei Mosque that is believed to be one of the oldest mosques of Jeddah. It has been restored of late and is open to the public for prayer.
Bait Naseef, which is one of the finest examples of Hejazi architecture is in most cases the last spot on the tourist circuit. Pay a visit to Days of Bliss Magad Museum that houses an interesting collection of artifacts from a time period of when Hejaz started seeing a plethora of products come to it from the west.
It’s not like only history lovers will enjoy it, even those not into history will have a great time reliving the bygone days. Even the children can be seen having a good time, a place for full family fun. Though this Ramadan the weather is on the hotter side, it still hasn’t stopped people from coming to the event. A place to visit for the Hejazi Ramadan experience.