I visited the Sharjah Light Festival in the UAE and embarked on a journey that combined lights, technology, and magic.
Here is everything you need to know if you plan on visiting the Sharjah Lights Festival too.
As I strolled through the various exhibitions at the Sharjah Lights Festival last February, I was in awe of the beauty and enchantment of some of the displays. This was not my first city lights festival, having visited the Light Festivals of Amsterdam, Toronto, and Berlin multiple times. However, I have to say that Sharjah might have taken the top spot. It was not just the diversity of displays and free exhibitions but how the Islamic architecture was combined with the talent of the invited artists. Towering structures, hundred-year-old mosques, and even an entire mountain served as canvases for one of the most beautiful visual exhibitions I have ever experienced.
This event is worth putting on your calendar, and if you plan on visiting the Sharjah Lights Festival in 2024, here is everything you need to know about it.
Located just a short 20-minute Uber ride away from the bustling city center of Dubai, Sharjah offers a refreshing change of pace. Unlike its neighboring city, Sharjah is not a destination filled with towering skyscrapers and man-made islands. Instead, this emirate prides itself on striking a balance between preserving its rich cultural heritage and embracing modernity.
Visitors to Sharjah can expect to immerse themselves in the authentic Arabic and Islamic culture that is evident in the city’s museums, architecture, and cultural centers. But Sharjah is not stuck in the past – it has a thriving art scene that showcases the works of local artists and designers in modern galleries and contemporary exhibitions. It is this unique blend of tradition and innovation that serves as the foundation for the Sharjah Light Festival, where cutting-edge digital technologies are combined with local culture to create a truly breathtaking visual experience.
Light installations and experiences
With a diverse range of activities and stunning art installations, Sharjah transforms into an open-air museum for 10 days, offering something for everyone to enjoy. Every year, the light installations change, but the entertainment opportunities remain just as varied. One of the highlights is the Light Village, an outdoor exhibition featuring several smaller light installations, delicious food, drinks, and a great atmosphere. Another must-see is the Al Rafisah Dam, where a full-light show illuminates a massive mountain, creating a truly unforgettable experience.
Sharjah’s key attractions are also popular during the light festival, with exhibitions at the Al Noor Mosque, the university building, and the Sharjah Mosque captivating visitors’ attention. All exhibitions are free of charge, making it a fantastic opportunity to experience the beauty of Sharjah’s architecture and culture. To visit the Light Village, you will need to sign in, but there is free WiFi almost everywhere in Sharjah or you can get a local SIM card with internet at the airport for easy connectivity.
During my visit to the Sharjah Lights Festival, I was stunned by light installations throughout the city. Some of my favorite exhibitions were:
This mosque is already one of the most beautiful in Sharjah, and the light exhibition during the festival made it even more breathtaking. The display featured Islamic patterns, colorful elements, and imaginative shows that were truly awe-inspiring.
Al Dhaid Fort:
Located in the heart of the city, Al Dhaid Fort was one of the most popular exhibitions at the festival. The magnificent display of lights complemented the stunning architecture of the fort, making it a must-see attraction.
Al Noor Mosque:
The display at Al Noor Mosque paid tribute to the beauty of Islamic architecture, and it was my personal favorite. The exhibition showcased different patterns that created a magical and enchanting atmosphere.
How to prepare yourself for a visit to the Sharjah Light Festival
Plan your visit:
As I mentioned at the beginning, the festival usually takes place in February each year and lasts for around ten days. Check the festival’s official website for the exact dates and schedule of events. It’s a good idea to plan your visit in advance, especially if you’re traveling to Sharjah especially for the festival. Book your accommodation in advanced. Even though you can travel from Dubai very easily, it is nicer to just explore independently by foot and explore different exhibitions at different times.
Explore the installations:
The festival features a variety of light installations spread across different locations in the city. Make sure to explore as many of them as possible. The installations are often interactive, so inform yourself with the staff or online what can you do to make your experience more memorable. Since all exhibitons are a little bit distant from each other, plan to visit 2 or 3 exhibtions per night only.
Attend the events:
In addition to the light installations, the festival also hosts a range of events and activities for visitors. This includes live music performances, art exhibitions, and workshops. Check the festival’s schedule to see which events you’d like to attend.
The weather in Sharjah during February can be cool in the evenings, so make sure to dress appropriately. You’ll also be walking around a lot, so wear comfortable shoes. The Sharjah Mosque is also open for tourists during the event, so if you want to go inside, keep into consideration a traditional outfit.
Bring a camera:
The festival provides endless photo opportunities. Make sure to bring a camera to capture the beautiful light installations. Bringing a power bank is a great option to keep the battery always alive and if you are planning to bring a professional camera to practice your night photography, carrying a tripod might not be a bad choice.
Getting around the city during the festival can be challenging, as there will be increased traffic and road closures. Consider taking public transportation, renting a car, or booking a taxi to get to the festival locations.
NOTE: Renting a car in the UAE costs as low as 25 EUR per night. This is a great choice if you plan to visit more remote locations around Sharjah or if you are planning to explore more of the UAE.
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