Stunning! More than 1.2 million people attend Sharjah Light Festival

Updated: February 17, 2019 5:33:46 PM

Spectacular laser shows and pyrotechnics at different locations drew enthusiastic crowds throughout the festival. But it was definitely the closing ceremony on the Al Mazaj Waterfront with fireworks and pyrotechnics that stole the limelight.

Spectacular laser shows and pyrotechnics at different locations drew enthusiastic crowds throughout the festival.

By Pallavi Pasricha

The curtains came down on the 9th Sharjah Light Festival that transformed the city into a shimmering canvas with a grand closing ceremony on Saturday (16th February).

Using the city’s top landmarks as the backdrop, the 11-day show used video mapping and other modern technologies to create dazzling three-dimensional designs in the third largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates. The show has grown in stature and is now counted among major international light festivals such as the Lions Festival of Lights in Canada and Vivid Sydney.

Officials say there was a 20 per cent increase in the number of people who came to watch the display of light and colour at the festival’s ninth edition. “Last year it was almost 1 million, this time it was more than 1.2 million visitors to different locations during 11 days,” according to Khalid Jasim Al Midday, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority.

The level of technology was taken to a whole new level this year — for example for the first time live shows with fireworks were held daily on the waters of the Khalid Lagoon. One of the highlights was a 200-meter Aquatic parade that showcased a fairytale complete with an aquatic fairy dressed in a blue gown, giant floating horses, shimmering fabrics and fireworks.

Spectacular laser shows and pyrotechnics at different locations drew enthusiastic crowds throughout the festival.

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But it was definitely the closing ceremony on the Al Mazaj Waterfront with fireworks and pyrotechnics that stole the limelight.

The theme of the festival this year was Culture and Family and international and local artists, curators and musicians created a fascinating display of lights, colours and music in the city.

The Al Noor Mosque, Al Qasba and Al Majaz Waterfront were some of the major draws. But virtually the entire city became magical every evening as the lights came on at 17 different locations — from the grand municipality building that gleamed with royal, purple and red colours to the Buhairah Corniche Park, where shimmering palm trees presented a lovely sight.

Other venues included Sharjah University City Campus Avenue, Sharjah Police Academy, University City Hall, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah Book Authority and Al Qasba. The festival also took place in towns like Dibba, Khorfakkan and Kalba on the east coast.

The Sharjah Light Festival began with the aim of wooing tourists and has been upping the ante each year – in fact, preparations for the festival start almost a year in advance.

And while for most Indians, Sharjah’s association is with cricket, the city, which goes back 5,000 years, has many more facets. It boasts of as many as 16 museums including the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation.

Sharjah is eyeing India as an important market and is attracting tourists by offering a range of experiences. Khalid Jasim Al Midday says, “Half of the country’s museums are in Sharjah and we have a lot of new offerings, eco-lodges experiences in the mountains and desert, heritage and archaeology, there is so much to see.” He says they are beginning to see an increase in the number of visitors from India.

(The author is a travel blogger and writer)

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