Muscat Festival is a huge event each year (Jan-Feb) to celebrate the culture and heritage of Oman.  This year is the biggest celebration ever due to 2 factors: 1) the festival was cancelled last year due to the H1N1 scare and 2) the festival is considered part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Sultan Qaboos’s rule in Oman.  This year I decided to brave the crowds and see what “this whole Muscat Festival thing” was all about!  :-)

This is the adult entrance ticket which only costs 200 baisas (or about 50 US cents!).  Tickets for kids aged 10 or above are 100 baisas.  Free for kids under 10 (accompanied by an adult of course).

Entrance ticket lineup outside Qurum Natural Park.  2 lines for men and 1 line for women.

That’s neat that you get 2 free rides at Magic Planet in Seeb City Centre with each entrance ticket…unfortunately, 2 out of 3 times they just grabbed the tickets out of our hands as we entered and didn’t give back any portion of the ticket making this promise null and void!

The Festival is taking place this year from January 27th to February 24th in 2 parks: Qurum Natural Park (all the pics on this post are from Qurum) and Naseem Park (will post about this location another time).  The festival begins daily at both parks at 4pm and goes on till 11pm.

This Omani gentlemen does portraits each evening at one of the benches just in front of the main childrens playground of the park.  It takes him about 20 minutes and he charges RO 5.  If you want to get a sketch of a younger kid (or baby) who can’t sit still, he prefers working off of a photograph.

Plenty of food stalls available during the festival!

Every night in Qurum Park, they have the most fascinating cultural performances on stage near the Omani markets.  Click here to see a video of Dhofari men and ladies dancing together!

More cultural singing and dancing of Dhofar (click here!)

One final video clip from January 28th’s Dhofar dancing!!!

One of the kid oriented stalls in the Omani Markets area of the festival.  I must say that some of our baby’s favorite toys are from Qurum Park vendors including colorful balls that light up when you bounce them (500 baizas each).

No Omani cultural market would be complete without a family from the Dhofar region (southern Oman including Salalah) selling incense!  :-)

I thought it would be a great idea to get a photo with this bull tied up in the Heritage Village…until the bull snorted (looked like smoke coming out of those nostrils!) and made a quick charge at me.  In my rush to get a pic, I failed to notice that I was wearing the brightest red shirt in my whole collection!  Welcome to my world!  Thank God it ended with a laugh rather than a frontline heading about a mindless foreigner killed on the 2nd day of the festival, ha!ha!

Khalfan Al-Sheedi (pictured here) from Saham is just one of the many talented Omani artists you can meet at the Heritage Village during the Festival.  He makes all types of art pieces and furniture using materials from palm-trees.  We bought one of this miniature house looking items (in the pic) for 3 rials. (GSM: 99063694)     

The musical performances in the Heritage Village are a definite must see if you make it to the Festival!  Unlike the stage performers, you can get up nice and close to the performers which can really help you imagine what its like at actual cultural events.  This is one of my favorite parts of the Muscat Festival.  Instead of traveling to different regions of Oman to experience the diverse regional cultures, Muscat Festival brings the village and their members right to you!  :-)  Wow! Just think about it.

More vids will be posted when I get the chance. 

Expect to hear quite a bit about the Muscat Festival in the coming weeks as I am obviously hooked!  Great job, Muscat Municipality!  :-)  You  are definitely “playing a pivotal role in ensuring that Muscat is a city of choice to both live and work in“!  

Key contact Numbers: Festival Hotline (8007722), Royal Oman Police (ROP) (9999), Oman Air (24531111), Swift Cab Taxi (80077779), BlueBird Taxi (24492558), Yellow Cab Taxi (24607011).  (International dial code for Oman is +968)

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