ABU DHABI // Clowns and cartoon characters are taking over the emirate's exhibition centre from today.
Adnec usually welcomes conference delegates and businessmen but suits and speeches are making way for fairground rides and fun as part of the biggest SummerFest Abu Dhabi yet.
Beginning today, the event promises 52 days of fun for children and parents. Four halls at Adnec now look like an amusement park, with a roller coaster, assault course and merry-go-round.
The annual extravaganza is organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority to boost the capital's appeal during the summer.
Show World, an area set aside for live performances, will feature family friendly stage productions.
The schedule for performances is: Lazy Town (June 27 to July 3), Bananas in Pyjamas (July 4-9), Sesame Street (July 10-13 and July 15-19), Ben 10 (July 20-21 and July 23-27), Freej (July 28-30 and August 1-4), Scooby Doo (August 5-12) and Ben 10 Ultimate Challenge (August 14-17).
Other Abu Dhabi venues are also joining in the fun. The international percussion troupe Stomp will launch SummerFest at Emirates Palace from 7pm tonight, while the United Nations of Comedy, a Qatar-based stand-up outfit, make their UAE debut at du Forum on July 4 and 5.
"We encourage everyone to visit the great show, Stomp, at Emirates Palace," said Sultan Al Muhairi, manager of SummerFest Abu Dhabi. "Also we have du Forum shows the following weekend with the United Nations of Comedy, led by the famous comedian Maz Jobrani. We expect a lot of people to go to that."
The du Forum will then host international sports stars such as British tennis player Tim Henman, former Manchester United and England striker Andrew Cole, who is also a columnist for The National, and seven-time NBA champion Robert 'Big Shot Rob' Horry. They will take part in workshops open to the public.
Meanwhile, Cheeky Little Events will be painting faces and making balloon animals for children.
"For kids it brings excitement and something to do during the summer - it gets their imagination going and lets them do new things," said the company's Sophie Simms.
One Abu Dhabi resident, Ayesha Al Mazrouie, has two children who are excited about the events.
"As a local family we are always waiting to come to SummerFest," she said. "There is not much to do during summer so the children are always waiting. All the kids can have fun, enjoy the rides and the shows. We hope to be here every day for all the shows.
"My daughter thinks this year looks even better than last year.
"My kids are really looking forward to seeing Ben 10."
Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, chief commercial officer at Adnec, said: "SummerFest Abu Dhabi is one of the emirate's key events during summer months and we anticipate thousands of visitors attending this year's festival and enjoying a delightful calendar of family-focused activities at Adnec."
Doors open at 3pm today and a full event line-up can be found at summerfestabudhabi.ae.
Timings change during Ramadan, when doors open on weeknights at 8.30pm and 7.30pm on weekends following iftar.