ABU DHABI // Children hurtling down zip lines, clambering up a rock wall and navigating adventure mazes can only mean one thing: the return of SummerFest.
As the 52-day programme of family entertainment, stage shows, comedy evenings, sports activities and concerts kicked off, families made their way to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre to enjoy a giant obstacle course, fairground rides, an assault course and a Lego zone.
One one stage, entertainers made balloon animals for an enraptured crowd of children sitting cross-legged on huge bean bags.
Melak Shabramu, 8, from Egypt, said: “I have come here to have fun and play.”
Those who dared, including Khalifa Al Qubaisi, 14, jumped off the 10-metre Extreme Tower on to an inflatable landing bag.
Khalifa visits SummerFest every year, as does his friend Jumaa Al Romaithi, 17.
“It is lot of fun. The zip wire is the best, definitely.”
Tahoon Al Shehhi, 15, brought his two younger brothers. “They love it here,” he said.
Children took a whirl on a roller coaster and merry-go-round and enjoyed face painting.
Visitors took in productions at Show World, an area dedicated for live performances, which feature family friendly stage shows including Bananas in Pyjamas, Scooby Doo Musical Mysteries, and Ben 10 Ultimate Challenge.
Bassam Al Medlej, of Lebanon, brought his two children, Angelina, 5, and two-year-old Foud.
“I wanted to come for a day out, to show them a nice time,” he said. “They have been very excited.”
At the Arts Village, children got creative with colour.
“Today we are teaching children how to style the first letter of their name like graffiti,” said Michelle Teague, the co-ordinator of the village.
“We will be doing something different every day for the repeat visitors. We have been very busy so far.”
The festival, which began on Thursday and will run until August 17, is organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority to encourage visitors to the capital during the summer months.
“With a new identity and our longest-ever line-up, SummerFest Abu Dhabi sends a resounding message that there is now much more to see and do in Abu Dhabi,” said Sultan Al Muhairi, the project manager for the event.
The exhibition centre is one of the many venues hosting SummerFest events and is open from 3pm.
During Ramadan, it will open after iftar – at 8.30pm through the week and 7.30pm on weekends.
Visit summerfestabudhabi.ae for more information.