x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Catch the hottest ticket for family fun in Abu Dhabi this summer

Youngsters are raving about SummerFest's games and puzzles.

A Columbian performer on a unicycle is among the entertainment at this year's SummerFest at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Satish Kumar / The National
A Columbian performer on a unicycle is among the entertainment at this year's SummerFest at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Satish Kumar / The National

ABU DHABI // Youngsters - and the young at heart - took part in a host of fun games and activities at Abu Dhabi's SummerFest yesterday.

Held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the event features about 20 games and puzzles designed to be educational as well as fun, along with a selection of more traditional fairground rides.

The biggest draw, in more ways than one, was a huge three-storey high obstacle course spanning 1,150 square metres that includes rope swings and a climbing wall for the most fearless of the kids.

For the less adventurous, there are plenty of less challenging activities on offer at this year's event.

"It's really amazing," said 11-year-old Emily, from the UK. "We've done some trampolining so far, and now we're playing at the Dexter's Laboratory game.

"We've been coming here since last year and we always learn so much."

Emily's friend Jessica, 11, said she really enjoyed the educational games.

"They teach us a lot about science in a fun way," she said. "Like, you hold on to this machine that has an electrical circuit and it'll only light up if you hold on to another human being, so it shows you how an electrical current works."

Even the girls' nanny got in on the act. "It's a lot of fun, even for adults, because you get to participate and learn a lot with the kids," said 32-year-old Wahida.

Karashma Kamal, from India, has been coming to the festival every year with her three children since its launch in 2008.

"It's great, my kids love it and it's a cheaper option and a reasonable exhibition for kids," she said. "They learn about arts and games, and the shows are wonderful so we will definitely continue coming here until the end."

The educational games included a reaction test to gauge children's responses to light and sound, while an Arts Village and a Lego Zone also proved popular.

"Anyone who comes here can paint," said Glenn Mercado, who works at the Arts Village. "We have two areas, one for children from ages three to five and one for six to 10 year olds. They team up and paint. Most of their parents take the paintings home to frame them, especially for the young ones because it's such an achievement."

Regular visitors say the event gets better each year. "We attended the first one in 2008 and it's much more developed now," said Dorine Weinberg, a mother-of-two from Germany.

"There was nothing back then, just a little maze and a section where children could learn how to drive with little cars but not much.

"It really looks great this year and it has loads of games for different ages."

During Ramadan, options to keep children occupied can be limited, said Ms Weinberg. "It's a good diversion for the kids, especially during Ramadan.

The festival runs until August 17. During Ramadan it is open from 8.30pm to 1.30am during the week and 7.30pm to 2.30am at the weekend. After Ramadan, it will be open from 3pm to 9pm on weekdays and 3pm to 11pm at weekends.

cmalek@thenational.ae