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Sweet Sixteen: The Abu Dhabi Festival

An Eclectic Line-Up Of Entertainment Just Announced With Determination its Theme and the Republic of Korea its Country of Honour, and Yalla tells you about the not-to-miss performances!

Every year, the Abu Dhabi Festival 2019 (ADF19) brings with it more than 100 events, 18 productions, two co-productions and two commissions across 25 venues, the Festival returns for its 16th year with an illustrious mix of artists and genres across Opera, Ballet, Orchestra, Jazz and Flamenco. Underscoring its commitment to championing global cultural exchange, creativity and innovation in the arts and furthering its symphony of global cultures, ADF19 will celebrate the Republic of Korea as its ‘Country of Honour’.

“Today, the festival enters its 16th year and we are all proud of its status as one of the leading, most prominent culture and arts festivals in the region and the world beyond,” says H.E. Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival.

Kanoo adds, “And we are marking history at this point in time, coinciding with the country’s continued celebrations of the Year of Zayed, in which the Festival has played an important role, with greater meaning, making contributions that have further celebrated the legacy and values of our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed. We have always been, and will continue to be, inspired by his vision of the future, and his determination that made the impossible possible and the unreal real.”

The Republic of Korea will be its country of honour. Kanoo explains, “we celebrate, Korea being the Country of Honour for the 2019 Abu Dhabi Festival, a country of immense heritage, steady in its modernisation and benefiting from its creative sources, its rich culture and the beauty of its arts.”

This year the Festival’s central theme is the ‘Culture of Determination’, as it joins forces with the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi that are also taking place in the UAE capital during the month of March, in celebration of everyone who battles against the odds to make a positive impact on society.

On partnering with the Special Olympics for a host of experiences that will be shared between the performers and athletes, Kanoo adds, “today, Abu Dhabi Festival 2019 celebrates the Determined People – the champions of the Special Olympics World Games, those carrying the flame of determination and rising to seemingly insurmountable challenges, achieving victory through their will. From the determined people, we learn to exercise patience – how to face the hardship of the path, and we also learn endurance. We come to believe that success is not final, and failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”


Do Not Miss:

Presenting more than 500 international artists from 17 different countries, and featuring masterpieces by 18 different composers, Abu Dhabi Festival 2019’s headline programme will include soulful performances by American mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato with Orchestra il pomo d’oro, directed by Maxim Emelyanychev; Korea’s first professional ballet company, the

The Korean National Ballet; one of Korea’s leading theatre orchestras, the Korean Symphony Orchestra; award-winning American jazz piano extraordinaire, composer, producer, educator and Quincy Jones Artist, Justin Kauflin; Welsh bass-baritone, Sir Bryn Terfel; Sara Baras, considered one of the best flamenco dancers and choreographers in the world; and, to conclude the Festival, a performance by the oldest national ballet company, The Paris Opera Ballet, by George Balanchine.


To learn more about the Abu Dhabi Festival and the parallel art exhibitions and community programming throughout the city, please visit

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Check out our Events Diary for a full list of family-friendly activities and events in Abu Dhabi.



24-01-2019 - 30-03-2019


+971 50 129 9103
Various locations in Abu Dhabi

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