As the clock ticks down to what can only be labelled as the greatest show on Earth, Expo 2020 Dubai is ready to roll out the red carpet for a spectacular six months from October 1.
A star-studded opening ceremony on September 30 featuring the likes of world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli, Grammy-nominated, Golden-Globe-winning actress, singer and songwriter Andra Day, platinum-selling British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi and international pianist Lang Lang and four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo will set the stage of what’s to come in corresponding months.
While loads of surprises and phenomenal experiences are to be had at every corner, we put together a handy guide to must-see entertainment events at Expo 2020 that will give you a dose of the world while sitting in Dubai.
While the star-studded opening ceremony is limited to VIPs and guests, that doesn’t mean you get to miss out on the spectacle.
The show will be streamed live to more than 430 locations across the UAE, giving everyone the chance to participate in the spectacle, wherever they might be.
Screens will be set up in locations ranging from airports and shopping malls to hotels and other landmarks, relaying the incredible music and cultural performances as they happen. Several restaurants like Old Castello and Nawab restaurant will also screen the ceremony at their venues.
Streaming locations also include more than 240 hotels nationwide, including Emaar’s Rove, Armani, Address Hotels & Resorts, and Vida Hotels & Resorts, as well as Accor, Marriot, Hilton, IHG, Rotana, Jumeirah, Hyatt International and Atlantis The Palm.
In addition, 17 Majid Al Futtaim malls, plus City Walk, Nakheel Mall and Ibn Battuta Mall, as well as 50 Jashanmal locations across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, 97 Mediclinics, Dubai and Abu Dhabi International Airports and Zabeel Ladies Club and Sharaf DG will stream the experience.
Viewings are also taking place at various locations in Umm Al Quwain, Yas Plaza in Abu Dhabi and across various locations in Ras Al Khaimah, including the Corniche, Al Marjan Island and Manar Mall. Ajman Heritage District and Fujairah Fort will also host a live broadcast, the latter accompanied by an evening of other festivities that include a mini village, folklore bands, traditional crafts, heritage displays and traditional food.
And if you are choosing to stay at home, viewers from anywhere in the world can also join the evening’s proceedings via a global live stream, available on virtualexpo.world and Expo TV from 7.30pm onwards.
The opening ceremony will be followed by three fireworks displays in Dubai the following night, marking the first full day of the Expo at Dubai Festival City, The Frame and The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, with each presenting their own unique celebrations.
The Pointe and Dubai Festival City will incorporate their fountains into a dazzling light and sound show themed on Expo 2020, while The Frame façade will be lit up in Expo colours.
Yas Island Abu Dhabi has also turned yellow to celebrate Expo 2020 Dubai this week in commemoration of the global event, including CLYMB Abu Dhabi — home to the world’s widest indoor skydiving chamber and the region’s tallest indoor climbing wall — and Etihad Arena.
Firdaus Orchestra playing from October 23 to March 2022
The all-women ensemble that has been created by Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman promises to enthral audiences with concerts held through the year. The in-house orchestra will mark some of the biggest events at Expo 2020. The 50 women, who are intermediate to semi-professional musicians, come from 23 nationalities and ages ranging from 16 to 51.
“We wanted to encourage women from this region … Dubai is opening its arms to different philosophies, arts, music,” said AR Rahman in an interview with Gulf News. “It’s a sign of liberation and it’s a great statement coming from Reem Al Hashimi [Minister of State for International Cooperation, Director-General of the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau].” Performances will be held at the Jubilee Stage and the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre.
Arab singer Kadim Al Sahir performs on October 15
Iraqi-Moroccan superstar Kadim Al Sahir will kick-start the Infinite Nights series on October 15, an event that will feature a host of artists performing live from Al Wasl Plaza. What’s more, the concerts will be streamed to a global audience. Al Wasl Plaza boasts the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface and will stage all performances. Al Sahir is one of the biggest musicians in the Arab world and is known as the ‘Caesar of Arabic Song’.
Al Sahir said in a statement: “I am excited to be back in front of an audience after a two-year break, to open the Infinite Nights series from the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai. This is a wonderful opportunity to unite the world through music and song, and celebrate our accomplishments. I am honoured to be part of this incredible global event that will bring the world together, and I promise you it will be a great night.” Infinite Nights will take place until March 31, 2022, at Al Wasl Plaza.
Pakistani singer Atif Aslam on October 9
The popular pop singer and composer Atif Aslam will bring his catchy brand of tunes to Expo 2020 with a concert held as part of Celebrate Pakistan events that will take place in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Various performers will represent each region. Aslam, who has performed in the UAE on many occasions, was even awarded a star on the Dubai Walk of Fame in 2019. Celebrate Pakistan events take place at the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre.
Nancy Ajram and Ragheb Alama on November 12
Two of the biggest stars from the Arab world, Lebanese singers Ajram and Alama are set to dazzle audiences at Expo and online as their concert will be streamed globally.
The two stalwarts will perform as part of the Infinite Nights series. Ajram has a massive social media presence and is known for songs such as ‘Fi Hagat’ and ‘Aah W Noss’. Meanwhile, Alama is best known for tracks such as ‘Nasini El Donya’ and ‘Habib Albi’. Their performance will be held at Al Wasl Plaza.
K-Pop concert on January 16, 2022
The KOTRA (Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency) appointed eight-member boy group Stray Kids as Korea Pavilion’s star ambassadors and they’ve signalled that a number of stars have been invited to perform. The concert will commemorate Korea’s Expo-allotted national day and apart from that there will be cultural programmes for visitors to enjoy. Concert will be held at Jubilee Park.
Stage and music shows
Expo Beats from October 1
This monthly festival aims to take visitors on a journey around the globe through music, dance and culture through a collaborative series combined with Late Nights @ Expo, which kicks off on October 1. Encompassing six musical roots, each Expo Beats festival is based on creating fusions between artists of diverse backgrounds, from the island influences of Hawaii, the Philippines and the Caribbean to the tribal rhythms of Tanzania and Bangladesh. Taking place once a month on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for eight hours starting from 4pm onwards, the vibrant performers have been carefully selected to appeal to the diverse community of music lovers of all ages, nationalities and interests who will be visiting the mega-event.
Late Nights @ Expo from October 1
Every Thursday and Friday night from 10.30pm to 1am on the Jubilee Stage, Late Nights @ Expo will connect artists and people from across the world. On October 1 catch Fricska Rhythm, Mozaik, Daffy & Flipperachi and Mohammed Al Salim. On October 2, head over to the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre and watch the talented Raja Kumari, funk-rock band Carl & The Reda Mafia, Berywam and Juan Karlos.
Jalsat @ Expo from October until March 2022
Experience Khaleeji jam sessions at Expo on Jalsat Nights starting from October 12 onwards every month. Thirty artists from the Arab world will be joined by musicians from other cultures to stage a fantastic fusion, capturing Expo’s spirit for connectivity. Here are the dates for the remaining months: November 8, December 6, January 12, February 9 and March 15. From 8.30pm to 10.30pm on the Jubilee Stage.
Michael Flately’s Riverdance from November 4
Catch the November pop-up where the Ireland pavilion presents Michael Flately’s Riverdance experience on the Jubilee Stage. And if you really want to master the footwork, the Riverdance Summer School will also present a series of masterclasses at Expo 2020. Learn the iconic Irish moves and choreography from this world-famous academy. You can book slots online through the Expo 2020 site.
Step Afrika! from October 3 until 9
One of the top 10 African-American dance companies in the US is headed to Dubai with a series of thrilling dance numbers, showing off their ‘stepping’ moves. Expect their infectious energy to draw you in as they enlist audience members to participate with them. Catch them live from October 3 to 6 at the Jubilee Stage and from October 7 to 9 on the Earth Stage.
The Philippines: GMA Variety Show from December
The flagship international channel from the Philippines, which presents the best in Filipino entertainment and news will take to the Jubilee Stage from 6pm until 10pm. Expect some of the biggest names in the business to take to the Expo 2020 stage.
Festive experiences at Expo 2020 Dubai
Halloween Rock Opera on October 31
Keep those costumes ready for a Halloween experience like no other at Expo 2020. Live performers will pay homage to some of the most terrifying stage acts, with throwbacks to Phantom of the Opera and Little Shop of Horrors for starters. The crescendo will lead up to a 60-minute electrifying fright night that kids and adults will remember for years to come. At the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre.
UAE’s Golden Jubilee, from November 3 and December 4
With the UAE celebrating 50 years of formation this year, Expo 2020 Dubai will feature a month-long celebration that will pay tribute to the last five decades of the country, while looking ahead to next 50 years. Not only will this serve as a sense of pride for Emiratis but also those who call the UAE their home. Celebrations will take place site wide.
Diwali fiesta, from November 4 until 6
The UAE will pay tribute to its cultural diversity by celebrating the Hindu festival of lights at the site. For three days, Al Wasl Plaza will light up, while setting the stage for a Diwali celebratory show that promises fun for all. The Jubliee Stage will feature performances by Peter Cat, Chai Met Toast, Shilpa Ananth and Dhol Tasha as part of the Late Nights @ Expo.
Christmas at Expo from December 20-28
Deck the Al Wasl Plaza halls with boughs of holly as the Expo site gets festive for Christmas. Blending age-old traditions with modern-day twists, Al Wasl Plaza will turn into a magical winter wonderland with festive projections and nightly pantomimes and shows for the family. Celebrations take place site wide.
New Year’s Eve on December 31
Forget the glitzy parties and the high profile concerts, Expo 2020 Dubai is where the action head on New Year’s Eve. Celebrate with a party around the world as you explore the site and knowing the Expo team, chances are there will be a few surprises announced in the lead up to the event.