Abu Dhabi: A colourful inflatable zoo, fully-equipped gaming zone and a slew of delicious cuisines will greet visitors at the fourth edition of the Mother of the Nation Festival, which is set to open its doors on March 12.

The 12-day festival will, for the first time, feature an exciting fireworks competition during the two weekends of its run, and play host to both the Special Olympics 2019’s volleyball tournament, as well as a performance of the renowned Canadian circus, Cirque du Soleil.

“We expect more than 160,000 visitors to attend the festival, which is being held across different venues this year,” said Farah Al Bakoush, festivals department section manager at the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi.

“At its core, the festival honours the living legacy of Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development, President of the General Women’s Union, and Chairwoman of Motherhood and Childhood Supreme Council,” she added.

The festival’s main venue is at Abu Dhabi Corniche’s Al Bahar area, which will be divided into four zones to highlight various themes.

The Happiness Zone, presented by aluminium conglomerate, Emirates Global Aluminium, includes a large-scale inflatable zoo to excite young children, as well as a host of other fun activities for families. The Progress Zone will offer interactive craft workshops and a laser fight club, while gaming enthusiasts can compete against professionals at a dedicated gaming tent. A host of cuisines and local wares will also be available at the Souq and Food and Beverage Zone, while the Special Olympics Zone will see teams from 10 countries compete against each other as part of the Special Olympics World Games, which runs in the capital from March 14-21.

Meanwhile, Cirque du Soleil’s new show, Bazzar, will be held at the Yas Marina Circuit until March 16.

“By bringing world-class entertainment to the UAE’s capital, the festival encourages local and international visitors to explore the capital’s extensive array of attractions,” said Saif Saeed Gobash, undersecretary of the department. “We look forward to welcoming visitors to an unforgettable experience that will showcase the UAE as a role model for peaceful coexistence, in line with the Year of Tolerance,” he added.

Mother of the Nation Festival

When: March 12—23

Timings: 4pm — 12pm from Sunday to Wednesday, and 2pm — 12am from Thursday to Saturday

Where: Al Bahar, Abu Dhabi Corniche.

Major attractions

A 15-minute fireworks display on weekends. One team each from Canada, Netherlands, South Korea and Australia will compete to win the first prize in pyrotechnics skills.

Performances by Libyan act, the Fayha Choir, Saudi superstar singer Rabeh Sager, and international DJ Nicky Romero

Bazzar, a new show by Canadian circus-theatrical company, Cirque du Soleil at Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island

Art-zoo, an area of various inflatable animal castles for young visitors