Festember, the annual lifestyle and entertainment event, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), as part of Abu Dhabi Food Festival (ADFF), is preparing for thousands of visitors eager to experience this one-of-a-kind celebration of life, featuring experiences from all over the globe.

With a remarkable new location – the Waterfront Park next to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and a thrilling theme focusing around lights, illuminations and inflatables, visitors can expect to experience never-seen-before entertainment, retail and food and beverage offerings that highlight Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a world-class destination with something for everyone.

The theme is designed to allow visitors to dream, to engage with their emotions and interact with installations – light and illusions will permeate every aspect of Festember, every night.

HE Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Tourism Sector, DCT Abu Dhabi,  said: “Festmeber this year will be a spectacular opportunity for families, friends and visitors to experience the very best the region – and the wider world - has to offer – from music to fashion, art to sport – and everything in between.

“As Abu Dhabi’s leisure tourism sector grows year on year, events such as Festember are attracting global interest, and form a key part of our strategy to meet future demand for world-class events. We are looking forward to hosting artists, artisans and companies from every corner of the globe. ”

The lifestyle and entertainment event launched in 2015 is the brainchild of millennial Emirati, Latifa Al Hamed. Her ambition, drive and youthful exuberance has rapidly created one of the emirate’s coolest, must-attend events.

Festival Founder Latifa Al Hamed said: “Our aim is always to capture the unusual, celebrate originality and foster fun. Hosting the event in our beautiful city with so much support from the government and ADFF means we have a great deal of latitude in who - and what - we can invite to take part. This year’s programme will suprise, delight and excite everyone – and we can’t wait to see and hear people’s reactions!”

Festember is proudly the region’s leading platform for regional entrepreneurs and emerging brands to showcase their concepts - and a catalyst for bold new ideas.

Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy is also attending Festember, with the opportunity for festival-goers to better understand the academy’s aim of empowering women and girls in the UAE, through promoting sports, physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. The FBMA hosts a number of local, regional and international sports events; facilitating community activities; managing and developing local talent, provides education and undertakes research work.


Festember event, presented and part of the Abu Dhabi Food festival (ADFF), which begins on December 6th, is bringing international food and beverage concepts, including Gastro Garage, (blow-torched gourmet donut sliders from LA); Chick’nCone, (chicken in a waffle cone from NYC) and The Barrel BBQ (Southern US-style slow-cooked meat dishes with South African flair).

The Gastro Garage - featured on Bravo and The Travel Channel - is an experienced-based food concept, which involves blow torching gourmet savoury donut sliders.  Its hero dish, the Gastro Tank, is created by blow-torching a savoury donut, injecting it with nitrous charged Cheddar cheese foam and finishing it off with blow-torched ground wagyu beef, cheddar cheese, tomato, onion, pickle and gastro sauce toppings. Expect to have some fun with the Gastro Mechanics team – but beware the blow torches!

Spokesman Adam Manacker said: “We are looking forward to ‘Torching Your Tank!’.  We take classic dishes and sandwiches, deconstruct them and then reconstruct them into our signature dishes. We are so excited to bring our talents to Festember and to a new part of the world!  It is a once in lifetime experience for us.”

Chick'nCones™ was born in NYC and designed with both tastebuds and instagram in mind. Jonathan Almanzar, co-founder of Chick'nCone, fork-free chicken and waffles, said he is thrilled to be serving up his signature crispy chicken tenders, tossed in a choice of original sauces and served in a fresh waffle cone.

“We are very excited about being part of Festember. We have no expectations except that people will love our Chick'nCones! I have never been to Abu Dhabi, and I can't wait!

The Barrel BBQ returns to Festember for a second time, after its inaugural specialised meat-fest was so well received. Dave Levin, founder of Barrel BBQ, said: “I was blown away by how well my food was received last year. I am expecting the The Barrel BBQ to be a hit like last year and for the festival as a whole to be a blast! I was very impressed with the city of Abu Dhabi - I loved the architecture, the people, and the ambiance... and I'm excited to continue my quest for the best shawarma in the Middle East.”

After graduating from mechanical engineering, Lewin combined his passions for food and engineering by building an offset-barrel smoker. “After much experimentation, I nailed the perfect brisket and decided to take this new talent of mine to the next level. The Barrel BBQ now operates from Cape Town's ‘Neighbourgoods’ Market where we sell a variety of Southern-style BBQ prepared in my very own smoker,” said the BBQ  expert.

Expect smoked brisket burger topped with slaw, BBQ sauce, mustard-mayo and gherkins; Texas-style shortrib served with a variety of sides, and sticky chicken wings with epic dipping sauces.

Mexican Nights is an unmissable pop-up element especially curated with foodies in mind, featuring renowned international chef Cristina Mennah Govela, who will offer guests a contemporary healthy approach to traditional Mexican fare, La Tostada.

Chef Cristina said: “What is special about La Tostada, is the love for my family, my country and my passion for cooking and creating unique dishes inspired by my experiences. I’m very excited to be sharing a piece of me and my journey in this country on every Tostada. Festember at Abu Dhabi Food Festival is an event made for foodies and anyone who likes eating and trying new dishes (which is everyone!).”

The celebration of all things ‘south of the border’ continues with Iconbooth’s ‘Viva la Mexico’ installation, a pop-up photo studio by photo artist Marta Lamovsek, where visitors can don a variety of outfits and costumes exploring the Mexican theme.


Since it began in 2015, retail has been a key part of the Festember experience – but this is no High Street pop-up scene; rather a group of around 20 vendors - artisans, craftspeople and innovators - bringing unique items to the table, with a strong focus on quality, innovation and design.

Many of the specially selected retailers, featuring clothing, perfumes, jewellery and food, will be offering pieces to visitors never seen before, with Festival founder Latifa Al Hamed explaining: “Our retail section has a strict selection criteria. We scour the region for emerging retailers who offer something a little different, and we are astounded by the talent we manage to disocver every year. Come and support these incredible people – these are the bedrock of Festembers ongoing success.”


Installations include the 30 metre long “Illusinations Tunnel”, which plays with innovative and abstract forms, visual structures and an interactive rainbow of lighting.

Perhaps inspired by a quote from Russian revolutionary anarchist Mikhail Bakunin: “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge,” festival-goers are invited to break things thanks to Smash Room, the Dubai-based concept whereby visitors don safety goggles, choose their weapon of destruction and destroy anything and everything from glass items to electronics. “We are very excited to be at Festember and share the innovation of the brand and its concept with a larger audience.” says Ibrahim Abudyak, Co-Founder of The Smash Room, adding: “We've all just wanted to smash something, right? It's a break from the everyday, an outlet to unleash our pent-up frustrations, a way to place what's stressing us out into a lifeless object, and then smash those stressors to bits. It's hard to explain other than it just feels so good! ”


Live music is another strong element of Festember, with a full roster of local and international talent. Local legend in the music scene, Jay Abo, will be bringing his inimitable style to the Festember stage, and he sets the scene for the event vibe beautifully: “It's always amazing to be part of a big event like this during the winter season. There's just something in the air that changes this time of year. People are kinder, they talk more, listen better at shows. I walk more and try to think about things that matter. I'm also incredibly happy to be around other talented artists and musicians, some of which I know dearly and others whom I don't - but am equally thrilled to meet!”

Singer-songwriter and music producer Aman Sheriff is one of a number of talented local and international acts performing over the five-day festival. He said: "Super stoked to be performing at Festember for the very first time! Let's sing, dance and have a great night together!"

Head for the Festember stage each evening from 5:30pm to catch a wide and wild variety of acts, including performances from Colombian singer Vera Ciocca, Bahraini singer/songwriter Banah and Virgin Best Artist Award-winner Danny Aridi, the Canadian/Lebanese singer, guitarist and songwriter, who said: “I’m very excited to perform at this year’s Festember festival. I love to perform in Abu Dhabi, and this year I’ll be singing some of my new original songs that are not yet released! My set features raw, soulful music with an acoustic performance on guitar as well as some upbeat backing tracks! I can’t wait, see you at Festember! :)”

WHEN:                                                             5 – 9 December 2018

WHERE:                                                           Waterfront Park – next to Louvre Abu Dhabi

TIME:                                                               Daily from 5pm to Midnight

TICKETS:                                                          Adults – AED 75

Children – AED 25

Family (2+2) = AED 125



21 Techniques                         Clothing

Fabula Jewels                          Jewellery

Blank Canvas                           Jewellery

Kan Yama Kan                         Jewellery

Maryam Kay                            Clothing

Katan Linen                             Kaftans

Marina Qureshi                       Clothing

The Library Fragrance            Perfumery

Moza Collection                      Clothing

Abaya Ego                               Clothing

Lovage                                     Perfumery

Hummingbird Australia          Clothing and sleep wear

Aisha's Charms                       Jewellery

FBMA                                      Government

AKS The Label                         Clothing

Manaal Al Hammadi               Clothing

La Plage                                   Clothing

Boutique de Lavande              Clothing

Elbotik                                     Clothing and Accessories

Conchas Clothing                    Clothing

Lanej                                       Bags

Nostalgia Flowers                    Flower Boutique

M Sentiment                           Perfumes

Kemetlash                               Lashes

AL MRAIKN                              Clothing



XO Coffee                                Coffee and cheese cake

Molten Me Restaurant           Cold drinks and cakes

Black Café                               Coffee, cold drinks and cakes

Manoo's Bakery                      Cakes

Wake Up Café                         Coffee and cakes

Extreme Burger Cafe              Burgers

The Foodsters                          Burgers

Monkey Cookies                     Cookies and milkshakes

Moloko Drinks                        Healthy drinks

Moylos Burgers                       Burgers and Ffries

Thriller Eats                             Burgers

Angelina                                  Gourmet food

Karak House                            Karak and small bites

Yogurtland                              Yoghurt ice cream

Yamanote                                Japanese buns and sweets

Rain Café                                 Specialty coffee

JetLag Café                              Coffee

C’Est Cheese                           Cheese toast

Frings                                      Chicken wings

Guilt Free Café                        Healthy foods

Paratha and More                   Indian

Qout Café                               Milkshakes and juices

Shot Café                                Coffee

Waffle Up                                Waffles and ice cream

Eaters                                      Street gourmet


The Gastro Garage                 International F&B

Chick’nCone                            International F&B

The Barrel BBQ                       International F&B

Mexican food chef Cristina Mennah Govela


Source: The Shakespeare Agency

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