The annual avant-garde cultural Festember festival, in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), will be back this year as part of the Abu Dhabi Food Festival (ADFF). The Festember festival – brainchild of two Emiratis Noora Al Mazrui and Latifa Al Hamed – will take place at Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Waterfront Park from December 5-9, 2018.
The annual lifestyle and entertainment event, which launched in 2015, is returning to the annual ADFF event to once again offer new attractions, indelible installations, powerful performances, exclusive shopping experiences and amazing food concepts.
ADFF, which begins on December 6, will also be supporting Festember with international food and beverage concepts that will enable the event to continue nurturing new ideas and fostering exciting talent.
“This year’s Festember is testament to Abu Dhabi’s growing reputation as a world-class art, lifestyle and entertainment and culinary destination,” says Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, executive director of the Tourism Sector, at DCT Abu Dhabi. “Leisure tourism forms a key part of our vision and strategy to meet future demand and Festember directly taps into this audience and will have a positive impact on our industry growth in terms of the number of visitors arriving.”
Commenting on Festember, Al Mazrui adds, “We look to support, nurture and present exciting, innovative new ideas right here in the capital at every one of our events. Festember aims to incubate new talent as we continue to look for new concepts, new brands, new ways of thinking and even new ways of serving food. Festember is much more than a five-day family-friendly festival – it has become a regional fulcrum for retail, fashion, food and entertainment – and this year we have added the stunning backdrop of Louvre Abu Dhabi!”
Retail is a core element of the event with Festember giving visitors a chance to meet up to 40 new vendors – artisans, craftspeople and innovators – bringing their never-seen-before items to the table, with a strong focus on quality, innovation and design. There will be four broad areas of retail – fashion and jewellery, home and décor, healthy lifestyle and beauty.
“With a rigid selection criterion, we search locally, regionally and internationally for fresh brands with a strong story,” Al Mazrui elaborates. “A Festember vendor is someone you may not have heard of. They offer exclusive pieces in limited runs, and don’t have stores – yet. We also have a dedicated fashion hub – which will be a platform for young, up-and-coming designers to showcase their seasonal collections and new ideas.”
Food is an important aspect of the event, with organisers delivering cutting-edge concepts to the region.
“At Festember we aim to include no more than two of the same food concepts,” explains Al Mazrui. “We ask our food vendors to create unique and exclusive dishes, especially for the event, and we avoid showcasing established restaurants or brands in order to maintain the ‘first-time’ taste that our audience has been accustomed to experience when attending Festember events. You will see a couple of GCC-wide international food brands at the festival, but don’t expect anything you’ve seen before!”
Food vendors this year include Gastro Garage, the blow-torched gourmet donut sliders from LA; Chick’nCone, panko chicken in a waffle cone from NYC; and The Barrel BBQ, Southern US-style slow-cooked meat dishes with South African flair.
In addition, Mexican Nights is an unmissable pop-up element for foodies, featuring renowned international chef Cristina Mennah Govela, who will offer guests her contemporary healthy approach to traditional Mexican fare. The celebration of all things ‘south of the border’ continues throughout Festember 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 theme ‘We Are All Mexican’.