Back to 
Ice Age 
this summer

Back to 
Ice Age 
this summer

The Summer In Abu Dhabi festival welcomes children of all ages to come and explore the
world of icebergs and snowflakes and take
part in mother-of-all adventures and thrills


Silvia Radan

Published: Sat 30 Jun 2012, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:02 PM

“Diego!!!!!” cries with over joy seven-year-old Marlene, while her older brother is pulling a joke on Squirrel by trying to steal its precious acorn.

“Diego is my favourite character from Ice Age because at first he is bad, but in the end he saves everybody, and he is also wise and very funny,” says Marlene, who insisted to be among the first kids to visit Summer In Abu Dhabi (SIAD) festival as soon as it opened last weekend.

“She loves the Ice Age movie so much that she even play the characters with her friends sometimes, making up new stories,” explains her mother, Theresa.

Manny, Diego, Sid and the Squirrel are the stars of this year’s festival, walking about four of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre’s halls, where the summer fair is taking place. When they get tired, they hide in their secret corners of the Ice Village, a pretty, fairytale like place with sparkling blue lights and lots of snow. Children of all ages are welcomed to come in and explore its Iceberg Igloo, where they can play Ice Age movie video games, write or draw something — perhaps a new Ice Age character — on the snow-white wall, venture in the Snow Globe where they can make a snowman or climb the Iceberg on a steep path that leads up to a pretty fun toboggan that lets them slide down to the snowy ground.

“The Ice Age theme of the festival this year is connected to the release later this summer of Ice Age 4 movie, which, as you know, sees the heroes of the movie travelling on an iceberg, since their continent is melting and set adrift, having new adventures, encountering new creatures and even battling pirates,” mentions Faisal Al Sheikh, events manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the SIAD organiser.

Away from icebergs and snowflakes, there are plenty more adventures and thrills. You could have your tummy tumble in one of the 10 fun rides, you could let loose your creative imagination in the Arts Ville, you could get a job in the Galactic Academy or you could head for the super gigantic Playground, full of stairs, twisted toboggans and tents. And, for the brave hearted there is the ultimate challenge: the Lost City Adventure! A secret manuscript has been uncovered revealing a lost city, where there are many hidden treasures and untold mysteries. In the quest to discover them all, though, kids have to be prepared for extreme dangers and conquer their fear of snakes.

While young Rachid is fighting with those monsters from the Lost City, his teenage brother Sami is getting his Zorbonaut credentials.

“Zorbonauts are riders in the Zorb Ball,” he announces.

“I can go from here all the way to the darkroom,” Sami adds proudly.

The giant transparent plastic balls have a small round hole as an entrance and riders have to stand in the middle of the ball and walk. Records claim that the fastest zorbonaut reached 52 kilometres an hour, and the longest distance travelled in a Zorb Ball is 570 metres.

“It’s really easy,” cries out Mohammed Amir, one of the Zorb Ball supervisors as he simply dives inside the ball.

In no time he walks the 30 metres distance of flat, bumpy and then raised platform, over the scary looking rails and through the pitch-black darkroom.

His colleague Maha, on the other hand, is still a bit frightened of it, but promises to give it a go in the coming days.

In a far corner of the 21,000 square metres of SIAD space, another big attraction is drawing in one happy young audience after another — the sea lions show. This is the very first time SIAD is bringing live animals, as a result of popular demand.

Sanga, Swan and Still usually live in the Emirates Park Zoo, just outside Abu Dhabi city. Originally, they come from South-West Africa. “It is the first time for the sea lions to leave the zoo and come into Abu Dhabi,” says Mark Wright, the zoo’s manager.

“Florence, our French trainer, has taught them some circus tricks like ball playing, balancing and clapping, so the act we do here is a standard one,” he adds.

Star behaving Swan, equally mischievous and lovely Sanga and Still are eared sea lions, their species being the largest of the fur sea lions, found mostly in South Africa and Namibia. They live on land, but dive up to 240 metres for food, holding their breath up to 7.5 minutes. Their diet is 70 per cent fish and 30 per cent squid.

When the sea lions’ show is over, next door, the Dingle Fingle Stunt Academy is ready to take over. This summer, clowns are back at SIAD, but unlike in previous years, they don’t just mingle with the crowds on one-wheel bicycles, finding ping-pong balls behind kids’ ears and playing jokes on each other. This time around they actually show children how they do their tricks over six daily shows.

“My daughter, Summer, turned one today, so we didn’t really have another choice but to bring her here, to the festival,” says Jade Murray, still smiling at the end of the clowns’ show.

“Admittedly, most of the activities are designed for kids who are already up-and-about, but Summer is loving all the colours and seems to be absorbing an awful lot from the experience – she’s having a great birthday!” According to Faisal Al Sheikh, there is something to enjoy for every age at SIAD.

“Teenagers love the sports and skill games like the football and basketball, while the younger ones love the Ice Village and the Playground. And all shows are very popular with everybody, from young children to parents,” he adds.

“We have seven ice and theatrical performances this year. Right now Cinderella on Ice is about to start. Do you want to see it?”

SIAD will go on daily till July 19. Full programme, timings and ticket prices are available on

More news from