Acrobats, fireworks and a stunning ceremony choreographed by the team behind Cirque du Soleil brought the grandiose to the Dubai World Cup this year.
The opening and closing ceremonies at the show-stopping event at the Meydan Racecourse saw 70 performers take to the stage to put on a breathtaking performance.
The live action light and sound show saw 28 acrobats and 42 dancers from over all over the world take part, wearing 70 hand-made costumes, while performing on an 86-metre long moving stage that weighed more than 170 tonnes.
Both ceremonies were produced by 45 Degrees, a Cirque du Soleil company.
“We developed an entirely new concept for the performance based on the theme Make the Desert Bloom,” said Fernand Rainville, the creative and show director at 45 Degrees. “The show was brimming with immersive innovations designed for mass visibility, including the moving stage.”
A laser and special effects show was projected onto the grandstand and Meydan Hotel, even as flamethrowers enthralled the crowds, backed by a pyrotechnic drone show, along with giant heliosphere balloons carrying aerialists more than 40 metres in the air as they were illuminated by 10,000 confetti petals.
The event of the season ended with a four-minute custom firework show.
Yasmine Khalil, the president of the events and special projects company, said: “We are honoured to have been selected to create and produce the ceremonies at this prestigious event. It has been a great privilege to work hand-in-hand with the organising committee of Dubai World Cup, who each year have continued to set the bar higher.”
While the entertainment had the cameras flashing, the festive atmosphere at the Dubai World Cup was not limited to this alone.
Musical performances, stilt walkers, BMX riders and the fashion A-game was in full display.
“I come every year for the World Cup. I love the races,” said Liza Georgia, a tourist with bright blue hair, visiting from Australia.
Whether people were at the event to watch the races, participate in the Style Stakes competition, or simply there to watch the incredible line-up of live entertainment, no one was left disappointed.
The entrance of the Meydan grandstand saw live performers including acrobats, drummers, clowns and more. Children were kept entertained with mimes running around and acting out stories.
BMX riders dressed up in horse costumes rode around the lobby area and bounced around the back wheel of their bikes.
Inside the grandstand, a total of 118 horses and jockeys took to the track, as crowds cheered for their favourite to win. As each horse neared closer to the finish line, the crowds screamed in unison.
“The energy from the stands was contagious. Every time a horse would swoosh past us, everyone would stand up and yell,” said Hana Magdi, a young woman watching from the stands.
The fashion was also one of the main forms of entertainment at the event.
“Everywhere you look, there is a fascinating hat or ensemble to catch your eye” said Hiba Hani, a young Emirati enjoying the outlook from the Apron Views.
Geraldine Asim-Ita, who came from Nigeria, enjoyed some of the perks offered at Apron Views including neck massages, manicures and express blow dries to keep her look fresh for the whole day.
“I just want to look different. I came from Nigeria specifically for the World Cup and I’m here to enjoy it and get pampered,” she said.