Sponsored: Mark your calendars, the 16th Abu Dhabi Festival returns with a host of performances across the city.

The Abu Dhabi festival returns to the capital from February 26 to March 30, celebrating its 16th consecutive year. It’s the largest celebration of arts and culture in the Gulf, and this year, the festival’s theme is ‘Culture of Determination’ joining forces with the Special World Olympic Games, which is also taking place in the UAE this year.

Every year the Abu Dhabi Festival puts on a display of outstanding performances including dances, music and art exhibitions. The month-long event offers more than 100 events across 25 venues, with performances by 543 artists from 17 countries, ranging from jazz to flamenco, arias to comedy. Here are the highlights…

1. Distant Prospects – European landscape paintings from Liechtenstein

This year, the festival hosts an exhibition called Distant Prospects, with examples from the world renowned Princely Collections of Liechtenstein. The exhibition highlights key figures form the Baroque movements including Joos de Momper, Jan Brueghel and Peter Paul Rubens. These are some of the most important pieces of art from the seventeenth century and will be displayed in Gallery S at Manarat Al Saadiyat.
February 26 to March 25
Gallery S at Manarat Al Saadiyat, free, Tel: (02) 6575800. manaratalsaadiyat.ae

2. Korean National Ballet

In the first week of March, the Emirates Palace Auditorium hosts timeless romantic ballet Giselle choreographed by famous French star Patrice Bart, and performed by the Korean National Ballet.
March 7
Emirates Palace Auditorium, 8pm, from Dhs175, Tel: (02) 6908896. Buy your tickets here.

3. Korean Symphony Orchestra

You can also hear the Korean symphony orchestra who perform on Friday March 8 at the Emirates Palace Auditorium. Established in 1985, the Korean symphony orchestra perform worldwide and have held more than 40 annual ballet and opera performances over the years. The orchestra has one of the greatest conductors in Korea’s history, Chi-Yong Chung who is well known for his vivid interpretations and virtuoso baton technique.
March 8
Emirates Palace Stadium, 8pm, prices start at Dhs175,Tel: (02) 6908896. Buy your tickets here.

4. Justin Kauflin – Pianist extraordinaire

The world renowned American jazz pianist Justin Kauflin, who taught himself to play piano despite losing his sight at 11 years old, is performing at The Arts Centre, NYU in Abu Dhabi on the March 11. He has recently been touring the world with his trio, performing his new album, Coming Home which was produced by Derrick Hodge and his mentor Quincy Jones.
March 11
Arts Centre NYU, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, SOLD OUT (only waiting list on the door available now). Tel: (02) 628 6868. nyuad-artscenter.org

5. Tosca – A Concert Production

On Friday March 15 at the Emirates Palace Auditorium, the Sinfonia Cymru orchestra is performing. They will be joined by world-leading opera stars, Kristine Opolais, Vittorio Grigolo and Sir Bryn Terfel. This performance of Tosca is an operatic experience full of love, corruption, intrigue and murder. If you enjoy Shakespeare’s Hamlet then this might just be the opera for you.
March 15
Emirates Palace Auditorium, 8pm, from Dhs175. Tel: (02) 6908896. Buy your tickets here.

6. Sombras by Sara Baras

Sombra or ‘Shadows’ is a show made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sara Baras Flamenco Ballet Company. The performance has been dramatically choreographed with a traditional and modern take on flamenco rhythms.
March 21
Emirates Palace Auditorium, 8pm, Dhs175. Tel: (02) 6908896. Buy your tickets here.

7. The Paris Opera Ballet Jewels by George Balanchine

A two-night extravaganza of dance at the Emirates Palace Auditorium.This is a full length, three act ballet performed by the Paris Opera Ballet. ‘Jewels’ is a performance inspired by the jewelry designer, Claude Arpels and the music reveals the essence of each and every jewel.
March 29 to 30
Emirates Palace Auditorium, 8pm, Dhs175, Tel: (02) 6908896. Buy your tickets here. 

For more information, or to book your tickets now, check out 800tickets.com/abudhabifestival.