Beautiful spring weather is just one reason why March is a favourite month here in Qatar. Whether they love the outdoors or not, residents and visitors keenly await the 11-day annual Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) every year and its offerings of food possibilities, great outdoor family entertainment and multicultural activities.
This is a time for everyone – from the gastronome to the food explorer to the hard worker looking for a refreshing treat and fun time out. Here are ten reasons why you cannot miss the ten-year anniversary edition of the festival, which this year is taking place at Oxygen Park in Qatar Foundation until 30 March.
Having earned its position as one of the most anticipated events in the country, QIFF welcomes foodies from Qatar and around the globe to celebrate the world’s diverse cuisines every year. With nine successful editions held in key landmark locations around Qatar, the bar has been raised much higher this time to deliver new and unique experiences to the foodie public.
To mark the festival’s 10th anniversary, organisers have put together a memorable edition with an unprecedented explosion of flavours, dazzling entertainment and cultural shows, and fun activities for all ages, all brought together in one of Qatar’s iconic locations, allowing visitors to …
Eat. Play. Learn.
You’ve probably attended QIFF at MIA Park or Sheraton Park previously as the festival aims to shed a limelight on Qatar’s beautiful venues. This year’s event gives you a chance to explore Education City, with the festival taking centre stage in its impressively designed and landscaped Oxygen Park.
True to its name, Education City is home to seven world-renowned higher education institutions and cutting-edge research centres. It features exquisitely-designed buildings including the award-winning Minaretein building (Education City Mosque), Qur’anic Botanic Garden, the state-of-the-art Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre, the landmark Education City Golf Club, the organic Chef’s Garden restaurant, and the Torba Farmers Market.
Spend a whole day at the festival by walking around to burn the extra calories and to admire the spectacular architecture and landscaping. And if you get tired, take refuge in the peace and quiet of Qatar National Library. There will be shuttle buses running every eight to ten minutes from various parking areas within Education City as well as from the QNCC parking.
To reach the venue, enter Education City from Gates 1, 2, 5 and 7:
- Gates 1 and 2 if you’re coming from the Mall of Qatar side and Gharrafa Al Rayaan
- Gate 5 if you’re coming from slope Roundabout or Markhiya area
- Gate 7 if you’re coming from Foroseya Road or Old Rayaan
Food, Food and More Food!
Take a break from cooking and treat your taste buds to newer flavours and cuisines because you’ll have the chance to experience 157 delectable F&B options! Popular eateries, new outlets and caterers from all over town are offering mouthwatering goodies ranging from popular Arabic delicacies to all major international cuisines. A distinctive number of upcoming local businesses and startups will also be introducing their food and beverage offers for the first time to QIFF visitors. Try these to encourage the young foodpreneurs.
International and Local Celebrity Chefs
A highlight and regular feature of the festival are globally-acclaimed chefs coming together to enthrall audiences with their culinary magic. Fans and food lovers not only watch their favourite icons display their craft in awe, but also have the opportunity to meet and greet them. Culinary gurus like Martha Stewart, Anna Olsen, Andy Bates, Graham Elliot and Sanjeev Kapoor have graced the QIFF Live Cooking Theatre over the years, and this year, 37 international and local celebrity chefs from 17 countries are coming to celebrate 10 years of QIFF.
Culinary Experiences with the World’s Best
They say cooking is an art that involves all five senses, even six, if you count the unexplained cravings! QIFF is the only food festival in town that offers food-related activities. In addition to daily live cooking at the festival’s cooking theatre stage, QIFF also have numerous exclusive interactive cooking and tasting sessions that are arranged on the sidelines of the festival. A number of five-star restaurants across Doha are hosting Chef’s Table sessions with Iron Chef Masharu Morimoto, Richard Sandoval, Nobu Matsuhissa and Barista Trainer Sam Ceviköz. Chef’s Garden Restaurant will also be hosting cooking masterclasses with Barista Trainer Sam and Food Network star hosts Siba Mtongana, Jenny Morris and Salma Souleiman.
Step into the Future
As promised, this edition will present a whole new layout and format with newer, out-of-the-box experiences. Spread over 130,000-square-metres, the impressive Oxygen Park has beautifully landscaped outdoor spaces, and ample underground parking with over 3,000 spaces. The three grounds have been themed O1, O2 and O3. O1 will be dedicated to cafes, light snacks and other activities and O2 will be all about children’s activities while O3 will feature all the main food stalls and the centre stage featuring Live Cooking Theatre and other programmes.
Education City’s world-renowned universities will be offering unique, futuristic fun activities for visitors such as getting a 3-D face scan, changing your voice, virtual reality experiences, Sphero Football and many other activities. Come early to avoid the queues and enjoy these fun activities for free!
A Festival within the Festival for the Little Ones
Great news for families with kids. No more struggling to find a good spot for kids to play between food stalls and diners! There is a whole ground (O2) dedicated just for children with all their favourite goodies, healthy food options, fun booths and ample playing space. And that’s not all, there will be an exclusive Kidzania Go booth offering a TV station, Radio Station, 360 Virtual Reality and a RightzKeeper Zone for toddlers along with a photo booth and gardening area.
Music and Entertainment
Throughout the eleven days of the festival, there will be live entertainment on the centre stage (in O3) including musical and cultural performances as well as interviews of celebrity chefs, quiz and cooking competitions for the audience from The Food Network, courtesy of the festival’s partner beIN Network. This year being the Qatar-India Year of Culture, there will be special performances and features in the festival based on the cultural offerings of the two countries. Besides the main stage, there will be roaming performances, mascots and food themed structures for you to take those selfies with for Instagram.
QIFF food offerings aren’t just limited to the festival venue. Over 90 restaurants across Qatar are serving a curated ‘QIFF Menu’ through the whole month of March, giving you a chance to celebrate food at your favourite restaurant as they present an exclusive three-course QIFF Menu consisting of a starter, main course and dessert, at discounted prices of QAR45, QAR95 and QAR125. There are 35 restaurants in hotels, 16 inside malls and over 40 are standalone restaurants offering the QIFF Menu. The list of these restaurants can be seen here: qifoodfestival.qa.
Perfect Time to Host Visitors!
If you’re looking for a good time to have family or friends over for a short break, now is a great opportunity with QIFF offering plenty of outdoor fun in beautiful weather and an introduction to the country’s authentic food and culture.
Qatar has made it to the top of international travel rankings listed in Forbes Top 15 Places To Travel In 2019 and NYT list of 2019 destinations. And why not, since 80% of the world’s population is within a six-hour flight from Qatar and there are unlimited travel options with the five-star national carrier Qatar Airways covering more than 150 destinations worldwide besides over 50 other international airlines.
Being the Official Airline Partner of QIFF ’19, Qatar Airways has announced special discounts on fares from selected destinations to Qatar (Visit their website for more details). And with the steps that Qatar has taken to ease the visitor access, citizens of more than 85 countries and territories are now eligible for visa-free entry and a stay of up to 30 or 90 days.
Festival Timings: 3 pm to 11 pm (Saturday to Wednesday) and 3 pm to 1 am (Thursday and Friday).