Bahrain’s winning formula

The lowdown on where to go, what to see and where to stay when the world’s motorsports fans head to Bahrain


The ninth annual Gulf Air Formula One Grand Prix takes place at Bahrain International Circuit this week, and can always be relied upon to bring out the best in the island’s entertainment industry. The big race kicks off at 3pm on Sunday April 21, but if you have a weekend ticket there are practice sessions on Friday and practice and qualifying on Saturday too. Aside from the main race, there is plenty more to keep visitors occupied.

More motorsport
For petrolheads there’s plenty of other on-track action throughout the weekend, with the single-seater GP2 series once again returning to the BIC for the second round of the 2013 season. F1 stars such as Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean started their careers racing in GP2, so it’s worth a watch to be able to say ‘I saw him way back when…’ of a future champion.

If you have a ticket for the race, head to the F1 Village at the circuit to see an array of international talent, including traditional dance from Calpulli Mexican Dance Group; Bhangra Empire, a 12-strong group performing ritual dance in traditional Punjabi costume; Talija, showcasing Balkan music and dance; and the Chinese Lion Dance troupe. You can also catch Menoufia Folk Art, performing traditional Egyptian dances, plus the beautiful, colourful fighting dance from the Miranda highlands of Portugal, staged by Pauliteiros de Palaçoulo. If show-style dance is more your thing, make sure to see tap-dance troupe Angelo and the Crazy Feet strutting their stuff to tunes from Abba to Tchaikovsky.

World music lovers are catered for with a variety of performances, including the Mugenko Taiko Drummers, showcasing the loud, hard and fast form of ancient Japanese percussion coupled with martial arts movements. There’s traditional Mexican folk music from Mariachi Jalisco, Scottish pipes with Bagpipe Roy, Pedro with his hang drum – apparently it’s pronounced ‘hung’ and is a ‘melodious percussive steel instrument’ from Brazil – and the four-piece Marimba Band performing famous African songs accompanied by the marimba.

While you’re wandering around look out for the Camel Explorers, who appear to be riding by on a live camel (we’re reliably informed that’s not the case). And if you have any energy left, try the reverse bungee, aka ‘sling shot/bungee rocket’, as it’s sometimes known. Riders are catapulted into the air at crazy speeds, spinning and bouncing as they go – make sure you save the snack stand for afterwards.

Forget the packed lunch, unless of course you’re really craving soggy sarnies or cold pizza. You’ll find food of just about every description at the F1 Village behind the main grandstand. Queues can be a bit offputting, so don’t wait until you’re starving, and make sure you bring plenty of change.

Headline act
Give it up for Ne-Yo! The Grammy Award-winning R&B singer will be bringing down the house on the final night of the Grand Prix weekend. He’ll take to the stage after the big race for a one-off concert that’s sure to serve as an explosive finale. You’ll need either a three-day ticket or a Sunday ticket to catch the show.

Last-minute tickets
Prices range from BD50 (Dhs487) for a weekend pass to the Victory Grandstand to BD180 (Dhs1,753) for the weekend for the main grandstand. Tickets are available online, from Bahrain International Circuit stands at Bahrain City Centre and Seef Mall, or by calling the ticket hotline below. (+973 1745 1649).

Flight deals
Flydubai flights to Bahrain cost from Dhs551 return, while Qatar Airways comes in at around Dhs616. Local carrier Gulf Air is around Dhs664, while Emirates offers flights from Dhs905.;,,

The Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa along the Zallaq Highway is located approximately 4km from Bahrain International Circuit and costs from Dhs633 per night. (+973 1763 6363).

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