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Qasr Al Watan, Palace in Motion

Table of contents

What is Palace in Motion?

A short snippet of the Palace in Motion show
At the end of (almost) each day, there is a light show in the Qasr Al Watan, the Presidential Palace, of Abu Dhabi. If you are visiting the Palace in the afternoon and wait for sunset then you will be able to watch the show, but if you just want to see the show you can enter once the palace has closed just to see the show.

Qasr Al Watan after dusk, before the show
The palace is extremely impressive in it's nighttime illumination.
It's very easy to get to the palace. If you are using the Big Red Bus then there's a stop right outside. It's a ride of about an hour from the starting point of the bus tour to the palace and then you are straight in. Remember to download the bus app and sort some cheap mobile data so that you can check the bus times.

Taxis should be able to take you straight there if you jumnp one and ask, plus there was a constant stream of taxis arriving at the end of the show to collect passengers and take them away, which is what we did.

Car parking is available, but we didn't drive in Abu Dhabi so can't comment.

How long is Palace in Motion?

People waiting for the start of the  nightly show
The seating area is defined and very well controlled.
It's about 20 minutes long, and involves various patterns being cleverly projected onto the the face of the palace. There's a sound track to the show (I've not used it in my video) and to be fair ir feels very Disney-fied. If you've been to Disney and seen their light show on the Cinderella Palace then you'll know what sort of effects to expect.

Ticket Prices

If you have paid to visit the palace and *do not leave* then it's included in the general ticket, which is currently AED 65, around £ 14 per adult. If you just want to see the show, maybe keen to see it or you visited the palace earlier in the day, then the entry to the light show only (after the palace closes) is AED 25, a little over £5 at today's rates. So it's not really a problem if you do the palace visit separately to the light show. And if you haven't bought your ticket in advance they are available in the ticket office and you can pay by card or cash.

What's involved?

A still shot of the nightly show with the palace in white
Not all effects rely on colours, some are more sympathetic to the styling.
Pay, or show your online ticket and then progress through the security check. For some reason I, and others, were asked a few times if we had microphones. No idea why and the security officers seemed to be asking about stand alone mics (which I do not own), rather than those in phones, cameras etc.

Then you queue up and join a bus, which wisks you through the palace grounds to the actual palace. If you have arrived whilst the palace is open you're free to go straight in, else you simply wander over to the viewing area. It's not marked but it's easy to spot and soon gets busy.

It's also very well controlled and you have to sit (not stand) in specific areas. Try standing in the searing area or in the walk areas and you are very quickly moved on.

After the show you walk back to the bus stop and are ferried back to the entrance, from where you leave the palace through the taxi rank or car park.

When is the Palace in Motion Show?

An example of where to find the opening times on their website.
Examples of the times for Palace in Motion, but use common sense too!
It's on most nights. The times of the light show can be a little tricky to find, but if you go to the official site and at the bottom of the page click 'Important Information' then the latest times are displayed.

Two words or warning here. First, the times are only shown for the current month and do seem to literally update in the first of the month.

Second, they can't be relied upon! We arrived 15 minutes before the 'Last entry time' only to find the palace was still open and the first entry was an hour or more later. We'd bought the Palace in Motion tickets in advance, so rather than wait outside (which a lot of people were doing), we bought full entry tickets and visited the palace first. If the last entry to the palace is a lot before the last entry for the light show then I'd ask someone.

Is it worth it?

A still shot of the nightly show
Lots of different colours and patterns are splashed over the front of the castle in the nightly light show.
Very subjective, but overall yes. The palace itself is extremely impressive and the light show adds an element of evening spectacular. Our original plan had been to get a taxi there just for the light show, in the event we added on before the light show the bus tour and a walk around the shopping mall (where the bus starts), plus our tour of the palace. It's certainly worth staying around for the show if you are visiting the palace around closing time and we had a break in the palace cafe whilst we waited, with fantastic views of Abu Dhabi from outside the cafe exit.