THE holidays are a time of celebration and Dubai is decked out with tree-lightings, delightful dinners and brunches, and wonderful winter lands across the city. With festive markets and unbeatable firework displaysj combined with pristine beaches and unbeatable winter sunshine, Dubai is the perfect destination for all magical vacation to celebrate the holidays.
With an abundance of outdoor activities and an endless array of festive occasions for all ages, Dubai’s winter season is the perfect time to visit the emirate and join in the fun and celebrations. This toolkit features the best festive experiences – from traditional feasts and family fun, to a not-so-traditional Christmas at the beach.
Typical Festive Fare with Seasonal Menus
Dubai’s favourite restaurants are set up to serve scrumptious spreads throughout the festive season – be it family-style festive feasts or decadent brunches with cuisine from all over the world. Special menus throughout the festive season will spoil diners for choice with classic favourites, including roast turkeys, mince pies, yule logs and other traditional treats in elegant settings – all without setting foot in the kitchen!
Dubai Opera is set to bring more than just theatre to Dubai as they gear up to host the biggest event of the festive season. From December 13 – 15, the family concerts of carols and much-loved classics as part of the “Jingle Bell Favourites” will feature delightful live entertainment, combined with delicious festive treats from the Opera Café. Audiences will be able to sing along to festive favourites including Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty the Snowman, Baby It’s Cold Outside, Silent Night, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow and many more.
Festive Family Markets
Family festivities will come to life at several Festive Markets across the city – a key highlight of the December season. Kids and the young at heart will find everything they love about Christmas in one place – from a selection of retail vendors selling fashion, jewellery and homeware pieces by boutique brands, to food stalls and children’s activities and attractions. A much-loved local favourite is the annual Festive
Market at Madinat Jumeirah, featuring a German-style Festive Market with rides on an abra boat with Santa, dozens of slides and games, a North Pole train for the little ones and a giant snow ball zone. Spread across a gigantic winter wonderland, visitors can also catch a shimmering interactive LED Christmas tree and daily appearances from Santa himself.
Richly decorated trees begin popping up across Dubai’s malls, hotels and top attractions in the lead up to the festivities, with several venues hosting grand ceremonies to celebrate the tree lightings. Some of the local favourites include the winter wonderland at Wafi Mall, the Parisian-ambience of Galeries Lafayette, the dazzling decor at Mall of the Emirates, and Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s glowing centrepiece.
Christmas Day on the Beach
Perfect for those looking to escape a traditional white Christmas are the crystal-clear waters and shimmering sunshine of Dubai’s beaches. The city’s beach-side destinations offer the perfect retreat away from the chaos of the holiday season – whether you’re looking for spectacular views of Palm Jumeirah and Dubai’s world-famous landmarks while experiencing al fresco dining at a whole new level at Club Vista Mare; a family day in the sun with juice bars, burger joints, fashionable boutiques and a fun inflatable waterpark at The Beach by JBR; a fun day with friends for a spot of beach volleyball, stand-up paddle- boarding or kayaking at Kite Beach; or if you’re simply looking to discover an untouched shoreline with the views of Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab in the distance, then Black Palace Beach is the perfect option.
Shop for Unique Gifts at the Souk
Gold, frankincense and myrrh hold a special place in biblical traditions around the holiday season – and can be tracked in Dubai’s traditional souks in Old Dubai! A wander through Deira to one of the most bustling souks of the city is an essential experience – be it the Gold Souk, lined with bespoke pieces with prices that aren’t set in stone; the Textile Souk, a bustling and crowded space with rolls of fabric, fine silks, airy cottons, and dazzling sari fabrics; or the Spice Souk, which offers the greatest sensory overload with the vibrant colours and aromas of some of the world’s most prized spices. Visitors can also travel between the souq areas in Bur Dubai and Deira by Abra over the Dubai Creek, at just AED1 (IDR 4,000) for a ticket.
The city’s winter sun allows visitors to escape the rain and snow and enjoy the great outdoors in breath- taking natural attractions for some al fresco family fun. In fact, Dubai’s endless desert, rugged mountains and sandy shores have something for everyone:
- Hatta Dam’s beautiful waters are set against the stunning backdrop of the Al Hajar Mountains, providing the ideal terrain for hiking. Water-lovers can also enjoy the dam’s beautifully calm waters and rent a kayak or pedal-boat, before whiling away the hours in the midst of some of Dubai’s most majestic scenery.
- As the city’s cycling scene continues to gain momentum, so too does the city’s cycling infrastructure – making it ideal for those simply after a leisurely ride as well as more serious cyclists. With purpose-built cycling tracks traversing the city, a 50km cycling loop in the desert, abundant sports stores and plenty of bicycle hire options available, Dubai amply caters to holidays on two wheels.
- For those looking to ride Arabian horses, the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club allows visitors to take a one-of-a-kind course in stable management and learn the intricacies of dressage, or simply ride across the open desert with fellow enthusiasts from the club.
- For a truly different experience this festive season, the Dubai Astronomy Group provides tourists with a unique Arabian desert tour to enjoy the same view of the night sky as those traversing the dunes thousands of years ago. For visitors, the group offers different packages that teaches visitors Arabian stories that helped Bedouins decipher the night sky, an in-depth look into astronomy through the lens of Greek mythology, as well as helping guests tell the time, month and year based on the stars as well as navigation techniques that help determine the location and way through the desert.
New Year, New Celebrations
The bubble of excitement gets bigger with every minute that inches closer to New Year’s Eve, where thousands of visitors throng popular destinations in Dubai to experience legendary celebrations like no other. Be it witnessing spectacular firework displays that illuminate the city’s night skies, dancing into the early hours at thrilling partying destinations or enjoying a gourmet meal with all the family – Dubai has something for everyone this New Year’s Eve. Head to Downtown Dubai to witness a stunning midnight spectacle as Burj Khalifa counts down to the New Year; spend the evening in luxury at one of Dubai’s many ‘brunches’ such as Bubbalicious at the Westin Hotel; or simply congregate on one of Dubai’s beautiful beaches (or desert dunes), for a beautiful and panoramic view of the emirates many celebratory firework displays.