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Make memories this festive season in Dubai

Wed, November 17, 2021

From tree lightings to winter wonderlands and stage productions, see our favourite seasonal highlights.

From tree lightings to winter wonderlands and stage productions, see our favourite seasonal highlights.


Festive markets

No winter holiday experience would be complete without a festive market. With the launch of Dubai Shopping Festival and winter revelry, there are plenty of al fresco spots where you can pick up one-of-a-kind gifts while enjoying an array of family-friendly activities. Al Barari will be playing host to a magical Winter Wonderland in its Seventh Heaven area. From 16-26 December you can finish your present purchasing at the shopping stalls, learn to glide on the ice rink and warm up with comforting hot chocolate. There is a full programme of events and activities including a winter parade, snow zone and live DJ. The iconic waterfront at Dubai Festival City Mall has been transformed into a pop-up for the winter season as Ripe Market by the Bay makes its debut. Every evening more than one hundred stalls selling goods crafted by homegrown brands will tempt visitors. The usual daytime edition of Ripe Market is also taking place and will be taking on a festive hue during this time.


Winter wonderlands

Winter Wonderland

If you're looking play in the snow this December, Ski Dubai will make your wishes come true. Spend the day sliding down Ski Dubai's thrilling slopes, say hi to the resident penguins, brave the rides at the snow park and don't forget to sip your free hot chocolate at the Alpine-inspired cafe. The highlight has to be a visit to Santa's Grotto - but check timings as takes breaks to head off and feed his reindeers too! For more cool thrills, head to the Chillout Ice Lounge at Times Square Centre, where you can sip a juice in sub zero interiors designed entirely out of ice – from seating to sculptures. Or glide around the Dubai Ice Rink, a year-round winter escape in Dubai, magical snowfall included.


Non-stop entertainment


December delights with a particularly whimsical tune when it comes to live entertainment. Yuletide classics and carols dominate the sound waves at Dubai Opera when the Dubai Opera Big Band perform swing and jazz renditions of tracks at The Sound of Christmas. The Downtown venue will also host Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker by the Russian State Ballet and Opera House. Elsewhere in the city, little ones can have a merry time at Magic Phil's Jolly Jingle, as one of Dubai's most loved children's entertainers lights up the stage at Theatre by QE2 with tricks and laugh out loud silliness.


Celebratory dining

Atlantis, The Palm is known for feasts and flair, designing unique culinary experiences for the holidays. Foodies should reserve their place for the annual Christmas Edition of Cirque de Cuisine on 9 December. Head off on a culinary journey from eatery to eatery during four hours of non-stop fun as you pick from lavish buffets, live cooking stations and take in the atmosphere at every stop. Looking to celebrate on the big day itself? From quintessential British fare at Bread Street Kitchen to degustation menus at Ossiano's underwater setting, or dinner buffets at Saffron, the family can sample the finest of world flavours at this luxurious resort. Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa's Brasserie 2.0 is serving up traditional roast turkey alongside other international delicacies displayed buffet-style. Live cooking stations plus a band and activities for kids complete the upbeat package. Meanwhile in DIFC, Bull & Bear is theming their five-course set menu lunchtime affair The Bull of Wall Street. There's lots more to savour across the city so ask your concierge for more suggestions.

Awe-inspiring displays

Visitors in December can admire the richly-decorated trees and themed centrepieces that pop up across Dubai’s leading malls, hotels and top attractions, with several tree-lighting ceremonies to keep an eye on. Some of the most popular highlights include the Mall of the Emirates' Fashion Dome where shimmering baubles and a festive glow inspires new shopping sprees with the family. Another favourite with Dubai residents is at one of the city's oldest malls, WAFI, which is known to put up a sparkling display complete with a Santa's grotto. Meanwhile Galeries Lafayette at Dubai Mall is putting on a fairytale festive display all monthlong that is sure to delight shoppers. 

Seasonal specials

This is the season when some of the emirate's best winter-only experiences relaunch. Global Village, a multicultural family entertainment destination, is a fantastic place to explore handcrafted gifts and souvenirs from around the world. Discover everything from Turkish stained glass lanterns, colourful embroidered purses from India, and intricate jewellery from artisans across Europe. The Miracle Garden is also in full bloom until spring. The park presents an array of famous buildings and structures in the form of colourful floral displays, which make for wonderful photo opportunities with a special Smurfs display for this edition. Dubai is also putting the finishing touches on memorable New Year's Eve celebrations, so read our guide on the best things to do and ring in 2022 in style.


Desert dreaming

bab al shams

Enjoy a Christmas extravaganza amid golden sands at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa. Get together with family and friends and spend an evening with delicious food, live entertainment and lots of holiday-themed activities. Marvel at the massive 40-foot Christmas tree and let the choir enchant you with carols. Relish seasonal delicacies like mince pies and hot chocolate and wander around the market which has more than 50 stalls of holiday goodies. For kids, a meet and greet with Santa and a special gift is included with every entry ticket. You can also choose to dine at a Christmas-themed buffet at the Al Forsan Restaurant for AED285 per person.




Desert Winter Wonderland
  • 10 Dec 2021 - 21 Dec 2021
  • Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa

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