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Make memories this festive season in Dubai

Mon, November 16, 2020

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 Seef is hosting a fun bazaar by Dubai Creek that celebrates the season with a local twist, complete with Emirati folk traditions, food tastings, workshops and more. Alternatively, Habtoor Palace is hosting a Winter Garden that features children's entertainment, stalls filled with presents and food, and even an appearance from Santa. Al Khawaneej Walk will also host activities to captivate the whole family, including an enchanted storytelling tree for little ones, while Mall of the Emirates is setting up shop for its first-ever holiday market in collaboration with Ripe Market, showcasing a range of festive foods and holiday-themed trinkets.

The Festive Experience at Festival Bay is another hotspot that brings the North Pole to the desert. Taking place from 6 to 29 December, this market extraordinaire also features a festive maze, enchanted polar bear valley, live performances, stage shows, and an incredible Santa’s Grotto. Every evening at 6pm, there will also be a special tree lighting performance, complete with real snowfall!


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 bespoke peppermint hot chocolate from artisan chocolate makers, Mirzam, at the Alpine-inspired cafe. There's lots to admire, including a sparkling 40ft tree, storytelling sessions with Mrs Claus from 13 to 24 December, and carols performed by a live choir.

For more cool thrills, head to the Chillout Ice Lounge at Times Square Centre, where you can dine on hot food 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

Dubai's live entertainment calendar keeps up pace all through the year, but December delights with a particularly whimsical tune. Yuletide classics and carols dominate the sound waves at Dubai Opera when chart-toppers Gareth Gates and Natasha Hamilton perform all your favourite festive tracks, followed by swing and jazz renditions at NSO Big Band's Santa Baby! concert. The Downtown venue is also hosting the highly-anticipated Cirque de Glace (Ice Circus) from 24 to 26 December, featuring astounding acrobatic skating, cool visual effects and a live music score.

Elsewhere in the city, little ones can have a merry time with Magic Phil, one of Dubai's most loved children's entertainers, who will light up the stage at Theatre by QE2 with magic tricks and laugh out loud silliness, while Dutch-Moroccan comic Najib Amhali graces the stage at Dubai World Trade Centre for an insightful stand-up routine on 23 December. 


Celebratory dining

Dubai's hotels and restaurants are renowned for serving up spectacular dining experiences to mark the occasion. Atlantis, The Palm is known for feasts and flair, designing unique culinary experiences for the holidays. From quintessential British fare at Bread Street Kitchen to Mediterranean spreads at Ossiano's underwater setting, the family can sample the finest of world flavours.

Alternatively, head to MasterChef, the TV Experience restaurant at Dubai Marina where head chef Margarita Vaamonde and her brigade will take you on a gastronomic trip down memory lane with holiday favourites. Or, spend the day Dubai-style at the sunshine-filled Azure Beach or Greek restaurant Ammos and make the most of the perfect outdoor weather.

There's so much more to savour across the city, so ask your hotel concierge for recommendations on nearby restaurants that offer festive menus.


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, while the winter celebrations that take place in Bab Al Shams Desert Resort present the perfect backdrop for fun holiday photographs thanks to a giant 40-foot tree and festive market setting on the dunes.

You can even drive by Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens to see a multi-storey advent calendar countdown to 25 December from the hotel's windows, or visit Festival Bay to enjoy a special tree lighting performance every evening at 6pm, complete with snowfall and singalongs.


Seasonal specials

This is the season when some of the emirate's best winter-only experiences relaunch, giving the holidays that special Dubai touch. 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 breathtaking Miracle Garden is also in full bloom until spring. This 72,000sqm park presents an array of famous buildings and structures in the form of colourful floral displays, which make for wonderful photo opportunities.

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 2021 in style.

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