This is now in your Top Picks!

Login or create an account to save your favourites and receive personalised recommendations.


Login to like

Sign in or register to like this content



Best Christmas markets, festive events and winter activities in Dubai

Sat, November 26, 2022

From tree lightings to winter wonderlands and stage productions, see our favourite ways to celebrate Christmas in Dubai.

From tree lightings to winter wonderlands and stage productions, see our favourite ways to celebrate Christmas in Dubai.


Shop at festive Christmas markets

No winter holiday experience would be complete without a visit to a Christmas 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. For example, Madinat Jumeirah Festive market runs from 15-30 December, offering fun and cheer for everyone. There will be a huge Christmas tree, North Pole Train, gingerbread house decorating and a chance to ride on an abra with Santa along the Madinat waterways. There will also be plenty of traditional food stalls, and a live band. Al Habtoor City will also be playing host to a magical Winter Garden until 31 December, with a full programme of entertainment, shopping stalls, food trucks and more. The waterfront promenade at Dubai Festival City Mall is now home to a pop-up called Vibes by the Bay. Daily IMAGINE shows, a petting zoo and fairground games for the little ones, shops selling toys and trinkets and food outlets will tempt visitors.


Enjoy the Winter Wonderland at Ski Dubai

Winter Wonderland

If you're looking play in the snow this December, Winter Wonderland at Ski Dubai will make your wishes come true. Spend the day sliding down Ski Dubai's thrilling slopes, say 'hello' to the resident penguins, brave the rides at the snow park and don't forget to sip your hot chocolate at the Alpine-inspired cafe. The highlight has to be a visit to Santa's Grotto - but check timings as he takes breaks to head off and feed his reindeers too! For more cool thrills, head to the Dubai Ice Rink, at Dubai Mall, a year-round winter escape in Dubai, magical snowfall included.


Book tickets for themed 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. Little ones can have a merry time at Magic Phil's Starlight Safari as one of the city's most loved children's entertainers lights up the stage at Theatre by QE2 with tricks and laugh-out-loud silliness. Also showing on the QE2 this December, is The Snow Queen, a magical production based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1844 fairy tale. Fans of the popular festive movie Elf, have the opportunity to see the live musical version of the film favourite at Mall of the Emirates, which is showing from 17-24 December. There's plenty to enjoy this season, so stay up to date with the Dubai Calendar.


Make time for celebratory dining


There's lots to savour across the city, so ask your hotel concierge for festive dining options near you. City favourites like the three Armani restaurants are offering limited-edition menus from 15-30 December. Or you can head to Jumeirah Al Qasr on a Saturday for their Vintage Festive Brunch, complete with timeless tunes by a classic live band. On 16 December, Atlantis, The Palm is hosting a one-of festive extravaganza, called Cirque De Cuisine: the Christmas Edition. The event will see you take a tour across 10 of the hotel’s restaurants, including Michelin starred Ossiano, and top eateries like Nobu by Nobu Matsuhisa. Elsewhere you can experience the international flavours of the season, through the Italian inspired Feste di Natale by Palazzo Versace Dubai, which will be offering festive flavours across four-courses at their flagship Italian restaurant, Vanitas. Meanwhile, Santè Ria Dubai will be offering a Latin American take on the festive season, with their Feliz Navidad brunch on 25 December.


Admire 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 Dubai Festival City Mall, which has put up a sparkling display complete with a Santa's grotto. Meanwhile Galeries Lafayette at The Dubai Mall is putting on a fairytale festive display all monthlong that is sure to delight shoppers. 


Explore seasonal specials

Global Village in Dubai

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 set to host unmissable New Year's Eve celebrations, so read our guide on the best things to do and ring in 2023 in style.


Visit Winter City at Expo City Dubai

expo 2020 opening ceremony fireworks

From 23 November until January 2023, Expo City Dubai is being transformed into a magical winter wonderland. There will be a chalet-inspired festive market, fairground fun for all the family. There will also be gingerbread classes, a toy factory tour (with the chance for each child to take home a teddy) and of course - Santa’s Grotto. There will be plenty of festive foodie treats and drinks available and on 9 December there will be a tree lighting ceremony for Winter City’s 16-metre tall festive tree.


Enjoy the winter weather at al fresco hotspots

During the cooler months there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy across Dubai. To celebrate the festive season, several pop-up cinema screens across JBR will be showing festive films for free each weekend in December. The list includes the Christmas Chronicles 2 on 9 December, followed by The Grinch on 10 December. Festive favourites Home Alone and Home Alone 2 will be shown on 16 and 17 December respectively, and the final weekend includes showings of Elf (23 December) and Jingle All The Way (24 December). Elsewhere in the city, Winterfest (an extension of McGettigan’s football fan zone in Dubai Media City) will be welcoming visitors to enjoy their outdoor snow park, Santa’s Grotto and skating rink until 18 December.

A festive extravaganza at Dubai Parks and Resorts

Riverland Dubai

Head to Dubai Parks and Resorts for a festive extravaganza all month long. The theme park city's four main districts are pulling out all the stops for visitors this year. Catch live shows, special activities, a daily parade and so much more. You can watch theatre shows Smurfmas and King Julien’s Holiday Stomp, at cinema-themed Motiongate Dubai; or make your way to Legoland to set your sights on a huge 4m high Advent Calendar each day, offering prizes of up to AED40,000! Riverland also transforms into a winter wonderland, with festive events, Santa meet and greets and plenty of photo opportunities to keep the whole family entertained.

Happiness Meter