The city's calendar is packed with concerts, entertainment events and plenty of star power all year round. Plan your next Dubai holiday around what’s on with our guide to the best of the best.
Catch a heavywight concert
Dubai has become an increasingly popular stop for the music world’s biggest acts – and thanks to the spectacular venues, they can put on seriously impressive shows.
Check ahead to see what concerts are scheduled during your visit, but a few of the names who’ve wowed Dubai crowds in recent years include: John Legend, Maroon 5 and A.R. Rahman at the Coca-Cola Arena; Fatboy Slim, Bruno Mars and Richard Ashcroft at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre; and Mariah Carey, Rita Ora, Mica Paris and Passenger at other venues across the city. There's also been plenty of A-list stars at past leading events with Gwen Stefani closing out Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse, and Kylie Minogue doing the same for the Rugby Sevens.
It’s definitely worth a bit of planning and booking ahead if you have your eye on a particular concert – especially for those around big sporting events. For a truly special occasion, look into VIP ticket packages, available for most events, to get the best seats and exclusive experiences.
Enjoy a music festival
Beyond one-off concerts, Dubai has a number of established music festivals where you can enjoy big-name favourites and discover exciting new acts.
RedFestDXB, organised by Virgin Radio, is one of the biggest, with two days of performances by some of the most popular names in music. Held at the outdoor Dubai Media City Amphitheatre every February, acts in the past have included Stormzy, Demi Lovato, Rita Ora and The Chainsmokers. There’s something magical about watching a live performance from a grassy hill, surrounded by Media City’s illuminated skyscrapers – it's an experience not to be missed.
One of the longest-running shows is the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival, held every spring. Here, jazz is more a reference point than a requirement, boasting alumni like Lauryn Hill, Alison Moyet, Santana, Sandi Thom and Lionel Richie.
A new arrival to the Dubai music festival scene was the 2019 Wake Up Call at the W Dubai hotel on the Palm Jumeirah. Along with headlining performances by Rufus Du Sol and Rita Ora, and a curated selection of supporting artists, Wake Up Call offered exclusive experience such as yoga with the Let You Love Me singer.
Treat yourself to the opera or theatre
With the opening of Dubai Opera, the city gained a world-class performance venue. Home to much more than just operatic productions, Dubai Opera also stages concerts, plays, ballets, comedy and, occasionally, screenings of popular films accompanied by a live orchestra. Past productions have included The Magic Flute, Othello, Carmen, The Nutcracker, the rock band Feeder, and Lebanese-Armenian pianist Guy Manoukian.
Unique among Dubai’s entertainment offerings is La Perle. An immersive theatrical experience, it is set to run until at least 2030 in a purpose-built venue in Al Habtoor City. Dozens of gifted acrobats and performers dazzle the audience as they make full use of the high-tech 'aqua-theatre', which produces waterfalls and rain effects to tell a story inspired by Dubai’s history and spirit.
Dubai’s other prominent performance space is the Madinat Theatre, based in Souk Madinat Jumeirah. This intimate 440-seater venue was the first custom-built theatre in the city, and stages everything from ballet to musicals, along with audience favourites such as famous ghost story, The Woman in Black.
And for a different kind of performance, check out Cinema Akil at Alserkal Avenue, the Gulf’s first arthouse cinema, bringing the best of the Middle East’s independent film industry, as well as cult classics and critically-acclaimed festival favourites.
Experience a special event, Dubai-style
Dubai is recognised as one of the best places in the world to ring in special occasions such as New Year’s Eve – and it has plenty of its own landmark events as well. Being in town at these times is exhilarating, and can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's vital to plan and book ahead, as demand is usually very high.
New Year’s Eve is a big deal in Dubai, with celebrations centred around the Burj Khalifa, which becomes the launching point for one of the most impressive fireworks displays on the planet. Many people flock to Downtown Dubai and The Dubai Mall to be as close as possible to the skyscraper – but there are plenty of other great vantage points nearby where you can watch the show.
Other big events in Dubai’s calendar include the aforementioned Rugby Sevens and Dubai World Cup, as well as occasions such as the UAE’s National Day. If you’re after an exciting experience, these events are the perfect time to visit the city – just remember to pack your best outfits.
Groove to rooftop rhythms
Between major festivals and citywide celebrations, Dubai's rooftop lounges and nightlife venues offer a regular respite for music lovers of all genres. Resident DJs at top lounge spots such as Treehouse at the Taj Hotel and Siddharta at Grosvenor House complement views of the glittering skyline with upbeat tracks every night for the perfect catch-up with friends. A regular pitstop for international house and techno DJs, as well as EDM fans, Soho Garden at Meydan brings hip urban vibes and a distant panorama of the Burj Khalifa.
If you're looking for a livelier night out with A-list names on the line-up, popular party hubs such as Beirut-born WHITE, urban dance favourite Drai's and BASE in Dubai Design District are your ticket. These come alive in the winter months, making the most of their chic, open-air settings with appearances by heavyweight artists from around the world. Previous performers have included the likes of rapper Wiz Khalifa, R&B singer Usher, South African DJ Black Coffee, and many more. Stay in-the-know with Dubai Calendar to see who's playing during your visit.
For fans of live jazz or soul, Mina A'Salam's Bahri is a chic Arabian-style terrace lounge with views of Burj Al Arab and smooth beats during the week.
Don't miss a beat. Visit Dubai Calendar to plan your holiday entertainment hit list, and check out the biggest concerts of the year.