Enjoying a wonderfully sunny and warm Christmas in Dubai doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any festive fun. The tolerant Muslim emirate embraces the spirit of Christmas with a variety of events to suit all the family.
Held annually at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, the Winter Festival is the largest event of its kind in the city. Its main attraction is a market with stalls selling everything from handbags, to jewellery to paintings and arts and crafts, ideal for picking up an usual gift for a loved one. There are also fun activities including Gingerbread House Decorating where the whole family can take a break from shopping and decorate their personal gingerbread house to take home.
You’ll find other traditional Christmas attractions including carol singers, an Aladdin and His Magic Lamp Christmas Adventure pantomime, Santa’s grotto, and the nightly Christmas tree light switch-on spectacle.
And it may be Dubai but there’s also snow! All the family can join in snowball fights or snowman building in the snow play area.
Christmas markets have become increasingly popular in Dubai in recent years and now visitors are spoiled for choice with markets throughout the city. Two of the best this year are Pre-Loved Dubai in the Arabian Ranches on December 9th and the Christmas Carnival at the Reform Social and Grill. Local residents will be selling used items at Pre-Loved Dubai and there will also be stalls offering all sorts of Christmas goods. Santa has promised to pop in and all day long there will be face painting, balloon bending and henna painting available.
At Reform Social & Grill restaurant the three day Christmas Carnival from 15th – 17th December, includes the Handmade Dubai market. On offer expect to find handmade crafts, clothes, jewellery and home décor. Entry is free and there are lots of kids’ activities as well as daily visits from Santa.
Christmas at the Opera
The recently opened Dubai Opera performing arts centre offers respite from shopping and Santa. On 16th and 17th December they are hosting the London Concert Opera Show Band who will be performing a host of Christmas classics and popular carols.
Don your Santa hats, bring the kids and prepare to sing along at this stunning venue in the buzzing Downtown district.
What could be more Christmassy than frolicking in the snow and meeting Santa? From 10th till 24th December the Christmas decorations will be up and Santa will be hanging out at one of the world’s largest indoor ski slopes at Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates.
Children and adults can combine a visit to Santa with some fun in the snow park, a penguin encounter or some skiing and snowboarding. Don’t forget to stop off at Avalanche Café half way up the slope for a delicious hot chocolate.
Friday brunches are a must-do for many holidaymakers and expat residents alike and most of Dubai’s hotels and restaurants put on a festive brunch on Christmas Day. There is a huge range of choices on offer and diners can choose from traditional turkey dinners, international buffets, Asian delicacies and Arabic fare with a festive twist.
Many venues have children’s activities to make sure youngsters are not only well fed but entertained too. Brunches ranges from lower cost options in some of Dubai’s pubs to 5 star hotels offering lavish buffets with free flowing champagne and prices to match.
Candice Bain is Founder at Desert to Jungle.
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