The highlights of the month in the trendiest of emirates
Dubai is certainly not known for being a city that sleeps on its laurels and every month in the Dubai calendar brings a different array of activities and special events to keep citizens and visitors busy. There’s plenty of entertainment options to make the most of everyone’s leisure time.
Just two days ago the emirate wrapped up Dubai Restaurant Week; a gastronomic celebration that saw many restaurants from all ends of the spectrum launch special menus with heavily discounted dishes allowing diners to try a varied array of tempting culinary delights for less. During the 10 days of Dubai Restaurant Week all participating restaurants offered delicious menus at only 189 AED per person which meant many tables were completely sold out long before the end of the week.
March continues in Dubai as exciting as ever with the following dates in the calendar being all about culture and sports. There’s literature and the arts on one hand, a colourful kite-flying spectacle and sporting events on the other.
Read on to find out more details about the festivals, fairs and one-off sports days and take your pick from things to attend if you’re lucky enough to be enjoying or planning a holiday to Dubai this month.
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2016
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2016: 1st to 12th March
First in the line-up it's one event that's already taking place as it kick-started right at the start of the month. The Emirates Airline-sponsored Festival of Literature in Dubai is the biggest literary event of its kind in the Middle East, bringing together talented writers and avid readers from a wide scope of international locations.
It takes place on the first two weeks of March every year and it's now in its 6th edition, welcoming authors from over 25 countries and celebrating the written word in a bigger way than ever before. How can you join in and make the most of the book-inspired celebrations? Well, if you happen to be lucky enough to be enjoying a break in Dubai in early March you can head to one of the many book signings planned throughout the event or you can attend a lecture, a debate, a masterclass, writing workshop or simply browse among the thousands books on offer and book fairs popping everywhere around the emirates; from bookshops on malls.
This popular annual event provides great opportunities for meeting up-and-coming writers, well-established and popular authors and hear numerous speakers covering an extensive variety of topics, writing styles and genres. For families there are great children's events where little ones can get involved in fantastic and inspiring activities, such as the kids' dedicated "Once upon a time tea-parties" (taking place on various dates), "Creating Bob the Builder", "Frankestein's Cat" and "Raa Raaa the Noisy Lion" on 9th March at 4 p.m., Read and Draw with Korky Paul on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Charlie and Lola also on Friday but at 11:30 a.m. and Imagination Without Borders.
Adults and guests of all ages can also enjoy special events such as Shakespeare's Villains with Steven Berkoff, Desert Stanzas, Tea and Tales, The Literary Breakfasat, The Literary Lunch, The Literary Cruise and Time Travel Dinner. All in all there are over 200 main sessions and events to attend so you'll be really spoilt for choice! This year's theme is "Time" so you better get booking your tickets to Dubai before it runs out!
Top authors to meet in this year's LitFest (as it's called in Dubai) include children's favourite, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, fitness expert Joe Wicks, comedian, actress and writer Meera Syal and scientist Susan Greenfield.
To find out the details of the best picks of the event and see when to attend what, you're best checking out the full programme at the event's official programme or following the event on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. See the full calendar here.
Art Dubai 2016
Art Dubai 2016: 16th to 19th March
The leading international art fair of the Middle East, Art Dubai 2016 will be adding plenty of splashes of colour to the emirate over four days of special exhibitions, forums, cinema screenings, book launches, book signings, talks, projects and one-off performances.
If you want to enjoy the hottest of artsy scenes this month, Dubai is certainly the place to be with plenty of artistic things to enjoy. Every year in March, Art Dubai presents art lovers with a generous and varied selection of pieces from the art world with three programmes: Contemporary, Modern and Marker. Comprising a line-up of around 90 galleries worldwide, the fair attracts artists and art fans from every corner. As a bonus children enjoy free access to all of the fair's events when accompanied by adults (they must be with an adult at all times).
This year children have their dedicated space too at the Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program with kids' workshops led by London-based artist Polly Brannan, discovery tours led by UAE-based and international artists. For entire families wishing to take part in projects the "Mobile Variety Club" engages parents and children in special acts such as puppet shows, magic tricks, comedy, dance, songs and quizzes. If you want to enrol your little ones in any of the programme's activities you have to register them online here.
Prior to Art Dubai, three days before to be exact, the emirate celebrates Art Week from 13th to 19th March with another expanded programme of events spanning the arts, design and culture. Running alongside Art Dubai, Art Week is a week-long festival showcasing Dubai's creativity, achievements and ambitions. The full events calendar of Art Week is available online and through an interactive mobile app. Look for Art Week Guide 2016 on the search box of your browser and you're sure to hit the jackpot.
Dubai International Kite Fest 2016
Dubai International Kite Fest 2016: 17th - 19th March
Coinciding with the dates of Art Dubai, the Dubai International Kite Fest 2016 will see three days of family-friendly entertainment for all ages taking over Jumeirah beach. With free admission for all this fun day out promises plenty of colourful kite-spotting on Dubai’s blue, bright and cloudless skies.
Hundreds of kite flyers from the world over gather here to showcase their kites while many simply join in to witness the magnificent sky parade adding a splash of colour and flair to the beautiful beachside setting. There is kite surfing, show kites, kite buggying and even night kite flying where the sky is illuminated by brightly-lit kites right after sunset. To top it all off there’s also a laser show with music to dance along to.
A visual treat for the eyes showing Dubai’s outdoor spirit with kites of all sizes, colours, patterns and designs, sky is quite literally the limit when it comes to the creativity of the kites showcased here. Described as “visual poetry in motion” this free event is one not to miss if in Dubai on these dates.
Emirates T20 Cricket Tournament 2016
Emirates T20 Cricket Tournament 2016: 18th March
Bringing cricket fans the world over an amazing opportunity to enjoy first-class cricket action for a full fun-filled day, the Emirate Twenty20 Cricket Tournament is kicking off this 18th March 2016 featuring top English players as well as international cricketers.
With a previous line-up that included England Captain Alastair Cook, Nepalese Captain Paras Khadka as well as players Luke Wright, Yuvraj Singh and Johnny Bairstow in 2015, this year's edition is bound to be just as exciting and include as good international stars as previously. For starters we already know that players such as England batsman Ian Bell and Sri Lankan Legend Kumar Sangakkara will both be on show. And, just for attending you'll be in with a chance of winning two tickets to the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 Semis, as every ticket bought is included in the draw.
Children under 12 go free and in addition to all the cricketing action there will be plenty of family-friendly entertainment on offer with bouncy castles, a variety of games and play equipment as well as cricket-centred activities for little ones. Beyond the children's dedicated area there will also be the opportunity for young ones to have their cricket bats signed by international cricket stars on the day.
Quintessential English teas, autographs sessions, lush green areas to relax on and a Pimms tent will all be included in the cost of your entry ticket. A Premium Brunch option will give you access to an exclusive shaded area from which to enjoy it all as well as delicious food served right after midday and including a selection of meats, salads, fish, bread and house beverages.
The venue? The Sevens Stadium in Dubai. Who will be playing? Well the first session at 10 a.m. will see Lancashire battling it out against U.A.E whilst the second session will see MCC versus Yorkshire. The final between the two wining semi-final teams will play out at 4:30 p.m.
General entries cost just 35 AED for adults while the non-alcohol Premium Brunch Package starts at 250 AED and rises to 395 AED with alcohol included. For those aged under 12 the Premium Brunch package costs 95 AED.
Dubai World Cup 2016
Dubai World Cup 2016: 26th March
Dubai's biggest sporting event and hottest social occasion of the year will be taking over the emirate on the last Saturday of this month, bringing with it a flurry of excitement and glamour as well as a big concert at the end to end to wrap things up with a spectacular finish.
Paying tribute to the emirate's love affair with horses and the horse racing world, this coming 26th March will see the richest racing day in the planet, with a combined grand prize totalling $30 million USD, including the $10 million Dubai World Cup, won last year by HE Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Prince Bishop.
March is Racing Season in Dubai and at the Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse, guests will get to enjoy nine high-class races including six Group 1 races and three Group 2 contests.
Tickets start at 450 AED per person and go up to 3,750 AED for a seat in the First Class Lounge. Also available until very recently was the Cigar Suite at a whopping 4,750 AED but it sold out very quick, unsurprisingly so as this is probably Dubai's top event in the annual calendar and many in the highest end of the social strata book their tickets to the Dubai World Cup as soon as they come out or reserve them well in advance of them being available to the general public.
As I mentioned earlier, the day's racing excitement will be topped off with a special show and concert of magnificent proportions. If you can afford the entry price, the Dubai World Cup is one of the finest events to attend, bringing a great opportunity to mingle with the who is who of high end emirati society as well as international celebrities - from royalty and aristocracy to famous personalities in the world of showbiz. No doubt a glittering way to end the month on a high!