Yes, it’s sweltering hot in Dubai during the summer months. Yes, it can get unbearable. But, let me make this a very big BUT (no pun intended), Dubai is one place where entire universes can be found indoors with cool air-conditioning guaranteeing you forget all about the heat. Why, you could even go skiing in Dubai this summer!
Whether you opt to cool at the indoor ski centre at Mall of the Emirates or you want to engage your children in amazing adventures, go shopping mad at the malls with the biggest retail event of the year - Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) festival or enjoy seasonal art exhibitions, live music jams or sample some delicious street food under cooling shades, Dubai certainly knows how to treat its August visitors. Keep reading to find out where to be and what to do in Dubai this month.
Top picks – family-friendly outings
20th Dubai Summer Surprises Festival (ending 12th August)
Dubai Summer Surprises comes to an end this month, but there´s still the first half of the month to enjoy the last of its many extravagant shopping offers and surprises, including a concert by Balqees at Mall of the Emirates on 4th August which will be free for all to attend and starts at 8 p.m.
Bringing together the best of Dubai’s retail experiences at a fraction of the cost while highlighting the city’s top attractions and the many things to do during the sizzling summer months, DSS has a packed itinerary of fun activities for all to enjoy, from mall-led specials like 72-hour sales and Friday Surprises to shows, family events and 50% discounts on entry to popular attractions (from Aquaventure at Atlantis The Palm to desert safaris and climbing to the top of the Burj Khalifa) with the DSS Pass. There’s so much on in Dubai as part of the DSS festival it would take all of this post’s space to list it all, so here I highlight some of what I believe to be the top free events for all the family (and couples, singles, and everyone and anyone across all age ranges) to enjoy.
Cirque Extreme (on until 12th August)
Part of the Dubai Summer Surprises and taking over the Mercato Mall every day with three daily shows (one at 4:15 p.m., another at 7:30 p.m. and the last one at 9:15 p.m.) the Cirque Extreme will delight visitors of all ages with their impressive BMX bike stunts, stunning acrobatics, amazing rope skipping and breath-taking balancing skills. It’s completely free to attend and good for all ages, all you have to do it is make it there in time to catch a performance!
A Tuscan Summer at Outlet Village (ending 12th August)
Beautifully decorated with flowers hanging from trees, shop windows and strewn about on the floor, the medieval-like town of The Outlet Village in Dubai is fully getting into the spirit of summer with Italian vibes as part of the Dubai Summer Surprises scheme. A pop-up funfair with live children’s show will keep little rascals entertained while live music and activity workshops keep everyone busy and entertained. There’s also a chance to win a Vespa and all you have to do to enter the competition is spending a minimum of 200 AED (around £41) onsite (not hard to do considering the many shops and DSS discounts everywhere!). Entry to the Outlet Village is free as are many of its live attractions and workshops.
Mhodhesh World 2017 (ending 12th August)
Also part of the Dubai Summer Surprises festival this is one mega family event that does have a price tag attached to it…albeit a really small, symbolic one. Entry costs just 20 AED (under a fiver) and gives you access to a universe of entertainment, literally a land of games and rides. It only ever takes place during the Dubai Summer Surprises and lasts for eight weeks, during which time it takes over six spacious, air-conditioned halls of the Dubai World Trade Centre, full to the brim with kids’ entertainers, full-size mascots and animated characters as well as experienced childminders and babysitters looking after the littlest ones while parents take their eldest kids to the rides. The safest environment for families of all age groups to keep young minds engaged during the school break. Check out what’s new this year and pop in between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to enjoy half-price entry and discounts on selected rides during “Happy Hour”.
Bricks at Boxpark (ending 12th August)
Adding even more excitement to the world of games and play, DSS brings Bricks at the Boxpark, a creative initiative to immerse little minds into the world of Lego building. The trendy and sophisticated retail and dining venue known as Boxpark is hosting a variety of building workshops set up by Legoland Dubai, with interactive games and hunting games giving children the opportunity to win instant prizes. There’s also a pop-up summer store where families can win tickets to Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park! Bricks at the Boxpark opens every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and entry is completely free for everyone!
IMG World of Adventure (from 1st August to end of December)
Kickstarting this month is a brand new world of interactive fun with the most exhilarating entertainment for kids and kids at heart. Taking over a large section of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (next to Global Village) the IMG World of Adventure brings the world of animation to Dubai with the most popular heroes from Marvel´s comics and children´s favourite Cartoon Network characters all coming to life in awesome 5D and multi-sensory rides. The largest indoor theme park of the summer (which will remain open through to December) takes visitors to an other-worldly-dimension full of live performances, unique shopping opportunities and immersive adventures like its Lost Valley, home to 69 realistic-looking dinosaurs. You can spend your time watching movies at the IMG Boulevard or dining at its many outlets. Entry price is 150 AED for adults over 1.20 metres and 100 AED for children under 1.20 m.
IMG Worlds Summer Carnival (until 1st September)
If the thought of a summer carnival makes you think of uncomfortable sweating under an unforgiving sun, think again! Dubai’s first ever indoor theme carnival is taking over the IMG World of Adventure every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (until 11 p.m. on weekends). Colourful parades will add to the marvellous entertainment with live performances, a variety of fun games (including a Dino Egg Hunt) and adrenaline-packed adventures in special theme areas. Entry is charged at 245 AED (around £50) for those over 1.20 m in height and at 225 AED (close to £46) for everyone below 1.20m. Kids under 3 that measure less than 1.04 metres in height enter free!
Food and Music
OYE! At The Sound Gaarden (until 25th August)
Adding party sounds to the summer sizzle, the Sound Gaarden in Dubai is hosting OYE! – a tropical style music festival held at two venues: Swim & Tonic and The Backyard at the Steigenberger Hotel. It’s on every Friday this month and music-loving gurus can take a cooling dip in the pool at sunset as the mood is set with DJs spinning top summer tunes from 4 p.m. onwards. Later on, you can make way to The Backyard for an even more tropical vibe with a massive air-conditioning unit blasting cool air at full force all around the dancefloor. Partying parents must be aware that entry is strictly limited to those over 21 after 8 p.m. If you come before that time all ages are welcome. It’s also completely free for everyone to attend!
Ripe Food and Craft Market at Times Square Centre (ongoing until 21st October)
The hot temperatures won´t see an end to the massively popular Ripe Market in Dubai. But instead of being hosted at its usual outdoor venue this August the market moves indoors to the cool atrium of the Times Square Centre where it will continue to welcome visitors every Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Here you can treat your tastebuds to delicious organic produce, the latest super foods and a wide variety of natural products and local crafts. Beyond that there´ll be loads of fun activities for everyone to enjoy, from fitness and yoga classes to live music, fun workshops, educational activities for the youngest visitors and a petting zoo for the littlest ones.
Truckers Summer Warehouse (ongoing until 2nd September)
Hosted at Hall 8 of the Dubai World Trade Centre, this foodie destination is a win-win for all the family. This cool and trendy space gives visitors a flavoursome welcome to the latest in Dubai’s culinary scene with 15 food trucks serving authentic fusion food inspired from all corners of the world. From traditional burgers with a Middle Eastern spin to American-style hot dogs, Italian favourites like pasta and pizza to adventurous South American dishes and spicy Asian staples, all the food here is sure to hit the spot. To accompany it all there’s live music from Dubai’s talented musicians while a DJ will take turns at spinning some funk and reggae records to give it the perfect hipster vibe. Little ones will be kept busy with arts and crafts workshops, jugglers, carnival games, hula-hoops, face-painting and a cooking station just for kids. Entry is priced at 10 AED (just £2!) for adults and free for kids under 12.
Hangry Hangar (on until 2nd September)
Much in the style of the Truckers Summer Warehouse but in a smaller, more intimate scale, the culinary extravaganza taking over Warehouse Four at Al Qouz every day this month until 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends brings about a great opportunity to hang out in an ultra-cool, trendy eatery with plenty of food truck goodies. Live music plays on weekend, free WiFi lets you instantly upload the Instagram picture of that tasty morsel you’re about to wolf down and the chill-out vibe of this air-conditioned space makes it a great spot to mingle, socialise and satisfy hunger cravings. Entry is also free you only pay for what you eat.
Too cool for school – Educational Summer Programmes
Because it’s not just all about senseless fun and most parents would like their kids to engage in meaningful, creative and educational activities during their time off school, this selection of festivals and activities are aimed at keeping those little brain cells switched on regardless of how much fun they’re having.
Maths Alive Exhibition at Children’s City
Keeping school tasks alive without making it feel like homework, this eye-opening exhibition will show young, developing minds just how exciting the world of maths can be – yes, really! Hosted at Children’s City, this interactive event will offer kids up to 15 years old an array of opportunities to learn through play. Far from a boring topic or a necessary evil, the world of maths with captivate visitors by showing them just how applicable to real-life situations it is and how vital for many things we take for granted – from robotics to space exploration, making movies and even sports! Children will even get to design and play their own video game and feel what it’s like to control a rover on Mars! This is one amazing exhibit that covers a wide range of ages, although most math-related activities are geared towards order kids. Yet little ones won’t feel left out as there is a special toddlers’ area for under six-year-olds where they can jump, climb and play to their heart’s delight while their older siblings immerse in a fascinating numeric world.
Kids Edutainment Summer Camp (until 31st August)
Taking place at the newly launched Dubai Parks and Resorts, this ultra-inclusive summer camp for youngsters of all ages have never-ending fun on tap with activities that vary daily at an ample selection of venues: Roxy cinemas, Motiongate Dubai, The Green Planet, Bollywood Parks, Hub Zero, Dubai Legoland, Dubai Legoland Water and Park Lapita Hotel.
Diving kids into different age groups and mixing exhilarating fun with educational pursuits, parents certainly won’t feel guilty about dropping their kids off here every day to enjoy some quality time touring Dubai, eating out, working on their suntan, shopping or bar-hopping. Transfers to and from hotels, morning snacks and lunch are all included in the price which ranges from 799 AED (for 5 to 8-year-olds) to 899 AED (8 to 12-year-olds) and 999 AED (for teens between 12 and 16-years-old) for two weeks. Siblings enjoy a 15% discount and parents can book their offspring for a minimum of one-week, so not one for those staying in Dubai less than seven days.
Kidzart Summer Workshops 2017 (6th to 24th August)
Aimed at inspiring budding artists to further develop their skills, these three-hour workshops are overseen by certified instructors who guide children through a variety of handpicked activities, each as fun and insightful as the next. Through a varied selection of changing themes, kids will learn about the world of art. Creative exercises will hone their drawing skills through the use of simple techniques while experimenting with different materials and mediums including sculpting. A unique chance for youngsters to expand their art knowledge and put to good use their creative drive. The August camp is aimed at children aged between 6 and 13 and runs from 6th to 24th August at the DUCTAC centre. There are morning and afternoon sessions available, with the course priced at 1,200 AED per week (roughly around £250) or 750 AED (a little above £150) per week for a single session.
Academy for Visual Arts 2017 (on until 10th August)
Taking place at the Dubai Community Theatre & Arts (DUCTAC) the Academy for Visual Arts (AVA) summer workshop has a fun course on aimed at engaging children aged four and above. From ARTventures to “Paint like the Masters” lessons, origami paper art to making your own pop-up book, activities are sure an exciting way to get your children involved in creative projects. Booking ahead is vital as spaces are quickly filled.
Creative Camps at the Jamjar (until 17th August)
Engage your children in artistic pursuits this summer with yet another exciting summer camp for children aged between 8 and 15, with daily changing activities that range from Arabic Caligraphy to Folk Art Landscapes, Sock Puppets, Gyotaku Prints, Gustav Klimt Crazy Quilt, Dali Birds, Modiglani Portraits and Crative Cactus. All materials are provided onsite and all levels are welcome. Single Summer Day Jams are priced at 150AED (£30) and booking ahead is essential.