What's on in Dubai - DSF, Cirque du Soleil, Dubai World Cup, Alice in Wonderland ballet and Jazz Garden

This January Dubai is giving a warm welcome to the New Year in a good number of ways, with a line-up of activities that ensures no one's left out. From family-friendly staged productions like Alice in Wonderland, The Stick Man or Cirque du Soleil to sophisticated jazz night outs and the exciting final races of the Dubai World Cup, there's something to tickle everyone's fancy. Keep reading to find out more about what you could be looking forward to in Dubai this January 2018!

What's on in Dubai - DSF, Cirque du Soleil, Dubai World Cup, Alice in Wonderland ballet and Jazz Garden

Welcoming 2018 in style, as befits a city as extravagantly over-the-top as Dubai, known for doing things with a glitzy bang, this January has a long list of top acts, festivals and events. I'm here, on yet another edition of What's on Dubai to tell you all about the month's top picks – where to go, what to see and how to start 2018 with top entertainment. We've got a bit of everything to tickle everyone's fancy, and if even if you don't find the kind of entertainment you're seeking in Dubai this month - fret not! We keep updating the blog as the month progresses and more acts are added to the monthly programme as they are announced, so keep checking back to find more about the kinds of events you want to see and don't spot here yet.

Top Picks

Another year, another 365 days full of possibilities and top entertainment in Dubai. Whatever you plan to do and however you plan to spend your stay in the most famous of all emirates, make time and space for these top headlining acts! 

New Year’s Day Concert (1st January)

First things first. After the New Year’s Eve firework extravaganza and countless parties at several venues all around the world, it doesn’t mean that by the first day of the new year all the fun and excitement have to be over. Not if you’re in Dubai. To lift up the spirits, help soothe those morning-after hangovers and start the new year in style, the Dubai Opera will be hosting a New Year’s Day concert on 1st January, with a fine selection of numbers that includes some of the best-loved classics. The programme includes classical favourites like Waltz of the Flowers and Sempre Libera from La Traviata along with other exceptional pieces.

Doors open at 4 p.m. and tickets range from 160 to 800 AED in price (£32 to £161 approximately).

Dubai Shopping Festival (26th December to 27th January)

We know that we announced this annual shopping celebration in Dubai last month but it’s still ongoing and will continue offering amazing shopping discounts, deals, raffles, competitions and freebies until the end of the month.

After having kicked off on Boxing Day, DSF 2018 continues treating shoppers to a wealth of special deals, heavily discounted prices, exclusive sales, amazing competitions, ornate and festive decorations at malls as well as rare opportunities to catch some fantastic freebies. They’ve even developed an app so you can check what’s going on where every day of this month as part of DSF’s many, many juicy offers, special guest appearances and much more.

Cirque du Soleil presents TORUK – The First Light (4th to 17th January)

The wondrous, jaw-droppingly memorable Cirque du Soleil lands in Dubai early this month to present audiences with a spectacular production based on James Cameron’s widely celebrated Hollywood film “Avatar”.

Marking Cirque du Soleil’s Middle Eastern debut with this show, there will be twelve days to catch the mega spectacular theatrical action that will have the eyes of young and old glued to the stage. Titled TORUK – The First Light, this dazzling production aims to transport audiences to the mystical world of Pandora in a visually stunning display of light, colour and sound, with the help of life-size puppets that make the rare planet’s magical creatures come to life. It’s on at the Dubai World Trade Centre and tickets can be obtained online through They start at 295 AED (£60) for Silver seats going all the way up to 2,495 (£503) for seats in the Royal section.

Market Outside The Box (11th to 20th January)

Returning to Dubai for the fifth time as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival, this beautiful open-air market takes centre stage at the city’s most coveted downtown venue – the Burj Park. Spread over 11,3000 square metres of immaculately kept lawn, this edition of the Outside The Box market will bring a mix of independent local labels and global brands to the lively al fresco stalls. You’ll find everything here from designer couture to colourful ornaments and souvenirs.

If you work up an appetite after browsing through the over 80 vendors, you can catch a tasty bite at any of the food trucks and food stands (there’s quite a selection to choose from) spread around the place. Or, you could just sit back, relax and enjoy the unobstructed views of The Dubai Fountain and the Burj Khalifa right next door. There’s also a pop-up cinema showing the latest creative documentaries, also completely free of charge to enjoy. The market opens daily from 4 to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. Entry is free.

Dubai World Cup Carnival (11th, 18th, 25th January)

Gearing up to the grand, nerve-wrecking final in March, you can watch some of the world’s best, fastest, finest horses battle it out for the $10 million prize money on Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse as part of the World Cup Carnival series, which gives international equine participants the chance to compete against each other and literally test the grounds to gauge how they will fare on the big final on 31st March.

Feel the ground shake as the galloping horses thunder past you and take your pick from three festive race days to attend this month, each as action-packed as the next with entertainment for audiences of all ages. To get a better, more well-rounded experience you can choose a hospitality package that includes a fine four-course dining experience at the Winner’s Circle or choose a Grandstand suite to better accommodate your family and make the experience all the more unforgettable. If you can’t splash the cash to get the star treatment, worry not, as Premium tickets go for as low as just 50 AED (£10) for adults and 25 AED (£5) for children. Not many things in Dubai are that cheap and thrilling! So, do make the most of it if you can and take the time enjoy one of the biggest traditional events of the year. Racing action starts at 6:30 p.m.

Jazz Garden – The Series (19th January)

Returning to Dubai for another monthly edition, this fabulous festival regales jazz-loving audiences with outstanding performances that are absolutely free to attend! Bringing together an impressive line-up of blues and jazz performers from all around the globe, this month's edition will be headlined by soul singer Gisele Jackson, accompanied on stage by musician Raphael Wressnig. The full programme s yet to be announced, but other participants include bassist Julian Vaughan and a mysterious local talent whose name has not yet been revealed. It's on at the Habtoor Grand Resort and entry continues to be free, although those wanting to attend must register online for tickets at Doors open at 6:30 p.m., the show starts at 7:30 p.m. and ends at around 11:30 p.m. which is also the time when the after-party begins! To make the evening all the more comfortable and memorable, guests can pre-book picnic tables.

Performing Arts

This month Dubai brings its fair share of stage-rocking performances for all audiences - from plays to musicals, ballet productions and family-friendly theatre shows. Here's my top pick on what you shouldn't miss on Dubai's stage this January.

Grown-up Acts

This month Dubai brings its fair share of stage-rocking performances for all audiences - from plays to musicals, ballet productions and family-friendly theatre shows. Here's my top pick on what you shouldn't miss on Dubai's stage this January.

Sherlock – A Play (18th to 20th January)

Catch the world's most famous detective in action this month in Dubai as he attempts to solve one of his most difficult cases yet, in the company of his friends and famous characters Dr. John Watson and Mrs. Hudson. Watch him use his acute intuition and deduction skills live on stage and be swept away by the gripping plot as the case unfolds and develops, with unexpected twists and Sherlock's signature wit. The play is being brought to Dubai by The Hive and Tall Tales Production, with a multi-cultural cast that includes actors from eight different countries. It's on at The Junction theatre on Alserkal Avenue with performances scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on 18th and 19th January. On its very last day on stage there'll be two time slots to choose from, with the first performance starting at 2:30 p.m. and the second one at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at just 80 AED (£16) for early birds and general admission tickets are fixed at 100 AED (£20)– so this enjoyable evening out certainly won't drain your pockets – you'd certainly pay more than double that with a performance at home!

Evita, The Musical (22nd January to 3rd February)

One of the most memorable musicals of all time (famously turned into an Oscar-winning film starring Madonna back in 1996) Evita is a moving show that tells the story of the much-loved Evita Peron, an Argentinian First Lady who won over the hearts of her people thanks to her charity work and unconditional devotion to her nation. It comes to life in Dubai this month under the direction of Bill Kenwright and an award-winning cast.

Enjoy a live rendition of the famous chart-topping hit “Don't Cry for me Argentina”, now considered a timeless classic, and watch an amazing true life story being retold through flawlessly choreographed dance numbers and beautifully sung songs. The Dubai Opera will play centre stage over the course of two weeks, with tickets priced between 250 AED (around £50) and 7,200 AED (a whopping £1,500) to seat in the VIP Box.

Family specials

Even though the acts I'm about to tempt you with are truly amazing and fit for audiences of all ages, the fact that they're family-friendly makes them especially appealing to those travelling to Dubai this month with young offspring in tow.

The Stick Man – Live in Dubai (17th to 20th January)

For the littlest in the family we have a superb production coming to Dubai stages this January. Based on the emotive tale by popular children's book author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Alex Scheffler (creators of The Gruffalo) comes the enacted stage production of the Stick Man. Put together by Popular Productions, the 2017 winners of Time Out Kids Dubai Award for the Best International Theatrical Production, the play comes in a series of shows that ensure families have plenty of opportunity to catch the compelling re-enacted book story.

Especially appealing to the youngest in the family, the Stick Man tells the story of Father Stick, who after going for a jog ends up lost and experiences multiple adventures. Using puppets, songs and live music, a trio of actors makes the story come to life at the Madinat Theatre. You'll have four days for catching the theatrical action, with up to three time slots to choose from (10:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:300 p.m.). Ticket prices range between 145 AED (£30) and 185 AED (£37).

Alice in Wonderland (19th January)

Beautifully brought to stage by a cast of very young actors (the students of the Ballet Centre) one of the most popular children's books of all time comes to Dubai in the form of a spectacular production. Lewis Carroll's number one classic of Alice's adventures in Wonderland will be performed in high fidelity to the original story and will incorporate a wide variety of dances, from classical ballet to contemporary moves and tap dance, so there will be something for all to enjoy.

Following the highly successful staging of The Nutcracker and Dreams Come True, the young and talented members of the city's first dancing school will be giving it all for an amazing one-day-only performance at the Centrepoint Theatre in DUCTAC. There will be two shows on the day, one at 3 p.m. and another at 6 p.m. All audiences are welcome, but because of the loud music and dynamics of the show, entry to kids under 3-years-old will not be permitted. Prices start at just 125 AED (£25) going up to 175 AED (£35) for premium seats.

Susana Corona

Susana Corona

Adventure-seeking globetrotter

Read up on all the latest and finest Dubai attractions with this series of blog posts showcasing the...

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