If you´re in Dubai this December you´ll love the Christmassy feel everywhere minus the chilly temperatures and plus the added lavish factor. Dubai does everything big and is not one to shy away from the limelight so you can only expect that they'll be going all out for the holiday season and New Year celebration. The city is already glowing with its festive lights, Christmas trees have gone up everywhere, pop-up winter markets are in place and Santa will be stopping by some hotels and winter markets' grottos. What to do and where to go in Dubai this December? Keep reading to find our top picks in terms of entertainment, shows, concerts, family time and New Year´s Eve parties.
KidZania Winter Games (4 December to 5 January)
If you’re travelling to Dubai with kids this December, KidZania will be an amazing place to take them to. In all fairness, KidZania, given its innovative concept of giving children the chance to take roleplay to the next level with a very realistic environment, is an amazing place whatever the time of year. That said, this December it will transform into a white winter wonderland with special Winter Games that include “Pin the Snowman” and “Snow Hunt”. The whole family can join in the festive fun and as usual, children will be able to experience real-life roles and professions against a festive backdrop. The youngest in the family will be able to choose from being a radio broadcaster giving the latest on wintertime styles and traditions across the world, to being part of a Christmas-themed fashion show. To add to it all, KidZania’s Main Plaza will be turned into a snowfield so that little ones can battle it out with snowball fights.
Festive Winter Markets (4 to 28 December)
There’s not one, not two, not three but a plethora of winter markets and festive fairs popping up in Dubai this month. We’ve already covered the top Christmas markets in Dubai this year in one of our news articles, but there’s more. And all of them are free!
Festive Market at Dubai Festival City Mall (6 to 25 December)
Opening daily from 3 p.m. onwards, this pop-up winter market sits inside the Dubai Festival City Mall and features daily meet and greet sessions with Santa with the possibility of taking a picture with the man himself from just 50 AED (around £10). You can meet Santa between the hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. To put everyone in a Christmassy mood there will be daily snowfall alongside a festive hourly show called IMAGINE starting after sunset.
Habtoor Palace’s festive market (4 to 21 December)
Positively gleaming with dazzling decorations, Habtoor Palace will be hosting a special festive market this year. The hotel’s enchanting winter wonderland includes holiday carollers at its Versaille Gardens, alongside fun rides for children and delicious festive food. Open daily from 3 p.m. until midnight, Santa will be making an appearance each evening at 6 p.m., giving little guests plenty of chances to greet him. From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily a live band will enliven the festive action.
Souk Madinat’s German winter market (20 to 28 December)
The place to head up when hunger pangs strike, this enormous traditional German market is full of food stalls to satisfy any festive craving. Most amazingly, it also features Abras sailing through Madinat´s waterways steered by none other than Santa and his elves! Children will also love the snow zone, the gingerbread-house-making station and play area. It will open daily from noon ‘till late on most days and from 3 p.m. ‘till late on Sunday 23rd December and Wednesday 26th.
The Nutcracker and I at Dubai Opera (12 December)
Tchaikovsky’s endearing and beloved Christmas ballet classic takes to the stage at Dubai Opera this month to spread some festive cheer. But there’s one spin as this is an alternative version with Alexandra Dariescu at the piano and an innovative multimedia representation of the classic story. “The Nutcracker and I” will be brought to life with a mixture of hand-drawn digital animations projected onto a transparent gauze screen behind which a real-life ballerina will dance. This fusion of reality and technology will make for a unique visual experience, leaving the audience feeling as though they are part of the story as it unfolds.
Festive Cheer at Dubai Parks and Resorts (12 December to 7 January)
The entire complex of theme parks that makes up Dubai Parks and Resorts will be decking the halls and spreading the festive cheer with holiday decorations and a variety of themed winter activities for the whole family. Riverland, the gateway to the park, which is completely free for all to enjoy will be donning twinkling lights and feature candy cane lanes fringed by ornamented trees from 20th December to 5th January.
Legoland will transform itself into festive central from 14 December to 7 January with snowflakes falling, a whopping 9-metre-tall Lego Christmas tree and a Lego Santa, who will make a special appearance riding his sleigh and greeting everyone at the park. But that’s not all, Santa will also be calling on all little helpers at the park to help him get ready for his monumental gift-giving task. All kids have to do to lend him a hand (or two) is head to the Elves Workshop to don on a special elf hat and follow a set of instructions to complete four exciting activities. As a reward, all helpers that complete their tasks will be given festive goodies as well as limited edition Christmas Lego brick. Talk about Christmas magic!
Enrique Iglesias Live (13 December)
Warming up the festive season with a Latin soundwave, Enrique Iglesias returns to the Dubai stage this December as part of a seasonal gig in Palm Jumeirah. After pleasing crowds with his performance at last year´s Dubai Jazz Festival, the King of Latin Pop comes back to headline an epic concert in the city´s newest seaside entertainment and shopping destination - the Pointe at Plam Jumeirah. With a glorious seafront location, Enrique will make it to the stage at 9 p.m. but access to the venue opens five hours earlier and the lead-up will include a variety of live shows to keep you well entertained until the arrival of the “Hero” hitmaker. Getting there early is advised to get a good place and tickets start at 150 AED (£32), with a large portion (115 AED) of the entry cost being redeemable at various on-site dining outlets.
Dubai Shopping Festival (26 December to 2 February)
One of the most popular events in Dubai’s annual calendar, DFS 2019 is kicking off right after Christmas, on Boxing Day unleashing a shopping extravaganza with incredible discounts, daily raffles, live shows, competitions and plenty of fun options for the entire family!
Taking over the entire city for a little over a month and hailed as the world’s biggest shopping festival, the month-long bargains are present in all malls, shops and retail outlets. But it’s not just shopping until dropping, to make Dubai Shopping Festival all the more interesting and special there will be daily entertainment with fashion shows, concerts, firework displays and the chance to scoop up amazing prizes, including gold and state-of-the-art SUVs.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Burj Khalifa (31 December)
There will be many New Year’s parties across Dubai with many hotels and nightclubs promoting their mega feasts and battling it out against one another to see who offers the best new year’s eve experience. But the biggest spectacle of all is thrown by the world’s tallest tower, famous for its legendary firework extravaganza to welcome the new year in style, making Downtown Dubai the centre of all the action. After being replaced by an electric show last year, this year the fireworks are back by popular demand and return to the building bigger and better than ever. Lighting the tower with millions of scintillating lights, the perfectly choreographed experts will be organised by Emaar’s team of experts. Many Dubai hotels and restaurants will promote their special viewing platforms to get the best views of the action but do make sure to book your place in time as spaces tend to full up quickly.
A varied music scene this December, from festive classics and carols to club dancing tunes.
Jingle Bells at Dubai Opera (13 to 15 December)
A concert that’s rapidly becoming a winter tradition in Dubai to mark the festive season, Dubai Opera’s Jingle Bells concert is guaranteed to get the whole family in a festive mood. With the performance of classic carols and wintertime music classics, The London Concert Orchestra Show Band and Capital Voices Choir take to the stage under the direction of Freddie Tanner and alongside West End star soloists, Matt Little and Alison Jear. From Silent Night to Jingle Bell Rock and Santa Claus is coming to town, this is a night to sing along and spread the festive cheer. The first concert starts at 8 p.m. on 13 December and there are three times lots to choose from on 14 December and two on 15 December. Plenty of time to catch the joyful melodies!
Jason Derulo at Global Village (14 December)
R&B singer and songwriter Jason Derulo is returning to Dubai this month to give one of his memorable, highly entertaining concerts full of melodic vocals and fabulous dance routines. On at the Global Village, the region’s largest multicultural park, the audience can look forward to chart toppers like Talk Dirty and his latest single release with David Guetta,”Goodbye”. But best of all is the ridiculous price of concert tickets at just zero dirhams (seriously, I couldn’t believe it either!) which means it is completely free to enjoy. All you’ll have to pay is the 15 AED (that’s less than 25 pence!) entry fee to access the park. Really!
Top Family Shows
Where to take the family in Dubai this December.
The Little Gingerbread Man (14 December)
Just in time for the Christmas holidays (what could be more evocative than a gingerbread man and gingerbread houses), this interactive production follows the whimsical adventures of Gingerbread Man as he gets into trouble and comes across sticky situations (quite literally at times) with people and animals. The show is on at the Hartland Auditorium in Hartland International School (MTAC) and will delight audiences of all ages. Expected to be a sell-out show, you’ll only have three chances to catch it on 14th December; at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Get those hot tickets before they’re gone! They cost 95 AED (around £20) each.
Aladdin Pantomime (19 to 28 December)
After having developed its own panto tradition, Madinat Theatre wants to make children’s festive season all the more magical with the staging of a classic. Bringing to life the story of Aladdin, the show is designed to guarantee a fun time for all ages with hilarious antics and plenty of comedy moments. There’ll be lots of music and dancing, bright elaborate costumes and stunning scenery to match. To ensure everyone has the chance to enjoy it, the show will run for nine days with performances scheduled at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are priced at 120 AED (around £25).