Events and Festivals to Remember Dubai

Blurb

As a centre of international culture, it's no surprise that Dubai is home to an abundance of festivals and events of global repute. This is also a place steeped in a unique history, meaning that whilst visiting soirees appear dominant, you'll also find a host of traditional offerings to contrast the more lavish affairs.

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In a city renowned for its shopping and fine food, you could be forgiven for expecting there to be festivals dedicated to both attractions. And you’d be right. January sees the Dubai Shopping Festival take over the city, centred on the Dubai Mall, bringing with it retail addicts, a swathe of special events, and exclusive fashion opportunities. Meanwhile, the Dubai Food Festival, established in 2014, has been going from strength to strength since its inception, and welcomes some of the most esteemed chefs from across the globe each February.

More cultural dates come in the form of Art Dubai – an international-standard fair held in March that celebrates global and local artists while cementing the city’s status as one of the most creative on the planet. The same month also sees the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, a must-attend for bookworms and fans of poetic prose, and during April the Middle East Film and Comic Con pays homage to the popularity if blockbusters, superheroes, and the worldwide following both enjoy.

Less wham bam, and more sophisticated is the Dubai International Film Festival in December. Featuring a host of competition categories and well over 100 individual screenings, including world premieres; one of the biggest selling points here is the stunning locations used – from the isolated desert to the luxurious grounds of beachfront hotel complexes. All of which is in addition to a packed calendar of visiting artists, ballet and theatre groups keen to showcase their latest productions before new audiences.

With religion playing such a huge role in the culture, politics and societal makeup of Dubai, it’s understandable that the city takes both Ramdan and Eid very seriously. Whilst the former can be restrictive for visitors due to faith laws forbidding eating and drinking in public, Eid marks the end of the fasting season with some gusto, not to mention the extravagance typical of the United Arab Emirates. Expect and explosion of colour, music, food and dance every year, with the exact date changing according to the Muslim lunar calendar.

With so much going on it can be hard to keep up, and this is before we come to all the high-profile sporting events (Dubai Marathon in January; Dubai Desert Classic from January to February; Dubai Rugby Sevens in November, to name but a few), and the incredible collection of music festivals that now take place in the city. Ranging from RedFest’s international pop, rock and dance stars, to the Emirates International Jazz Festival in March, and the truly unique Sandance Season, wherein some of the planet’s biggest electronic artists descend on Atlantis The Palm for open air sets on the seafront, with the great, good and hedonistic of the city coming out to play in their thousands.


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