While it’s true that Christmas in Dubai may not be as prominent as in other major cities such as New York or London, visiting the city during the month of December all the way to January will still get you in the holiday mood.
Immediately following the National Day of the UAE holiday on December 2nd, the emirate transforms itself into a Christmas wonderland to welcome the coming festivities. Almost overnight, the streets of Dubai are magically illuminated by colorful lights emanating from the many events, activities and shows taking place throughout the city.
So while snow may not fall on the desert anytime soon, the myriad of places to visit and things to do in Dubai and the UAE during Christmas, promises an unforgettable end-of-year experience under the winter sun for you and your loved ones.
Dubai is home to one of the most diverse expatriate communities in the Middle East, and in terms of Christmas activities and celebrations, the city definitely does not disappoint. From Christmas shopping bonanza to Christmas-themed performances, Dubai offers essentially everything for everyone.
Not a lot of people are aware that lively Christmas markets aren’t limited to countries like Germany or Switzerland. Case in point, Dubai regularly hosts these charming markets come the start of December to just before Christmas. Let’s just hope they don’t get cancelled like in many countries across Europe.
Dubai’s most popular Christmas market returns in the middle of December and typically lasts for 16 days, during which everything related to traditional food, festive drinks and live music are presented along with a giant Christmas tree on the grand amphitheater.
Queen Elizabeth 2
This floating Christmas market takes place on the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise liner and is part of the winter wonderland Christmas extravaganza. Expect to find a unique selection of hand-made arts, crafts and Christmas gifts as well as a wide selection of live cooking stations and live music.
Habtoor Palace Hotel
Next on the list of Christmas markets is one located at the Habtoor Palace Hotel Dubai. The Christmas market features stunning decorations complemented by modern and traditional festive activities, including the much-awaited lighting of the Christmas tree.
The 10-day long Christmas Market at the Dubai Opera features Christmas-related songs and ballet performances as well as a range of delicious sweet and savory meals. Kids will definitely enjoy the candy making station leading up to their meeting with Father Christmas himself.
Take part in the Dubai Shopping Festival
Starting from 17 December 2020 to 30 January 2021, you can take part in the fabulous Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF). This eagerly awaited family event is not only popular among UAE residents but also among shopping connoisseurs of the world. As this ultimate retail event coincides with the Christmas festivities, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding shopping experience immediately following White Friday.
Attend the opening ceremony
The opening ceremony of the Dubai Shopping Festival 2020 serves as the starting point for the series of wonderful shopping-related events to follow. On December 17, enjoy powerhouse performances by Liam Payne, John Legend, Hussain Al Jassmi, signifying the commencement of the six-week-long shopping bonanza. Also expect to witness dazzling fireworks display lighting up the night sky.
Take advantage of the hefty discount
Music and fireworks are great and all, but let’s talk shopping! What are we talking about here in terms of price slashes? Well, we have it on good authority that the price slash will be as high as 90 percent in some cases. This unbelievable discount extends to major local and international brands and goods, including fashion, jewelry and electronics. Something to scream about indeed. You’ll find that numerous malls and stores are participating in the DSF including The Mall of Dubai and Mall of the Emirates.
By spending a mere AED 25 from 22 October to 30 January 2021, shoppers are eligible for a chance to take home a brand new luxury Nissan car! Upping the ante, if shoppers accumulate a minimum of AED 200 in select stores, an additional sum of AED 500,000 may also be on the horizon.
Winter is coming…
Which is precisely the reason why numerous luxurious Dubai hotels are offering winter staycation deals. Take advantage of these exclusive deals along with the accompanying Christmas events unique to each hotel. Keep in mind that the following staycation deals may apply exclusively to residents of the UAE.
Caesars Bluewaters Dubai
Perks galore. Apart from 20 percent off room rates and complimentary meals, guests are also eligible for complimentary access to Laguna Waterpark, The Green Planet and Empire Kids Club. Additionally, the resort’s excellent private beach and temperature-controlled infinity pool are at your disposal.
Armani Hotel Dubai
Armani Hotel’s festive collection invites guest to sample exquisite gourmet experiences on Christmas eve (24 December), Christmas day (25 December) and New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner (31 December). Top that with a 25 percent discount for your winter stay, this luxurious staycation deal is a clear winner.
Palazzo Versace Dubai
This festive season, the Palazzo Versace Dubai is offering a triple threat winter deal. Look and feel your best by availing yourself to the hotel’s Precious Facial at the Spa offer, and don’t bother ruining your apron as the Festive Turkey Take-Away allows for a hassle-free Christmas banquet. Finally, bring your loved ones to the Palazzo Versace hotel on 10 December 2020 and take part in a lively Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
While other hotels and resorts will no doubt announce their winter deals soon, the aforementioned hotels are among the first ones to launch their attractive staycation offers.
Christmas is also about worship
Last but not least, those looking to spend a quiet and contemplative moment will find a wide variety of churches available. Although the UAE is an Islamic country, Dubai offers a number of churches for nearly every single Christian denomination.
From Russian Orthodox Churches to International Baptist Church, from the beautiful Catholic Church in Downtown Dubai to the Evangelist Singing Winners Chapel; devoted Christians will find no trouble in finding an avenue for them to engage in solemn worship.
Apart from Dubai, Christmas is also widely celebrated in Abu Dhabi. There are probably more Christmas trees here than in any other emirates. Abu Dhabi simply loves celebrating Christmas, as reflected in the decoration of city’s numerous shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and Christmas markets.
Winter Wonderland at Al Maryah Island
If previous iterations are any indication, this year’s Winter Wonderland set to take place at al Maryah Island will take center stage yet again. Apart from being a popular Christmas market, the winter festival also offers several entertainment options for kids including a snowball zone, miniature train ride and an audience with Santa along with his entourage of happy elves at his grotto.
Swiss Christmas Market at the Beach Rotana
The Swiss Christmas Market brings the dazzling alpine Christmas tradition to Abu Dhabi. The four-day-long event features wooden chalets providing decorative gifts and culinary delights unique to Switzerland, such as raclette and cheese fondue. A collection of kids’ activities are also available.
Christmas gift hunting in Abu Dhabi’s excellent malls
Malls in Abu Dhabi are no slouch even when compared to Dubai. Those looking to procure Christmas gifts for their loved ones will find themselves spoiled for choice due to the variety of available items offered by the various available shopping malls. From high-end shopping to obscure traditional items, Abu Dhabi provides an excellent shopping experience.
Designing a gingerbread house
This one’s strictly for the kids; decorating their very own gingerbread house is something that many children find engaging. Assisted by the experts at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, this fun decoration class immerses children in several creative activities such as painting, crafting and designing.
Christmas desert getaway
For a truly memorable experience, why not head out to the desert and spend your Christmas in a luxurious oasis? Like a royal palace straight out of the Arabian Nights. The Qasr al Sarab resort located at the Rub al Khali desert is hidden among countless sand dunes. But fret not, even with its seemingly secluded location, we guarantee Santa will be able to find and pay you a visit.
Ras al Khaimah
While emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are sure to provide an eventful Christmas experience, those in search of a more off-the-grid experience will no doubt find Ras al Khaimah to their liking. Some Christmas-related events are as follows.
Christmas night market at Al Hamra
The Al Hamra Marina & Yacht Club is set to host a charming Christmas market this year. Christmas-related gifts, trinkets and food will of course be the main attraction of the event. However, visitors may also take part in decorating the Christmas tree with the family, participate in carol singing and many more activities!
Sailing Club Christmas party
The neighboring Sailing Club will also be celebrating by throwing a Christmas party involving sailing at no charge, movie night, a host of food and drinks offering and a range of children activities including meet and greet sessions with Santa.
Ritz-Carlton turkey to go
Fancy having your Christmas turkey but not really keen on doing the heavy liftings? The Ritz-Carlton has got you covered. Enjoy a hassle-free Christmas dining by pre-ordering your festive feast with Ritz-Carlton. With the exquisite turkey on the table, all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy the celebration in the company of your loved ones.
Al Hamra Golf festive offer
What better way to complement the holidays than with discounted green fees at the Al Hamra Golf Club? The exclusive club provides suitable challenges catering to all levels of golfers, from beginner and novices to seasoned veteran all are welcome here,