The best ways to enjoy the festive season in the sandpit
So we hope you’ve been good. We’ve rounded up the best Christmas parties, markets, and more. Happy holidays
Festive season is well and truly upon us, and we hope that you’ve behaved yourself this year, because to be on the naughty list in Dubai this yuletide would be a very sad state of affairs. The fat man himself is popping up left, right and centre to bestow seasonal joy, and there’s any number of events, brunches, tree lightings, festive markets, fairs, grottos – and a falcon in a palm tree. We’ve rounded up the best the city has to offer this Christmas.
Tree lightings Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa
It’s all going on at the tree-lighting ceremony at Bab Al Shams. There’ll be a Christmas carol performance to enjoy while nibbling on gingerbread, winter pies and Christmas cookies washed down with steaming hot chocolate and mulled grape in the specially decorated Al Forsan Garden area where Santa Claus with be dishing out the presents.
→ Free. Fri Dec 7, 5.30pm-7.30pm. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, Al Qudra (04 809 6100).
Fairmont The Palm
Where better to see a tree lighting than from the sands of a man-made shrub-shaped island? The annual tree lighting ceremony at Fairmont The Palm features complimentary festive delights and beverages, plus the novelty of seeing a massive pine tree being lit up against the backdrop of sprawling white sands and crystal blue seas.
→ Free. Wed Dec 5, 5pm-7pm. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 457 3457).
FIVE Palm Jumeirah
This hotel sparkles at the best of times, but not one to be outdone, FIVE Palm Jumeirah has of course invested in a massive tree – and you’re invited to watch it light up to the tune of carols from a live choir and all of your festive foodie favourites.
→ Free. Tue Dec 4, 6pm. FIVE Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jumeirah (04 455 9999).
Is there anything that says Christmas like the high-pitched trills of a children’s choir? Not quite, and at Habtoor Palace’s tree lighting, your eardrums will be treated to carol singing from Jumeirah International School Kids Choir. If that doesn’t sound exciting enough, there’ll also be a special visit from Santa, plus a performance from a live band.
→ Free. Tue Dec 4, 6pm-11pm. Habtoor Palace, Al Habtoor City (04 435 5555).
Visit the QE2 Winter Wonderland this Christmas, with a Wonderland Brunch on the Friday December 14 from 1pm to 4pm followed by the Christmas tree light switch-on at 6pm (free entry) then an evening brunch at 8pm featuring a tribute to the Jersey Boys. Then on Saturday December 15, guests can browse hand-made arts and crafts while enjoying festive nibbles at the ARTE Makers Market from 10am-2pm.
→ Prices vary. Fri Dec 14, 6pm. Port Rashid, Deira (04 526 8888).
Swim & Tonic
If one choir just isn’t enough, the tree lighting ceremony at Swim & Tonic could probably rouse huskies (from The North Pole). The International German School Choir are performing at the tree lighting, which will host a load of festive food and drinks stalls. Also showing his face, will be the aforementioned chubby whiskered one, who keeps showing up like a bad penny (but in a good way).
→ Free. Wed Dec 5, 6.30pm-8pm. Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay (04 369 0000).
Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel
Join Santa (again) for a grand tree lighting complete with carols, spiced beverages and homemade sweets. It’s no wonder Mr Claus
is a little rotund after all those treats. → Free. Thu Dec 6, 7pm-onwards. Sheraton Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 377 2000).
The Irish Village
You can’t beat a traditional Christmas tree lighting and the Irish love nothing more than a jig around the spruce. The Irish Village are pulling out all the stops, with two choirs and carols as well as mulled grape and homemade mince pies.
→ Free. Mon Dec 3, 7pm-10pm. The Irish Village, Garhoud (04 282 4750).
Towers Rotana Dubai
Get into the festive spirit over some festivities goodies and Christmas carols, led by the Hotel Choir and The Aspens, last year’s social media Christmas carol competition winners. We are impressed (and a little bit jealous).
→ Free. Sun Dec 9, 7pm-onwards. Towers Rotana Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 312 2201).
Festive markets Family Christmas fair
Head to Fairmont The Palm’s Falcons Kids’ Club where youngsters (and you) can meet Santa (who is clearly some kind of influencer), decorate gingerbread houses and have fun creating special festive memories.
→ Dhs280 (kids aged three-15). Sat Dec, 22 2pm-4pm. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 457 3331).
The hotel is hosting a festive market from Tuesday December 4 to Friday December 21, and it’ll be brimming with dazzling decorations. The enchanting winter wonderland will feature holiday carols inside Habtoor Palace’s beautiful Versailles Garden, with fun rides for kids and plenty of festive foodie treats. It runs daily from 3pm until midnight, and Santa himself will be coming along each evening at 6pm. Then at 7pm until 11pm, there will be a live band. On the first night of the market, Habtoor Palace will also be lighting its Christmas tree, complete with snowfalls and carol singing from the Emirates International School Kids Choir.
→ Free entry. Tue Dec 4-Fri Dec 21, 3pm-midnight. Habtoor Palace, Al Habtoor City (04 435 5555).
Visit La Farine’s festive market for seasonal cakes, hot chocolate, strawberry fondue, homemade waffles, and gift hampers to take home. We do love a party bag.
→ Free. Dec 4-26, 10am-10pm. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay (04 414 3000).
Raffles Garden has been transformed into
a festive market with a delightful children’s choir, a selection of gift stalls and fun activities. We can’t wait for some gingerbread at this fun afternoon.
→ Free. Friday Dec 7, 1pm-6pm. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 324 8888).
Reform Social & Grill
Be quick to visit this one at Reform Social & Grill, it’s on for one day only, on Saturday December 1. Shop for gifts, watch tricks by a magician and let children write letters to Santa before meeting the rotund one himself – if you haven’t already…
→ Free. Dec 1, noon-6pm. The Lakes Club, Emirates Hills (04 454 2638).
Looking for a massive market to satisfy your festive shopping appetite? Head to Souk Madinat Jumeirah for a traditional German market that’s packed full of places to buy your Christmas pressies. There’s also plenty of food stalls as well as abras through the Madinat waterways steered by Santa and his elves. Going with the family? There’s a special snow zone for children (pictured, below), a gingerbread house making station and a kids’ play area. That’s not to mention the huge Christmas tree, which will be decorated and lit up bringing a festive feel to the whole of Madinat Jumeirah.
→free entry. Thu Dec 20-Fri Dec 28, noon-late. Sun 23 and Wed 26, 3pm-late. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, wwwjumeirah.com.
Sheraton Mall of the Emirates
Fairmont The Palm
Souk Madinat Jumeirah