8 Brilliant festive events happening in Dubai this weekend

And we bet you've not even heard about most of them...

Jumeirah Group Fort Island Festive Market Hero

It’s kind of hard for some of us to get into the Christmas spirit here in warm and sunny Dubai. It’s too warm to even put on an ugly Christmas jumper (although to be honest, the aggressive air con at the Lovin Dubai offices makes this a more and more tempting prospect). But it’s not for lack of trying on Dubai’s part – there are plenty of Christmas goings-on in the city, especially this coming weekend – surely one or two of these might do the trick...

Dubai Marina Winter Festival Parades

Someone in charge of special events at Emaar came up with the brilliant idea of turning the Dubai Marina Walk and Park Island into a massive performance ground. The fun kicks off with acts featuring stilt-walkers, jugglers, musicians and a magician. Then a carnival parade, featuring a host of performers in gorgeous winter-themed costumes, makes its way down the promenade – twice, in case you miss the first one.

Dubai Marina; December 17 – 31, 2015; 4pm – 10pm

Christmas Camel

We're not exactly sure what this procession is going to look like, so here's a camel in a Santa hat

Dubai Marina Music Festival

Not content with just a Christmas parade, the Dubai Marina is hosting two weeks of live performances, on three different stages, by local and international musicians, to celebrate the festive season. 'The Stage' will showcase a variety of live music acts, featuring swing band 'Rat Pack Singer', spoken word artists Floetics, and Latin band Cumbia all the way from Columbia.  'The Chillout Stage' features live sets spun by some of Dubai’s premier resident DJs; while 'The Stage is Yours' is an open mic jam session – if you’re interested in showing off your musical talents make sure to register pronto.

Pier 7, Marina Promenade; December 17 – 31, 2015; 6pm – 10pm

Dubai  Marina  Night

The Dubai Mall’s Snowfest

This year, the world’s biggest mall has decided to embrace the season in a big way. They've planned several activities targeted at bringing the best bits of winter to Dubai. Most of the festivities take place on the mall’s ice rink (no surprises there), with a Village Market that’s been outfitted with a cobble-stoned path, and elves’ workshop, and a carousel. In the midst of this busy village is an open space where you can apparently ‘skate under the snowfall’.

Dubai Ice Rink, The Dubai Mall; December 16, 2015 – January 6, 2016; 10am onwards

Dubai  Ice  Rink  Dubai  Snowfest 2015

The KidZania Toy Box

Another great option at The Dubai Mall, if you’ve got little ones, is Christmas at KidZania. The mini-city where kids get to really indulge in playing pretend has set up a giant toy box encouraging youngsters to donate toys to charity. It’s a nice contrast to the consumerist character the holiday has taken on these days, and a great way to teach children that Christmas is just as much about giving as it is about receiving.

KidZania, The Dubai Mall; running till January 2, 2016; 10am onwards

Charity Gift

Dubai Winter Festival

The biggest thing happening this weekend has to be the Dubai Winter Festival at the Dubai World Trade Centre. There’s a giant Christmas tree that gets lit up every evening (so you can enjoy that magical moment if you missed all the other tree-lightings around town), a massive winter market (where you can pick up those last-minute stocking stuffers), a Santa’s Grotto and a skating rink. But our two favourite attractions at the DWF have to be 1) the French Bakery’s gingerbread house decorating workshop, and 2) the Haribo Snow Fight Zone. Yup – a snow fight zone. If adults can get in on the fun, we are sooo there.  

Dubai World Trade Centre; December 17 – 19, 2015; 4pm – 10pm on Thursday, 3pm – 10pm on Friday and Saturday


Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical

The musical version of one of the most-beloved Christmas-themed movies of all time is coming to Dubai. This 1947 classic follows a certain Kris Kringle, a department store Santa, who thinks he’s the real thing. Considering that watching the film is a staple Christmas Day tradition the world over, bringing the theatrical version to Dubai should surely boost the holiday vibe here.

Madinat Theatre, Madinat Jumeirah, December 19 - 30, 2015; various showings throughout the day


Madinat Jumeirah’s Souk Festive Market

In addition to putting on Miracle on 34th Street, Madinat Jumeirah is also holding its annual Souk Festive Market. We’d say that of all the Christmas attractions taking place in the city, this one has to be the most epic. Along with all the food stalls and Christmas bazaar carts, they’ve got a traditional North Pole train, an ice rink, Santa’s Grotto (well, that’s pretty standard), bungee jumping (because that’s such a typically Christmas activity, obvs), chocolate classes with a master chocolatier from Lindt (not happening this weekend, but still awesome). There’s also been talk of a ‘Reindeer Rodeo’. Whatever that actually entails – because we frankly have no idea – it sounds interesting enough to merit a visit to this Christmas Souk.

Madinat Jumeirah, December 17 – 27, 2015; from 3pm - midnight on weekdays and 1pm – midnight on weekends

Jumeirah Group Fort Island Festive Market Hero

Festive Village at Atlantis The Palm

This year, The Palm’s mega-resort promised to deliver Dubai-lings our very own little piece of the North Pole thanks to its elaborate Festive Village. Poseidon’s Court in front of the Ambassador Lagoon has been transformed into a winter wonderland chock-full of elves, candy canes, snowmen, and a massive Santa’s Sleigh, with visits from Saint Nick himself starting from the 18th to the 24th, providing plenty of family photo ops. All this sounds very nice for families with kids, we're even keeping an open mind about the Atlantis Kids Club’s so-called ‘Elf Tuck-Ins’, whereby “one of Santa’s Elves reads [your child] a bedtime story, tucks them in, and gives them a very special present.”

Poseidon’s Court, Atlantis The Palm; running till January 7, 2016; 9am – 11pm

Read More in Dubai