Christmas in Dubai
may not seem ideal for those who love this festival. As Dubai is a part of the Islamic country of the UAE, not many people would expect any kind of celebration or fanfare during Christmas. However, this is not the truth. In reality, Christmas is celebrated with great fanfare in the Emirates city of Dubai. While the churches of the city have midnight mass on Christmas Eve, celebrations in Dubai start a month before. Right from Christmas festive markets to delicious brunches and dinners, there are lots to see and do in Dubai during the festival of Christmas.
Why Celebrate Christmas in Dubai?
The entire city of Dubai comes alive in the month of December while progressing towards Christmas and New Year. You would get to attend several Christmas related events and programs like concerts, performances, shopping markets, etc. during the festival. Moreover, the climate in Dubai in the month of December is quite mild, and you can enjoy pleasant evenings outdoors, visiting various places.
Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in Dubai
If you are still not sure about spending the festive season in Dubai, here are some of the best places to visit in the city that would make your Christmas really special and eventful.
1. Habtoor Palace
One of the best places to visit in Dubai during Christmas Eve is the Habtoor Palace Hotel. The Versailles Gardens in the hotel is turned into a Christmas market where you can taste traditional German Christmas dishes, learn to make gingerbread and listen to Carols. Children would have a fun time at the snow-covered play area complete with snowfall. They would also get to meet Santa and his elves. There are several rides and activities that would keep them engaged and entertained. If you happen to be present at the Habtoor Palace Christmas Market on an opening day, you should not miss the amazing moment when the huge Christmas tree is lit accompanied by snowfall and carol songs for added effect.
Timings: 3 PM to 12 AM (tentative)
Location: Habtoor Palace, Al Habtoor City, Dubai, UAE
2. Irish Village
The Christmas tree is an integral part of all the celebrations, and you would find some amazing ones wherever you go in Dubai. However, if you want to experience the magic of a giant Christmas tree lighting up with all its twinkling lights, the Irish Village is the place you must go to. The Christmas tree is lit on the 4th of December and you are free to give your touch to the Christmas tree by adding your favorite combination of lights. However, this is not the only highlight of visiting Irish Village during Christmas time. In fact, you would be treated with some delicious food including seasoned mulled beverages and home-baked mince pies. If you miss the Christmas tree lighting, you should visit the place anytime, starting 12 days from Christmas to enjoy a scrumptious feast.
Timings: 7 PM to 10 PM (Christmas lights) and 12 PM to 11 PM (Christmas special meals)
Location: 31 A Street, Al Garhoud, Dubai, UAE
3. Wafi Mall
Wafi Mall with its elaborate Santa’s grotto and amazing activities is one of the favorite places for families celebrating Christmas Eve. Kids love this place, as they not only get to meet Santa Claus but also receive some wonderful gifts and goodies from him. While they are waiting to meet Santa, they can also decorate gingerbread and other edible goodies to have some fun. Like all other places, Wafi Mall also has a Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the beginning of the opening day along with choir singing by school kids. While the kids would be busy with meeting Santa Claus and indulging in fun activities, adults would have a great time shopping at the mall. The Festive Light and Sound Show that happens every evening during Christmas season (between 8 PM and 9:30 PM) is something that should not be missed.
Timings: 9 AM to 10 PM
Location: Oud Metha Road, Dubai, UAE
4. Dubai Opera
Your Christmas celebrations in Dubai need not be only about shopping, meeting Santa and enjoying delicious food. In fact, you can spend a few days in the world of art and music. The Dubai Opera hosts some of the best music concerts and performances related to Christmas. You would be able to watch the classic opera, The Nutcracker between 4th and 7th December. Closer to Christmas Eve, you would be able to attend the concert of Jingle Bell Favourites by The London Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices. You would get to enjoy some of your favorite Christmas sings like Winter Wonderland, Silent Night, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, etc.
Timings: Schedule to be checked on Dubai Opera’s official website
Location: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Dubai, UAE
5. Ski Dubai
If you wish to enjoy a White Christmas in the desert city of Dubai, Ski Dubai is the right place for you. The indoor ski resort transforms into a Winter Wonderland with snowfall for added effects. Kids would be delighted to see Santa’s Grotto and also to indulge in some fun activities. On the other hand, both adults and kids would have a gala time skiing, snowboarding and playing in the snow. Moreover, everyone has chances to win goodies from Father Christmas, making the entire visit extra special. When you are tired of all the adventures and activities and want to warm yourself up, do make a visit to Saint Moritz cafe for a sizzling cup of Swiss hot chocolate.
Timings: 10 AM to 11 PM
Location: Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
6. Dubai Winter Festival
A weekend fun like no other, the Dubai Winter Festival is one of the best Christmas celebrations that happen in Dubai. The winter festival happens during the weekend and stretches for not more than 2-3 days. During these days, you get to have unlimited fun while participating in tons of activities, eating delicious Christmas dishes and shopping at the winter markets. You can experience the vibe of a funfair and lot of amazing live stage performances. Some of the fun things that happen at the Dubai Winter Festival Include Festive Pub Quiz, The Party Garden, Search for a Star, Haribo Snow Play Zone, Santa’s New Apprentice Pantomime and Letters to Santa.
Timings: 3 PM to 10 PM (tentative)
Location: Dubai Media City Amphitheatre
7. Fort Island’s Festive Market
Every year, near Christmas time, Madinat Jumeirah Resort hosts the Fort Island’s, Festive Market. It is one of the most awaited Christmas markets in Dubai. The Festive Market is the typical, traditional German market where you would find food stalls selling delicious Christmas foods, Santa’s grotto, and a huge Christmas tree. While all this would keep the adults happy, children would be more interested in the gingerbread house station, play area, and snowball zone. What makes this winter market stand out from the rest is that you get to go on an abra ride with Santa here. The best part is that this market would give you an awesome view of the Burj Al Arab as well.
Timings: 3 PM till late (Sunday to Wednesday) and 12 PM till late (Thursday to Saturday) (tentative)
Location: Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE
Tips for Travellers Visiting Dubai
If you are planning a holiday in Dubai during Christmas time, here are some tips that would prove helpful.
- If you are planning for a short visit, you can apply for a 14 days or 7 days tourist visa in Dubai.
- Weekends in Dubai fall on Friday and Saturday, and many of the Christmas events, festivals, and markets happen during the weekend.
- Although Dubai does not have extreme winter, you must carry some warm clothes (like a jacket or shawl) as most indoor places are fully air-conditioned and can get chilly.
- It is important to dress modestly in Dubai. You must wear clothes that cover your shoulders, knees, and cleavage while in public places. It is acceptable to wear evening gowns and cocktail dresses at high-end restaurants, nightclubs, and lounges.
- As winter is quite a popular time to visit Dubai, the prices would be quite high for hotels and flights. You can book well in advance to get some discounts.
Christmas is an amazing time to visit Dubai as there are so many exciting things happening in the city around the same time. Apart from the regular sightseeing and other activities, you can have a unique Christmas experience in Dubai.