Even the scroogiest Grinches amongst us can’t resist the festive charm of fairy light-strewn, roasted chestnut-scented Christmas markets. These winter wonderlands in our desert city are as close to the real deal as it can get, complete with quaint little wooden chalets selling minced pies, cosy handcrafted pressies and warm mulled wine. Not to mention Santa’s grottos, and ornamented Christmas trees so tall they could compete with Dubai’s famed skyscrapers. Here are 6 Christmas Markets in Dubai to check out this festive season.
1. Winter Garden, Habtoor Palace
You’ll leave with a jelly belly to match Santa’s after visiting this foodie paradise of a winter market that sets up shop opposite the Habtoor Palace Hotel on SZR. Street food stalls dot every inch of this cozy little venue covered by a canopy of string lights, but what earns it a top spot on this list is the fact that your pets are welcome here. Yep, throw some reindeer antlers on Fido (or Kitty) and bring ‘em here.
A ton of light sculptures and Christmassy backdrops create perfect photo-ops for Christmas Card-worthy snaps. Santa visits, fairground games, a live caricature artist, play areas for kids and a live band belting out Christmas classics and carols every evening ensure that this wintry hotspot ticks all the boxes for a must-visit Christmas market. You can also hamdmake your Christmas pressies at soap, candle and perfume-making workshops that will be held regularly at the market.
From 4pm-12pm; until January 31. AED 25 entry fee. Book visits here.
Santa sleighing it on an Abra. Bungee jumping. Bratwurst hotdogs longer than a 10-year-old’s Christmas wishlist. Free entry. *Mic Drop*. WHY wouldn’t you want to visit one of the most popular Christmas markets that is also Dubai’s oldest? If you need some more coaxing, check out our detailed guide describing all the merry little details of this holiday haven nestled in the middle of Souk Madinat’s Fort Island. Beanbags, picnic tables and benches are strewn across the venue so you can soak in the cheery vibes at leisure. Until January 7.
From 3pm until late Monday – Thursday and from 12pm till late from Friday to Sunday
3. Winter City at Expo City
‘Tis the season for sustainability at one of Dubai’s most enchanting Christmas markets in Al Wasl Plaza. After wowing Dubaiians with a stonking 52-fee-tall Christmas Tree, Expo City’s Winter City is back for its second innings, preaching the gospel of eco-friendly practices so the North Pole remains frosty forever. First off, 2022’s gargantuan tree is being recycled and reused this year.
Repurposed decorations dot Santa and Mrs. Claus’ eco-friendly house and the sustainable toy factory lets kids craft toys using recycled materials while incorporating technology. Visitors can participate in scavenger hunts to help Santa save the North Pole, decorate cookies in the shapes of polar bears and ice caps with Mrs Claus, and stroll through whimsical chalet-style Christmas market and snow-sprinkled trees.
Visitors can also write letters to Santa on recycled papers with environment-friendly markers and drop them off at the gigantic post box that proved to be a hit last year.
4. Winter District, Jumeirah Emirates Towers
The same clever folks behind the hit Ramadan District nestled between the Jumeirah Emirates Towers at the JET Plaza Terrace earlier this year have whipped up a snowy Christmas market in the same location. Overlooking the Museum of the Future, Winter District is scoring points across the ultimate Christmas Market criteria. A chocolate bar, and a PlayStation area?! It’s enough to get anyone as excited about Christmas as Buddy the Elf.
Instead of pouring maple syrup on your pasta, you can hit up one of the scrummy food kiosks for churros, tacos, popcorn and cookies. A soaring Christmas tree, Santa meet and greets, fun festive parades, carnival games, and appearances by polar bears and pandas make this Christmas market an adorable experience. Moreover, a host of snow activities, including steady drizzle of fluffy snowfall, make this a brrrrilliant day out.
From December 14 until January 5; from 2pm to 2am. Visit the website
5. Festival Bay, Dubai Festival City
This waterfront outdoor promenade knows how to throw a cracker of a celebration and they’ve turned into tinsel-town for Christmas. A winter wonderland-themed Christmas market has been set up in the area featuring retail shops where you can purchase artisanal and organic items as stocking-fillers and presents. You can treat yourself to mince pies, kebabs, at the many pop-up food stalls here followed by live entertainment featuring singers and carollers, meet Santa and his merry elves in his log cabin, walk through Winnie the Pooh’s Enchanted Festive Forest and meet other fabled characters such as the Snow Queen, Gingerbread Man, Frosty the Snowman and more.
From 5pm onwards, until December 28. Entry is free
6. JLT Winter Festival, JLT Park
JLT Park is the goose that lays golden eggs when it comes to fun, fabulous and FREE outdoor events in town. After gifting us with another round of cinema under the stars movie nights, this outdoor burst of green space at Gate 1 of the waterfront neighbourhood has a Winter Festival running. Lights go up on a gigantic Christmas tree at 6pm on December 15. But here’s the kicker – the tree lighting ceremony will be held every single day until December 23. Besides, this winter fest also features Santa’s grotto, a festive miniature train chugging along JLT’s paved paths for the kids to ride in, and fun storytime sessions.
From 4pm-9pm; until December 23. Find details here