Merry Christmas! We may not have chimneys for Santa Claus to slide down but his sleigh has surely made a pitstop amidst Dubai’s dunes and towering skyline (and many malls) laden with presents and a blizzard of wintry Christmassy activities to plunge into. There are so many things to do to celebrate the festive season in town, that it can be overwhelming. We took on the task of becoming elves, did all the hard work and created a guide of 12 wonderful things to do in Dubai on Christmas. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, this list will have you fa la la la laughing with delight.
1. Celebrate a white Christmas at the DIFC Snow Park
Gate Avenue at DIFC has transformed into a picturesque winter wonderland straight out of a Snow Globe. Instead of being snowed under at work this Christmas in Dubai, hit the DIFC Snow Park and be buried in some fun. You and any kids in tow to roll around in making snow angels or ball up enough of the white stuff to make snowmen or hurl at each other and kick off snowball fights. It’s only open until 10pm, December 25. More info on their website
2. Visit Santa’s Grotto and make wishes come true
Santa’s ditched snowy slopes for sandy shores at The Beach, JBR this Christmas and set up a proper grotto to boot. year. Little kids get to meet and greet Santa and a special photobooth set in place captures a snapshot of the wonderful memory. A minimum spend of AED 100 at one of the restaurants at The Beach gets you entrance into the grotto.
From 4pm onwards. Visit The Beach’s website for details.
3. Watch classic holiday movies in the theatre ya filthy animals
Cosying up at home with a mug of hot chocolate and snuggled up in slanket while Christmas classics play on the telly sounds wonderful. However, we all deserve to hear Kevin from Home Alone scream ‘Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals’ in Dolby Surround Sound. Roxy Cinemas is making that happen with their screenings of Christmas movies such as Home Alone, Elf, Die Hard and Love Actually. Don’t worry about missing your hot cup’o choco. Concession stands across Roxy Cinemas are serving festive-themed treats such as Christmas Spice Popcorn, Turkey and Brie sandwich and pizza, traditional Turkey Roast, Santa’s Special Hot Chocolate and mince pies. Book tickets here
4. Add some Caribbean jingle to the day with a bottomless Jamaican Chrismus dinner
Ting Irie, the UAE’s first Jamaican restaurant in Downtown Dubai has spiced up Christmas celebrations this year with a fun all-day Christmas dinner with bottomless beverages. The three-hour meal is a proper slap-up Jamaican feast featuring patties, jerk lamb skewers, bbq ribs with mashed potatoes, cury veg with coconut rice, turkey breast with caramelised cinnamon apple and more. Guests can also enjoy festive Caribbean-themed drinks such as mulled wine, gingery Jamaica mules and more.
From AED 275 per person. Call 04 557 5601 or firstname.lastname@example.org
5-6. Celebrate Boxing Day with a quiz and a roast meal
Continue the Crimbo festivities with feasts galore the day after, December 26, too. Known as Boxing Day in Britain, it’s known for its shopping sales and eating yourself silly on Christmas leftovers.
A lazy Boxing Day brunch at the Underground Pub in Habtoor Grand Resort will serve up a trad English roast set menu along with a a complimentary bucket of ice-cold beer.
AED 250 per person; 1pm onwards.Call or WhatsApp 050 780 6342.
Break out of the turkey tryptophan haze and sharpen those wits at a Boxing Day Quiz at Jumeirah Golf Estates at 7pm on December 26. The Ballroom at the sprawling venue is hosting a special trivia night led by quizmaster Robert Duce. From AED 175 per person for house drinks package. Details here
7. Splurge on a chocolatey LINDT festive afternoon tea
Swissotel Al Ghurair has teamed up with chocolate brand LINDT to create a decadent festive afternoon tea. The special menu is stacked with holiday treats such as smoked salmon pinwheels, torched duck breast with apricot chutney skewers, warm scones with mascarpone cream & blueberry compote, baked turkey empanadas, chocolate fudge cake, and an array of hot chocolates, luxury teas and coffees. Some fun family board games will be handed out to guests to stay entertained during the high tea.
From 12pm-6pm; AED 140 for two adult. Book here
8. Surf with Santa this Christmas in Dubai
Wild Wadi is going, well, wild this Christmas with a ‘Surfing Santa’ and many more festive activities flooding the water. Kids can send letters to Santa and participate in fun-filled Water Olympics, as well as enjoy festive-themed treats such as a Xmas tree-shaped pizza, turkey burger, hot chocolate witg marshmallows and more. Santa will ride the waves at 12pm, 3pm and 5pm. Until January 7. Find details here.
9. Have a crafty Christmas at these festive workshops
Santa’s Workshop at the St. Regis Downtown Dubai is hosting cookie decorating workshops until December 30 at 3pm every day. You’ll find yourself decorating scrummy treats and festival-flavoured gingerbread and shortbread cookies. Reservations are required, visit the St. Regis Dubai website.
Nakheel Mall’s Depachika food hall is hosting workshops for kids that range from festive ornaments to candy cane beads and holiday jars until Decemebr 31. The workshops take place every day from 2pm to 8pm on the 1st floor. Santa meet-and-greets will also be held at the same venue four times a day.
10. Savour eco-friendly snowfall at Green Planet Dubai
The indoor rainforest will have simulated snowfall descend on guests both inside the biodome and outdoors in the Nature Park. Santa will make appearances too ditching his traditional red outfits for a green suit to spread the message of saving the environment. While you’re there make sure you visit the eco-friendly Christmas tree built using recycled materials and arts and crafts workshops held regularly for kids. More info here
11. Head to Motiongate for Xmas parades and stage shows
Hollywood-inspired theme park Motionagte is turning into Tinseltown on myriad levels this Christmas. There’ll be street shows, parades, meet-and-greets with Santa under a 40-foot tree and more. But the piece de resistance of the festive season is a live musical stage show called ‘Home for Christmas’ about a grumpy character called Mr. Humbug who’s internet on avoiding the holiday spirit. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a reindeer-led dance show called ‘Time to Sleigh!’ and performances by elves and toy soldiers called ‘Toy Factory Fellas.’
12. Book your seats for a funny Christmas pantomime
Nothing says Christmas like a funny panto to wrap up the day’s festivities. Fairmont The Palm is hosting Beauty and the Beast by Dubai Panto, the production house known for their seasonal festive stage shows. The classic fairytale of bookish Belle and royal-turned-monstrous beast Prince Beauregarde will be brought to life through enchanting music, skilled dancing, magical costumes, and hilarious antics. As is standard with pantomimes, audience participation will be both encouraged and must, so be prepared to be swept into the plot! Until December 27. Tickets from AED 75, book here.