The UAE’s favourite Christmas markets and afternoon teas, plus the best places to see Santa and indulge in festive activities in Dubai.
Elf The Musical
You can catch Elf The Musical during the festive season in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates. Elf The Musical is based on the film Elf, and the live show was created in 2010. The Oliver Award-winning musical started life on New York’s Broadway, and toured the world including London’s West End. Plus, it was one of the fastest-selling shows at London’s Dominion Theatre. For those unfamiliar with the 2003 film, it is a modern-day Christmas story which has earned its place as a cult favourite. Starring Will Ferrell as the innocent but lovable Buddy, we follow his journey from the North Pole to New York as he tries to find his biological father. Available 17 to 24 December. Tickets start from AED 100.
GO: Visit https://feverup.com for tickets and more information.
Escape Hunt Dubai
One of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment phenomena, Escape Hunt Dubai, located at The Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road, is ready to transport guests to a winter wonderland with the launch of their incredible “Christmas Story” VR game Step into the night before Christmas where all is not going to plan – Santa is lost in a snowstorm and Christmas is in jeopardy. With no sign of the snow stopping and no one else to deliver the presents, you must help with the preparations and find a way to guide Santa home before it’s too late. You and your team must achieve your mission before the clock chimes midnight. AED 120 per person.
GO: Call 04 334 4473 for more information.
Festive Fun at Bluewaters Dubai
When it comes to festive activities in Dubai, Santa is setting up shop at Bluewaters for the holidays, bringing in a whole host of festive fun and entertainment. Visit the man of the hour at Santa’s Grotto or escape into a larger-than-life snow globe for a whimsical picture for the ‘gram. Skate at the ice rink or sign your children up for engaging workshops to celebrate the festive season. Available 10 to 28 December, from 12pm to 11pm.
GO: Visit bluewatersdubai.ae for more information.
Organized by RaceME in association with the Dubai Sports Council, the Dubai Festival City Santa Run offers three distances — 1km, 2.5km and 5km. The annual Santa Run will start at Dubai Festival City Promenade overlooking Dubai Creek and finish at the Festive Market at Dubai Festival City Mall. Participants are encouraged to get creative and come in their Santa costumes to stand a chance of winning prizes of up to AED 1,000. Saturday 10 December, from 8.30am.
GO: Visit raceme.ae/event/dfcsantarun for more information.
The London Project Ice Bar
Christmas has come early at The London Project’s Ice Bar. In the winter wonderland, wrap up in a faux fur coat, don earmuffs and shades and sip warm festive cocktails. Delicious wintery delights served inside the Ice Bar include hot spiced pineapple and Christmas in a cup made with gingerbread tea, vanilla syrup, curry, ginger syrup and a splash of Beluga.
GO: Visit thelondonproject.com for more information.
Get together with your mates or colleagues this holiday season for a spot of festive fun. Guests looking for an intimate and lively environment can revel in two hours of gameplay, free-flowing beverages, and a delicious selection of festive sharing platters paired with Christmas hats. Available Monday 21 November to Saturday 24 December. Prices from AED 289 per person.
GO: Visit www.topgolfdubai.ae for reservations and more information.
For a range of festive activities in Dubai, visit Dubai Media City Amphitheatre which will be encased by over 100 trees to create a festive environment. Winterfest will transport you into a world of festive delights with a sparkling Christmas tree, tube slides, a festive-themed roller rink, and a snow park. The festive market sells all your favourite Christmas stocking fillers and trinkets, as well as offering an amazing Santa’s Grotto that the little ones will love. Available until 24 December. AED 50 per person (fully redeemable on food and beverages).
GO: Visit www.mcgettigtans.com/winterfest for more information.
The Venetian Village Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi’s Venetian Village will transform into a Swiss wonderland this festive season. Expect beautifully adorned with wooden chalets selling ornaments, decorative gifts and handicrafts typical of the season. The jolly market atmosphere is enhanced by the wonderful aroma of freshly baked cookies and other seasonal delicacies like traditional Swiss Fondue. Available on 8, 9, 10 and 11 December.
GO: Visit www.venetianvillage.ae for reservations and more information.
Ginger Bread Decorating
Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa
An ideal event for little explorers this festive season. Put on your hats and aprons and head to Bait Al Hanine in Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, for a fun-filled Gingerbread house workshop. Held under the guidance of the resort’s trained chefs, children will learn the exciting art of gingerbread-making and have the freedom to let their imaginations run wild. During this interactive workshop, future chefs can socialise and enjoy their favourite nibbles, such as marshmallows, hot chocolate and cotton candy, as they build their very own masterpieces. Sunday 25 December, from 3pm to 5pm. AED 85 per child.
GO: Call 02 204 4444 for reservations and more information.
Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection
Let your creative juices flow as you decorate your own gingerbread house in the company of family and friends. It’s the ideal way to relax and get into the festive spirit creating moments you’ll cherish forever. Thursday 1 December, from 5:30pm.
Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi
Kids big and small will have the opportunity to craft gingerbread houses at Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi. Little ones will be able to build and decorate their own home of sweet dreams inside the hotel’s life-sized Gingerbread House and then take home their work for a tasty souvenir. Every Saturday and Sunday throughout December. AED 150 per child.
GO: Visit www.marriottdowntownabudhabilife.com for reservations and more information.
Meliá Desert Palm
For the most fun of festive activities in Dubai, Meliá’s culinary team will get your little chefs into the Christmas spirit by teaching them how to make gingerbread houses. Children will learn to build the houses, decorate them with icing and sweets, and carry their creations home. Sunday 17 December, from 11am to 1pm. AED 145 per child.
Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas
What makes the holiday season special is getting together with loved ones and doing your favourite festive activities. Sim Sim invites guests to build their own gingerbread house while enjoying an enticing spread of sweet treats, confectionary and freshly baked Christmas-themed sweets and pastries. Sunday 11 and 18 December, from 3pm to 5pm. AED 135 per child
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal
Let your creative spirit shine this festive season. Gather your family and friends and decorate gingerbread houses with candy canes, cookies, and marshmallows under the expert guidance of The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi’s pastry chefs at all-day-dining restaurant Giornotte. Available on 18, 21, 24 and 29 December 2022 and 4 January 2023. AED 175 per gingerbread house.