Christmas in Abu Dhabi 2019: The ultimate guide

What you need to know if you're spending the festive season in the capital

Christmas in Abu Dhabi 2019: The ultimate guide
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Now that The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is out of the way (we don’t know about you, but we’re still recovering), we can get on with being ridiculously excited about Christmas.

As you might have predicted, Abu Dhabi goes all out for the festive season and if you’re not already feeling pleasantly Christmassy, you very soon will be.

Over the next few weeks you can enjoy winter markets, family fun days, Santa chases, Christmas tree lightings, takeaway turkeys (because who has time to cook, really?) and many more heart-warming festive events.

So we’ve put together a quick guide to all the best bits below, but you can also check out our full list of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day dinners and brunches in our special Christmas Guide (which comes with all paid-for copies of this magazine) and at timeoutabuhabi.com/christmas.

So dig out your tackiest Christmas jumper and reindeer antlers, and prepare to have a very jolly time indeed as you get ready for the most wonderful time of the year.


MARKETS AND EVENTS

Al Muneera
Family friendly winter festivals will be held in December at Aldar Communities in Abu Dhabi. At Al Muneera, from December 11 to 14, families can check out all the Christmas decorations, as the beachfront destination transforms into a winter wonderland. You can also get creative with Christmas bell painting, live entertainment and festive food stalls. It’s sure to get you into the Christmas spirit.
Free. Dec 11-14. 4pm-10pm. Al Muneera. For more information visit www.aldar.com.

Beach Rotana
The Swiss Market will be setting up shop at Beach Rotana this December for four-days of festive fun from December 4 to 7 with a host of retail, food and drinks stalls, live music, events and activities. Giving you the chance to pick up some unique gift for your loved ones you can shop goods from a host of local and international vendors. Seasonal food and drink will also be on offer including bratwurst, raclette, mulled grape and many more sweet treats. On a musical note, Appenzeller Streichmusik Alder will be in town to perform Swiss folk music and there will also be performances from a selection of local school choirs who will sing popular Christmas carols. Children can also keep busy with gingerbread making activities, face painting, arts and crafts and film screenings. Plus, the famous man with the white beard and the red suit will also be making an appearance on Friday December 6. From December 4 to 26 the Gingerbread House will also return to Café Colombia to sell a host of festive treats from stolen, gingerbread and yule logs. It sounds great.
Free. Wed Dec 4 4pm-9pm; Thu Dec 5 2pm-10pm; Fri Dec 6-Sat Dec 7 11am-10pm. Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiyah.

Carols in the Desert



Popular al fresco musical event Carols in the Desert is set to return to the capital on Friday December 6. The free annual event sees hundreds of people take the short drive out of Abu Dhabi city to the dunes where Christmas carols are sung as the sun sets. You can sing along with the music, cook some food on the communal barbecues and get caught up in the Christmas spirit. Once there, there's a small climb up a dune to reach the site, which is worth keeping in mind if some of your party has limited mobility. Plus, it gets a little chilly in the evening so it’s worth bringing a blanket or jumper and a seat doesn’t go a miss either. We don’t know about you but we’re excited.
Free. Fri Dec 6. From 4pm. Sweihan Road (GPS 24.407 59N, 54.96457E), www.facebook.com/CarolsInTheDesert.

Sanderson’s
Sanderson’s café in Al Seef is hosting a Christmas fair on Friday December 14. On the day the wholesome restaurant will be hosting stalls from jewellery vendors, Balinese bag makers, wood carvers and more crafty businesses. While you’re purchasing your gifts for family and friends (or yourself, we reckon you deserve it), the kids will be kept busy with a variety of activities like face painting and festive-themed games. If you dine in the stylish venue at any point during December you can enter a competition to win a Christmas hamper, and a festive menu is available until Boxing Day, too. For more information visit www.wearesandersons.com.
Free. Dec 14 8am-10pm. Andalus Al Seef Resort, Khalifa Park area (02 222 1142).



Shams Boutik
Family friendly winter festivals will be held in December at Aldar Communities in Abu Dhabi. On Reem Island, the shopping destination will be decked out in festive lights and decorations and you can keep busy with a snowman photo booth, choir performances, gingerbread and cupcake decorating and more. We also heard that the big man in the red suit will also be making an appearance to meet children. The Winter Carnival will take place on Reem Island from 4pm to 10pm on Wednesday and Thursday and 5pm to 11pm on Friday and Saturday.
Is it just us, or is anyon else especially excited to meet Santa?
Free. Dec 18-21. 4pm-10pm. Shams Boutik, Reem Island. For more information visit www.aldar.com.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
Enjoy a day of fun activities and treats at this Festive Family Day. The market features a range of food, beverages and homemade products and crafts, while adults and kids can burn off some energy in the Santa 5km race or the kid’s Santa chase. Entry tickets are fully redeemable on refreshments.
Dhs30. Sat Dec 14 noon-7pm. Saadiyat Island (056 6147184).

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
Get ready kiddos because Dolce’s popular gingerbread house making classes are back for the holiday season. Little ones can fashion their own versions of the sweet mini home before decorating their masterpiece with delectable treats such as marshmallows, candy canes and, every child’s favourite, candy floss. Mini chefs will get some top tips from the expert pastry chefs, while mums and dads can help them to get their tiny houses just right.
Dhs175 (per gingerbread house). Aimed at children aged four to 12. From Sun Dec 15-Sun Jan 5. Daily except Fri, Wed Dec 25 and Tue Dec 31. Khor Al Maata,  Abu Dhabi, www.ritzcarlton.com (02 818 8888).

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa



The annual Christmas market and Santa Chase is back with loads for all the family to enjoy. Kids of all ages can have a go at chasing Father Christmas around the stunning golf course, while everyone is able to browse the market selling festive gifts and treats and enjoy the live entertainment from local dance schools, DJs and choirs. You can also visit the Wellness Dome and have a go at improving your golf swing on the simulator, plus enter a competition to win a trip to Mauritius. Other kids activities include cookie decorating, a meet and greet with Santa Claus himself and colouring sessions.
Free. Sat Dec 7 noon-7pm. Khalifa City A (02 616 9999).

Yas Gateway Park
If you can’t wait until December 25 for a festive celebration then a free winter festival is coming to the city from December 11 to 16 to help get you in the mood ahead of Santa’s visit. Yas Winter Carnival will take over Yas Gateway Park for six days of festive fun and will feature a winter market, a tree lighting ceremony, a snow zone where you can build your own snowman and singalongs to all the festive classics. But the best part? Fireworks, of course. The night’s sky above Yas Island is set to light up every night at 9pm with a dazzling fireworks display. The free event will also feature festive food and drinks stalls, a gingerbread making station, travelling entertainers and magicians and more to keep you busy as you wait for the fireworks to start. All we need now is to find the perfect cheesy Christmas jumper and to convince the rest of the office to let us play our festive playlist. Wish us luck.
Free. Dec 11-16. Yas Gateway Park, Yas Island, www.wintercarnival.ae.


CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTINGS

Abu Dhabi Golf Club
This Christmas celebration includes carols performed by a talented choir, a visit from the man in red himself and activities for children. Once all the carols are over you can also indulge in a festive buffet.
Dhs155 (buffet), Dhs85 (buffet kids aged five to 12), free (kids under five). Thu Dec 5 6pm-10pm. Khalifa City A (056 536 2230).

Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel
Get the family together at the hotel's Pool Deck to bring the festive tree to life with sparkling lights with free nibbles and a choir. Watch out for Santa arriving by boat on the mangroves, too. 
Free. Dec 10 6pm-8pm. Eastern Mangroves (02 656 1000). 

Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi
The hotel’s choir will entertain you with a programme of the most festive and much-loved carols, while you marvel at the venue’s gorgeous illuminated Christmas tree in the extremely high lobby.
Wed Dec 4 6pm onwards. Sultan Bin Zayed The First Street (02 698 8888).

Emirates Palace
Of all the places to celebrate Christmas in the capital, this incredibly lavish hotel is certainly the most glamorous. Here you can marvel at the huge tree filling the central grand dome, which will be illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights and candles. There will also be songs, refreshments and a visit from Santa Claus to further add to the festivities, too.
Tue Dec 10 7pm onwards. West Corniche (02 690 9000).

Grand Millennium Al Wahda
Kick off the festive season in style with live entertainment, a visit from Santa and a brilliant array of sweet and savoury treats such as homemade cookies, flavoured milks and surprise giveaways for the kids.
Sat Dec 7 6pm onwards. Hazza Bin Zayed the First Street (02 443 9999).

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Watch the enormous Christmas tree become totally illuminated in the grand lobby and enjoy traditional carols from a choir and festive tunes from a live band. You can also try some seasonal treats and refreshments as you sing away with the choir. 
Thu Dec 5 6pm onwards. West Corniche (02 811 5555).

Le Méridien Abu Dhabi
Sing all your favourite Christmas carols and admire the beautiful multi-coloured tree while sampling tasty bites and seasonal beverages. Kids will also love watching Santa himself arrive through the village.
Thu Dec 5 6pm-7pm. Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiyah (02 644 6666).

Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi
LRM Central is being turned into a proper Chistmas grotto. The Abu Dhabi Choral Group will be performing beautiful carols up on stage while you get into the spirit of things with mugs of hot chocolate and sugary treats. Kids also have the opportunity to meet the man in red himself.
Sun Dec 8 6pm onwards. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street (02 674 2020).

Park Rotana Abu Dhabi
Soak up the festive atmosphere as the resident choir sings all your favourite carols and chefs provide a range of seasonal treats for you to nibble on. Santa Claus will also be making a special appearance.
Tue Dec 10 5.30pm-8pm. Khalifa Park area (02 657 3333).

Radisson Blu Hotel Abu Dhabi, Yas Island
You’ll want to dig out your best (or worst) Christmas jumper for this night of festivities. Watch the Christmas tree become illuminated in spectacular fashion and enjoy a few seasonal beverages and treats with friends and family.
Thu Dec 5 6pm onwards. Yas Plaza, Yas Island (02 656 2000).

Radisson Blu Al Ain
Head over to the Garden City for a night of festivities featuring carol singers and a visit from Santa. Kids can also take part in a special competition with registration open from 1pm.
Wed Dec 11 6pm-8pm. Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Al Ain (03 768 6666).

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
Enjoy festive treats, a beautiful illuminated tree and carol singers at this family-friendly event. Kids can meet Santa himself and enjoy a dedicated area of activities and games, while everyone is welcome to relax on a beanbag and watch the open-air screening of film The Christmas Chronicles.
Dhs30. Sat Dec 7 6pm-11pm. Saadiyat Island (056 660 8780).

Shangri-La Hotel and Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri
Taking place in the Lobby Lounges at both Traders Hotel and the Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri, this tree lighting is the perfect opportunity to stretch your vocal chords and join in singing some festive carols. There will also be traditional beverages, cookies and juices to enjoy.
Thu Dec 5 6pm-7pm (Traders Hotel), 7.30pm-8.30pm (Shangri-La Hotel). Khor Al Maqta (02 509 8513).

Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort
This veteran hotel is putting on a night of Christmas activities with a tree lighting accompanied by carols from the Sheraton choir. There will also be some complimentary festive goodies for you to try, and you’ll leave feeling properly Christmassy.
Sat Dec 7 6pm-7pm. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort, West Corniche (02 677 3333).

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi



Held in the beautiful lobby of this impressive hotel, this tree lighting is definitely worth an Instagram post or two. Entertainment includes a visit from Santa and a performance from a live pianist, while there’s also the opportunity to sample some pass-around festive treats.
Thu Dec 5 6pm onwards. Nation Towers, East Corniche (02 694 4553).


TAKEAWAY TURKEYS

Abu Dhabi Golf Club
Prepare for Christmas by ordering a whole cooked turkey and your choice of two sides including roasted rosemary potatoes and root vegetables. The bird will also come with apple bread stuffing, caramelized chestnuts and cranberry sauce and can feed up to ten people. This must be ordered 48 hours in advance.
Dhs499 (4-5kg turkey). Sas Al Nakhl (056 536 2230)

Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana
Let the chefs at Café 302 worry about the cooking and you can pick up a perfect roasted turkey and your choice of three sides including mashed potato, roasted vegetables and more.
Dhs350 (4-5kg), Dhs550 (6-8kg). Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street (02 610 6666).

Capital Centre Arjaan by Rotana
Pick up the perfect turkey takeaway at Capital Centre Arjaan including a roasted bird accompanied by chestnut stuffing, caramelised root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, apple chutney, creamy mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance.
Dhs370 (6-7kg), Dhs470 (8-kg). Khaleej Al Arabi Street, (02 495 4548).

Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi
Order a turkey with all the trimmings from Central Ground in this Downtown spot. You can choose from two sizes of birds, so no-one has to go short.  
Dhs495 (5-6kg turkey), Dhs695 (8-9kg turkey).  Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street (02 304 7777).

Crowne Plaza Yas Island
Sink your teeth into the perfect Christmas meal by picking up a freshly roasted turkey accompanied by a host of side dishes including cranberry sauce, onion gravy, roasted potato, buttered Brussels sprouts, honey glazed carrots, veal sausages and stuffing. Just remember to order two days in advance to enjoy.
Dhs429 (5-6kg). Crowne Plaza Yas Island (02 656 3000).

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Let others worry about the cooking and you can pick up a roasted turkey complete with mashed potato, steamed broccoli, cranberry sauce and freshly-baked bread rolls from Fairmont Bab Al Bahr this festive season. Just place your order 24 hours in advance to enjoy.
Dhs570 (5-6kg). Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Khor Al Maqta (02 654 3333).

Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
Covering all the bases you can enjoy a festive feast including a roasted turkey, side dishes such as Brussels sprouts, roasted potato, green beans, glazed carrots, truffle mashed potatoes, honey roasted parsnips, sweet potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce plus Christmas pudding and yule log, without lifting a finger. Just place your order two days in advance.
Dhs270 (per kilo). Al Maryah Island (02 333 2222).

Grand Millennium Al Wahda
Spend more time with the family and pick up your Christmas feast from Grand Millennium Al Wahda and you can tuck into a whole roast turkey alongside some festive favourites on the side.
Dhs605 (four to six people), Dhs935 (eight to ten people). Hazza Bin Zayed the First Street (02 443 9999).

Jones the Grocer



Aussie restaurant Jones is serving up some Christmas fare for you to pick up on the big day. You can order a sage and apricot stuffed turkey served with cranberry sauce, juniper-berry infused gravy that will feed eight people and choose from sides including duck fat potatoes, Brussels sprouts, honey glazed parsnips and more.
Dhs635 (turkey only), Dhs885 (turkey and six side dishes). Various locations including Kahlidyah and Khalifa City www.jonesthegrocer.com

Le Méridien Abu Dhabi
Let the chefs take care of the turkey and you can pick up the perfectly cooked bird alongside traditional trimming like gravy, Yorkshire puddings and roasted root veg at a time that suits your celebrations. Just palce your order two days in advance.
Dhs495(4-5kg), Dhs595 (6-7kg). Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiya (02 644 6666).

Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi
Let the experts take care ok cooking and tuck into a roast turkey alongside all the usual suspects including chestnut, chipolata stuffing, honey roasted butternut squash, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, rosemary roasted potatoes, and cranberry sauce.
Dhs400 (4kg turkey), Dhs500 (6kg turkey), Dhs600 (8kg turkey). Dec 8-25 7am-11pm. WhEAT, Sheikh Khalifa Street (02 695 0413).

Marriott Hotel Al Forsan
Head along to this swanky hotel to grab your turkey takeaway this year. You and your family can enjoy a whole roasted turkey alongside all the trimmings, all without any of the stress in the kitchen. Just order 48 hours in advance to enjoy a delicious festive feast.
Dhs600 (6kg), Dhs700 (8kg and Dhs800 (10kg). Khalifa City A (02 201 4000).

Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi



The chefs at Central Grounds are ready to make your Christmas dinner as enjoyable as possible by preparing a whole roast turkey complete with a choice of three sides and a traditional apple bread and sage stuffing, cranberry sauce and roast gravy.
Dhs495 (5-6kg), Dhs695 (8-9kg). Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street (02 304 7777).

Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan
Pick up the festive feast from Mellow Café and you can enjoy a roasted stuffed turkey complete with side dishes including caramelized chestnuts, sautéed vegetables, Brussels sprouts, roasted baby potatoes, cranberry sauce and gravy. Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance.
Dhs495. Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street (02 501 6084).

Radisson Blu Al Ain
Get your festive feast in the Garden City from Palm Court Café where you can pick up a golden turkey and some seasonal side dishes including roast potatoes, root vegetables, gravy and sauces, so you won’t have to cook up a storm yourself.
Dhs208. Radisson Blu Al Ain (03 768 6666).

Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort Abu Dhabi, Corniche
Your Christmas dinner can be expertly prepared by the team at Vienna Plaza this Christmas where you can pick up a turkey the exact size you need compelte with a hsot of seasonal side dishes too. Must be ordered 48 hours in advance.
Dhs59 per kilo of turkey. West Corniche (02 681 1900).

Saadiyat Beach Club
Forget cooking this Christmas and let the team at Safina take care of business by preparing a 6kg roast turkey complete with side dishes including roasted chestnuts, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, mash potatoes, Brussels sprouts, roasted root veggies, pan-fried stuffing and bacon-wrapped sausages. Orders must be placed at least three days before collection.
Dhs550. Saadiyat Island (02 656 3500).

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
Forget cooking and pick up your festive feast from Saadiyat Beach Golf Club where you can get your hands on a freshly roasted turkey that feeds eight people as well as seasonal side dishes, sauces and gravy too. Must be ordered 48 hours in advance.
Dhs499. Saadiyat Island (056 660 8780).

Sama Lobby Lounge
Book a turkey with all the trimmings from this Saadiyat Island venue and choose from two different sizes.
Dhs550 (5-6kg), Dhs750 (8-9kg). Dec 1-25 3pm-6pm. Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas, Saadiyat Island (02 697 0000).

Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort
Let someone else deal with the hassle of cooking up a festive feast and pick up a perfect turkey alongside a selection of seasonal side dishes ready for your to pick up stress free when it suits. Orders must be placed two days in advance.
Dhs495. Corniche East (02 677 3333).

Southern Sun Abu Dhabi
Take your pick from a roast turkey or a beef Wellington this festive season and have it cooked by the team at Filaments. Your main course will come with all the trimmings and you can choose from a 5kg-7kg or 7kg-8kg bird depending of the size of your party.
Dhs495 (5-7kg), Dhs595 (7-8kg). Mina Street, Al Zahiya (02 818 4888).

The Abu Dhabi EDITION
Make tracks towards Al Bateen and you can pick up a terrific turkey from OAK Room served with all the trimmings you expect for a special festive feast to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Order 48 hours in advance.
Dhs900 (5-8kg). OAK Room (02 208 0000).

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal



Let the chefs at Giornotte take care of your Christmas meal and order an 8kg whole turkey complete with stuffing, giblet gravy and a host of roasted root vegetables all ready to be picked up 24 hours after ordering.
Dhs650. From Dec21 to Jan 2. Khor Al Maqta (02 818 8282).

W Abu Dhabi - Yas Island
Take off your Christmas apron, grab your car keys and head to the funky W Abu Dhabi on Yas Island where tasty 8kg turkeys are being cooked to order. All you have to do is pre-order your lunch – which includes all the trimmings – pick it up and lay it all out on the table in your own crockery.
From Dhs750. Sun Dec 8-Tue Dec 24. Yas Island, dining@whotels.com (02 656 0000).

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