Christmas in Abu Dhabi 2019: The essential guide

Everything you need to know about celebrating the big day in the capital

Christmas in Abu Dhabi 2019: The essential guide

Christmas in Abu Dhabi may not be snow-strewn, but it can be absolutely bucket loads of fun.

In fact, there’s nothing about a Christmas in Abu Dhabi that means you’ve got to miss any of your usual traditions.

But, if it’s your first Christmas in the UAE, here’s what you need to know.

Yes, you’re going to have a sunny Christmas Day.

Abu Dhabi Christmases are perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to spend the festive period wrapped up in snowflake-print long johns and desperately trying to warm up in front of a not-so-magical log fire.

The skies are blue, the clouds are cotton wool, the weather is perfect for the beach (average highs of 26˚C, lows of 17˚C), and outdoor eating and drinking is ON.

So here's how to do Christmas in Abu Dhabi properly...

Turkey dinners
It wouldn't be Christmas without roast turkey would it?

Yes they’re available in supermarkets if you’re cooking your own, but this is Abu Dhabi, and we don't like to do things by halves.

For those staying at home on Christmas Day, the most popular choice is to order in one of the city’s abundance of takeaway turkeys.

Five-star hotels, cafés and restaurants across the city go all-out with their takeaway birds (and rib-eyes, and legs of lamb, and so on), and you can get several kilos worth of poultry, plus roasties, veg, gravy, cranberry sauce starting from around Dhs150.

Though the super-fancy ones go up to the thousands of dirhams.

Most places don’t deliver (shock, horror) – you’ll have to go and pick it up from the venue yourself on the day or day before.

Check out our guide to the best turkey takeaway deals in Abu Dhabi for Christmas 2019.

Christmas brunches
For those who live in Abu Dhabi, spending Christmas in the city is mainly just another excuse for a big Friday brunch (but with a festive theme).

Restaurants, bars and hotels across the emirate pull out every single last stop – right down to jolly Santas and gingerbread grottos.

Prices range depending on the swank-factor (think Dhs350 to Dhs850, on average), but most put on all the classic Christmas dishes, in addition to a sprawling buffet of seafood, salads, grills, desserts and cheeses, and special festive-themed beverages.

You can check out our essential guide to Christmas Day brunches here.

And here's the best family-friendly brunches, too.

Shopping
Speaking of going out, the whole city stays open for Christmas.

Hypermarkets, shopping malls, bars – Christmas Day is business as usual across the city.

So whether you’ve forgotten the cranberry, or to buy your beloved wife of 20 years a present (or aren’t celebrating the occasion at all), it’s no big deal.

Going to Church
The UAE may be an Islamic country, but it is a proudly religiously tolerant one too.

Around Christmas and in the lead up, you’ll find many services available for different denominations at Abu Dhabi’s churches.

Festive markets, fairs and events
Schools across the city host festive fairs, hotels across the city host tree-lighting ceremonies (complete with free mince pies if you’re lucky.

Check out our guide to Abu Dhabi's festive events here.

Work
It's not a public holiday, but you might get the day off anyway.

Christmas is not strictly a public holiday, with the UAE being an Islamic country.

But that's not to say you will absolutely have to spend the big day at your desk typing out important emails to someone who probably won't see it for a few days.

Depending on your job, some employers allow their staff the day off to celebrate the season of goodwill.

For a full list of public holidays in the UAE in 2020, check out our guide here.

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More from Christmas

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The Festive Tolerance Tree is in the lobby of The Abu Dhabi EDITION

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