It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And having little ones around makes it even more magical so grab the gang and head to these holly jolly happenings around town.
Al Muneera Beach Plaza
Throw yourselves into the holidays at this winter-inspired market where you’ll be welcomed by a whole family of life-size gingerbread men – now that’s what we call a sweet greeting.
Expect merry music, indulgent culinary treats, heaps of festive activities and live entertainment as well as bell painting and cupcake workshops for the younger visitors.
We can’t wait.
Free. Wed Dec 11-Sat Dec 14, 4pm–10pm. Al Muneera Beach Plaza, Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi.
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah is bringing back its weekend-long Christmas Market, offering more than 20 festive stalls, Santa visits, gingerbread decorations and plenty of seasonal dishes. The market will run at the JBR hotel from Friday December 6 until Saturday December 7 from 10am until 4pm, with the man in the big red suit dropping by from noon until 2pm. Each of the stalls will offer Christmas goodies and gifts to fill those stockings with, as well as decorations to make your Christmas tree shine. Food-wise, expect turkey ham croquettes with cranberry dipping, roasted turkey roulade and beef cheese Käsekrainer hot dog, as well as festive sweets like giant churros with hot chocolate sauce, gingerbread man cookies, popcorn and
Free entry, food from Dhs20. Fri Dec 6-Sat Dec 7, 10am-4pm. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, The Walk, JBR, Dubai, (04 318 2319).
Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market
Madinat Jumeirah’s popular festive market is back for another year, and needless to say, we’re excited. The market will run from Friday December 13 until Saturday December 28 – that’s 16 jam-packed days of festive fun. There’s going to be a live band, daily visits form Santa between 5pm and 7pm, gingerbread house decorating, abra tours with the big man himself, cookie decorating sessions and plenty of festive food and drinks. Bring on the mulled grape.
Sun-Wed 3pm-late, Fri-Sat noon-late (Tue Dec 24-Wed Dec 25 noon-late). Fri Dec 13-Sat Dec 28. Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre, Umm Sequim, Dubai, www.jumeirah.com.
Ripe Christmas Market
One of our favourite markets is getting a festive overhaul in December. Ripe Market, at Dubai Police Academy Park in Umm Suqeim is throwing itself into the spirit of the holidays with heaps of activities for all the family to enjoy. Little ones can meet Santa in his grotto and jump aboard the Polar Express train that winds around the park. They can also get stuck into some gingerbread house making, or sit down to focus on a spot of festive-themed sewing. There’s plenty on offer for parents too – dads, you might want to head to the gift wrapping workshop, just saying.
Free. Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 10am-7pm, throughout December. Dubai Police Academy Park, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, www.ripeme.com (04 315 7000).
At home (courtesy of Address Marina)
As well as his scheduled visit to your house on December 24, you can also get an appointment in his diary for him to come and meet your excited little people ahead of the big day. All you have to do is speak to the kind folk at Address Marina who will facilitate – PA Style – for Father Christmas to rock up on your doorstep, accompanied by some merry tuneful carollers, and hand deliver a great gift for every one of your brood. Get the video cameras rolling mums and dads, you’ll want to capture the sheer excitement and amazement on your kids’ faces.
Dhs485 per house. Sun Dec 1-Fri Jan 10. firstname.lastname@example.org (04 436 7777).
The Irish Village
The Irish Village will be throwing its annual tree lighting bash on Wednesday December 11, and we suggest you mark it in your diary now. The popular pub in Garhoud will be hosting a special party, with carol singing from both the St Mary’s Church Choir and Dubai Duty Free choir, mince pies, mulled grape and the big switch on. It all kicks off at 7pm, so be there sharp for a glass of mulled grape (mums and dads) and free mince pies (kids).
Free. Wed Dec 11, 7pm-10pm. The Irish Village, Garhoud, Dubai (04 282 4750).
Christmas Tree Lighting
Fairmont The Palm
On Monday December 9 you can watch the hotel’s Christmas tree light up, can expect Santa dancing away in his musical grotto, free Christmas treats and plenty more. Taking place from 5pm until 7pm, the merry event will be attended by one of the best kids’ choirs in Dubai singing live Christmas carols. Families can meet the big man in a red suit in his musical grotto, while Cinderella and her entourage will be making a special guest appearance for those family snaps. The hotel will be offering festive treats and soft beverages, along with gingerbread making for the little ones. As for parents, there will be mulled grape at Mashrabiya Lounge to sip on while the little ones get a sugar-rush – and a chocolate moustache – from a steaming cup of indulgent hot chocolate.
Free entry. Mon Dec 9, 5pm-7pm. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, www.fairmont.com/palm-dubai (04 457 3388).
This hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road wants you to kick off the festive season with a range of big holiday events to celebrate Christmas and New Year, with seasonal buffets, Santa Claus and live entertainment. To start, Towers Rotana will host its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Sunday December 8 from 7pm onwards. Families all over Dubai can expect Christmas carols, led by returning choir The Aspens, festive goodies to tuck into and a visit from Santa. He’ll even be photo ready for plenty of snaps.
Sun Dec 8, 7pm. Towers Rotana, Shiekh Zayed Road, Dubai, www.rotana.com/towersrotana (04 343 8000).
Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah
Head to the Palm for the big festive switch-on at Peacock Alley. Enjoy festive canapés, desserts and festive beverages, while the kids can look forward to a visit from Santa, not to mention being able to have a jolly good sing-a-long to some of the best-loved carols. So warm up those voices and get practising the lyrics in the car on the way to school.
Free. Thu Dec 6, 5pm-7pm. Peacock Alley, Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah, Dubai (04 818 2222).
Dubai’s iconic ocean liner the QE2 is bringing back its big ‘Winter Wonderland Weekend’ for Christmas 2019, featuring special Peter Pan performances, Captain Hook brunches, its ‘Christmas Tree Light Switch On’ and plenty of Christmas craft markets.
Kicking off on Thursday December 12 until Saturday December 14, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and the rest of The Lost Boys are flying over to perform their pirate pantomime adventure.
After a pre- or post-show refreshment? Tinkerbell will be hosting a Christmas tea party with each show from Friday to Saturday, with ‘fairy delights and Lost Boy lunches’. They’re priced at Dhs135 for adults and Dhs65 for kids.
The Lido restaurant will be holding a special Captain Hook brunch on Friday 13 from 1pm until 4pm, with nearly 200 dishes including traditional festive favourites with cuisine from India, Asia and the Mediterranean.
The QE2 will be kicking off the season as well with its big Christmas Tree Light Switch On event on Friday at sunset, with a choir performing classic Christmas carols.
To round it all off, the weekend will see the return of is a Christmas market on Saturday 14 from 10am until 2pm, offering up hand-made arts, crafts and Christmas gifts with the ARTE Makers Christmas Market on the decks.
Prices vary. Thu 12 Dec-Sat 14 Dec. QE2, Port Rashid, Dubai, www.qe2.com/offers/winter-wonderland-weekend (04 526 8811).
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 15 to help get you in the mood ahead of Santa’s visit – provided you’ve been good, of course.
Yas Winter Carnival will take over Yas Gateway Park for five 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 beloved festive classics.
The best part? Fireworks, without a doubt.
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 a gingerbread making station, travelling entertainers, awesome magicians and heaps more to keep the kiddos busy as you all wait for the fireworks to start.
Get ready to say “ooh” and “aah.”
Free. Tue Dec 10-Sat Dec14. Yas Gateway Park, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.wintercarnival.ae.
Create a festive Masterpiece
Listen up little elves, Santa needs some help in his workshop. Set the kids to work to help Father Christmas fulfil his quota of gingerbread houses at the Crowne Plaza’s Brioso restaurant where they will be supplied with all the tools they need to carry out the mammouth task at hand – overseen by the baking experts to make sure they are all up to Saint Nick’s high standards.
Dhs59. Sat Dec 7 3pm-7pm. Salah Al Din Street, Dubai, www.crowneplaza.com (04 262 5555).
Jones the Grocer
There’s nothing like a spot of gingerbread house decorating to get everyone in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year.
Jones the Grocer is hosting three festive masterclasses where little ones, age four and above, can unleash their creativity on a gingerbread house as well as make their own Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brownies and cookies.
All masterclasses will take place at the Al Manara branch of the popular Australian chain and the price includes all the ingredients and equipment the kids need to whip up their festive master pieces. In addition, all mini bakers get to take home a chef’s hat an apron and a certificate.
A sweet start to the holiday season.
Dhs149. Various classes taking place every Saturday throughout December across Abu Dhabi and Dubai, www.jonesthegrocer.com (800 56637).
A classicAL Christmas
There’s a fantastic festive line-up on at Dubai Opera from Wednesday December 4 to Saturday December 14. Watch a panto, sing along at Jingle Favourites (Dec 12-Dec 14), get tickets to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (Dec 4–Dec 7) or go and see Handel’s Messiah (Dec 8).
Plus for the first time ever, Dubai Opera is hosting a ten-day festive market where kids can indulge in seasonal favourites like mince pies and hot chocolate, while mums and dads browse the stalls where artisanal baubles, candles and handmade crafts are all on offer.
O From Dhs125 (ticket performances), free (Dubai Opera Christmas Market). Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Explore a life-size gingerbread house
Kids will feel like Hansel and Gretel as they explore a life-size gingerbread house full of festive surprises – including chocolate, puddings, yule logs and more. The house is open from Tuesday December 3 until December 31 so there’s plenty of time to check it out. And not a wicked witch in sight, thankfully.
Free. Daily Tue Dec 3-Fri Dec 31, 7am-11pm. Address Dubai Marina, Dubai (4 888 3444).
Full disclaimer, image shown is not to scale. No way you’d fit in here after all that festive indulgence!
Dance into Christmas
Diverse Performing Arts
Diverse Performing Arts Centre is going to be hosting a cool Christmas camp during the school holidays, so if you don’t have any plans for a winter escape, then signing the kids up for a winter camp is a good plan. The camp for little luvvies will take place at their HQ in Al Quoz from Sunday December 15 to Thursday December 19 between 9am and 3pm and is open for children aged five to 14.
The theatrical camp will include singing and dancing to all the festive classics at the Diverse Christmas Cracker camp. Budding actors will also get the opportunity to reenact some of the most iconic scenes from some of the well-loved holiday movies.
And once the little stage stars have rehearsed to perfection, the five-day-long course culminates with a holly jolly performance for all the proud parents to watch.
“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” Awww, we can see it now... tissues most definitely will be required, mums and dads.
Get ready to deck the halls kiddos.
Dhs954 (non-Diverse students), Dhs840 (Diverse students plus five percent -sibling discount). Kids five-14. Sun Dec 15-Thu Dec 19 9am-3pm. Diverse Studios - Entrance A, The Curve Building, off Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, email: email@example.com (04 330 7338).