Get up close to one of the UAE’s largest and most lavish Christmas trees at Emirates Palace. In 2011, this spectacular tree and its decorations made a world record for the most expensive Christmas tree. The family gatherings at this ceremony are sure to make you a little homesick, but this event will definitely create a lot of Christmas cheer. Christmas carollers and live music will also bring home the festive spirit.
Free. 7pm-9pm, Dec 9. Main Lobby, Emirates Palace, Ras Al Akhdar (02 690 9000).
Everything’s impressive at The Ritz-Carlton, so expect a stunning event for this year’s official tree lighting ceremony. Delicious sweets will be complimentary, a choir will perform festive carols and a visit from Santa Claus will even get the Grinch into the Christmas mood. This event is a perfect way to kick off the festive season in style.
Free. 6pm, December 10. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta (02 818 8888).
Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
One of the city’s most picturesque spots will transform into a beautiful festive location from December 1 when the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club turns on its Christmas tree lights. If you live on Saadiyat Island head down and join in the festive fun that will get you feeling Christmassy.
Free. 7pm, Dec 1. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Saadiyat Island (02 557 8000).
Westin Abu Dhabi
Light up your December at the Westin Christmas tree lighting on their huge outdoor lawn. Adults can enjoy sipping delicious holiday themed beverages, while kids will be delighted to see Santa Claus. The Westin Christmas choir will also bring some festive cheer to the evening.
Free. 6pm, Dec 5. Event Lawn, Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Sas Al Nakhl (02 616 9999).
Desert Island Resort
The Desert Islands’ Christmas tree will unveiled inside the beautifully decorated evergreen lobby. Special festive activities, spa treatments and dining options will be available throughout December. Step inside to see the festive tree.
Free. Daily, Dec 1-24. Lobby, Desert Islands Resort & Spa, Sir Bani Yas (02 801 5400).
Enjoy the merry melodies of traditional Christmas carols and watch as the 10-metre tall Christmas tree is lit in the grand lobby of the hotel, with some delicious mince pies and slice of stolen.
Free. 5pm, Dec 6. Beach Rotana, www.rotana.com (800 7744).
Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Start your festivities with a traditional experience at Al Naba’a Lounge with carols, treats and a visit from the jolly man in the red suit and all his elves as he distributes fantastic presents to the kids.
Free. 7pm-8pm. Dec 8. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, www.fairmont.com/abu-dhabi (02 57 7544).
The St. Regis Saadiyat
Mark the start of festive celebrations at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island with an enchanting tree lighting ceremony. This festive occasion will feature carol singing and seasonal treats all specially crafted by the hotel staff. There will also be a very special visitor stopping by to make this traditional event fun-filled for the whole family. In Olea’s wonderland.
Free. 6.30pm, Dec 10, www.stregissaadiyatisland.com (02 498 8888).
Santa and his choir will be visiting the Millennium Corniche for a festive carol concert. Gather your loved ones and enjoy some festive fun here.
Free. 6pm, Dec 8, Millennium Corniche, www.millenniumhotels.ae (02 614 6000).
To kick off the festive season, take your brood to Yas Marina where they can join the cheeky little elves for some reindeer games on the promenade and lots of festive activities. Santa will arrive by boat for story time before he uses his magic to light up the Christmas tree.
Free, 5pm-7pm, Dec 11, Yas Marina, Yas Island, www.yasmarina.ae (02 406 2000).
Ring in the festivities this December with classic holiday activities like tree lighting, as you delight in a cookie station, hot chocolate and mulled beverages. Write a holiday note to the man in the red suit and witness the grand opening of the gingerbread house in
Free. 6pm-8pm, Dec 10, Yas Viceroy, Yas Island, www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com (02 656 0735).
Sheraton Abu Dhabi
Loved ones can lap up some Christmas cheer at the city’s Sheraton Abu Dhabi hotel. Continuing the festivities, families can gather together in the hotel’s lobby where the traditional tree lighting ceremony will take place, plus guests can enjoy festive goodies while listening to
Free, 4pm-6pm, Dec 9, Sheraton Abu Dhabi, www.www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton (02 677 3333).
Carols and a special appearance by Santa is all you need to jump in the sleigh and get down to the Diyafa ballroom.
Free. 5pm, Dec 12. Crowne Plaza, Yas Island (02 656 3000).
Gingerbread House Making
Little ones can create delicious cookies or make yummy gingerbread houses this festive season. Kids can join in the crafty workshops or simply make the most of the wonderful supervised playroom. Enjoy a 20 percent discount off lunch if you dine at the hotel on the same day. Cookie class Dhs100, Gingerbread house class Dhs150. Minimum six people per class required.
Private cooking classes are available. Every Wednesday, 11am-noon, from Dec 3-24, Yas Viceroy, Yas Island, www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com (02 656 0735).
Sheraton Abu Dhabi
Youngsters can get creative at a fun gingerbread making session inside the specially created gingerbread factory inside the Sheraton Abu Dhabi. Dhs139 per child, Dhs109, from 4pm, Dec 9, Sheraton Abu Dhabi, www.www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton (02 677 3333).
Kids’ can create a classic gingerbread house for an impressive dining centrepiece. Taking place inside the hotel’s Al Nojoom Ballroom, little ones can learn the basics and secrets of creating a remarkable gingerbread house from Pastry chef Muhamed Jejen. Dhs159 per child and one adult. Dec 19, from 10am-1.30pm, Shangri-La, www.shangri-la.com/abudhabi (02 509 8888).
Children will love constructing a huge, delicious gingerbread house fit for sweetie royalty in the shadow of Emirates Palace’s gigantic Christmas tree. With fake snow and white icing galore, you might forget you’re only a stroll away from the beach and think you’re in the middle of a white Christmas. Youngsters can let their creativity run wild with frosting, gum drops, chocolate and cookies.
Dhs200, 2pm-5pm, Dec 12, Palace Dome, Emirates Palace, email firstname.lastname@example.org (02 690 7999).
Come and make gingerbread treats at Beach Rotana. Not only will decorating biscuits keep the little ones busy for an afternoon, but you’ll also have something tasty to take home afterwards, made by your little chefs.
Price determined by amount of sweets used. 11am-11pm, Dec 3-25. Beach Rotana, Al Zahiyah (02 697 9000).
Royal Rose Hotel
Think you may have a little architect in the making in the family? Or perhaps you fancy getting a little hands on and creative yourself? On December 18, the whole family can try their hand at creating an individual gingerbread house. It’s all in good fun, and of course, you will get to take your creations home with you to devour. You might want to put some effort into it though, as there will be a competition to determine the best effort, and the winner will receive a complimentary overnight family stay at the hotel.
Dhs100. Noon-4pm, Dec 19. Royal Rose Hotel, Electra St, Al Markaziyah (02 672 4000).
Families can buy their very own DIY gingerbread house kit and enjoy making this at home. It has everything you’ll need to build your very own gingerbread house, customising it to your unique style.
Dhs99, From Dec 5, 7am-11pm, The Westin, www.westinabudhabigolfresort.com (02 616 9999).
The Ritz Kids will feature gingerbread cookie-making classes, reindeer sack races, junior chef competitions, movies under the stars and an overnight beach camp.
Dhs550, Dec 31, Kids’ activities Dhs50 per hour. From Dec 1. The Ritz-Carlton, www.ritzcarlton.com (02 616 9999).
The big man in red makes a special visit to your kids at Yas Marina this year for a jolly chat and some pictures under the Christmas tree. Your kids can write Santa a letter and post it in the North Pole Mail Box; with the help of his cheerful elves, all of the kids’ wish lists will be taken care of. Santa will arrive by boat at the Marina rather than his usual mode of transport, his trusty reindeer; chalk it up to his cosmopolitan travels.
Free. 3pm-6pm, Dec 11, 12, 18, 19, Yas Marina & Yacht Club, Yas Island (02 406 2000).
The Westin Abu Dhabi
Think Santa is too chubby to be light on his feet? We’ll let you off for thinking that, but rumour has it the man is actually pretty spry. Either way, you’ll get to find this out when the Westin has its festive season launch party on December 5. The kids will be charged with chasing Santa around the golf course, and the first one to catch him wins a prize. Other complimentary activities for kids include face painting and a candy cane hunt.
Free. 2-5.45pm, Dec 5. Event Lawn, Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Sas Al Nakhl (02 616 9999).