If there’s one thing you can guarantee here in Abu Dhabi, it’s that you’ll never be bored.
Every year there are amazing events from the beginning of January until the end of December (just think of those fireworks).
Whether it’s huge concerts, massive sporting spectacles or new hotel openings Abu Dhabi, Dubai and further afield will provide plenty of new experiences in 2020.
Abu Dhabi Book Fair returns
Expect big name authors and discounted books at this annual event at ADNEC. While it’s mainly for the publishing industry, there are lots of things you can see and do, too, making it a must for avid readers. This year there will also be a Comic Corner dedicated to DC superhero Aquaman.
Apr 15-21, ADNEC, www.adbookfair.com.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is back again
As ever, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be one of the biggest dates in the calendar in the UAE and will gain attention from around the world. In 2020, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be held from November 27 to 29 with the big race itself taking place on Sunday November 29. Abu Dhabi will once again be the closing race of the F1 season and will begin at 5.10pm, continuing after the sun has set over Yas Island. Tickets for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2020 are not yet on sale but once they are you’ll be the first to know.
Prices TBC. Nov 27-29. Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, www.yasmarinacircuit.com.
Abu Dhabi Music Week makes its debut
As part of this brand new event, three massive events have already been confirmed to celebrate music and provide live gigs across the city. From March 1 to 14, Ultra Music Festival, Club Social and the first-ever DJ Mag Conference will be held in the UAE capital, then Club Social is set to bring two international artists to the stage from March 12 to 14. More details for this first of its kind event in the region are yet to be announced but we’ll keep you updated as soon as we hear anything new.
Mar 1-14. Various locations, www.visitabudhabi.com.
Big names come to Ultra Abu Dhabi
The two-day festival will take place at du Arena on Yas Island on March 5 and 6, and tickets are already on sale. The Abu Dhabi festival is part of the Ultra Worldwide franchise that has previously put on shows in South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, Brazil and Mexico. Now, a host of huge acts have been confirmed for the first Abu Dhabi version. Dance music fans in the capital will be able to see Afrojack, Alesso, Cirez D, DJ Snake, Eric Prydz, KSHMR, Luciano, Nicky Romero, Major Lazer, The Return of Dash Berlin, Zedd, Sasha & John Digweed, Eats Everything, Nic Fanciulli and Seth Troxler. More acts could be confirmed in the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled to Time Out Abu Dhabi and we’ll share the latest news.
From Dhs480. Mar 5-6 2020. Du Arena, Yas Island www.ultra-abudhabi.com.
Club Social is back
The winner of Best Live Music Event at the Time Out Abu Dhabi Music and Nightlife Awards 2019, Club Social will be back in the city in March. The beach music festival will return from March 12 to 14. The exact location and the acts that will perform are yet to be announced but are expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks. Two international acts will take to the stage as well as the Battle of the Bands where the UAE’s best up-and-coming musicians will be fighting it out in front of live audiences. Plus, with plenty of activities, live entertainment, food trucks, water sports and loads more going on, it’s sure to be another exciting weekend.
March 12-14. Venue TBC. www.clubsocial.ae.
Fairmont Abu Dhabi Marina opens
Having watched the building take shape for the past few years, one of the projects we’re most excited to see completed is the Fairmont Marina Abu Dhabi. The huge arch-shaped hotel is set to open in March, though an exact opening date has not yet been announced. The huge hotel features 563 guest rooms, a private beach, five swimming pools, Willow Stream Spa and a number of restaurants. 563 guest rooms, a private beach, five swimming pools, Willow Stream Spa and a number of restaurants.
Opening date TBC. Marina Breakwater, off Abu Dhabi Corniche.
Fine dining comes to Louvre Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi will welcome a stylish new restaurant in 2020, bringing together three of famous names. Legendary French chef Pierre Gagnaire will be behind the menu at Fouquet’s, a new brasserie at Louvre Abu Dhabi. The Parisian brasserie, which has just celebrated its 120th birthday, will open at the Saadiyat Island Museum early next year. Gagnaire was previously behind the super-fancy Reflets at Dubai Festival City and still looks after the city’s Pierre’s Bistro & Bar. Back in France he’s owner of his eponymous restaurant in Paris. He will curate the menu for Fouquet’s. Watch this space for more information as we get it.
Opening date TBC. Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island.
Global greats come to Abu Dhabi Classics
This series of events will take place at various Abu Dhabi venues from January 28 to February 7. There’s a wide range of global talent on show, from French pianist David Fray to the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. Also appearing are French pianist Lisa de la Salle, Lebanese star Magida El Roumi, and Egyptian singer Sanaa Nabil.
Various prices. Jan 28-Feb 7. Various locations, www.abudhabimusic.ae.
Hay Festival comes for the first time
One of the world’s biggest literary festivals is coming to Abu Dhabi and bringing with it a whole host of talent. Taking place from Tuesday February 25 to Friday February 28, the Hay Festival is heading to the UAE for the first time ever, bringing with it award-winning writers, journalists, historians, film-makers and artists from around the world.
There is something for everyone, including Booker prize winners like Jokha Alharthi and Bernardine Evaristo, Nobel Prize-winners, Wole Soyinka, Shirin Ebadi and Ahmed Galai, historians including William Dalrymple and Shashi Tharoor and poets Qassim Haddad, Tishani Doshi and Yang Lian.
Foodies take note because food writer Hanan Sayed will be sharing her culinary insights while an impressive number of highly-acclaimed regional novelists like Egyptian writer Adhaf Soueif, Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto and Hoda Barakat from Lebanon will also be taking part.
And there’s plenty for the littlest literary lovers and their mums and dads to enjoy too. The family programme includes children’s authors Andy Stanton, Onjali Q Rauf, Michelle Paver and Philip Ardagh.
Tue Feb 25-Fri Feb 27. Various locations including Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, www.hayfestival.org/abu-dhabi.
More shopping options at Reem Mall
We’re not short of great places to shop in Abu Dhabi and soon there will be another huge mall where we can indulge in some retail therapy. Reem Mall, the brand new shopping centre on Reem Island, is well on its way towards completion. Attractions include the world’s largest snow park (more of that later), a multiplex cinema, 85 food and drink outlets and 450 shops. Reem Mall is expected to open late in the year in 2020.
Opening date TBC. Reem Island, www.reemmall.ae.
Music returns with Abu Dhabi Festival
Now in its seventeenth year, the arts and cultural festival will comprise a total of 46 events showcasing 380 international artists, under the theme of Unity: Celebrating the Cultural Foundation. The programme features three world-premieres and four Arab-world debuts, with a mix of artists and genres across poetry, theatre, opera, ballet, orchestral performances and jazz. Taking place between March 31 and April 9 2020, the festival will hold events at locations across Abu Dhabi including Emirates Palace and NYUAD, as well as a number of international events in Europe. Some of the big events this year include a return for cellist Yo Yo Ma, a debut by US jazz musician Gregory Porter and two performances from the American Ballet Theatre and the Cleveland Orchestra, who will present Romeo and Juliet.
From Dhs100. Locations and times vary. March 31-April 9 2020, www.abudhabifestival.ae.
Take a stroll along the Mangrove Walk
Scheduled to open this month (but without a firm date at the time of writing), the Mangrove Walk will let you explore one of the UAE capital’s most beautiful natural wonders. Opening on Jubail Island, the walkway will allow you to take a stroll through the mangroves and see the natural landscape and spot local wildlife. Once completed, the attraction will feature kayaking activities, a winding boardwalk, a play area for children and viewing terraces where you can enjoy the stunning surroundings. In addition, a visitors centre will teach you about the importance of the mangroves to the local ecosystem and their environmental significance.
Opening date TBC. Jubail Island.
The Etihad Arena will be completed
Yas Island is arguably the leading entertainment hub in Abu Dhabi. When it comes to concerts, live entertainment, theme parks and sporting events, there aren’t many other destinations in the emirate that come close. So when a massive new arena was announced for the destination, there was a lot of excitement and expectation. Now, the new entertainment destination has officially been named the Etihad Arena, as the national airline of the UAE has secured the naming rights. The multi-purpose indoor arena, located at the Yas Bay development, will be home to a number of big concerts and events once it opens. Operated by Flash Entertainment, it an host events with a capacity from 200 people to 18,000. An exact opening date is yet to be announced but we’ll keep you up to date with its progress.
Opening date TBC.
The National Aqaurium opens at Al Qana
Bringing new experiences and attractions to Khor Al Maqta, Al Qana is due to open at some point in 2020, but we’re not sure exactly when. With the Middle East’s largest aquarium, the largest stand-alone cinema in the capital, a wellness centre and not to forget the region’s biggest reptile, there’s a lot to look forward to. Plus, along the 2.4km of panoramic waterfront, a host of restaurants and shops will also be taking their place as the project begins to take shape.
Knor Al Maqta, www.alqana.ae.
The world’s largest snow park comes to town
When Reem Mall opens, the world’s largest snow park – called Snow Abu Dhabi – will open with it. The venue will be four times the size of Ski Dubai and have 13 rides and other attractions.
Opening date TBC. Reem Mall, Reem Island, www.reemmall.ae.
UFC returns to the capital
When the UFC came to Abu Dhabi last year the world stood up and took notice. Not only was there a huge fight night but there were events and promotions across the city and a massive gig by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. We’re excited to see what is in store this year as the event should be place at the new Etihad Arena.
Time and date TBC.
Ain Dubai will open
The massive ferris wheel will be open in time for Expo 2020. Sitting in the middle of Bluewaters, Ain Dubai will offer spectacular views of the Dubai Marina skyline on one side and the Arabian Gulf on the other. Visitors will also be able to scale up the central frame of the Ain Dubai, then abseil down again from 150 metres, assisted of course by expert climbers and guides.
Buy a hat for The Dubai World Cup
Fancy a fun night out at the races? The 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival season is well underway and runs every Thursday night through until the 2020 Dubai World Cup on Saturday March 28. It’s the world’s richest day in horseracing and you don’t need to be an expert to have fun, plus there will be the usual style contests so it’s worth prepping your outfit ahead of time. There’s a range of packages on offer – plus watch this space for the post-racing concert announcement.
Saturday March 28. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba, www.dubairacingclub.com.
Dress up for Middle East Film & Comic Con
Get your favourite outfit sorted, as the Middle East Film & Comic Con is one of the biggest pop culture celebrations in the region. Filled with everything from the latest blockbuster movies to the rarest of comic book selections, the weekend-long extravaganza even has some of the biggest stars from recent movieas and TV shows to meet and greet fans.
Dhs185 (early bird festival pass). Thu Mar 5-Sat Mar 7, 2020. Dubai World Trade Centre, www.mefcc.com.
Dubai Harbour is coming
An absolutely massive cruise harbour is coming to Dubai Marina, and it’s going to be the region’s first-ever dedicated cruise port when it opens in October 2020.
Expo 2020 Dubai is on its way
There will be 192 countries. It will last six months. Expo 2020 Dubai is the city’s most-anticipated project yet. It all kicks off on Sunday October 20, and we’re already getting excited about it. It’s the world’s first-ever Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, and the city is gearing up for what’s set to be an absolutely massive event, which is about ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. There will be pavilions from countries all around the world showcasing their innovations, food and more. Plus expect to see big name restaurants setting up show and top showbiz names taking to the stages.
Oct 20-Apr 10, 21. Dubai South, www.expo2020dubai.com.
Get ready for The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences
Set for a 2020 opening, the US$1.4 billion (Dhs5.14 billion) The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences development will have 800 guest rooms, apartments and suites with private gardens, terraces and swimming pools. Restaurants include La Mar by Gastón Acurio and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – the first Dubai offering from the famed experimental British chef. There's also Jaleo and Ariana's Kitchen, while famed restaurant Hakkasan will also relocate to the new hotel once open.
Legoland Hotel is being built
Gather the family – this one is going to be a whole load of fun. The new Legoland Hotel will be at Dubai Parks And Resorts and is set to feature everything from a castle play area to a disco elevator. Every themed room will be decked out in colourful designs, containing ready-made Lego models and other fun brick-based activities. The hotel is the seventh Lego-themed property to open around the world, joining destinations including California and Malaysia.
Opening 2020. For more information, go to legoland.com/dubai.
ROKA Dubai makes its Debut
ROKA comes from chef Rainer Becker – the mind behind multiple Time Out Award-winner Zuma. Dubai’s branch of the restaurant will open in the ME Dubai (at The Opus by Omniyat in Business Bay, designed by the late Zaha Hadid). We’re promised an “edgy warmth” and “chic feel. The main difference from Zuma is ROKA is based around the robata grill, doesn’t have a sushi bar and is more “mid-level” dining.
ME Dubai, The Opus by Omniyat, Business Bay, www.rokarestaurant.com.
The Museum of the Future will be here
It promises to combine “elements of exhibition, immersive theatre and themed attraction, the Museum of the Future invites you to look beyond the present and take your place within possible worlds to come”.
The Dorchester comes to the UAE
Get ready for one of the most luxurious and premium hotels to make its mark on Dubai, because the Dorchester Collection, one of the world’s most famous hotels, is coming to town. Omniyat will be bringing the historical brand to the banks of The Dubai Water Canal. The hotel will be a full five-star resort with luxury residences. The announcement sees Dubai join the most upmarket addresses, including London’s Park Lane.
Prepare to sing along at Dubai Jazz Fest
The 2020 edition of the annual festival, now in its 18th year, will be headlined by former singer of the Fugees, Lauryn Hill, R&B, pop and soul legend Lionel Richie, and soulful California pop-rockers OneRepublic.
From Dhs350. Wed Feb 26-Fri Feb 28. Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, www.dubaijazzfest.com.
SHARJAH AND THE REST OF THE UAE
Lewis Capaldi performs
Scottish singer-songwriter and “America’s sweetheart” Lewis Capaldi will be dazzling fans at the Al Majaz Amphitheatre on January 17. It’s his first show in the UAE, and tickets are selling out fast. He’ll be performing tunes from his debut album, which came out in May 2019.
From Dhs156. Fri Jan 17 9pm onwards. Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Sharjah, www.sharjah.platinumlist.net.
Listen up for the Sharjah World Music Festival
Sharjah World Music Festival will be returning on February 1, with South Korea as the guest of honour country. There’ll be performances from musicians from around the globe including Faia Younan from Syria, French pianist Richard Clayderman and a flamenco opera singers Samira Kadiri and Arcangel.
Various prices. Sat Feb 1-Sun Feb 9. Flag Island, Al Majaz Waterfront, www.sharjahmusic.com (06 525 2999).
Make space for the Sharjah International Book Fair
Every November, Sharjah hosts an international book fair which sees more than 1.6 million books go on sale. Aside from the book sale, there are also all kinds of activities such as book signings and cooking class, plus special events for kids.
Sat-Thu 9pm-10pm; Fri 4pm-11pm. Expo Center Sharjah, Al Khan Area (no number).
Sharjah Light Festival lights up the city
For the past ten years, Sharjah’s iconic buildings have been lit up by beautiful projected light shows most evenings in February. This year’s show will take place at a number of venues including University City Hall, the American University of Sharjah and the Khalid Lagoon. You can find everything you need to know on the festival website here.
Free. Sun-Thu 6pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 6pm-midnight. Various locations, www.sharjahlightfestival.ae/en.
Sign up for Sharjah Fringe Festival
There are more than 30 different shows going on every day, including circus performances, theatre shows and comedy acts. Held across venues including the Masrah Theatre and along the Al Majaz Waterfront, this event is not to be missed.
From Dhs25. Various timings. Thu Jan 16-Sat Feb 1. Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba and Al Noor Island (06 556 0777).
Start training for the RAK half marathon
Join thousands of runners from across the UAE in the 14th edition of the world’s fastest half marathon. This year there will be more family activities including a 5k run and a 1k fun run for kids as well as an event village filled with things to do.
From Dhs295 (half marathon). Feb 21, 6.30am onwards, www.therakhalfmarathon.com.