23 things to do in Dubai over National Day weekend: fireworks, free concerts and more

Five days off is always worth celebrating, here's how to do so...

Fireworks, a free performance by Hussain Al Jassmi and a food truck festival: just some of the things happening over the long weekend in Dubai. 
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Another long weekend is upon us, yay. If you don't already have plans for the National Day break, don't worry, we're here to help.

Head here for a list of things to do in Abu Dhabi, or scroll through the list below for a selection of things to do in Dubai. From meeting Santa to fireworks and then food festivals, free concerts and fun runs, there's plenty to keep you busy.

Friday, November 29

1. Cheer along keen cyclists

It's too late to register for the full Dubai Cycle Challenge, but if you live nearby, why not go down and cheer on the keen amateur cyclists taking on a grueling 92-kilometre race? All fundraising from the event goes toward Al Jalila Foundation, and the route starts and finishes at Dubai Autodrome, going through Motorcity, JLT, Green Community, the Expo 2020 area, Town Square, Arabian Ranches, Remraam and The Villa. So be prepared for road closures if travelling around there – the challenge starts at 6.15 am, see a map here.

Friday, November 29, from 6.15am; free to spectate; all around the city; more info on website

2. Dine with a master chef

The champion of MasterChef US season 7, Shaun O'Neale
The champion of MasterChef US season 7, Shaun O'Neale

The winner of season seven MasterChef US, Shaun O'Neale, is taking over the kitchen at Dubai's MasterChef, The TV Experience, restaurant. The five-course tasting menu is Dh240, or Dh420 with a drink pairing. Dishes on offer include kombu cured scallop, truffle mushroom and white asparagus risotto and lemon meringue redux. The menu is available from Thursday November, 28 to Monday, December 2.

Friday, November 29 to Monday, December 2, 7pm-11pm; from Dh24; Millennium Place, Dubai Marina; 04 550 8111, www.masterchefdxb.com/

3. Shop at a community Christmas market

The new suburb Dubai Hills already has its own golf club and gastro pub, and you'll find a Christmas market there from 10am to 6pm on Friday, November 29. There will be a Santa's grotto, a show from Magic Phil and a bouncy castle.

Friday, November 29, 10am-6pm; free; Hillhouse Brasserie, Dubai Hills; 800 666 353.

4. Eat your way around an African food fest 

The waterfront Creek Park near Oud Metha is hosting an African food festival this Friday, with 50 food vendors to try. Around 4,000 visitors turned up last year, and there will be African music and dance too, so expect a good vibe.

Friday, November 29, 12pm-8pm; free (apart from park entry, which is around Dh5); Creek Park; more info on website

5. Go on a UAE-themed 16 km run

The '10 miler season' continues, but this time with a special National Day edition, runners are encouraged to pin the UAE flag to their running gear, get some face paint on and represent the UAE's national colours. There will be a prize for best dressed. There is a 16 km (10 mile) run, but there are also 3 km, 5 km and 10 km options for beginners. There are different age categories for the races, see the website for more info.

Friday, November 29, Registration from 6.30am; Dh175 per person (entry closes the Tuesday before the race); the track at Meydan, Dubai; www.supersportsuae.com

6. See a gig by a Sufi rock band

Junoon got together in 1990, and have been widely dubbed 'the U2 of Pakistan' – the band is playing at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Friday night, and you can expect a passionate crowd of fans. Tickets are reportedly selling out very quickly. When they played a gig in Dubai in January, 7,000 fans flew in from around the region to see them live.

Friday, November 29, from 7pm; prices start from Dh131.25; Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Garhoud; buy tickets here.

7. Relive the Manchester scene

Graeme Park, the original DJ from famous Manchester nightclub The Hacienda is bringing his touring musical event Hacienda Classical to Dubai Opera. The show will see seminal house and club classics reinvented with a full live orchestra, the Manchester Camerata, along with appearances from special guests.

Friday, November 29, from 9pm; Dh250-Dh450; Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai; buy tickets here.

Saturday, November 30 

8. Shop at a craft market on the deck of the QE2

The Arte Makers Market will set up on the upper decks of the QE2, the legendary ship that was inaugurated in 1967, for a special National Day market where you will be able to load up on a lot of UAE-themed crafts.

Saturday, November 30, 10am-2pm; free; QE2, Port Rashid; 04 526 8888. 

9. Head to one of two outdoor cinemas

There are two outdoor cinemas running in Dubai on Saturday night: there's a free screening of Fantastic Beasts at 8pm at The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah. And then, at the Habtoor Grand Resort in Dubai Marina, rom-com Notting Hill will screen from 7.30pm, with tickets Dh75 per person (you can buy them here). At the Habtoor Grand cinema, 10 Things I Hate About You will screen on Sunday, December 1 and The Big Short will be on show on Monday, December 2.

Saturday, November 30 to Monday, December 2, 7.30pm and 8pm; free and Dh75; The Palm and Dubai Marina 

10. See the ‘Fleabag’ stage show screened live

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag stage show to be screened in Dubai on Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30. Before it was adapted into a hit TV series, Fleabag started life as a one-woman stage show in 2013, written by and starring Waller-Bridge. If you weren't lucky enough to catch the show live in London or New York, a recording of the play is being shown at the Courtyard Playhouse.

Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30, 8pm-11pm; Dh100 (temporary membership), Dh700 (annual membership); 'Fleabag' at the Courtyard Playhouse, Al Quoz, Dubai; courtyardplayhouse.com

11. Dine on the grass at a food truck festival

A past Food Truck jam. Photo: Supplied 
A past Food Truck jam. Photo: Supplied 

The Truckers Food Truck Jam is back at Emirates Golf Club, and it all kicks off on Saturday night. Expect plenty of food trucks (of course), a kids play area, a live band, free golf lessons, a market and beanbags to perch upon. Entry is free, and the closest metro station is Nakheel.

Saturday, November 30, 4pm-10pm; free entry; Emirates Golf Club; more info on TruckersUAE Facebook group

12. Go to an African culture market 

There's an African craft, art, fashion and design market at pan-African lounge and restaurant Kiza on Saturday afternoon. It runs from 3pm to 10pm, with music provided by DJ C-Boy.

Saturday, November 30, 3pm-10pm; free entry; Kiza, DIFC; more info on Facebook 

Sunday, December 1

13. See fireworks across the city on Sunday and Monday

The city's sky will light up on both Sunday and Monday night, with the official fireworks at Al Seef at 8pm on both Sunday and Monday; La Mer at 8.30pm on Sunday and Monday and at The Beach near JBR at 9pm on Sunday and Monday. And then, on Monday, December 2 only, there will be fireworks at The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah at 8pm, and at Global Village at 9pm.

Sunday and Monday, December 1 and 2, 8pm, 8.30pm, 9pm; free; across the city

14. Watch a show featuring Filipino superstars 

Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla will perform on stage together on Sunday night at Dubai World Trade Centre. The 'love team' will be joined on stage by Kakai Bautista and DJ Jhai Ho. Doors open at 5pm, and the show starts at 8pm.

Sunday, December 1, 8pm; tickets from Dh120; Zabeel Hall 3, Dubai World Trade Centre; buy tickets here

15. Go camping and canyoning 

Be prepared to get wet on the canyoning walk. Photo: Supplied/Adventurati Outdoor
Be prepared to get wet on the canyoning walk. Photo: Supplied/Adventurati Outdoor

Adventurati Outdoor are hosting an overnight camping and canyoning trip from Sunday night to Monday. The first night will involve stargazing and a bonfire, and then day two will start with a sunrise yoga session before a three-hour canyoning hike that will have you wading and swimming through wadi pools. All camping gear is included, and the trip is Dh300 per person.

Sunday, December 1, 8pm; Dh300; various locations, starting from the Sharjah/Kalba Road; book and find more info here.

Monday, December 2 

16. Meet Santa

The Santa Grotto at Maison Mathis in Arabian Ranches will be open from 3pm to 6pm every Monday, and this week is the big guy in red's first appearance.

Monday, December 2, 3pm-6pm; Maison Mathis, Arabian Ranches; more info on Facebook. 

17. Celebrate with Hussain Al Jassmi

There will be a series of free concerts at Dubai's La Mer to celebrate National Day, with Eida Al Mehnali performing at the beachside suburb at 9pm on Friday, November 29; Balqees and Essa Al Marzouq taking the stage at 9pm on Sunday, December 1 and then Hussain Al Jassmi celebrating with crowds on National Day itself, on Monday, December 2.

Friday November 29 to Monday December 2, 9pm; free; La Mer, Jumeirah; lamerdubai.ae

18. Catch a special Imagine show

The Imagine show at Dubai Festival City
The Imagine show at Dubai Festival City

The Imagine water and light show at Dubai Festival City will be different on National Day: on December 2, there will be a one-night-only display of Faces of the Nation. This will see the faces of people around the UAE displayed in lights above the dancing water. You can catch the show at 8pm and 10pm on Monday night.

Monday December 2, 8pm and 10pm; free; Festival Bay, Dubai Festival City mall; www.dubaifestivalcity.com/en/enjoy/imagine

19. Go on a UAE National Day Walk

Feeling active this UAE National Day? Head down to Al Mamzar Beach if you're staying in the country this public holiday for a laid-back three-kilometre group walk. The family-friendly event will offer entertainment, such as a raffle draw, food, refreshments and a photo service, as well as being a great way to show your patriotism. You'll even get a certificate for finishing.

Monday December 2, 8am; Dh72; Al Mamzar Beach, Dubai; 0544566283, premieronline.com

20. Try a free bootcamp

Every Monday night in Dubai Internet City's ampitheatre, Navy DXB hosts a free bootcamp at 7pm. Those of all fitness levels and ages are welcome to join, but be ready to be challenged. It's free, but you'll have to register online beforehand. You can do so here.

Monday, December 2, 7pm; free; Dubai Internet City; more info on website.

Tuesday, December 3 

21. Listen to a one-man show 

On Tuesday night, British entertainer Peter Searles will recount his travels to the Atacama desert in Chile in a one-man show that ranges from dramatic to funny. The performance received strong reviews after its showing in the UK, with The Guardian, Evening Standard and Time Out all giving it five stars.

Tuesday, December 3, 8pm; Dh80; Warehouse Four, Al Quoz; buy tickets here.

22. Sample Chef Nobu's white truffle menu

Nobu Matsuhisa himself will be in the kitchen on Tuesday, cooking up a special 8-course white truffle menu (for Dh675). Expect dishes such as Chilean seabass yuzu and wood oven roasted scallop. You'll be likely to meet the chef himself too.

Tuesday, December 3, 6pm-11pm; Dh675; Nobu, Atlantis, The Palm; 04 426 0760

Finish your weekend with a relaxed acoustic set

His distinctive raspy voice and honest lyrics have seen him acquire more than 100 million streams over three albums, and Ciaran Lavery will be performing at Stars N Bars in La Mer on Tuesday night. He will be flying in from performing in Montreal, and will then go on to the UK. The bar opens at 5pm, and he will perform from 7pm to 8.30pm. There's then a night brunch deal from 8.30pm to late.

Tuesday, December 3, 7pm-8.30pm; free; Stars N Bars, La Mer, Jumeirah; 04 349 9903

23. Work your way through unlimited tacos

La Tablita is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Dubai (and there are many), and every Tuesday night they serve up unlimited tacos from 6pm to midnight for Dh119 per person. Options include shredded lamb; cactus and halloumi; beef and camel (there are no seafood options on the all-you-can-eat menu) Arrive hungry.

Tuesdays, 6pm-midnight; Dh119; Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek; 04 553 1212.