70 things to do in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the northern emirates this December: from free foodie events to festive days out

You're in for a busy month, if this selection of live concerts, Christmas markets and National Day celebrations is anything to go by

Things to do in the UAE this December: from free ice skating and winter pop-ups in JBR, to the Al Burda Endowment Exhibition and the anticipated opening of Ce La Vi. Supplied
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There is no doubt about it, December is a busy month in the UAE. Not only can we get outdoors and comfortably paddle boarding, canyoning and camping again, there are art shows, live concerts, special dinners and sporting events aplenty.

With National Day weekend, a month of Christmas festivities and New Year's Eve events coming up, you can look forward to 31 days of busy mornings and packed nights out.

Here we have rounded up 68 activities to fill your diary with, to guarantee you end 2019 on a high ...


Paddle with Park House

Enjoy an hour’s paddle boarding or kayaking, with a healthy breakfast, for Dh80 at Park House, Dubai. Supplied 
Enjoy an hour’s paddle boarding or kayaking, with a healthy breakfast, for Dh80 at Park House, Dubai. Supplied 

Enjoy an hour’s paddle boarding or kayaking, followed by a healthy breakfast, for only Dh80 with Park House, Dubai. The cafe, which opened at Kite Beach in 2014, has a new location at Nessnass Beach, and has teamed up with Kite N’Surf to offer this deal. Breakfast options include avocado toast, overnight oats, mini pancakes, beetroot hummus on toast or a yoghurt pot, plus a coffee, tea or lemonade.

Daily, 7am-8pm; Dh80; Park House, Nessnass Beach, near Sunset Mall; www.kitensurf.ae

Trek Bicycle Shop

Cycle fans will already know about the Al Qudra cycle path in Dubai that stretches 85 kilometres out into the desert, taking riders past dunes and even an oryx farm. The closest place to rent a bike is Trek Bicycle Shop, which is at the start of the track. Rental is for two-hour slots, which can easily be extended, and the store prides itself at getting customers riding in under 15 minutes. Helmets are included in the hire fee and weekend booking is essential.

Ongoing, daily, 6am-10pm; from Dh55 midweek; Al Qudra Road, Dubai; 04 832 7377, www.trekbikes.ae

Magnum Fitness Beach

Winter is beach bootcamp season and those looking to train outdoors should head to Kite Beach in Dubai and Magnum Fitness Beach. With a full gym set up on the beach, including weights and an octagon, followers of mixed martial arts and Muay Thai can work up a sweat while enjoying a sea view. Group classes and personal trainers are available, as are monthly packages.

Ongoing, daily, 10am-10pm; from Dh80 for one-hour group class; Kite Beach, Dubai; 050 410 0338

Try a free navy bootcamp

Every Monday night in Dubai Internet City Amphitheatre, 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.

Ongoing, Mondays, 7pm; free; Dubai Internet City Amphitheatre, Dubai Internet City; www.navydxb.com

Volunteer at the Stray Dogs Centre UAQ

UMM ALQUWAIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Dogs at the Stray Dog Centre, Umm AL Quwain.  Ruel Pableo for The National for Evelyn Lau's story
Dogs at the Stray Dog Centre, Umm Al Quwain. Ruel Pableo for The National

The folks at the Stray Dogs Centre UAQ look after almost 400 rescue dogs at their shelter in the Um Al Quwain desert, which makes for a lot of legs to be walked. Their mid-week walks happen on Monday evenings and Wednesday mornings. If you are free, don some comfortable shoes and get ready to walk the sandy circuit with a dog or two on a leash as many times as you can manage.

Mondays, 4.15pm and Wednesdays, 8am; free; meeting point at Enoc petrol station, Ajman, 311 Road; www.sdcuaq.com

Check out Matsu’s new Sakazuki Nights

For a mid-week Japanese culinary experience, head to Matsu Abu Dhabi at Yas Links Golf Club to sample the new Sakazuki Nights. For Dh99, guests can tuck into a multi-course Kaiseki menu created by Japanese chefs Yuji Abe and Yasu Takemoto. Servers wear traditional Japanese attire in this ryotei-style eatery that comes with amazing mangrove views. Tuesdays are also ladies' night with three free beverages for women.

Tuesdays, 6:30pm-11:30pm; Dh99; Matsu Abu Dhabi, Yas Links Golf Club, Yas Island; 02 556 0096, www.matsu.ae

Friday BBQ Brunch at The Burj Club

A BBQ brunch at The Burj Club 
A BBQ brunch at The Burj Club 

Fancy brunching in the tallest building in the world? Head to The Burj Club in Burj Khalifa for the Friday BBQ Brunch. There are BBQ stations galore with meat and fish perfectly cut, marinated and barbecued by expert chefs. Brunchers also have access to The Burj Club pool, not to mention amazing views of the Dubai Fountains.

Fridays, noon-4pm; Dh195 (soft drinks), Dh295 (house beverages), Dh110 (children 6-13 years); The Burj Club, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai; 04 888 3900, www.burjkhalifa.ae

Try forest therapy at Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi

Zen the Spa at Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi now offers forest therapy
Zen the Spa at Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi now offers forest therapy

Escape the festive madness with a visit to Zen the Spa at Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi to try one of three new Forest Therapy treatments. Inspired by the Japanese art of forest bathing, the Aromatherapy Associates treatments aim to bring serenity to the mind, body and skin using ingredients like pink pepper, cypress and juniper berry. Until the end of December, you can also get 15 per cent off.

Ongoing, daily from Sunday, December 1, 10am-10pm; from Dh260; Zen the Spa, Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi, Al Miyani Street, Al Zahiyah; 02 697 9333, www.rotanatimes.com

Attend a free Hussain Al Jassmi concert

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.

Daily, until Monday, December 2, 9pm; free; La Mer, Jumeirah; www.lamerdubai.ae

Bid in an online Chanel auction

Red matalasse Chanel bag for auction. Courtesy Sotheby's
Red matalasse Chanel bag for auction. Courtesy Sotheby's

The luxury maison is offering 177 designs, with bids starting from a fraction of their original price, at an online sale via Sotheby’s Milan. On offer are: a multicolour fringe fabric bag (estimated to sell for up to €1,000; Dh4,041); a shearling pop art patchwork bag (estimated €2,500); Camellia bracelets and earrings (estimated €300); a chain necklace with medallions (estimated €200); a red matalasse bag (estimated €2,500); pearl sunglasses (estimated €200); and a rhinestone snake necklace and bracelet (estimated €500).

Ongoing, daily until Thursday, December 5; www.sothebys.com

Marvel at Monir’s mirror mosaics 

A mirror mosaic by the late Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Courtesy The Third Line
A mirror mosaic by the late Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Courtesy The Third Line

It’s the last month to see Monir Farmanfarmaian's major retrospective at Sharjah Art Foundation’s Al Hamriyah Studios. The acclaimed Iranian artist, who passed away this year, is known for her mirror mosaics, which fuse Persian traditional craft and contemporary forms. Tracing her 60-year career, the show features 70 artworks, including never-before-seen works on paper and collages, jewellery and sculptures.

Until Saturday, December 28; Al Hamriyah Studios, Sharjah Art Foundation; www.sharjahart.org

Participate in a burger challenge

The Daddy burger at The Butcher 
The Daddy burger at The Butcher 

Amsterdam import The Butcher, which opened in Dubai earlier this year, is hosting Who’s the Daddy?, a one-minute burger challenge for “the toughest of foodies”. Participants who are able to consume the eatery’s Daddy burger in 60 seconds or less – that’s 230 grams of prime Angus with melted Edam, lettuce, tomato, beef bacon, BBQ sauce and grilled onions – don’t have to pay for it.

Daily, 11am to midnight; until January 1, 2020; Dh69 or free; The Butcher, Dubai Marina Walk, Dubai; 04 428 1375

Al Burda Endowment Exhibition at Manarat Al Saadiyat

Ebtisam Abdulaziz's 'Focal Illusion'. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi
Ebtisam Abdulaziz's 'Focal Illusion'. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi

Following the launch of the Al Burda Endowment programme last year, the work of 10 selected artists is now on show as part of the Al Burda Endowment exhibition, as a way to celebrate Islamic art and culture. The exhibition, which opened with Abu Dhabi Art this year, shows work across various mediums from collage and fabric art to painting and virtual reality.

Daily until Saturday, February 8; free; Manaral Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi; www.manaratalsaadiyat.ae

All-inclusive at Anantara

Anantara, Desert Island Resort and Spa -- Handouts for Summer Special issue in A&L, Aug. 2015. Thi is What We're Loving by Rebecca McLaughlin Duane.
CREDIT: Courtesy Anantara Hotels *** Local Caption ***  Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa on Abu DhabiÕs Sir Bani Yas Island _Deluxe_Room_bedroom, Courtesy of the hotel.jpg
Inside a room at the Anantara Desert Island Resort and Spa. Supplied

Anantara Desert Islands Resort and Spa on Sir Bani Yas Island is offering a new full-board, all-inclusive package where children under the age of 12 stay for free. In addition, every member of a family party of two adults and up to two children is entitled to choose one free activity of their choice every day. Options include archery, nature walks, wildlife drives, lagoon kayaking or a cultural tour.

Valid until April 2020; prices start from Dh1,999 per night; Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa, Sir Bani Yas Island; www.anantara.com

The ultimate desert adventure

Rosewood Abu Dubai has partnered with the five-star Starlight desert camp to offer the Ultimate Arabian Night. The uber-luxurious package includes accommodation in a secret location amid the desert dunes, in a custom-designed domed tent. Butler service and a team of private chefs are included, as are desert activities such as falconry, camel rides, henna painting and dune bashing. The one-night desert experience is coupled with two nights in a suite at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi.

Valid until April 2020; prices start from $15,000 (Dh55,000); Rosewood Abu Dhabi; www.rosewoodhotels.com/limitededition

December 1-7

Catch a screening of 'Papicha'

A still from Mounia Meddour’s ‘Papicha’. Courtesy Jour2Fete
A still from Mounia Meddour’s ‘Papicha’. Courtesy Jour2Fete

Set in Algeria in the 1990s, Papicha tells the story of Nedjma, an 18-year-old student whose lifestyle and love for fashion is challenged by a growing campaign for women to wear the burqa. Directed by Mounia Meddour, the film screened at Cannes Film Festival this year and is Algeria's Oscar submission for 2020.

Sunday to Friday, December 1 to 6; various times; Dh52.50 per ticket; Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; www.cinemaakil.com

See the Burj Khalifa light up for the UAE

The world’s tallest building will mark UAE National Day with a special light display between Sunday, December 1 and Tuesday, December 3. Each night, the Burj will light up in the colours of the UAE flag, while the Dubai Fountains will dance to the tune of the UAE national anthem. The shows will start at 6pm and take place each hour on the hour until 10pm.

Sunday to Tuesday, December 1 to 3, 6pm-10pm; free; Burj Khalifa, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai; www.burjkhalifa.ae

See fireworks across Dubai 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. 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; Al Seef, The Beach near JBR, Pointe on Palm Jumeirah and Global Village

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; dubai.platinumlist.net

Go camping and canyoning in Ras Al Khaimah 

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

Adventurati Outdoor are hosting an overnight camping and canyoning trip in Ras Al Khaimah 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; www.adventurati-outdoor.com

Sigma at Amber Lounge

The UK dance music duo will perform at the lavish Amber Lounge parties at the Yas Links Golf Club on Sunday. Since forming in 2006, Sigma has steadily built a following with a series of innovative remixes of tracks by Ellie Goulding, Skepta and Groove Armada. The band's breakthrough arrived with 2013 single Rudeboy, which garnered a buzz big enough for the follow-up release, Nobody to Love, which topped the singles chart upon release.

Sunday, December 1, 11pm to 4am; tickets start from Dh3,050; Yas Links Golf Club at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; www.amber-lounge.com

Watch the skies light up over Dubai Creek

There will be two days of firework displays at Al Seef over National Day weekend, lighting up the skies over old Dubai. On Sunday, December 1 and Monday, December 2, the display will take place at 8pm.

Sunday and Monday, December 1 and 2, 8pm; free; Al Seef, Dubai Creek, Old Dubai; www.alseef.ae

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 3km 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; 054 456 6283, www.premieronline.com

Giant water fight at Yas Waterworld

Guests can get ready to ‘out-splash’ the opposing team as they compete at the Amwaj Wave Pool battle arena
Guests can get ready to ‘out-splash’ the opposing team as they compete at the Amwaj Wave Pool battle arena

Yas Waterworld is hosting its annual water battle on Monday, December 2. Guests can head over to the park’s Amwaj Wave Pool at 11.48am where coloured water pistols will be handed out to people on a first-come-first-serve basis. They can then team up and get ready to ‘out-splash’ the opposing team as they compete at the Amwaj Wave Pool battle arena. Limited water pistols are available so guests are encouraged to arrive early to pick theirs up. To make the deal sweeter, Yas Theme Parks will be offering a 48 per cent discount on entry tickets in celebration of the UAE’s 48th National Day.

Monday, December 2, 11.48am; Dh130; Yas Waterworld, YasIsland, Abu Dhabi; 02 414 2000; www.yaswaterworld.com

Meet Father Christmas at Maison Mathis

Meet the man in red at Maison Mathis. Courtesy Maison Mathis 
Meet the man in red at Maison Mathis. Courtesy Maison Mathis 

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; www.mm-argc.com

Join in with the capital’s biggest National Day Celebration

To mark the UAE’s 48th National Day, a huge celebration will take place at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sport City. Called The Legacy of our Ancestors, the celebration will tell stories of the UAE’s past, using special effects, sounds and visuals to bring the show to life. There will also be a series of live performances during the evening. Tickets need to be booked in advance.

Monday, December 2, 4pm-9pm; Dh60; Zayed Sport City, Abu Dhabi; www.uaenationalday.ae

Catch a special Imagine show

The Imagine water and light show at Dubai Festival City will be different on National Day: on Monday, 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

Watch the fireworks on Yas Island

The sky will be lit up on Monday, December 2. Courtesy Yas Island 
The sky will be lit up on Monday, December 2. Courtesy Yas Island 

It’s set to be a packed weekend on Yas Island, with National Day celebrations after the Abu Dhabi F1. To round off events on Monday, December 2, there will be a classic car parade, as well as a firework display at 9pm. Throughout the day, there will be a number of live performances, ayalla dancers and food stalls.

Monday, December 2, 9pm; free; Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; www.yasmarinacircuit.com

Toast the UAE with Arabic afternoon tea

Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana will be celebrating National Day with a number of activities on Monday, from a themed cake-cutting to Emirati cooking classes and Arabic afternoon tea offering traditional treats. Guests and visitors will be able to celebrate as well as learn about the county’s history and traditions.

Monday, December 2; 12pm-11pm; prices from Dh55; Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, Corniche Road; 02 657 0000, www.rotana.com

Sample Chef Nobu's white truffle menu

Nobu Matsuhisa himself will be in the kitchen in Atlantis, The Palm's Nobu on Tuesday, December 3, cooking up a special eight-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 Dubai, Atlantis, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah; 04 426 0760; www.noburestaurants.com/dubai/home

Watch Ciaran Lavery live 

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

Listen to Peter Searles's one-man show

On Tuesday, December 3, 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 GuardianEvening Standard and Time Out all giving it five stars.

Tuesday, December 3, 8pm; Dh80; Warehouse Four, Al Quoz; www.ticketslover.com

See the tree lighting at St. Regis Saadiyat Island

Embrace the Christmas spirit at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island at the hotel’s annual Christmas tree-lighting event. A host of carollers will be singing some classic Christmas tunes and there will be lots of tasty treats including minced pies and festive cookies. Rumour has it there may even be a visit from the man in red.

Thursday, December 5, 6.30pm-7.30pm; free; The St Regis Saadiyat Island, Saadiyat Island; 02 498 8888, www.marriott.com

Eat your way around the Atlantis

Atlantis, The Palm's Cirque de Cuisine is back on Thursday, December 5. Courtesy Atlantis, The Palm 
Atlantis, The Palm's Cirque de Cuisine is back on Thursday, December 5. Courtesy Atlantis, The Palm 

‘Tis the season for overindulging, and Atlantis, The Palm’s four-hour Frozen Edition brunch promises to leave you unbuttoning your waistbands. The “dine-around” Cirque de Cuisine concept allows guests to sample selected dishes from nine of the hotel’s eateries, including Nobu, Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, Ossiano, Ronda Locatelli and Hakkasan, on an all-you-can-eat-and-drink package. Expect live cooking stations boasting a range of world cuisines, entertainment, music and plenty of Christmas decorations.

Thursday, December 5, 7pm-11pm; tickets cost Dhs555 for adults and Dhs355 for guests aged 12 to 20, The Avenues, Atlantis, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; 04 426 1000, www.atlantis.com

Hear a story about Abu Dhabi’s forgotten fishermen

Podcast show Kerning Cultures is hosting a listening party. Courtesy Miriam Berger
Podcast show Kerning Cultures is hosting a listening party. Courtesy Miriam Berger

Consider it an audio version of a book club – podcast show Kerning Cultures is hosting a listening party, where participants listen to an episode and discuss its themes afterwards. The episode tells the story of Ramchandra Tendel, who moved from India to Abu Dhabi in 1989 and became the captain of a fishing boat. After gargoor cages were banned in the UAE in May due to their harmful effects on fish stocks, Tendel was faced with having to give up his livelihood and return to his native Gujarat.

Thursday, December 5; 8pm-10pm; free; Sima Performing Arts, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; www.kerningcultures.com

A night of classical music at NYUAD 

Acclaimed concert pianist Awadagin Pratt makes his Middle East debut performance with a recital at NYUAD’s Art Centre as part of his artist residency with the university. He will play masterworks by Beethoven, Franck and Liszt. The Pittsburgh-born artist has been playing since the age of 6, and has performed at New York’s Lincoln Centre and Kennedy Centre. As part of his residency, Pratt will also host a masterclass and lecture on classical music.

Thursday, December 5; 8pm; Dhs100; The Red Theatre, NYUAD Arts Centre, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi; www.nyuad-artscenter.org

Kayla Itsines and Kelsey Wells at Dubai Active

Fitness coaches and influencers Kayla Itsines and Kelsey Well are coming to Dubai to take part in Dubai Active. Itsines, who is the founder of Bikini Body Guide, and Wells, who advocates the PWR (power) style of working out, will host fitness sessions and meet-and-greet sessions with participants and fans. Wells rose to fame after her "Screw the Scale" image went viral and is expected to run a live PWR session.

Thursday to Saturday, December 5 to 7, 10am-7pm; from Dh55; Dubai Active, Dubai World Trade Centre; www.dubaiactiveshow.com

The Dubai Muscle Show 

A lot of brawn will be on show in the UAE, with some of the world’s most famous bodybuilders jetting in for the annual Dubai Muscle Show. Get tickets for the fitness and bodybuilding event, the largest of its kind in the Middle East, which will welcome the likes of the current Mr Olympia, Brandon Curry, to the Dubai World Trade Centre. Entry on the first day is limited to trade professionals, but on Friday, December 6, Curry will host an on-stage Q&A for fans, marking his debut appearance at the Dubai Muscle Show.

Thursday to Saturday, December 5 to 7, 10am-10pm; Dh110 (Friday and Saturday), Dh145 (three-day general admission), Dh500 (three-day VIP); Dubai World Trade Centre; www.dubaimuscleshow.com

Sole DXB 

Streetwear and culture festival Sole DXB is back for another year with Wu-Tang Clan headlining. Set to take place between Thursday, December 5 and Saturday, December 7, the three-day food, art, music, fashion and culture festival is celebrating all things Jamaican in 2019. Also on the musical bill are grime artist Wiley; New York rapper Rico Nasty; and London rapper Ocean Wisdom. As well as international music acts, expect activations from global brands, including Adidas, Burberry and Cadillac.

Thursday to Saturday, December 5 to 7; Dh245 (day pass), Dh375 (weekend pass); Dubai Design District; www.soledxb.com/tickets

Dubai Rugby Sevens

It’s the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 50th anniversary this year, so expect celebrations aplenty at the three-day sporting weekend. International rugby sevens teams will be fighting it out in the tournament, and there will be local championships, food trucks and family-friendly areas around the grounds. Plus, Australian singer Kylie Minogue will be performing at 9.30pm on Friday, December 6.

Thursday to Saturday, December 5 to 7, 9am-11pm; Thursday is free, weekend tickets cost from Dh300 per day; The Sevens, Al Ain Road, Dubai; www.dubairugby7s.com

Eat up at World of Food Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi foodies are in for a treat with the upcoming outdoor festival World of Food Abu Dhabi. Guests can expect live demonstrations from famous chefs including MasterChef India winner Nikita Ghandi and celebrity chef Ghada El Tally. There will also be street food stands and a Guinness World Record attempt for the world's largest selection variety of desserts in one place on Saturday, December 6. For little ones there will be kids' cooking classes, face painting, gingerbread -house making, a cinema and a games room.

Thursday to Monday, December 5 to 9; 5pm-11pm on weekdays and 2pm-11pm on Friday and Saturday; Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi; 042460165, www.worldoffoodad.com

Ice skating by the beach at JBR 

A wintry scene down in JBR. Courtesy Dubai Retail
A wintry scene down in JBR. Courtesy Dubai Retail

This December you can defy the elements and go ice skating by the beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence. An ice skating rink will be set up in JBR for the first time ever, meaning you can get your skate on with views over Ain Dubai, Dubai Marina and Bluewaters Island. Kicking off at 6.30pm on Thursday, December 5, and running every weekend until Friday, December 27, all activities on The Walk, JBR, are free of charge and suitable for all ages.

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from Thursday, December 5 until Friday, December 27, from 6.30pm; free; 6.30pm-10pm; The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai; 800 637227

2019 Adnoc Abu Dhabi marathon

The 2019 Adnoc Abu Dhabi marathon is set to take place on Friday, December 6. While it may be too late to get in shape for the full 42.2 kilometres, you can still register for the 10km, 5km or 2.5km runs, or simply plan to go down and cheer the runners on. The start line will be located in front of the Adnoc HQ Tower on Corniche Road. Free training sessions are taking place at various locations, including Umm Al Emarat Park (ladies only), Zayed Sports City and Al Hudayriat Island until Wednesday.

Friday, December 6, from 6am; Dh50 (2.5km, children under 6 go free), Dh75 (5km), Dh150 (10km), Dh350 (full marathon); from Adnoc HQ Tower, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi; www.adnocabudhabimarathon.com

Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon

One of Dubai's favourite running events is back for another year. The Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon and 10km race takes place on Friday, December 6, offering one of the most scenic running races in the UAE. The much-loved figure-of-eight route winds along, over and under Dubai Creek. Now in its 18th year, it's a popular event for participants and spectators alike – complete with a buzzing post-race breakfast.

Friday December 6, 6am; from Dh188; Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Dubai; 055 607 8748, www.dubaicreekstriders.org

Stock up on festive favourites 

To mark the festive season, the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah is hosting a Christmas Market in its Dome Lounge, filled with sweets, treats and nibbles. Peruse offerings such as traditional shortbread and Italian panettone, while the resort’s bars will also be serving up Christmas-themed beverages from Dh45, to help get you in the spirit of the season.

Daily from Friday, December 6, 11am-11pm, until Tuesday, January 7; free entry; Dome Lounge, Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, Al Maareedh Street, Ras Al Khaimah; www3.hilton.com

Enrol the children at a cooking class

Cooking classes for children at Wagamama in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah 
Cooking classes for children at Wagamama in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah 

Japanese restaurant Wagamama will host cooking classes for junior chefs between the ages of 3 and 11 years, at its Palm Jumeriah, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi Mall branches. Children will make a juice and dish from the kids' menu, such as chicken katsu curry or mini yaki soba, using age-appropriate equipment, even as they measure and prep fresh ingredients, and learn more about nutrition and safety procedures.

Fridays and Saturdays from December 6; 11am to 12.30pm in Wagamama Golden Mile Galleria, Golden Mile 1, Palm Jumeriah (04 551 0192) and Wagamama Abu Dhabi Mall (02 679 7466); 1pm to 2.30pm in Wagamama  Zero 6 Mall, University City, Sharjah (06 543 2515); Dh50

Bring your appetite to StrEAT Feast

This two-day culinary event, which is part of the Abu Dhabi Moments initiative, will give residents a chance to explore global cuisines through workshops, live cooking stations and more. Some of the attractions that are not to be missed are the spice market, providing an array of ingredients for cooking buffs, and the burger-eating contest (think you have what it takes to be the ultimate champion?). Adding to the festival vibe are roaming entertainers like magicians, stilt walkers and musicians.

Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7, 4pm-7pm; Electra Park, Sheikh Hazza Mosque Park, Abu Dhabi; www.abudhabimoments.ae

Go on Cluedo murder mystery tours in Dubai and Abu Dhabi 

Sign up to play detective for the day, as a live version of the board game Cluedo comes to the UAE. The event will transport participants to 1960s London for “The Latest Krays”, in which a team of wannabe sleuths must compete to solve the fictional murder of the Kray twins. Teams will have to solve clues, which have been left around the city, using an app. The game will unfold virtually and starts at a secret location. Take part on Saturday, December 7 in Dubai and Saturday, December 14 in Abu Dhabi.

Saturday, December 7 in Dubai and Saturday, December 14 in Abu Dhabi, 10am-1pm; Dh172, Dubai; Abu Dhabi; www.cluedupp.com

Mohammed Abdu at Cultural Foundation

Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu performs during a concert in Jeddah on January 30, 2017. - Saudi Arabia's "Paul McCartney" took to the stage as the kingdom seeks to boost entertainment despite religious warnings of "depravity." The performance was the first major concert in seven years in the kingdom's second city, according to Arab News. (Photo by Amer HILABI / AFP) / “The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by AMER HILABI has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [AMER HILABI] instead of [AMEER ALHALBI]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require.”
Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu will perform at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. 

Saudi sensation Mohammed Abdu, also known as the ‘Artist of the Arabs’, will be in the capital this month to perform some of his most beloved songs from a repertoire of more than 30 albums at the Cultural Foundation Theatre.

Saturday, December 7; 8-10pm; tickets from Dh250; Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi; www.culturalfoundation.ae

December 8-14

Attend the Yas Winter Carnival

Snow play area at Yas Winter Carnival 
Snow play area at Yas Winter Carnival 

Running with its "winter wonderland" theme, the six-day carnival is teeming with activities, including a snow play zone with a snow slide and snowman-building paraphernalia; a winter market with fashion accessories, art prints, jewellery, home decor, toys and other festive gifts; plus gingerbread-making, face-painting and roaming magicians and carnival rides to keep children entertained. There will also be a daily tree-lighting ceremony at 7pm and a daily fireworks show at 9pm. The main stage will host school choirs, live music and performances such as The Princess Show and The Nutcracker.

Wednesday to Monday, December 11 to 16; 2pm-11pm; free; Gateway Park South Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; www.wintercarnival.ae  

Night kayaking at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - August 15, 2019: People kayaking around Louvre Abu Dhabi at night. Thursday the 15th of August 2019. Louvre, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
You can now take a night time kayak tour of Louvre Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Explore Louvre Abu Dhabi under the light of the full moon with an hour-long kayaking trip in its surrounding waters. Circle the glowing Jean Nouvel-designed dome, which lights up during the evenings, and admire the twinkling lights of the capital in the distance. Guides explain the history of the building as kayakers – who can go in pairs or solo – are led through narrow passages and overpasses before arriving at the steps to the museum’s atrium.

Thursday, December 12; 7pm and 9pm; Dhs120; Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Cultural District 1, Abu Dhabi; 600 56 55 66; www.louvreabudhabi.ae

Winter Wonderland at Al Maryah Island

The Maryah Island Waterfront Promenade by The Galleria Mall will transform into a winter village this festive season to host a number of performances and activities. Visitors can enjoy the sliding slope park, a snow zone and a wax ice rink, and even hop on a train ride. Kids will get the chance to participate in a number of activities including making a gingerbread house.

From Thursday, December 12 to Thursday, December 26, 4pm to 10pm; free entry; Al Maryah Island Waterfront Promenade and The Galleria Mall, Abu Dhabi, www.almaryahisland.ae   

Cosy up with some carols

Jingle Bell Favourites returns to Dubai Opera from December 12-14. Courtesy Dubai Opera 
Jingle Bell Favourites returns to Dubai Opera from December 12-14. Courtesy Dubai Opera 

Book tickets for Jingle Bell Favourites, a family-friendly concert featuring festive classics and cheery carols at Dubai Opera. Performers and musicians taking part include London Concert Orchestra Show Band, Capital Voices and soloists from London's West End, with songs such as Frosty the Snowman and Silent Night on the cards. There will also be seasonal treats served up in the venue's cafe.

Wednesday to Saturday, December 12 to 14, performance times vary; tickets from Dh175; Dubai Opera, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai; www.dubaiopera.com

Luvya Festival Five Palm Dubai

Music festival Luvya is taking place for the first time at Five Palm Jumeirah, bringing 40 artists as well as fashion shows and special food offerings to the hotel. Craig David, Disciples, Lost Frequencies and Klingande are among names lined up to play at the three-day event, which will take over the entire hotel, including its private beach, basement and rooftop. Day passes cost Dh300, inclusive of three drinks, and a full weekend pass costs Dh750, inclusive of 10 drinks.

Wednesday to Saturday, December 12 to 14, timings vary; tickets cost Dh350 for Thursday, Dh550 for Friday, Dh300 for Saturday, and Dh999 for all three days; Five Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; www.luvya.live

Dubai Festival City Santa Run

It's that time of year: get ready for the most festive and merry run of the season. Santas of all shapes and sizes will take to the streets of Dubai Festival City for the Dubai Santa Run, a family-friendly fun run of either 1km, 3km or 5km. Dress up in your best Christmas garb for the yuletide event – but don't fret if you don't have the right gear, you'll get a free Santa T-shirt, hat and beard for taking part.

Friday December 13, 7.30am; Dh125; Santa's Grotto, Dubai Festival City Mall, Dubai; 04 457 8620, www.raceme.ae

Attend a German-style Christmas market

Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah
Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah

The Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah allows you to experience a traditional German market sans coats and gloves. The decor is dominated by a 36-foot LED Christmas tree, while a Venetian carousel stands alongside. Festive food and music aside, the market will keep Santa’s little helpers busy as they take on traditional abra boat with Mr Claus himself, enjoy a giant snowball zone, create gingerbread houses and experience a journey on the North Pole mini train.

Friday to Saturday, December 13 to 28; 3pm to late (from noon on all weekends, and December 24 and 25); free; Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai; www.jumeirah.com/en/offers/festive-market

See Spice Girl Melanie C live in concert

Melanie C, otherwise known as Sporty Spice, will be heading to Dubai on Friday, December 13, to perform at beach club Zero Gravity. As well as a DJ set, the Spice Girl will be performing some of her old tracks, fresh off the back of the band’s UK reunion tour.

Friday, December 13, from 6pm; free for ladies, from Dh100 for gents; Zero Gravity, Skydive Dubai Drop Zone; www.0-gravity.ae

See Dido live in concert 

British artist Dido is coming to Dubai for the first time in December. The White Flag singer is set to perform at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on Friday, December 13. Best known for her soulful and chilled hits, Dido also enjoyed a hugely successful collaboration, Stan, with Eminem back in 2000.

Friday, December 13, 7pm; from Dh295; Dubai Media City Amphitheatre; ae.bookmyshow.com/dubai

Bid farewell to Blue Marlin Ibiza 

Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE in Ghantoot is hosting its last party this month. Courtesy Blue Marlin
Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE in Ghantoot is hosting its last party this month. Courtesy Blue Marlin

Beach club Blue Marlin Ibiza, which is located at Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel and Resort in Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, will be closing down this month. The water-side spot is hosting an Last Dance party on Friday, December 13, for fans to bid their farewells. The event will feature performances by Welsh DJ and producer Jamie Jones, who heads up electronic music group Hot Natured, as well as DJ duo Rami Abousabe and Tamer Malki, who make up Bedouin and draw on their Middle Eastern heritage in their mixes.

Friday, December 13, 1pm-11pm; free entry before 4pm; Blue Marlin, Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotels and Resort, Sheikh Zayed Road, Ghantoot; 056 113 3400, reservation@bluemarlinibiza-uae.com

A journey into the heart chakra

Those looking for a little peace of mind can join a one-hour sound bath experience at Dubai’s Zoga. In this session, Joanne Smallwood will play the spirit drum to lull participants into a meditative state. Tuned to the 432Hz, which is considered the ideal frequency for music that releases emotions and expands consciousness, the drum’s sound can also lower heart rate and blood pressure.

Friday, December 13; 7:45pm-8:45pm; Dhs105; Zoga Yoga Cafe, Downtown Dubai, Dubai; 04 276 7657; www.zoga.ae

Enjoy food with a side of music at Bistrot Bagatelle

After the success of the restaurant’s Bagatelle’s Unplugged last month, the event is back for another evening with songstress Layla Kardan taking centre stage. The singer will be enchanting guests with her musical performances at Bistrot Bagatelle and, combined with fancy French cuisine prepared by culinary maestro, this promises to be an evening to remember.

Saturday, December 14; 8pm-late; The Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road; 04 354 5035, www.bagatelledubai.com

December 15-21 

Gingerbread classes

Help kids get in the festive mood with The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, which is offering gingerbread-decorating classes in its Dolce Cafe. Children will be encouraged to fashion their own versions of the traditional sweet treat, using marshmallows, candy sticks, candy floss and cookies as decoration.

Daily from Sunday, December 15 to Sunday, January 5, excluding Fridays, Wednesday, December 25 and Tuesday, December 31, 4pm-5pm; Dh175 per gingerbread house, advance reservations required; The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal; www.ritzcarlton.com

Palestinian singer Omar Kamal at Dubai Opera

Palestinian singer Omar Kamal’s new album is his most authentic yet.
Palestinian singer Omar Kamal’s new album is his most authentic yet.

Known as the Palestinian Frank Sinatra, Omar Kamal will bring a captivating performance of some of the greatest legends of world from Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Fairouz to Sinatra.

Sunday, December 15; 8pm; tickets from Dh195; Dubai Opera, Dubai; www.dubaiopera.ae

Mubadala World Tennis Championship  

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship is set to welcome some of the sport's greatest players to the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, from Thursday to Saturday, December 19 to 21. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are all confirmed to play at the tournament, as well five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova and Amanda Anisimova, the youngest female in the World’s Top 100. Tickets are available to buy now from Dh100.

Thursday to Saturday, December 19 to 21; tiered pricing from Dh100 to Dh1,795; International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi; www.mubadalawtc.com 

Indian comedian Vipul Goyal in Dubai

Actor-comedian Vipul Goyal will bring his stand-up comedy show to Dubai this winter season. Goyal, who has garnered a strong fan-based following the success of his web-series Humorously Yours, will be supported by comedian Parth Gadhavi.

Friday, December 20, 8pm, doors open at 7pm; tickets from Dh49; Emirates International School, Jumeirah, Dubai, https://dubai.platinumlist.net/

Boyz II Men live in Dubai

They rose to fame in the 1990s, but 2019 will mark the first time that Boyz II Men have performed in the UAE. The R&B boy band, known for hits such as ultimate break-up song End of the Road and the Mariah Carey duet One Sweet Day, will take to the stage at the Coca-Cola Arena next month. The trio, who specialise in romantic ballads and a cappella numbers, will perform at the City Walk venue on Thursday, December 19. Tickets, which cost from Dh200, are on sale now.

Thursday, December 19, 8pm; tickets from Dh200; Coca-Cola Arena, City Walk, Dubai; www.coca-cola-arena.com

December 22-28 

Try a special preview menu at Ce La Vi Dubai

Ce La Vi to open rooftop lounge in Dubai this month. Courtesy Ce La Vi
Ce La Vi to open rooftop lounge in Dubai this month. Courtesy Ce La Vi

Gourmands are sure to appreciate the fact that famous Asian restaurant Ce La Vi is soon to launch in Dubai. And to mark the occasion, the restaurant is releasing a preview menu that's only available for a limited time. The five-course set menu will include a variety of delicious dishes curated by Chef Ko. Diners can hope to find appetising bites like seaweed parker rolls while dishes like the Wagyu beef and broccoli, and roasted Mediterranean seabass, can be savoured by meat lovers.

Sunday to Monday, December 22-30; Dh360; Ce La Vi Restaurant, Level 54, Address Sky View; 056 515 4001, reservation-dxb@celavi.com

Ajman Half Marathon 

If you've eaten your fair share of festive food over the Christmas period, now's the time to work it off. Head to Ajman for the emirate's half marathon event, which also features a 10km, 5km and 2.5km race. It's the first time Ajman will host a half marathon event, so it's a great way to check out a brand-new course, and see more of the emirate.

Friday December 27, 7am; from Dh63; Ajman Tourism Development Department, Ajman; 050 529 9221, www.premieronline.com

December 29-31 

Bruno Mars live on New Year's Eve

Bruno Mars will perform in the capital to ring in the start of 2020. The 11-time Grammy winner will headline the Resolution by Night festival on Yas Island on Tuesday, December 31. Since bursting on to the music scene in 2010, the Grenade hit-maker has become one of the most revered and recognisable names in music. His albums have sold more than 130 million copies worldwide. In 2018, Billboard named his 24K Magic World Tour the fourth-highest-grossing, bringing in more than $237m (Dh870.5m) across 100 shows.

Tuesday, December 31, 6pm; from Dh350, du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; www.ticketmaster.ae