Christmas is looking a little different this year for many, with the pandemic meaning some people may not be able to travel home to spend the holiday with loved ones.
However, there are plenty of things happening in Dubai for those marking the day in the UAE. Whether it's going to a festive brunch or catching an ice show at Dubai Opera, here are some family-friendly things to do on Friday, December 25.
See the UAE’s largest Christmas tree at The Green Planet
The indoor City Walk rainforest has adorned a 40-metre-tall Kopak tree structure with 300 metres of lights, 60 ornaments and 400 metres of tinsel. The switching-on ceremony happens daily at 5.30pm after the Tropical Thunderstorm experience. When visiting over the festive period, all guests have the opportunity to planet their own seed into organically fertilised soil which they can take home and watch grow.
Daily; 10am to 6pm; tickets start at D110 for an adult, Dh89 for a child; City Walk, Al Wasl, Dubai; thegreenplanetdubai.com
The Festival Experience in Dubai Festival City Mall
Take a stroll through a host of festive pop-ups and food kiosks at Dubai Festival City Mall. Featuring a festive maze, enchanted polar bear valley, singalongs, live performances, gingerbread-house workshops and a Santa’s Grotto, there’s plenty to do. A thee lighting-ceremony takes place daily at 6pm and features snowfall and hourly performances. There are also carnival rides, festive jugglers and mimes.
Until December 29, Sunday to Wednesday, 4pm-10pm, Thursday to Saturday, 4pm-110pm; free; Dubai Festival City Mall, Dubai Festive City; dubaifestivalcitymall.com
Cirque de Glace at Dubai Opera
Ice troupe Cirque de Glace will perform at Dubai Opera on the big day. They’ll present a show that tells the story of the creation of the planet and man’s evolution through a dazzling routine filled with lifts and high-speed throws.
Friday, December 25, 2pm or 8pm, tickets start from Dh295; Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai; dubaiopera.com
Winter tale at Burjuman
Take a visit to Burjuman to explore a winter fiesta. The mall will be transformed into a snowy winter wonderland filled with shimmering lights and surrounded by seasonal festive decor including snowfalls, VR and motion games, and Instagram-worthy photo opportunities. There will be snowfall every 30 minutes in the main atrium and visitors can scan a QR code to explore a winter tale as they walk through the snow-clad forest.
Until January 9, Saturday to Wednesday, 10am-10pm, Thursday and Friday, 10am-11pm; Burjuman, Bur Dubai; burjuman.com
DIY Christmas hot chocolate bar
La Serre Boulangerie has a DIY Christmas hot chocolate bar that will be available until the end of December. Both children and adults can create their own hot chocolate and top it with everything from white chocolate and marshmallow to crushed gingerbread, crunchy caramel and more. Prices start at Dh25 for hot chocolate with toppings and Dh30 for white hot chocolate with toppings.
Until December 31, daily, 7am-2am; from Dh25; La Serre Boulangerie, Downtown Dubai; laserre.com
Escape to the North Pole at La Mer
This year, La Mer has received a North Pole makeover. Journey through a forest maze, filled with snowy trees, candy canes and snowmen – all surrounded by white fences. Also, for a minimum spend of Dh105, guests can spot a golden reindeer or two under the glitter lights and get a chance to have a meet-and-greet with Santa. There will also an outdoor cinema which screens a festive film at 7.15pm.
Friday, December 25, 10am-midnight; La Mer, Jumeirah 1, Dubai; lamerdubai.ae
Family-friendly brunch at The Tap House
The family (and pet)-friendly restaurant expects a visit from Santa, who'll engage with little ones in a dedicated play area, as well as hand out gifts. Meanwhile, parents can munch on Christmas classics – think roast chicken, cranberry, apple and walnut salad and traditional meatballs for starters, and mains like such as barbecue lamb spare ribs, and roast pumpkin and mascarpone risotto. Wrap up the meal with Christmas pudding and gingerbread cookies.
The Tap House also has an evening Christmas brunch, with prices starting from Dh149 for drinks and Dh199 with a nibbles platter.
Friday, December 25; noon-4pm; Dh295 with soft drinks, Dh395 with house beverages, Dh111 for children under 11; Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah; 04 514 3778; thetaphouse.ae
Dubai’s Winter Wonderland
JBR has been transformed from ultimate beach to ultimate festive destination with the return of Winter Wonderland DXB. The Christmassy village is open until Thursday, January 7, and this year features a digital pavilion, a “glice-skating” rink, tube sliding and regular visits from Santa.
Until Thursday, January 7; Sundays to Thursdays, noon to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 10pm; activity prices vary; Winter Wonderland DXB, JBR The Walk, Dubai; @winterwonderlanddxb
Pascal Tepper brunch with an appearance by Santa
Head over to the French bakery in Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai for a brunch so festive even Santa Claus will make an appearance. Guests can expect a salad counter, live carving station with cuts of turkey and festive desserts to cap it off.
Friday, December 25; 12.30pm-4pm; prices start at Dh99 per person; Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai; 056 414 2213; firstname.lastname@example.org
Nakheel Mall’s festive rooftop market
The Palm Jumeirah’s Nakheel Mall has opened up its rooftop space to make way for a festive pop-up market. The space is home to a number of stalls for last-minute shopping, and will also feature live music and entertainment in the run-up to Christmas. There’s also an ice-skating rink, if you are feeling extra festive.
Until Saturday, January 2; Sundays to Thursdays, 2pm to 10pm, Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 10pm; free; Nakheel Mall, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; nakheelmall.ae
Reform Social & Grill brunch
Grab a table at the British venue for a brunch that promises to pack in traditional festive feels. There are a variety of starters followed by a choice of mains such as roast turkey with trimmings and gravy, grilled sea bass and goat's cheese portobello. After a dessert of Christmas pudding or warm chocolate brownie, wrap up the meal with coffee, and British cheese and biscuits.
Friday, December 25; noon-5pm; prices start at Dh350 for adults, Dh165 for children 12 and under; The Lakes; 04 454 2638; reformsocialgrill.ae
Souk Madinat Jumeirah’s Amphitheatre cinema
Every night until Saturday, December 26, Souk Madinat will be screening a Christmas classic – and the best part? It's completely free. Expect to see films including The Polar Express, Disney's A Christmas Carol, Elf and Jingle All The Way screening over the next week. Seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis, so get there early for some on-screen nostalgia.
Until Saturday, December 26, 7.30pm; free; Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai; 04 366 8888, jumeirah.com
Snow cinema at Ski Dubai
Where better to get into the festive spirit than among the snow at Ski Dubai? Get all cosy and settle down for a Christmas classic at its pop-up snow cinema, which will be showing classics including The Grinch, Frozen 2 or Daddy's Home 2. Screenings will take place daily at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm, and you have the option of adding a meet-and-greet with Santa while you're there.
Daily, until February 2021; 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm; from Dh100; Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai; 0800 386, skidxb.com
Kris with a View buffet brunch
The restaurant with panoramic views of Old Dubai is packing in plenty of Christmas cheer with a three-hour lunch buffet, complete with festive tunes. Turkey lovers are in for a treat as the highlight of this menu is a roulade of stuffed turkey breast with chestnut, sage and caramelised sweet onion stuffing, and turkey gravy, and a butter pound pudding to end the meal on a sweet note.
Friday, December 25; noon-3pm; prices start at Dh129 with soft beverages; Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel; 04 377 1111
Christmas at Town Square Dubai by Nshama
Christmas has arrived early at Town Square Dubai Park, where a giant decorated tree takes pride of place. Santa will be stopping by each day for a meet-and-greet with children, while families can show off their skills at a pop-up ice rink.
Daily, until Saturday, January 9; from 4pm; Dh10 for residence pass holders, Dh15 for visitors; Town Square Dubai Park; nshama.ae
Bread Street Kitchen jolly brunch
The quintessentially British venue by Gordon Ramsay will serve up a jolly brunch with live entertainment in the form of a Bread Street Kitchen busker and an appearance from Santa (with gifts for the little ones). Meanwhile the menu will loaded with traditional dishes that have been given Ramsay’s signature spin – such as turkey Wellington, Scottish smoked salmon with caviar and, a new addition this festive season, dark chocolate Wellington with spiced berries.
Friday, December 25; 12.30-4pm; prices start at Dh475 for adults, Dh105 for children between 4 and 11; Atlantis, The Palm; 04 426 2626; atlantisthepalm.com