Diwali, the celebration popularly called the festival of lights, falls on November 4 this year. As with every year, lamps will be lit, and sweets bought and distributed. To add a little extra spark to the festivities, a number of locations around the UAE have curated themed celebrations, decors and dishes.
Fireworks and promotions
Dubai Festival City Mall
The mall will ring in Diwali with a one-off version of its laser show Imagine show, which visitors can enjoy to the beats of Bollywood song Let’s Nacho. Elsewhere, an ongoing night market called Ripe By The Bay will offer decorative trinkets and homeware, while a fireworks display is set to take place on Thursday, November 4, at 9.30pm.
Visitors to Dubai Festival City Mall can also enter a draw for a chance to win a Honda Accord EX Turbo 2021, with a spend of Dh300 at the mall or at Ripe By The Bay.
Friday, October 29 to Saturday, November 13; with Bollywood-themed Imagine show on November 4 at 9.30pm; Dubai Festival City Mall; dubaifestivalcitymall.com
The Waterfront Market
The fresh food market offers visitors a chance to catch up on their festive shopping at a Diwali pop-up, which offers everything from traditional sweets to Indian clothing and accessories. Watch a rangoli artist in action, enjoy dance performances to Bollywood and bhangra beats, or sign up for workshops to paint diyas (lamps) and make Diwali cards.
Thursday, October 28 to Friday, November 5, 2pm-10pm; free; Waterfront Market’s Main Atrium; waterfrontmarket.ae
The island will light up the skies with a fireworks display set to take place at 8.30pm on Thursday, November 4, with Dubai Marina glittering away in the background, and visitors can also enjoy live entertainment and food stalls all weekend long.
Thursday to Saturday, November 4 to 6; free; bluewatersdubai.ae
Expo 2020 Dubai
The world fair will celebrate the festival of lights with some lights of its own. A tailor-made show will be performed in Al Wasl Plaza, while on the Jubilee Stage, Late Nights @ Expo will feature performances inspired by Diwali, with artists such as When Chai Met Toast, Shilpa Ananth and Dhol Tasha in attendance.
Friday, October 29 to Thursday, November 4; times vary; expo2020dubai.com
On Friday, November 5, the Palm Fountain will dance to the beats of the foot-thumping song Malhari from Bajirao Mastani, which will play every hour from 8pm to 10pm.
Friday, November 5; free; The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah; thepointe.ae/en
Gold giveaways and offers
Diwali is considered one of the most auspicious times to buy gold. This year, the City of Gold Diwali Glow offer, organised by Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group, will give those who buy gold at any of 125 jewellery retailers the chance to win Dh150,000 in vouchers. Free gifts and discounts of up to 50 per cent on select purchases are also up for grabs.
Until Saturday, November 6; dubaicityofgold.com/diwali-glow/
Restaurant offers and deals
Diwali afternoon tea
Address Hotels has gone all out with a festive afternoon tea, a unique British-meets-Indian infusion that takes in egg burji, cottage cheese wraps, kulfi cheesecake, saffron choux and cardamom cream.
Monday, October 25 to Friday, November 5, 3pm-7pm; Dh175 per person; Lounge at Address Downtown, Patisserie at Address Sky View, Tea Lounge at Address Fountain Views, and Al Bayt at Palace Downtown; addresshotels.com
The restaurant is offering a set festive menu that includes a beverage, cold starter, hot starter, main course, dal makhni, biryani, assorted bread and two desserts for Dh52 (vegetarian) and Dh55 (non-vegetarian). Dishes include favourites from across India, from Moradabad’s veg seekh kebabs and Hyderabad’s mutton biryani served in an earthen pot to Kolkata’s fish curry patta and a cooling shikanji beverage.
Sunday, October 24 to Wednesday, November 30; Dh52 or Dh55, on weekends, the festive menu is available as a la carte; Dhaba Lane Karama and Dhaba Lane Garhoud; dhaba-lane.com
There's no such thing as too many sweets during Diwali. For gifting purposes, consider hampers from Khau Galli, which come in various options including wooden baskets decorated with festive themes and traditional brass jars filled with dry fruits. Authentic Rajasthani and Gujarati gift boxes are also available in small, medium and large sizes. The hampers can be customised to suit individual budgets and sweetmeat choices.
Available until stocks last; prices start at Dh50; Cluster T, Lake Level, Jumeirah Lakes Towers; 050 925 6061
Decked out for Diwali, the North Indian restaurant will offer a three-course Diwali menu, available in vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. On offer are dishes such as murgh nimbu kali mirch, bharwan tandoori aloo and family-style sharing platters that can be enjoyed against a backdrop of foot-thumping beats by a DJ on Friday and Saturday, November 5 and 6.
Wednesday, November 3 to Saturday, November 6; 5pm-11pm; Dh185 per person with soft drinks; Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel; 04 455 1111
The all-day restaurant at Atlantis, The Palm is celebrating Diwali with a festive dinner buffet. From 6pm onwards, tuck into dishes such as Malabar-style crab curry, biryani and rumali roti, and indulge in the live chaat corner, Indian bread station, carving station and seafood bar. Apart from all the dishes and sweets (there’s also fresh gulab jamun, rasgulla and a jalebi station), there will also be dance performances, rangoli art, henna painting and more.
Thursday to Saturday, November 4 to 6; 6pm-10pm; Dh255 for adults and Dh127.5 for children; Atlantis, The Palm; 04 426 2626; atlantis.com/dubai/restaurants/kaleidoscope
The home-grown brand has launched a limited-edition Diwali collector’s box. Great for gifting, each box features sachets of tea, a three-in-one mix blend of karak and masala chai from Project Chaiwala, and a candle, made with pure soy wax and contained in an upcycled concrete jar. Project Chaiwala has also teamed up with Lebanese artist Nourie Flayan to create a custom-made deck of cards with themed illustrations.
Delivery across the UAE until stocks last; Dh375; projectchaiwala.com/pages/happy-diwali
The restaurant that prides itself on serving "food beyond borders" has a set Diwali menu for two, which takes in two starters, a biryani, two main courses and two desserts for a fixed price of Dh139. On the menu are dishes such as kadak palak chaat, machi Ambarsari, biryani Awadh ki, achari paneer, dhaba da murgh and more. Wrap up the meal with assorted Diwali sweets or a Parle G sandwich.
Thursday to Saturday, November 4 to 6; Dh139 for two; Zabeel Road, Al Karama; 04 399 7775
The vegetarian restaurant is celebrating Diwali with a limited-time Marwari thali inspired by Rajasthani food culture. On the platter are dishes such as dal batti churma, gatta curry, mirchi kutta, garlic chutney and rice, along with a glass of lassi for Dh30. To sweeten the deal, anyone who orders the Diwali special vegetarian Marwari thali will be served complimentary ghee motichoor laddoo. The restaurant has also put together gift boxes with various Indian sweets, including kesar katli and kaju pista rolls.
Thursday to Saturday, November 4 to 6; Dh30 for the thali with the complimentary laddoo, Dh80 to Dh120 for the sweet boxes; branches in JLT and Oud Metha; 04 379 5493