Diwali shows, attractions and food not to miss at Expo 2020 Dubai

The festival of lights will be celebrated across the weekend with special shows, concerts and food offers

Diwali is one of the biggest festivals in South Asia and Expo 2020 Dubai is acknowledging that with a jam-packed schedule of events over the weekend. Celebrations for the five-day festival of lights have already begun at the world's fair, with some of the biggest attractions taking place on the main day on Thursday. Events will continue until Saturday, with shows, attractions and special food offers planned.

Scroll through the gallery above for pictures of Diwali preparations at Expo 2020 Dubai. Follow the latest updates on the Expo here

Below are the Diwali events not to be missed.

Concerts

The ongoing Late Nights @ Expo concert series will host a Diwali special for two nights with Badshah, currently one of the hottest names in the Indian music scene, as the star attraction. The rapper, known for hits such as Paani Paani and Genda Phool, will perform on Thursday (November 4) along with singers Aastha Gill and Rico.

Fans can look forward to a rendition of the viral Bachpan Ka Pyaar song featuring all the three artists as well as young internet sensation Sahdev Dirdo. The song has been viewed more than 276 million times on YouTube since its debut in August.

Thursday night will also feature performances by Dhol Tasha, a Dubai band made up of Indian musicians, known for their traditional tunes. Multilingual indie-folk band When Chai Met Toast from Kochi, South India, will complete the line-up. Comprising lead vocalist Ashwin Gopakumar, guitarist Achyuth Jaigopal, keyboardist Palee Francis and drummer Pai Sailesh, the band will present their blend of folk, rock, synth and electronic music.

On Friday, UAE music star Esther Eden, who scored a recording contract with international label Universal Music at the age of 17, will open the Diwali weekend with her jazz-influenced, self-penned tunes. Eden will be joined by Indian vocalist and composer Shilpa Ananth who is known for her unique sound fusing soul, jazz and electronic influences. Ananth, who splits her time living in Dubai and New York, merges three of India’s oldest languages – Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi – with English to create music that transcends borders and cultures.

New Delhi band Peter Cat Recording Co, whose lead front man Suryakant Sawhney's voice has been likened to that of legendary Rat Pack singer Dean Martin, will also perform on Friday. With seven albums behind them, the band is known for their experimentation with jazz, ambient and electronic music.

At the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, musician duo Salim-Suleiman, whose credits include some of the biggest Bollywood hits spanning more than a decade, will perform on Thursday, starting at 9pm. Dubai rock band Dhruv, who perform mostly in Hindi, will be on the same stage on Friday, starting at 8.30pm.

Late Nights @ Expo’s Diwali weekend is at the Jubilee Stage from 10.30pm to 1am on both nights. Admission is open to all Expo 2020 ticket holders on a first-come, first-served basis

Food

Diwali is as much about food as it is a celebration of new beginnings. And Expo 2020's many restaurants will take note, offering up special menus and flavours for the occasion.

Hailed as one of the UK's most creative and accomplished Indian chefs, Rohit Ghai has brought his first solo restaurant, Kutir, from London’s Chelsea to the world's fair. To mark Diwali, Kutir will present a special five-course Signature Expedition set menu, including vegetarian options, from Thursday to Saturday.

Bread Ahead Bakery & School is hosting Diwali-themed workshops where they will teach techniques for baking traditional Indian sweet treats served as a centrepiece during Diwali. On the menu are bread ladoos (sweetened bread bundles), nan khatai (orange, almond and cardamom biscuits) and gulab jamun (milk-solid-based sweets) soaked in saffron and rose syrup. The two to three-hour Diwali classes take place on Thursday and Friday from 6pm.

The bakery will also be selling special pistachio doughnuts throughout Diwali.

Farrago, which serves international cuisine and can be found at both the Mobility and Sustainability districts, has also introduced an extensive Diwali sweets menu, serving everything from rasgulla (a sweet, soft, spongy dessert), kesari phirni (Kashmiri rice pudding), rasmalai (a Bengali sweet made with Indian cottage cheese) and boondi ladoos (festive sweets made with gram flour, ghee, sugar, nuts and cardamom powder). The Diwali sweets menu will be available until Saturday.

2020 Club by Emaar, the restaurant located next to Al Wasl Dome and the UAE pavilion, will offer an exclusive Diwali dinner, with five contemporary cuisines to choose from. The restaurant’s farm-to-table concept features scores of organic and local ingredients in line with Expo 2020’s sustainability ethos.

Those looking for a no-frills, budget-friendly Indian meal can head to Al Farwania, which originally started as a tiny tea shop in Dubai in 1981. Expect to enjoy dal, parathas, keema and chilli parathas, washed down with Al Farwania’s famous karak chai.

Restaurants and workshops will require advance booking so make sure to check before heading to the fair.

Other attractions

To mark the festivities, the India Pavilion will offer dance, music and food specials until Saturday. It even has an interactive musical LED rangoli – the colourful designs traditionally made from flower petals, coloured rice or sand, meant to bring good luck – activated when visitors step on sensors, radiating light and patterns to represent happiness, positivity and prosperity.

Every night, Al Wasl Plaza, the centrepiece of Expo 2020, will present a specially curated show to celebrate Diwali. The 360-degree projection on the world’s largest immersive dome will come alive with illumination created especially for Diwali, while live performances will be held at the plaza. Visitors can catch the shows every night until Saturday, from 10pm to 11pm.

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Scroll through the gallery below for images of Diwali preparations across India:

Updated: November 4th 2021, 8:57 AM