If you’re wondering what to do during the UAE National Day weekend, a trip to Expo 2020 Dubai should be high on your list of must-visits.
The world's fair has announced an action-packed schedule of events taking place from December 1 to 4, complete with fireworks, special performances and parades; while there will be “hourly surprises” around every corner.
Follow the latest updates on Expo 2020 Dubai here
If you’re planning a visit, here’s how to make the most of it:
Gates to Expo 2020 will open at 9am and close at 2am throughout the National Day weekend.
Celebrations will begin on December 1; the gates will be opened by the storytellers of the UAE, the “people behind the shows that affected so many people emotionally", says Amna Abulhoul, executive creative director, events and entertainment, Expo 2020 Dubai.
There will be an Emirati welcome happening at all three districts, which will be themed according to the district in which they’re based.
On December 2, celebrations start at 10.15am in Al Wasl Plaza, where there will be a raising of the flag, speeches and a national anthem performance by a children’s choir.
This will be concluded with an Al Azi performance. It is a traditional poetry recital and the five to seven-minute performance will be accompanied by a demonstration from 60 Emirati men from different parts of the seven emirates. This will feature alongside horses of Dubai Police and the UAE Ministry of Interior Marching Band in the "Colours of the World Parade" between 12.45pm and 1.15pm.
There will be another Al Azi performance in Al Wasl Plaza at 1pm.
Music lovers should make it a point to visit Al Wasl Plaza at 3.15pm, when singer Fatima Zahrat Al Ain will be entertaining audiences with a “Music in the Garden” performance.
Special shows and performances
Journey of a Thread
The live performance takes place at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre in the Al Forsan Zone, at 4pm, 5pm and 6pm, during the National Day weekend. It tells the story of a young boy listening to stories of his grandmother, as she spins thread, with his imagination taking him to different places.
UAE National Day Ceremony
Visitors can watch the UAE's official 50th National Day celebrations, which will take place in Hatta on December 2 from 5.30pm, broadcast live at the Jubilee Stage as well as the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre.
Journey of the 50
The crowning jewel of the Expo 2020’s Golden Jubilee performance, this immersive show will take place in Al Wasl Plaza, although visitors can also watch a livestream from the Jubilee Stage.
The 25-minute long performance has been described as an “extension” of Expo 2020’s opening ceremony, as a visually stunning “summary of who we are”. The show will feature many surprise elements and is an international production, with people from the UAE and all over the world. The Journey of the 50 will take place at 7pm on December 1 and at 7.30pm and 10.15pm on December 2 to 4.
The event will be followed by fireworks setting off over Al Wasl Avenue at 8pm on all four days.
Finally, on December 2, guests will be able to experience Exposonix, a 16-piece National Day musical performance taking place on the Jubilee Stage.
There will also be roaming parades, air shows, Ayala performers and drone shows taking place throughout the four days.
Dh50 dining deals and culinary events
In celebration of National Day, a number of restaurants within Expo 2020 are offering special deals in the run-up to December 2 (as well as on the day itself). Here’s a look at some of them.
The burger bar by celebrity chef David Meyers is unveiling a luxe new creation to pay tribute to the UAE’s year of the 50th. The 24K burger features two Wagyu beef patties, truffle Taleggio, black truffle, Oscietra caviar and truffle aioli served in a brioche bun, and wrapped in gold. Customers will be able to enjoy the creation any time from December 2 to March 31, for Dh495.
Alkebulan African Dining Hall
The world’s first African Dining Hall will be offering a select meal and drink for Dh50 until December 2.
On December 2, visitors to the vegan concept by celebrity chef Matthew Kenney in Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion will be able to enjoy a breakfast menu item and coffee for Dh50, if they head there between 9am and noon.
After gaining a solid fan base in Washington and Abu Dhabi, the chic Italian restaurant has opened its Dubai pop-up at Expo 2020. Customers heading to the famous restaurant will be able to enjoy its traditional Italian tiramisu with a twist of Arabian date ganache in celebration of Golden Jubilee month for Dh50. Available until December 2.
The Irish Village
The popular hangout spot at Expo 2020 has a number of dishes available for only Dh50 for a limited time only. This includes Greek salad, tuna salad, chicken sandwich with chips, turkey and cheese sandwich or cheese tomato and onion panini with chips. Offer valid until December 2.
Alif Cafe by Farm2Table
Alif Cafe has curated a one-off menu for Dh50. Guests heading to the sustainable, organic restaurant will be able to enjoy chebab pancake with whipped ricotta flavoured with coconut and cardamom, and farmers' balaleet with shredded carrot and cinnamon served with a golden latte. Available until December 2.
The famous Thai restaurant, which has opened a pop-up at Expo 2020, will be serving a dish of beef skewers – cooked with coriander seeds, cumin, cassia and cloves – for Dh50. Available until December 2.
Rx Coffee Apothecary
The creative coffee hub will be serving a coffee, zaatar babka and canele for Dh50 until December 2.
Canvas by Coffee + Culture
The co-working space will be offering a traditional Emirati meal for Dh50 until December 5.
Rising Flavours Food Hall dishes out an authentic taste of Arabia, and in honour of UAE’s Golden Jubilee, the venue will be offering a Dh50 combo meal which includes select main courses and a soft drink. Meanwhile, visit the first-floor Mezze Terrace and you can avail a two-for-one deal on selected beverages for Dh50, until December 2.
Jubilee Gastronomy, which recently opened its doors at Expo 2020 Dubai, will be hosting a 50-hands dinner on December 2. The exclusive event – with only 50 guests – will have some world-famous chefs working with local talent to create a nine-course feast in celebration of the UAE’s Year of the 50th. And in keeping with the Jubilee theme, the menu, priced at Dh1,500 per head, will be inspired by gold.