UAE residents and visitors are gearing up for a long weekend from December 1 to 4 as the country celebrates its 51st National Day on December 2.
Venues all over the UAE are taking advantage of the four-day holiday by staging family-friendly activities and activations from malls to theme parks and restaurants.
Here are some of the best family-friendly offerings taking place.
Expo City Dubai
The recently reopened Expo City in Dubai South is commemorating National Day with an eventful calendar that puts poetry, music and art under the spotlight. On December 2, which is the city's main celebration day, visitors will experience Al Azi, a performance that typically symbolises the passing down of traditions, led by Emirati poet AlWasmy at Surreal water feature.
At Al Wasl Plaza, immersive light projections will be staged, followed by an evening concert by regional artists Eida Al Menhali and Dalia Mubarak, both staples on National Day celebrations.
The festivities will run from December 1 to 4, where the venue will be adorned with cultural decor, complete with an open-air market and roaming bands. The individual pavilions will offer a series of activities, from arts and crafts workshops to photography exhibitions.
December 1 to 4; 10am; free entry to Dubai Expo City; expocitydubai.com
Mall of the Emirates
The mall will transform into an Emirati cultural oasis as part of the National Day festival being hosted at Zeman Awwal, a newly opened space that highlights the UAE's heritage and local culture. National Day-themed artworks will be on display throughout the month-long celebration, while an indoor market featuring home-grown products will run until December 4.
More information is available at malloftheemirates.com
The industrial-chic lifestyle destination is celebrating National Day with a number of activities and attractions, including a petting zoo, henna artists and a live art showcase. The venue will also feature a majlis where visitors can enjoy Arabic dates and coffee. The family-friendly festivities come complete with roaming artists and a balloon-bender.
December 2 to 4; 4pm-10pm; boxpark.ae
Al Khawaneej Walk
The lifestyle venue next to the Last Exitfood truck park at Al Khawaneej is home to lots of shops and restaurants, and several fashion and food concepts — from abaya retailer Senso to Lezzet Turkish Restaurant. The destination will transform this National Day and feature themed decor, a cultural parade on December and an array of family-friendly activities including henna and stage shows.
December 2 to 4; 4pm-10pm; alkhawaneejwalk.ae
The Dubai theme park kick-starts its National Day celebrations from November 25, with fun-filled activities lined up until December 4. Main events include building a miniature flag using Lego blocks, a park-wide scavenger hunt and a parade of entertaining characters. The food offerings within the park, including burger sliders, popcorn, and waffles, meanwhile, will be prepared in the colours of the UAE flag.
November 25 to December 4; 10am-6pm (weekdays), 10am-7pm (weekends); from Dh295; legoland.com
A 33-strong orchestra, a special light display, a violinist and a harpist playing a selection of popular Emirati songs — this is how the massive multicultural destination in Dubai is celebrating National Day. The four-day family affair will also include a fireworks display, every night, prominently featuring the colours of the UAE flag. National Day memorabilia from the Khalifa Foundation, Al Sana'a and UAE pavilions will also be available throughout the celebrations.
December 1 to 4; 4pm-midnight (weekdays), 4pm-1am (weekends); tickets from Dh18; globalvillage.ae
Time Out Market
The food hall in Downtown Dubai is promising a fun-filled day for children this National Day. There will be free face painting and balloon-bending stations, while festive Al Ayala dancers roam around the venue. As for the food, the market is hosting a weekend breakfast special, featuring familiar dishes such as shakshouka, truffle eggs Benedict, and a morning glory pizza. The dishes range from Dh32 to Dh75.
December 2 to 4; 1pm-3pm for the festivities, 10am until 1pm for the breakfast special; timeoutmarket.com/dubai
The famed theme parks across the Abu Dhabi island have prepared exciting line-ups of cultural activities for everyone to enjoy. Ferrari World will feature a large UAE flag for photo opportunities, while Yas Waterworld promises to take guests on an interactive journey of Emirati culture.
There will be falcon handlers, oud players and other live cultural performers across the parks. Henna and face-painting will also be available.
December 1 to 3; from noon; yasisland.com
Bawabat Al Sharq Mall
National Day celebrations kick off early at Bawabat Al Sharq Mall in Baniyas, Abu Dhabi. From Thursday, the mall will host an array of activities for families — from local carnival games, and arts and crafts workshops, to a dedicated children's section with balloon-benders and a face-painting corner.
While enjoying the National Day entertainment, guests can also snap up deals in the concurrent year-end sale, which will culminate in a raffle draw offering the opportunity to win a Lincoln Nautilus SUV. The sale is on until December 31.
November 24 to December 4; 2pm-10pm; bawabatalsharqmall.ae
The fresh food market kicked off its National Day celebrations on Friday, with events planned until December 4. The venue will feature live entertainment throughout, including traditional Al Ayala dancers and roaming cultural parades. There's a dedicated programme for children that includes arts, crafts and virtual reality games. The venue is also hosting an Emirati heritage village alongside the gleaming Deira Corniche waterway, featuring tents that will showcase various aspects of local culture.
November 25 to December 4; from 2pm; Deira, Dubai; waterfrontmarket.ae
Pop-up tents will be pitched across the theme park, where visitors can enjoy cultural activities such as henna art, as well as live cooking and face painting for children. A National Day wall, called Love the UAE, will be installed at the Dubai Parks and Resorts venue, which will also host traditional Emirati entertainment, including Al Ayala dancers.
December 1 to 3; from 10am; free entry; Dubai Parks and Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Road; riverlanddubai.com
A version of this article was first published on November 24