Winter wonderland: things to do during the festive season in the UAE

From tree-lighting ceremonies to Gingerbread House afternoon tea to the Dubai Winter Festival, we round up the best Christmas-themed activities for this month

Head to The Galleria on Al Maryah for a tree-lighting ceremony on December 14. Courtesy The Galleria
Head to The Galleria on Al Maryah for a tree-lighting ceremony on December 14. Courtesy The Galleria

December is finally here. While it may not feel like a traditional winter wonderland, there's plenty of places to celebrate the festivities around the UAE.


What: Discover a variety of handmade goodies and sample classic delicacies as you stroll around the stalls at the Christmas market at The Village. Enjoy enchanting surroundings at the centre garden while searching for Christmas gifts for your loved ones. Don't miss out on the tree-lighting event on December 6 at 5.30pm. Listen to the festive songs from The Village’s Christmas team, while children can celebrate with various activities including the bouncy castle.

When: December 16 to 23, from 4pm to 9pm

Where: Le Meridien Abu Dhabi

Price: Free entry. Call 02 644 6666 or email for bookings and inquiries

Children can get their face painted at the Winter WondeRave. Courtesy Party Monsters
Children can get their face painted at the Winter WondeRave. Courtesy Party Monsters


What: Ravers of all ages are welcomed to attend this musical event. Families can expect festive shenanigans including break dancing Santa meet-and-greets, treats and activities, and music presented by DJs Lucy Pink and Heart FM’s Jon Besant. The event will feature a baby sensory dance floor as well as face painters from The Toy Store. Kids can take a little break from raving by enjoying the Splash n Bounce soft-play chill-out zone, which features a ball pool, slides and bouncy castle, or enjoy the Hub Zero arcade station.

When: December 9 from 12 noon to 6pm

Where: The Backyard at Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay, Dubai

Price: Tickets are Dh70 per adult and Dh35 for kids if bought online or Dh100 for adults and Dh50 for kids at the door. Children under 2 enter free. To buy tickets, head to


What: Guests are invited to the annual Christmas tree lighting where they can enjoy festive snacks and mugs of hot chocolate. Yas Lounge will be transformed into a winter scene and kids will be treated to a special visit from Santa, who will drop by with wrapped gifts. Origins restaurant will also host a themed buffet for kids, complete with a gingerbread house entrance.

When: December 7 at 5.30pm

Where: Yas Viceroy, Abu Dhabi

Price: Free entry


What: Bring your child to decorate their own gingerbread house and enjoy festive snacks and refreshments. There will also be a petting zoo that will showcase a range of friendly animals with an appearance from Santa Claus from 4pm to 6pm. Afterward, watch the tree-lighting ceremony from 6pm to 7pm and then enjoy a Christmas movie (first-come, first-serve basis) from 7pm.

When: December 13 from 4pm

Where: Sheraton Abu Dhabi

Price: Gingerbread Factor is Dh139 per child, Dh109 per adult. Christmas tree lighting and movie have free entry.

Kids can learn how to decorate gingerbread men. Courtesy Dubai Winter Festival
Kids can learn how to decorate gingerbread men. Courtesy Dubai Winter Festival


What: Dubai Winter Festival is a celebration for the entire family. Visit Santa’s grotto, shop at the winter market, have a snowball fight, countdown to the giant tree-lighting ceremony, see the magic of snow falling every hour, listen to choirs, experience the thrill of a funfair, meet the Nickelodeon mascots and watch Santa’s New Apprentice Pantomime.

When: December 6 to 9; 4pm to 10pm on Wednesday and Thursday and 3pm to 10pm on Friday and Saturday

Where: Dubai Media City Amphitheatre

Price: Standard adult ticket is Dh75 and standard child ticket is Dh45 if bought in advanced;


What: Treat the kids to an afternoon full of sweet delights and let their little hands learn how to make gingerbread houses. Each child will be provided a gingerbread house to decorate, while the in-house pastry chef provides tips over a fun teatime set-up. Families can later indulge in some quality time with sweet and savoury bites, accompanied by the festive tea range on offer at The Drawing Room.

When: Every Saturday through the month of December from 2pm to 6pm

Where: The St Regis Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi

Price: Dh350 for one adult and one child


What: Discover the most magical time of the year through a wide range of traditional festive-themed events and activities. The hotel’s tree-lighting ceremony will take place in the hotel lobby and will be accompanied by a choir from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, as well as a full Christmas market. The stalls will be set up in the lobby, and offer visitors homemade specials such as whole roast turkey with trimmings, glazed chestnuts and the famed Hilton cranberry sauce.

When: December 11 at 6:30pm

Where: Hilton Abu Dhabi

Price: Free entry


What: Bring the whole family to the mall and watch as it transforms into a sparkling winter world with indoor snowfall that starts at 4pm every day. The kids will be entertained with hand painting, a mosaic wall, a snow globe and magic mirrors.

When: December 11 to 25

Where: Nation Towers, Abu Dhabi

Price: Free entry


What: Visitors can enjoy entertainment featuring roaming performances including marching bands and live stage shows. They can also explore a wide selection of festive food and beverage offerings, arts and crafts, and carnival games for families. The festivities will kick off with an extravagant tree-lighting ceremony at the waterfront promenade on December 14 at 7pm.

When: December 14 to 26 from 3pm to 10pm

Where: The Galleria Mall on Al Maryah

Price: Free entry, visit for further dates and timings

Children can enjoy artificial snow at BurJuman. Courtesy BurJuman
Children can enjoy artificial snow at BurJuman. Courtesy BurJuman


What: The mall will transform into a magical winter wonderland, with seasonal decor, festive activities, snowball fights and artificial snowfall in the snow park. From 3pm to 10pm, visitors of all ages are welcome to lose themselves in the picturesque village located in the mall’s main atrium. Children can enjoy the arts and crafts zone, where they can get creative with countless festive activities. The snow fight zone marks its return with its incredible flurries of snowflakes scheduled to take place every 30 minutes.

When: December 7 to January 6

Where: BurJuman mall, Dubai

Price: Free entry


What: Legoland Dubai will be transformed into a festive wonderland, decorated with snow, Lego holiday themed decor, wreaths garlands, Christmas lights and more. There will be a 10 metre tall Lego Christmas tree buildt with over 364,00 bricks. Families can meet the Lego Santa character as well as participate in a festive-themed building experience while visiting the Elves' Workshop where they can also create a personalised holiday card and and receive a limited edition Christmas Lego Brick. There will also be a photo opportunity in Santa's Lego sleigh.

When: December 8 to January 8

Where: Legoland Dubai at Dubai Parks and Resorts

Price: Day ticket stars at Dh235 for non-residents while UAE/GCC residents can purchase day tickets for Dh165


What: With the cool weather finally here, enjoy a Saadiyat Sunset 5K with Santa on December 16. From 5-8pm, enjoy the view and the accompanying sunset. Kids can participate by going to the 800m Santa Chase for kids under 9 from 4.30pm. Also, enjoy two-days of holiday cheer at the Christmas market. Wander around the festive stalls and indulge in some festive shipping, delicious food and dink, and activities for children.

When: Saadiyat Sunset 5K is December 16 from 4.30-8pm. Christmas Market will run on December 21 from 5-10pm and December 22 from 12pm-10pm.

Where: Saadiyat Beach Club, Abu Dhabi

Price: Saadiyat Sunset 5K is Dh140 for adults, Dh100 for 8-16 year olds, and the Santa Chase is Dh60 for 4-9 years old. The Festive Market is free.


What: Once the turkey is consumed, there’s only one place to burn it off: the dance floor at Cirque. The theme for this year is Bad Santa. The club will have the grumpiest Santa, his naughty wife and everyone in-between in the cells. Grab your friends to take in the live performances, great music and all things crazy to enjoy a memorable night.

When: December 18 to 26 from 10.30pm to 3am

Where: Fairmont Hotel, Dubai

Price: Free entry. For reservations, call 50 995 5400 or email

Updated: December 11, 2017 01:04 PM


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