Holi in Dubai: where to celebrate the Festival of Colours

The Hindu New Year is upon us and there are plenty of places to eat, dance and get covered in vibrant colours

The Hindu festival of Holi falls on March 20 and 21 this year. The Festival of Colours is, at its heart, a symbol of the triumph of good over evil.

What is Holi?

The religious aspect of Holi has its origins in an age-old story, in which evil is embodied in the form of Hiranyakashipu, king of the demons, and his malicious sister, Holika. As a result of a divine blessing, the king cannot be killed by night or by day; on the ground or in the air; neither inside nor outdoors; and not by a weapon or by a proverb. The king arrogantly abuses this immunity by ordering his subjects to worship him alone and to forsake all other gods.

However, his pious son, Prahalad, continues to worship the god Vishnu in spite of his father's commands. Hiranyakashipu and Holika hatch all kinds of plans to kill Prahalad, and they fail every time. When it seems that neither poison, nor a herd elephants, nor a roomful of snakes can harm Prahalad, Holika lures him, through trickery, on to a burning pyre. She possesses a magical cloak that protects her from the flames, but once in the sea of fire the cloak miraculously ends up on Prahalad, leaving Holika to burn. Then Vishnu appears as an apparition (not a person, nor an animal), at twilight (neither day nor night) and tears at the king with his claws (neither a weapon nor a proverb), having pulled him on to his lap (not on the ground nor in air).

Holi also celebrates both the New Year in the Hindu calendar and the start of spring and the new harvest. It begins on the day that the northern hemisphere tilts towards the sun, the date moving with the lunar calendar - this year's Holi festival, for example, falls on Wednesday, March 20.

How is it traditionally celebrated?

While Holi parties around the world are dominated by a water-and-colour-throwing bash, with music and bonfires, in India storey-long pyres are lit from the night before. The roaring of the flames mingles with the songs of praise sung by the devout. Tonight winter is coming to an end, and the demoness Holika will be consumed by fire.

Men daubed in colours sing religious hymns as they celebrate 'Lathmar Holi' inside a temple in the town of Barsana, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain
Men daubed in colours sing religious hymns as they celebrate Holi inside a temple in the town of Barsana in north India. Reuters

The next day begins with the tikka (vermilion powder on the forehead, a mark of protection) and is then spent smearing others with coloured powder (gulal), pails of water, water balloons and squirt guns (pichkaris), and, at more rambunctious dos, eggs, milk and tomatoes.

Let's Holi

Friday, March 22

Indian Bollywood playback singer Sukhwinder Singh performs during the 71st birthday party for director and producer Subhash Ghai in Mumbai on January 24, 2016. AFP PHOTO (Photo by STR / AFP)
Sukhwinder Singh. AFP photo

Attend Let’s Holi at IMG Worlds of Adventure. Spend the day enjoying the rides and attractions based on Cartoon Network, Marvel and more. Then stick around for a performance by Indian playback singer Sukhwinder Singh, whose hits include Jai Ho, Chaiyya Chaiyya and Haule Haule. There will be a rain dance, live DJ, dhol and bhangra dancers, a kavya band, colours and more.

10am to 5pm, from Dh79, IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai, 04 457 3212, www.platinumlist.net

Rang Day 2019

Friday, March 22

Bollywood singer Shalmali Kholgade will perform at Rang Day 2019 in Dubai on Friday, March 22. (Photo by Manoj Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Shalmali Kholgade. Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Celebrate a wet Holi at Rang Day 2019, so bring your pichkaris and water balloons to make the most of the fun. Live performances include Shalmali Kholgade, Nakash Aziz, Manj Musik and Nindy Kaur along with local artists Rooh Band, DJ Shadow Dubai and DJ Emwee. Colours, food and beverages will be available as well as a flea market and children’s entertainment.

10am to 6pm, from Dh45; free for children younger than 12, Wonderland Theme Park, near Al Garhood Bridge, Dubai, 04 352 2271, www.platinumlist.net

Holi Beach Party

Friday, March 22

The Holi Beach Party features 11 artists on one stage, including Jeff, Buddha, Sib, Varun Sharma, Blaze, Mad Max, Atul, Vilo, Lathish and Shyamasutra. There will be colours, Bollywood music, food and more.

From 11am to midnight, from Dh100, Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa, Dubai, 04 814 5555, www.platinumlist.net

Holi Masti

Friday, March 22

Courtesy Holi Masti
Neha Kakkar. Courtesy Holi Masti

Bollywood singer Neha Kakkar will perform at Holi Masti, a day-long family event with a children’s area, food and beverage stalls as well as music by DJs, all in celebration of the Indian festival of colours. Kakkar will perform her hit songs including Dhating Naach, Kala Chasma and Sunny Sunny.

From 10.30am, from Dh99, Al Sahra Desert Resort Equestrian Centre, Dubai, www.platinumlist.net

Color Bash

Friday, March 22

Color Bash at Dukes Dubai features performances by Indian rapper Babu Haabi along with DJs Zubair, Bharat, Scorpio, Subliminal Roots, Karan, Kronik M and Sid. There will be a children’s play area, a colour-bomb smash, food trolleys and more.

9am to 9pm, from Dh75, The Beach, Dukes Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, www.platinumlist.net

Color Carnival

Friday, March 22

The Color Carnival features a live performance by the Mashup Diaries, plus DJ Beatz, DJ Gautham, DJ Manoj, DJ Nitesh and DJ Carlos. There will be dhol players, carnival acts, food trucks, a kids’ play area, colours and more.

11am to 8pm, from Dh45 online; from Dh79 at the door, Rugby Park, Dubai Sports City, Dubai, www.platinumlist.net

Updated: March 19, 2019 06:31 PM


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