If you’re staying in the UAE throughout December to enjoy the winter sun, there’s lots of festive fun to be had for the entire family – particularly the younger members.
After previous years of cancellations, winter markets and festivals are back in 2021, with the chance to chill out without getting chilly at street parades and stage shows, art installations and winter gardens.
Here are 10 places to visit, activities, shows and parades to keep teenagers occupied this Christmas …
1. Hatta Dome Park
The park, which opened in April, features 15 dome-shaped luxury tents with panoramic views of the Hajar mountains. The tents on-site are all identical in layout and offer the same views. They are 40 square metres and come with a full range of amenities, including a television, Wi-Fi and a mini fridge.
The rooms are designed to accommodate up to two adults and two children by offering a king-sized bed, as well as two single sofa beds. Each dome tent also comes with its own barbecue and fire pit within a large terrace space.
Located a short walk from Hatta Wadi Hub, there are plenty of activities to try, including kayaking, mountain biking, trampoline jumping, zip lining, wall climbing, paragliding and more. There are also food and beverage options on-site, as well as a variety of food trucks.
Hatta Wadi Hub; visithatta.com
2. Sky Views Dubai, Address Sky View
The three-part attraction, which comprises an observatory, glass slide and edge-walk experience, will be a great adrenalin-filled activity for older kids. The new attraction at the Address Sky View hotel in Downtown Dubai only opened last month.
The observatory transports visitors via a panoramic glass lift to level 52. From there, they walk up a spiral staircase to level 53 to take in impressive views of Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai and Sheikh Zayed Road. The hotel's twin towers are connected at level 53 via a 46-metre glass walk providing a number of vantage points for photos.
The Sky Views Glass Slide is encapsulated in transparent glass and propels visitors from level 53 to 52. The slide is also transparent below and on the sides, offering 360-degree views.
Then there's the Sky Views Edge Walk experience. Strictly for the brave of heart, visitors can stroll hands-free along the ledge of the 53rd floor, and also leads them outside the building, for a barrier-free view.
Visitors will be equipped with a safety harness and must complete a briefing before stepping out on the ridge, which is located 219.5 metres above the ground. Sky Views Dubai is best visited at sunset and is open to thrill seekers of all ages.
Daily, from 10am to 10pm, Address Sky Views Tower 1, Downtown Dubai. Dh55 for children (Dh65 around sunset), Dh65 for adults (Dh85 around sunset), and Dh699 for the Sky Views Edge Walk experience; skyviewsdubai.com
3. The Zone, Jumeirah Village Circle
Spread across 1,500 square metres, this action-packed family entertainment arena is for all ages. With attractions for toddlers, teenagers and adults, activities include a state-of-the-art arcade games area, with a number of redemption games and immersive VR games such as Star Wars Light Saber Dojo VR, where a player can face-off with Darth Vader in a sabre challenge.
Game packages start at Dh100; open daily from 10am-10pm; thezonearcade.com
4. The Arena Games, DIFC
This new gaming attraction vows to take virtual reality to the next level. With 13 virtual games, up to eight players can take part as a team once, whether it's trying to survive a zombie attack or becoming famous assassin John Wick, a character made famous by Keanu Reeves on the big screen. There are also interactive versions of Fruit Ninja, the popular fruit-slicing mobile game, as well as Beat Saber, a virtual-reality rhythm game.
Games last for various times and players need to be at least 12 years old to participate. Rooms are 128 square metres, but the virtual space is larger. There will be in-game safety mechanisms in place to prevent players from walking into walls.
The Arena Games is open daily, from noon to 9pm; prices start at Dh50; Gate Avenue, Zone D, ground level, DIFC, Dubai; thearenagames.com
5. Chocolate Academy Dubai, Downtown Dubai
Learn how to best use your creativity with chocolate at this academy, which moved to its new location in Downtown Dubai in October. The centre is one of 24 academies around the world, which hosts renowned chefs, who train students in the art of chocolate.
Prices for courses depend on the level and the number of hours involved to learn the set skill. For example, a series called Atelier Gourmand, which offers chocolate education to all chocolate lovers, starts at Dh350.
More information on courses is available at chocolate-academy.com
6. Madame Tussauds Dubai, Bluewaters Island
The world-famous waxwork museum opened its first Middle East attraction in October on Bluewaters Island, bringing replicas of some of the world’s biggest stars to the Emirates.
The museum is divided into six zones in total: leaders; fashion; film and media; Bollywood; sports and music. In the fashion section, you can walk a runway with Vogue's Anna Wintour judging your look, take a picture with Victoria Beckham or perch by a pearl swing next to Kylie Jenner.
Sunday to Wednesday, 12pm-8pm, Friday and Saturday, 10am-8pm; Dh135 for adults, Dh110 for children tickets aged 3 to 11, children under 3 go free; Madame Tussauds Dubai, Bluewaters Island; www.madametussauds.com/dubai/
7. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates
The UAE might not be home to snowy mountains, but it is home to the world’s largest indoor ski slope, where you can get your alpine fix. As well as taking to the three different slopes and trying out the attractions at the snow park and meeting Ski Dubai’s resident penguins over the holiday season, visitors can also get festive at the Snow Cinema.
As well as latest releases including Sing 2 and King Richard, the Snow Cinema will be showing festive classics including Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Father Christmas is Back.
Sunday to Wednesday, 10am-11pm; Thursday, 10am-12am; Fridays and Saturdays, 9am-12am; Ski Dubai packages from Dh175, Snow Cinema tickets from Dh200 for two guests; Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates; 600 599 905, www.skidxb.com
8. Dubai Ice Rink, The Dubai Mall
Take to the ice at Dubai Ice Rink, the Olympic-sized rink located at The Dubai Mall. As well as social skating sessions, youngsters can practice their figure skating skills, take part in ice hockey lessons and games, and enjoy regular DJ sets.
Sessions can be booked in advance for a 90-minute slot. The attraction can also be rented privately for parties and events.
Sunday to Wednesday, 10am-10pm; Thursday to Saturday, 10am-12am; from Dh93.50; Dubai Ice Rink, The Dubai Mall; www.dubaiicerink.com
9. Wavehouse, Atlantis, The Palm
Whether you want to try your hand at surfing, opt for a round of bowling, or beat your friends on the latest arcade games, Wavehouse has you covered. The family entertainment centre at Atlantis, The Palm also doubles as a restaurant and live music venue, where teens can enjoy burgers, pizzas, hotdogs and shakes.
10. RollDXB, Port Rashid
RollDXB set up its first permanent skating rink in Dubai’s Port Rashid earlier this year. The venue hosts regular themed skating nights, DJs and offers plenty of corners to show off your tricks. Youngsters can bring their own skates, or rent a pair at the venue. For those interesting in learning, or sharpening their skills, RollDXB offers lessons with its private instructors.
Sunday, 4pm-11.15pm; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, 10am-11.15pm; Thursday, 2.30pm-1am, Friday, 10am-1pm; from Dh105; RollDXB; Port Rashid, Dubai; www.rolldxb.com