The venue of the world’s greatest show has been transformed into a larger-than-life winter wonderland in the lead up to Christmas, a move that Tareq Ghosheh, chief events and entertainment officer of Expo 2020 Dubai, says is “the biggest site-wide event we’ve done so far”.
Here is what families can look forward to at Expo 2020 Dubai this month.
The decor: think big, bold and bright
From giant decorations and oversize nutcracker soldiers to a Santa’s grotto and Christmas trees galore, the Expo site promises to be a Christmas lover’s delight.
Children can head to Earth Plaza to post letters to Santa Claus via a red mailbox, which will be converted to a Give a Gift drop box at the end of the month.
Elsewhere, gingerbread houses, golden reindeer and lavishly ornamented trees of every size await at every turn, some of which are decorated with 2.5-metre baubles.
Perhaps most impressive of all, Al Wasl Plaza's dome has been transformed to look like a snow globe, complete with gargantuan baubles hanging from its arches. A 20-metre tree is placed in the centre, while the dome is also home to Santa’s Grotto, a life-size sleigh and an army of jolly elves.
The activities: sounds like Christmas
The dome is also where a lot of the seasonal entertainment takes place – street artists and live performances by a 70-cast troupe. The latter will perform a play each evening that centres around Mrs Claus and the elves struggling to decide what to get Santa for Christmas, with plenty of song, dance and even dry “snow” falling from the sky.
“We wanted to bring to life the magical icons of Christmas for the child in all of us – from dancing toys that come to life, to snowman fights and cheeky elves – all choreographed to a soundtrack filled with nostalgia,” says Richard Lindsay, creative director, Artists In Motion.
More festive sounds emanate from the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre; the Stage in the Mobility District, which is hosting a Jingle Bell Pop Show; and the Jubilee Stage that is home to the Exposonix band and their Christmas repertoire. The Flying Piano at the Opportunity Pavilion Plaza will also play festive tunes.
Revellers can knock on one of the various doorway installations in Ghaf Avenue, which will open up to reveal singing carollers on the other side.
The avenue is also the place to be to catch the daily Christmas Parade and shows by Rudolf on the Go dancers, who will perform flips, somersaults and acrobatics in reindeer costumes. Little ones can interact with sway pole performers dressed as Christmas trees, stilt-walkers dressed as silver bells, and Expo mascots Rashid and Latifa, who will don Christmas outfits.
If you are heading to the Expo on Christmas Day itself, catch a special Late Nights @ Expo performance on the Jubilee Stage, featuring British singer, songwriter and pianist Joe Stilgoe, Filipina singer Lea Salonga and the London Community Gospel Choir.
The food: festive meals and treats
Head to the World Souq and winter market to sample seasonal dishes such as roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, hot chocolate and eggnog.
Various cafes and restaurants dotted over the sprawling venue will offer their own festive feasts and treats: baking workshops at Bread Ahead; a soya turkey and cranberry wrap at Veg’d; chocolate fudge cookies at Floozie; yule logs and madeleines at the African dining hall Alkebulan; and spiced clementine and date cake at Alif Cafe.