Six of the best Christmas markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

From floating trees to festival classics, head to these family-friendly fairs for some yuletide fun or last-minute gift shopping

Turn your dreams of a white Christmas into reality at Ski Dubai, complete with real snow. Photo: Ski Dubai
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We’re making a list and we’re checking it twice to bring you the best Christmas markets across the UAE.

With less than a week to go until the big day, festivities are in full swing at the Emirates’ yuletide markets with Christmas movie screenings, a seaside wonderland complete with a giant floating tree and plenty of chances to do some last-minute gift shopping.

Here, we bring you the best of the festive fairs with winter activities to get you in the Christmas spirit, from making snow angels to riding an abra with Santa.

Expo 2020 Dubai

The UAE’s greatest show is marking the winter season with an equally impressive festive fair. Surreal, Expo 2020 Dubai’s stunning waterfall feature, hosts a Christmas market complete with gift stalls, pop-ups and traditional treats, plus live performances throughout the day and night. Head to the daily Christmas parade, make friends with a roaming army of jolly elves, enjoy a meet and greet at Santa’s grotto and post your wish list at Earth Plaza’s dedicated post box.

There’s also baking sessions on offer, arts and crafts zones, roasted chestnuts, bubbling mugs of hot chocolate, giant snow globes and a line-up of Christmas film favourites. Home Alone will be screened on Thursday, Miracle on 34th Street on Christmas Eve and Elf will air on Christmas Day.

Expo 2020 Festive Pass is priced at Dh95;

Dubai Harbour

When Saint Nick isn’t soaring across the night skies in his sleigh, he likes to put his feet up and admire the mega-yachts docked in Dubai Harbour. Brand new to the city this year is the luxury neighbourhood’s first Harbour Wonderland and Santa will be there meeting and greeting visitors alongside a eight-metre-high floating Christmas tree. The fair opens every day from 3pm to 11pm until Thursday, December 30, with a flotilla of giant origami-style festive boats, an outdoor ice rink and a snow zone. The nautical-themed event will also host pop-up stalls, games and activities as well as a menu of festive favourites from guest vendors including Zero Gravity and Jumeirah Hospitality.

Free entry;

Habtoor Palace

Anyone zipping down Sheikh Zayed Road will be hard-pressed to miss this famous annual Winter Garden. Running every day in December from 5pm to midnight, Habtoor Palace Dubai transforms its outside space into an al fresco festive fair for all the family. Visitors can tuck into freshly roasted chestnuts, delicately decorated gingerbread and warm mugs of mulled grape from the pop-up stalls. Don’t miss the chance to take a snap with Santa, join in a raucous chorus with the live choir, or make your own Christmas gift at the arts and crafts stalls. Fur babies are welcome at the pet-friendly event, too.

Free entry;

Ski Dubai

Turn your dreams of a white Christmas into reality at Ski Dubai – complete with real snow. For homesick Europeans yearning for a winter just like the ones you used to know or families who have only ever experienced a fair-weather festive season, Ski Dubai is just the ticket. Build a snowman, make a snow angel, suffer the glorious agony of frozen fingers from moulding one too many snowballs… however you want to celebrate Christmas, it’s snowtime every day at Dubai’s indoor North Pole. Overseeing the festivities are a gang of Santa’s elves and you even have the chance to eat breakfast with Santa himself. There’s also a toy workshop, a post box delivering letters directly to Lapland, a snow slide and a cinema in the snow screening movie favourites such as Home Alone and new releases including Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Entry starts at Dh95;

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

There’s room for everyone on the nice list at the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market. Stretching out across 1,750 square metres, the free-to-enter festival offers plenty of shopping opportunities throughout, a live band playing Christmas hits, a snow fight zone and obligatory seasonal food and drinks. Souk Madinat Jumeirah’s twinkling waterways will host the fair for 15 days until Thursday, December 30. Taking centre stage will be a 12-metre Christmas tree complete with baubles and ribbon-wrapped pressies. There’s even the chance to take an abra ride with Santa, decorate your own gingerbread house or catch a ride on the North Pole train. All aboard, everyone.

Free entry;

Yas Mall’s Winter Wonderland

Yas Mall’s Winter Wonderland is back and better than ever. Little ones can hop aboard the Santa Express Train to see elves making toys at the factory before writing a letter to Father Christmas. There’s even the chance for 32 lucky little ones to win home delivery of their presents by Santa. Dotted around the festive fair will be traditional gift and food pop-ups, roaming live musicians, a gingerbread workshop and arts and crafts stalls. A shopping festival will be also running throughout the event, which ends on Saturday, Christmas Day, with savings of up to 75 per cent on any last-minute gifts.

Free entry;

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Updated: December 20, 2021, 7:45 AM