Things to do in the UAE this week: Drone shows, Santa events and travelling circus

As schools break for winter, opportunities for fun really open up

Snow Abu Dhabi is dressing up for Christmas season. Photo: Snow Abu Dhabi
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Festive cheer is here with plenty of winter and Christmas-themed events running for all ages.

And, with UAE schools on break, there are myriad ways to keep children active.

Here, The National rounds up seven things to do around the Emirates, from December 11 to 17.


Kick-start the children's winter break with a trip to Snow Abu Dhabi, which has launched family-friendly festive packages this month.

The basic package (Dh150) includes a meet-and-greet with Santa for ages two and above, which also comes with a printed photo, surprise gift, hot chocolate and fleece gloves.

An additional Dh150 means you can eat breakfast with Santa at The Lodge restaurant inside the park, and indulge in treats such as snowman pancakes and hot chocolate.

Those with older children can opt for an offer inclusive of a ticket to the snow park (Dh295), which has several enchanted forest-themed rides attractions such as Crystal Carousel, Polar Express Train and Snowflake Garden.

Daily, from 8am; until December 25; from Dh150; Reem Mall;


Book a table at TakaHisa, which is part of Dubai's latest five-star hotel Banyan Tree, on Bluewaters Island.

Chef Izumi Kimura, of Michelin-starred Tokyo restaurant Sushi Jan, is in town and will serve an omakase (chef's choice) menu featuring seasonal ingredients such as red vinegar and Edo-style sushi.

Kimura will be joined by TakaHisa's chef duo Takashi Namekata and Hisao Ueda in preparing the dishes.

Tuesday to Thursday, seating options at 3pm, 6pm and 9pm; until Thursday; Dh3,000 per person; Banyan Tree Dubai, Bluewaters Island; 050 469 8888


The annual Winter Garden pop-up at Habtoor Palace Dubai is running. The hotel's grounds have been transformed into a festive night market, complete with food trucks, retail kiosks and live entertainment to set the mood.

Food pop-ups include Hangry Joe's, Midyeci Ahmet Restaurant & Cafe, Freez and Mamarama. The venue is covered in Christmas decorations and there are daily visits from Santa. There are also bouncy castles as well as other family-friendly activities.

Daily, 4pm-midnight; until January 31; Dh25 per person; Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road;


Book a spot at the water-facing restaurants on Bluewaters Island – Shi, Miya, Virgin Izakaya, Alici or Gunaydin – for the best seats in the house to catch one of the annual Dubai Shopping Festival drone shows.

The display, the Middle East's longest-running show of its kind, involves a swarm of about 300 drones lighting up the night sky. This year, Emirati animator Mohammed Saeed Harib, creator and producer of the popular cartoon series Freej, will be part of the drone spectacle. They will run under the theme of Fairytale Fusion with Emirati Culture.

The shows have been a staple during the annual festival when malls and other destinations in the emirate run promotions. This year, it runs until January 14, as do the free daily drone shows.

Daily, 8pm and 10pm; until January 14; Bluewaters Island and JBR;


Indian restaurant The Crossing is launching a supper club series called Culinary Crossroads, tapping local chefs to showcase their talent in collaboration with the restaurant's chef Jitin Joshi.

The first in the series takes place on Friday, launching with Ett Hem (Swedish for home) by The Curry Bureau, a supper club by photographer-turned-chef Vikram Gaw’de.

The food is inspired by the coastal regions of India, with a focus on Mumbai. Dishes include butterfy prawns with homemade coastal spices and red snapper in coconut milk curry.

Friday, from 7pm; Dh450 per person; The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road; 04 491 9695


Catch the last show of the world-renowned Gandeys Great Circus of Europe in Al Ain on Saturday.

The high-adrenalin display at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium features acrobats, aerialists, contortionists and clowns that promise to leave audiences on the edge of their seats. The British circus production has been around for nearly a century, travelling to dozens of different cities around the world.

Saturday, shows at 2pm, 4.30pm and 7pm; from Dh75; Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain;


Take the children to a cooking class at Sfumato, Dubai, on Sunday. Participants can make simple bites such as Ukranian varenikis (half-moon-shaped dumplings), as well as cookies and cupcakes under the guidance of a trained chef.

Only 10 spots are available, so bookings are encouraged. The cooking class is open to children aged three to 12.

Sundays, 11am-1pm; Dh75 per child; Opus Tower, Business Bay; 058 101 5649

Updated: December 11, 2023, 3:54 AM