Diwali 2021: Celebrations illuminate Expo 2020 Dubai this weekend

The festival of lights will be celebrated all weekend

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Exuberant Diwali celebrations will illuminate Expo 2020 Dubai over the duration of the festival of lights.

In partnership with the Indian pavilion, the world's fair has a packed roster of special events, from concerts to light shows, and plenty of opportunities to learn more about Indian customs and culture.

India's pavilion will offer dance, music and food from Wednesday until Saturday, plus an intriguing take on the traditional rangoli — the colourful art created on the floor for special occasions.

Instead of flowers or coloured sand, the pavilion has an interactive musical LED rangoli which is activated when visitors step on sensors, radiating light and patterns to represent happiness, positivity and prosperity.

Diwali Festival preparations at the Indian Pavilion. Photo: Stuart Wilson / Expo 2020 Dubai

Oversized diyas, or oil lamps traditionally made of clay, will also be on display, with a backdrop inspired by mandala art.

Elsewhere around the site Indian restaurants will offer special celebratory meals, including Kutir by Rohit Ghai in the Opportunity Zone.

Even Expo mascots Rashid and Latifa will receive a Diwali makeover for the festival.


Musicians from across India will take to the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre for “Dance, Drums and Diwali!” on Wednesday evening, from 7.30pm until 9pm.

Bhattacharya Debasmita will play the sarod — a stringed musical instrument of the lute family, and Sattyasheel Manjunath will perform on percussion, as they take to the stage alongside a variety of other musicians.

The celebrations will continue late into the night, with a concert series named “Diwali For All” starting at 10pm, featuring both emerging and established artists.

Al Wasl Plaza at the weekend

Light show at the Al Wasl Plaza, Expo 2020 Dubai. Victor Besa/The National.

It is hard to imagine a stage more suited to a festival of lights than Al Wasl Plaza.

The world’s largest 360-degree projection dome will light up in spectacular style at the weekend.

Accompanied by 70 performers, dancers and drummers, the light and sound show can be seen on Thursday at 10pm and 11pm, on Friday at 8pm, 10pm and 11pm, and on Saturday at 8pm and 10pm.


The Jubilee Stage will be busy from 4pm with the “Diwali For All” concert series, featuring Bhattacharya Debasmita on the sarod — a stringed musical instrument of the lute family and Sattyasheel Manjunath on percussion.

Meanwhile, the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre will also play host to Indian musicians from a variety of genres. Look out for acclaimed sibling duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, who will take to the stage at 9pm.

Late Nights @ Expo on Jubilee Stage will also carry a Diwali theme. Highlights from 10.30pm until 1am will include Indian rap sensation Badshah, featuring singer Aastha Gill and musician Rico.

Multilingual indie-folk alternative band When Chai Met Toast, known for their light-hearted tunes, will also take to the stage.


The Jubilee Stage at Expo 2020 Dubai. Photo: Mahmoud Loutfy

On Friday, music enthusiasts are spoilt for choice, as all of Expo 2020's stages will be dedicated to Diwali celebrations.

Dubai-based Hindi rock band Dhruv will perform in the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre at 8.30pm.

Late Nights @ Expo on the Jubilee Stage from 9.30pm will also carry a Diwali theme, with highlights set to include Shilpa Ananth, Esther Eden and Peter Cat Recording Co.

And at midnight, the “Diwali For All” concert series will take over the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre.

Plus, the unmissable light show in Al Wasl Plaza at 8pm, 10pm and 11pm.


It might feel like the end of the weekend on Saturday night, but Expo 2020 still has plenty to offer by way of Diwali celebrations.

The Jubilee Stage will play host to the 'Diwali For All’ concert series from 7pm, and visitors can catch the final Diwali light show in Al Wasl Plaza at 8pm and 10pm.

Diwali at Expo 2020 Dubai — in pictures

Updated: November 05, 2021, 1:51 PM