Your Guide to Christmas in the UAE - Part 1
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Your Guide to Christmas in the UAE - Part 1

These ideas are fun for the whole family!

Your Guide to Christmas in the UAE - Part 1

Christmas is celebrated differently all around the world but the good news is that there is always a celebration.  At a time of year when most of us are extra busy, it pays to take time out of the hectic schedule and enjoy the holidays.  Fairs and festivals, holiday plays and theater, and concerts are prevalent during the Christmas season and are a perfect way to unwind and get into the Christmas spirit.  Kids and adults alike will find a variety of events for every age and for the whole family too.  Here is your guide to Christmas in the United Arab Emirates!

Visit Santa

What would Christmas be without a visit to the main man?  Head to Santa’s Secret Grotto at the WAFI Mall to experience their winter wonderland, give the kids a chance to meet Santa, and take care of some Christmas shopping while you’re there.  There is actually a lot to entertain kids while they’re waiting in line, like holiday movies playing on a big screen, so they won’t get too antsy if there’s a long queue.  Santa will be taking visitors all month long, up through Christmas Eve, so there’s ample time to make a stop.  If their 40-foot Christmas tree and extensive decorations don’t put the family in the holiday spirit, nothing will!

Santa will also be making an appearance at the Souk Festive Market, running December 17-27 at Madinat Jumeirah.  This market has almost everything you could want from a Christmas festival – holiday snacks and treats (even authentic roasted chestnuts!), an ice rink, a reindeer rodeo, Santa’s grotto, and the North Pole Train. You’ll feel like you’re at the North Pole itself this year.

Kids’ Camps

Time off school can quickly turn into “I’m bored!” time. There are many winter camps for kids’ for just that reason. Abu Dhabi has a number of options. There’s the E-Sports Abu Dhabi camp, for kids ages four through 14, that has more than just sports for kids - such as arts and crafts and swimming - and offers a flexible schedule based on kids’ interests.  L’Atelier des Arts, in the Fatouh Al Khair Centre, is the place to send bored kids that are itching to use their creativity and imaginations in art classes. Classes are for ages five through 12 and vary in topic from t-shirt making to jewelry and bead making to painting.  As the camp runs for two weeks with classes four days a week for two hours, make sure kids and parents alike can commit to the timeframe. If you want your kids to really broaden their knowledge while they’re off school, try the España Sport Academy.  Kids will get to play sports and watch movies but will also take Spanish language classes.  Camp can be attended for two or three weeks and it’s a full day commitment for kids, running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This camp is a great way to keep kids busy and out of the house while parents take care of the shopping, cooking and cleaning for the holidays.

The Arts

There are always lots of special performances around Christmas, making it the perfect time to expose kids to the arts and enjoy the culture of the city as a family.  A specially created version of Beauty and the Beast is playing at the Madinat Theater in Dubai at the end of December. The whole family will enjoy the music and performances of this classic. The Broadway musical Chicago will be at the Dubai World Trade Center at the end of December, running through mid-January. Another option is to head to the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort for a month full of Christmas music. They have sunset carolers every evening at 6:30 p.m. and the hotel’s pastry shop is getting into the Christmas spirit too, with festive treats all month. The Yas Marina will have a Christmas market for last-minute shoppers on December 21, complete with musical fountains to get everyone singing along.  

Leave the Kids at Home

All that family time can make the adults crave a few moments away from the kids. Never fear, there are plenty of adult oriented activities around the UAE this Christmas too. In Dubai, Cirque Le Soir has an interesting twist on a Christmas-themed night out. On December 25 and 26, their free “twisted winter wonderland” will entertain the crowds with evil versions of classic holiday characters – elves, fairies, Christmas trees, and, yes, even Santa. Through the end of December, the famous Burj al Arab is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Skip the shockingly expensive signature drink (priced at a whopping Dhs15,000) and get into the spirit with their holiday drinks – the Rudolph, the Christmas Flip, the Red Santa, and the Santa’s Honey. Even Dubai’s Hard Rock Café is enjoying the holidays this month, with a festive menu, decorations, music and snow. For those that don’t want to miss out on the party just because it’s Christmas Eve or Christmas day, Hard Rock will have live music on both days, playing, what else, Christmas classics.  

Whether your ideal Christmas is taking the kids to see Santa, taking in a holiday concert with the family or drinking red and green cocktails with friends until the sun comes up, there is no shortage of holiday spirit in the UAE this December.  Remember, many things book up early so whenever possible, make reservations or buy tickets ahead. Make it a priority to relax, have fun, and get into the real spirit of Christmas this year by enjoying time with friends and family. Happy holidays!

Be sure to catch Part 2 of our guide! You can check it out here

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