December is here and as we prepare to bid adieu to 2016 and welcome the  new year, the UAE is proving to be the ultimate place to be this month. From the National Day celebrations to a film extravaganza, from a design festival to a highly anticipated concert, and from Christmas to New Year's Eve, the cultural scene is having one emphatic hurrah in 2016 and these are the absolute must-be-at places this month.

National Day at Emirates Palace

As the UAE turns 45, you can experience heritage with a touch of luxury as Emirates Palace celebrates the nation's birthday. From a pop-up heritage village and a showcase of 45 different types of dates to seasonal hampers and a grand fireworks display, there is no lack of activities for every guest. As well, the hotel will be presenting the history of the UAE through a special video mapping display that's not to be missed.

December culture guide

The National Day celebrations at Emirates Palace runs from December 2-3.

Design extravaganza with Jess Glynne at Meet d3

Meet d3 is back for a second season and it promises more eye-catching installations alongside a host of lifestyle experiences from art to food to music. Highlights include a specially curated exhibition of local designers, a large-scale GIF installation for instantaneous personal gifs as well as a unique multi-sensory experience by the Third Line Gallery, which combines food, art and music. Elsewhere, British singer Jess Glynne is set to headline the music programe with an exclusive one-night only performance on December 9, while Lebanese superstar Myriam Fares will take the spotlight the following day.

December culture guide

Meet d3 will run from December 8-10 at Dubai Design District.

Movie magic at the 2016 Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF)

Dubai is set to welcome a host of gala movie screenings during the 13th edition of DIFF. Madinat Jumeirah will be the heartbeat of the festival with exclusive screenings – from Collateral Beauty to Manchester By the Sea to the regional premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – dialogue sessions and red carpet events. Also, expect a live appearance by Hollywood icon Samuel L. Jackson who's set to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

December culture guide

The 2016 DIFF will run from December 7-14.

Christmas cheer at the UAE's top food spots

It may not be a wintry Christmas in the region but you can certainly get into the festive mood at some of the UAE's best places to celebrate Christmas including at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Roberto's, Four Seasons DIFC, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai and Gaucho.

December culture guide

Count down to 2017!

Expecting to combine a New Year's countdown with some exquisite culinary fare? These are the five top places to be for you to ring in the New Year with a smorgasbord of fantastic flavours: Ritz-Carlton JBR, Catch Dubai, INKA, Laluz and Atelier M. 

December culture guide

A calligraffiti exclusive at Opera Gallery Dubai

Dubai art space Opera Gallery will be hosting a new contemporary exhibition by Russian born artist Pokras Lampas. Titled Calligrafuturism – Chapter 1.0, the regional debut show puts the focus on the artist's signature calligraphy style, one which has helped him earn the world record for the biggest calligraphy work ever; a showcase of calligraffiti at the top of a building in Moscow. It's so large it's visible on Google Earth.

December culture guide

Calligrafuturism – Chapter 1.0 will run from December 6-20 at Opera Gallery, DIFC.

Coldplay at du Arena

End 2016 in musical style as Coldplay offers an adventure of a lifetime when they play at the du Arena on Yas Island on New Year's Eve. Led by enigmatic frontman Chris Martin, Britain's biggest band will lead New Year celebrations as they sing the hit songs from their highly successful album A Head Full of Dreams, think "Hymn for the Weekend" and "Up&Up".

 December culture guide

Catch Coldplay in concert on December 31 at Abu Dhabi's du Arena on Yas Island.

Nutcracker on Ice plays at the Dubai Opera

A classic Christmas tale comes to life at the iconic Dubai Opera. Expect to experience a colourful world filled with magic and dance, accompanied by Tchaikovsky's stunning musical score. Watch as the master performers showcase daring acrobatics and graceful maneuvers as they glide over the ice.

Nutcracker on Ice will run from December 6-10 at Dubai Opera. For tickets, visit dubaiopera.etixdubai.com.