The best festive happenings in the UAE this December

The best festive happenings in the UAE this December

The countdown is on

Buro 24/7 Middle East is here to help you get into the festive spirit with details of some of the UAE's best events happening this December, bound to get even the most notorious scrooge in the holiday spirit...

Yes, it's that time of year when light knitwear may be required for evening al fresco dining and it's perfectly feasible to reach for a chic pair of wool mix trousers and not swelter all day. Ok so it's not quite beginning to look a lot like Christmas but with this festive guide compiled by  Buro 24/7 Middle East it can certainly begin to feel a lot like Christmas:


The Dubai Christmas Festival 

Whatever Christmas means to you, you are bound to find it at the Dubai Christmas Festival. You can experience Christmas through all five senses with the assortment of gourmet food stalls, performances and activities on offer. Hosted at the Dubai Media City Amphitheater you will soon forget that you are a mere kilometer from the beach. This year – the festival's third – there's more choice than ever, wares for sale from local designers and international brands and if you fancy giving Delia Smith a seasonal run for her money you can decorate your own gingerbread house. 

If all that doesn't satisfy your Christmas cravings then get your skates on... We mean literally get your skates on and glide around the ice-rink until it feels just like you're twirling on the ice outside New York's Rockefeller Centre.

Running from December 11 until December 13 at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, you can now buy tickets online at

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

Christmas at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

Seeking a sensational seasonal experience? Allow Jumeriah's Zabeel Saray to oblige with a special festive afternoon tea in the opulent Ottoman inspired interiors of the Sultan’s Lounge. If you don’t have time to sit back and relax you can opt for a luxurious take-away package. Festive afternoon tea, gingerbread houses, Christmas logs and traditional turkey feasts are all on offer until January 6. A Buro 24/7 top recommendation for visiting friends and family. Just how we like to spend a pre-Christmas afternoon.

Running from December 6 to January 6

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

The Take-Away Christmas Package from the Ritz-Carlton, DIFC

Why not take it easy this year, relax and preserve that party season manicure and let the Ritz take care of all the kitchen chaos. The Ritz Carlton in Dubai International Financial Centre has got you covered with its Christmas takeaway special service. Offering roast turkey or Angus strip loin with no less than all the trimmings.

The hotel is also debuting its Christmas tree lighting ceremony on December 7 between 6-8pm. Christmas takeaways are priced by the kilogram.

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

The JW Marriot's Famous Gingerbread Project

The gingerbread house is back this year, and bigger and better than ever before. For this year's Christmas celebrations the chefs at La Farine are creating an impressive bake-off – transforming the walls of the restaurant into an edible gingerbread, which will also extend into the reception area, can you imagine the delicious smell? An atmospheric Christmas market will also debut – and will offer a host of gifts and treats including Christmas hampers, exquisite cakes made by an acclaimed cake artist, and a roasted chestnut cart.

Running from December 3 to January 2, open 24 hours a day

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

The Atlantis Festive Village 

The lost city of Atlantis has found the spirit of Christmas. Head to Atlantis Hotel on The Palm Jumeriah for the hotel's unique festive atmosphere of palm-tree meets fern-tree. Special festive menus and traditional treats are on offer in all of the hotel's 15 plus restaurants. Atlantis Festive Village in Poseidon's Court will be tempting you further with the lure of hot roasted chestnuts, chocolate christmas tree decorations and the requisite mince pies. Whether you've been naughty or nice this year you can take it up directly with Santa himself on 24th and 25th December during his visit.

The Atlantis Village is running from December 1 to January 7, open daily between 8am and 11pm

Jones The Grocer's Cooking Masterclasses and Workshop

If like us you are a disciple of the deliciousness that is – food emporium Jones The Grocer – you might relish the chance to learn some of their skills in their cooking masterclass. Jones' top chefs will be sharing all the knowledge and techniques required to recreate their everyday gourmet flavours at home this festive season. And if you can't get your favourite Harrods Christmas hamper delivered internationally we can recommend these three new hampers for the month of December: the 'Jones Pantry', 'Sweet Indulgence' and the 'Gift' hamper. We will have one of each please. 

Call your local Jones The Grocer for more information on the masterclasses and workshops

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

The Christmas Sharing Menus at Wheeler's of St James

Wheeler's of St James is serving up a truly British Christmas experience this December. Further to the launch of its brand new menu earlier this year there are now special sharing and tasting menus available to enjoy at the DIFC eatery. The menu includes starters such as foie gras, mandarin and chicken liver parfait with ginger bread or seared scallops with roasted clementines and a mouth-watering selection of assorted roasts for main. Saving the best till last, dessert will include Christmas pudding and chocolate and pistachio log – we did say it would be traditional. After all "it's all about eating, it's as simple as that" we couldn't agree more Marco Pierre White.

The Christmas sharing menu is available for bookings of 8 people or more throughout December. In addition, on December 24, 25 and 26 this menu will be available for bookings of any size. The group set Christmas menu will be available from December 1–30  for groups of 8 people or more. 

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

The Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah 

Save yourself the trip to the famous Hamburg Christmas market this year and have a wander around Madinat Jumeirah's Souk Festive Market instead. After all where else could you enjoy the festive spirit while looking out to views of the Arabian sea and Burj Al Arab? The market will feature the usual variety of shops and eateries spliced with special festive additions. Trade the abras for the polar express with a ride on a traditional North Pole train,  take a turn on the ice-rink and dabble in some Christmas cooking classes with award-wining Chef Paul Hayward and Chef Gabriel Kurz but take a break before attempting the Reindeer Rodeo...  

Running from December 17 to December 27, 3pm–midnight on weekdays and 1pm–midnight on weekends.

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

Yas Marina's Winter Wonderland

Winter is coming! From Formula 1 to Winter Wonderland in only a week. Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi is decking the halls and the promenade this season. Take a stroll down the transformed 'snowy' promenade, which will be festooned with seasonal decorations and a traditional Christmas tree or release some of that seasonal shopper's tension in the specially created 'Snow Fight Zone'. 

The tree lighting ceremony will signify the start of the celebrations on December 4 to the sound of Brighton College's choir, who will be delighting attendees with carols at 5pm on the promenade. The Yas Christmas tree will light up at 6pm.

The tree lighting ceremony will take place on December 4 from 4.30–7.30pm, with the Snow Fight Zone open daily from 12 noon to 7pm.

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

The Emirates Palace Tree Illumination

Staying true to form Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace will display a sizable 24 foot Christmas tree fit for its palatial surroundings. The lights will be illuminated on December 10, and carolers will be gathering to flood the atrium with holiday harmonies. And even though it's his busiest time of year, Santa has found time to check in to the hotel to take requests during the day by the opulent tree.

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

Maison Des Fleurs Limited-Edition Festive Bouquets

Luxury floral design company Maison Des Fleurs has unveiled its exclusive limited edition 'White Christmas' arrangement for the festive season. Exhibiting their usual flourish of modern style and classic french design ‘The White Christmas’ bouquet features soft pastel blooms of Roses, Hydrangeas and Ranunculus together with delicate blues alluding to a gentle frosting of snow and ice all presented in Maison Des Fleurs signature display box. Available in two arrangements but limited to only 100 in each style you’ll need to be quick to ensure these stunning bouquets will adorn your festive interiors this Christmas. 


What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

The Bulgari Pop-Up Boutique 

What do you get the person who has everything? Well anything ‘Limited Edition’ is a great start. Head over to Harvey Nichols at the Mall of Emirates who will be hosting a luxurious Bulgari pop-up boutique. The famed fashion house will be showcasing and selling limited edition Serpenti bags in three exclusive shades of python – silver, gold and emerald green – Bulgari watches and a one of a kind Dhs1 million Bulgari fragrance bottle will also be available. If you're not in the market for one these designs it's still well worth going if only to appreciate the showcase display. 

The Bulgari pop-up boutique will run from  at Harvey Nichols, Mall of the Emirates

What to do at Christmas in the UAE this year

SoH Beauty Christmas Nail Art

Fed up of spotting people with novelty christmas accessories? We’ve found just the thing to up date your festive fashion statement. The newly-launched creative beauty concept SoH Dubai  has caught our attention with its unique nail art. They have their own wide selection of designs for you to choose from be it snowflakes or Santas so you’ll find plenty of choice. Insider tip: the super-skilled nail artist also does custom designs, so feel free go couture.

SoH Dubai is located at the Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road