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Dubai is a spectacular sight to behold during Christmas! The city transforms into a winter wonderland with beautiful installations, shimmering lights and festive events that fill everyone with the holiday spirit. Almost overnight, Christmas-themed decorations pop up on roads, malls and workplaces, and colourful lights illuminate streets. If the COVID-19 pandemic has you worrying about how to bring in this cheerful holiday with your loved ones, don’t fret. Dubai has a lot in store for its residents and tourists, all while following the guidelines issued by the UAE government. After all, pandemic or no pandemic, Christmas comes only once a year, and we must make the most of it, right? Here are 10 fun ways to celebrate Christmas in the City of Gold this year, as well as, guidelines to follow so you stay safe amidst the celebrations.
Fun Things to Do in Dubai During Christmas
From a shopping paradise to an all-you-can-eat feast, Dubai has something for everyone; and more so during Christmas.
- Sing Along at a Christmas Concert
The Christmas-themed concert at Dubai Opera is an unmissable experience. Right from Jingle Bell Rock to Silent Night, the traditional and contemporary performances will make you feel nostalgic, festive and cheerful. The set list has a mix of Yuletide songs, Christmas carols and popular festive songs for an enchanting musical medley. You can dance and sing along to your favourite Christmas classics while sipping a beverage and soaking up the Christmassy atmosphere!
- Indulge in a Christmas Feast
If there’s something that people of all ages love, it’s food, especially during Christmas! With a versatile range of cuisines to choose from, every top-notch restaurant in Dubai whips up a feast that’s hard to miss. You can go for a traditional Christmas brunch, turkey and all, or an exotic meal with scrumptious desserts. For the real foodies, a Christmas brunch with slow-cooked turkey and free-flowing beverages is the way to go. Most eateries also offer the best of entertainment to accompany the meal, with talented musicians playing festive songs. Gear up to scarf down delicious food and take a long, much-needed nap!
- Shop to Your Heart’s Delight
Christmas markets embody the soul of this holiday, with a week-long extravaganza of shopping, cookie-making, games and Christmas-themed performances. When it comes to markets with the best shopping and activities, Dubai does not disappoint! Everyone, whether young or old, will find something to keep them entertained through the evening. With stunning Christmas trees, festive food and drinks, and Christmas activities, markets like Madinat Jumeirah, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Habtoor Palace Hotel, among others, put on a show that’s hard to forget.
- Hit the Slopes
Afraid your holiday won’t be complete without hitting the slopes? Ski Dubai, the city’s very own indoor ski arena is the solution! With five slopes and temperatures of -5 degrees Celsius, you can ski, snowboard and play in the snow. Don’t forget to go on toboggan rides and see some penguins. Their Christmas packages offer festive deals with movies, hot chocolate, snow rides, penguin meetings, meals and much more. We wouldn’t be surprised if you would want to set up a house there and never step out!
- Take Part in the Dubai Shopping Festival
Christmas isn’t complete without shopping. Starting from 15th December 20, the Dubai Shopping Festival offers a 15 day-long shopping bonanza. Enjoy performances from musical maestros like John Legend, Liam Payne, Hussain Al Jassmi and Tamer Hosni and witness beautiful fireworks during the opening ceremony, which kick-starts the festival. With unbelievable discounts and enormous price slashes on international products, you can shop for anything, right from electronics to clothing and jewellery. Don’t forget raffles that give you the opportunity to take home luxurious items, including a Nissan car (yes, you read that right!) Experience the most rewarding shopping opportunity to wrap up this year!
- Make Time for Worship
Though the UAE is an Islamic nation, it is a religiously tolerant one, and proudly so! Attending mass is a major part of Christmas, and you can definitely make it to church, no matter which Christian denomination you belong to. Dubai has a number of churches from the International Baptist Church to the Evangelist Singing Winners Chapel, so simply head to your preferred place of worship and celebrate this festival.
- Enjoy a Luxurious Staycation
If you’ve had to put your Christmas travel plans on hold due to the pandemic, you can still enjoy a vacation in the city. Many luxury hotels offer unique staycation packages for you to enjoy this festive season. Caesars Bluewaters, Palazzo Versace and the Armani hotel are just among a few that invite guests to stay at discounted rates, offering gourmet experiences like Christmas lunch, spa offers and access to private beaches that you can take advantage of with friends and family!
- Attend a Christmas Tree Lighting Event
One of the most-awaited events in Dubai is the annual Christmas Tree Lighting, the most popular one being at The Irish Village in Garhoud. With offerings like choirs, Christmas delicacies and live music, an event like this celebrates the spirit of the festive season and gets you in the mood for an evening of fun and enjoyment. If you’ve already missed the event at Irish Village, fret not! There are Christmas Tree Lightings happening throughout December at Mc Gettigan’s, the Kempinsky Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and Town Square Dubai, among other venues. Check for the event happening closest to you and catch up on a jubilant celebration with your loved ones.
- Experience a Winter Wonderland
Yes, you can have a white Christmas, even in Dubai. JBR’s Festive Village is gearing up to offer a full-fledged Christmas experience with a digital pavilion, ‘glice-skating’ rink and street performances. The event starts on 12th December until 7th January and has plenty of wintery activities lined up for a unique experience. The immersive multimedia show has 360-degree projections, complete with holograms. Plus, a 15-minute walk with an audio-visual narrative takes you on a journey to the North pole through snow-capped forests and twinkling palaces. Now that’s something unique to get you into the Christmas spirit, right? Complete with food stalls serving traditional Christmas delicacies, this event has everything for you to experience a magical Winter Wonderland right in the city.
- Host a Scrumptious Christmas Party
If going out during Christmas isn’t your thing, set up a delicious meal at home. Owing to the pandemic, top-notch hotels in Dubai are offering takeaway dishes for Christmas, so you don’t have to spend the entire day cooking. Pre-order a delicious turkey and sides from your favourite restaurant. Ossiano at the Atlantis Palm hotel has a festive takeaway menu curated by Chef Grégoire Berger featuring a butter-stuffed turkey, complete with a spread of trimmings. Christmas at home has never been fancier, so make the most of it!
Precautionary Measures to Take During Christmas Celebrations
With Christmas right around the corner, you’re probably gearing up to have a great celebration with your loved ones. But safety precautions shouldn’t take a backseat! The UAE government has set guidelines for the festivities taking place in December. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
- Wear a Mask When Outdoors
Masks play a huge role in reducing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Wear a mask at all times during Christmas celebrations and make sure your kids wear them too, even during activities and playing.
- Maintain Social Distancing
A physical distance of 2 metres or more is a must when outdoors.
- Allow Temperature Checks
As a rule, most establishments will check your temperature before entry, so make sure to comply and be cooperative to keep the queues moving.
- Carry Sanitizer
Regularly wash or sanitize your hands before and after touching any surfaces. Set a timer to do so every 15 minutes if you tend to forget.
- Make a Reservation
If visiting a restaurant or event, make reservations or book your tickets in advance. This will give the establishment an idea of how many people they’ll be serving and also avoid crowding in the waiting area.
- Avoid Large Gatherings
As per the guidelines, workplace events have been cancelled and any gatherings to watch fireworks etc. are not permitted.
- Don’t Host Private Parties
Private parties are restricted, so if you’re hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner, make sure it’s only for family members. The guidelines also recommend hosting digital dinners, so welcome to the digital age!
Whether you’re skiing down slopes or feasting on delicious food at a luxurious restaurant, Christmas in Dubai can never be boring. Pandemic or not, the city has a lot lined up for you this year for Christmas. Pick your choice of activity to have the time of your life and spread the festive cheer while staying safe!