We guarantee there will be more sand outside than snow, but there’s one thing Dubai is not short of this time of year, and that’s holiday entertainment.
To help you sort the naughty from the nice, we’ve collected some of our favourite activities this week.
Sunday, 22nd December
Use the festive force
Santa won’t be the only Skywalker this Christmas – The Rise of Skywalker, the concluding chapter of the nine movie Star Wars odyssey, is out now on general release. It’s an emotional end of the road for a story about a galaxy far, far away – that’s been spelled out across the last four decades. And we cannot wait to see it. May the force be with you all.
At cinemas across Dubai now.
You don’t have to be a Scrooge to appreciate good value. We’re all about frugal festivities. Legit Brit gastro pub The Rose & Crown is offering a selection of seasonal savoury treats from as little as AED 55. With a range to suit all appetites, you can help yours-elf to items including gourmet sandwiches, butterball turkey and beef wellington.
Until 26th December. The Rose & Crown, The Atrium – Habtoor City. 04 437 0022.
There’s a strong chance of wintery showers with Lush this holiday season. They’ve released a yummy range of fragrant festive bathroom goodies that include Retro Tree Bath Oil, Snow Fairy Shower Gel, Jolly Belly Shower Jelly and the Let It Glow Shimmer Bar. They’re all vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, and often package-free and are perfect for gifting or smothering on yourself!
Prices from AED 55. Available in all Lush stores across the UAE
It’s all gravy
This time of year you’re allowed to eat what you want. A bit of extra wrapping around the middle is part and parcel of festive cheer. But you can keep your dry doorstep wedges of turkey, it’s the gravy that’s always top of our food wish list. Pickl, one of the region’s best new burger joints, has a special seasonal Ahhh Bisto Bird burger on offer and it’s drenched in tradition British Bisto gravy. Add to that crispy fried chicken, cranberry chili jelly, slaw, gouda cheese and you’ve got yourself a legit Ahhhhh moment.
AED 45. 11am-1am. Pickl, Ground Floor, One JLT Tower. 04 584 6859.
Yeah normal Santa is cool, but have you ever seen a breakdancing Santa? He’s just one of the line-up of holiday-themed characters that will be parading around Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) as part of the #WOWJBR festive street theatrics. You’ll also be able to catch The Grinch, nutcrackers and calamitous Home Alone crooks, The Sticky Bandits.
The star on top of the JBR Christmas tree has to be the synthetic ice rink. Because at this time of year, it’s about the skaters not the haters. It does have competition from the giant Rubik’s Cube and human claw machine – where participants are strapped in, raised up and then lowered over a pit of prizes from JBR’s lovely retailers.
Until 27th December. JBR. Ice Rink 4pm-9pm on weekdays and 5pm-10pm on weekends. Characters – every Thursday and Friday from 5th to 27th December, 6:30pm-10pm. Human Claw, Telephone Booth and Rubik’s Cube – every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5th to 27th December, 6pm-10pm.
Monday, 23rd December
Keep the change
Home Alone is without question, exception or doubt – one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time. Just try and change our mind. Or you can join us at Dubai’s arthouse movieplex, Cinema Akil and relive those nostalgic 90s festive feels.
There’s actually a life hack that’ll get you in free. Surkus is a new app that trades your social media engagement with brands in exchange for free stuff. To get hold of your free tickets, you’ll need to download the Surkus app (free on all app stores) and tick-off two quick in-app tasks (one post to Instagram and one in-app check-in) that are so simple even what the French call ‘les incompetents’ could do it. And hey presto – you can make your entry fee disappear **repeats slowly to camera** you can make your entry fee disappear.
AED 56.50 (or free with the Surkus App). 7pm. Cinema Akil, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz. Tickets and timings at www.cinemaakil.com
Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels & Resorts’ annual Festive Garden is now open and it is jam-packed with Christmas cheer. Located in the resorts Versaille Gardens you’ll find a breezy buzzing hub of Yuletide activity. There’s truly impressive mammoth-sized tree, a myriad of market stalls offering seasonal food and beverages, a stage for live festive entertainment and a miniature toy down for the kiddlywinks. In it there’s a cute little train ride, mini golf, bouncy slides, carnival games and a dedicated Snow Fight zone.
AED 60 per child, per hour for kids zone. Daily 5pm-10pm. Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Business Bay.
Al Seef’s Museum of Illusions is getting a seasonal makeover for Christmas. Each of the eccentric exhibits will be endowed with an added element of festive flavour. We’ve also heard, the old Father C himself will be visiting on 20th, 21st and 24th December. Is it really him or just an elfish delusion?
AED 80. 10am-11pm. Al Seef. 04 357 3999
Caesars Palace Bluewaters has only gone and built a giant gingerbread house. Those curious can go and take a peek inside, with no fear of bumping Hansel, Gretal or any cannibalistic spinsters. Instead, they’ll find festive treats like mince pies, chocolate meringue, Christmas cake and gingerbread men, available to purchase.
Treats from AED 20. Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai. 04 556 6666.
Give the gift of wholesome yumness this festival of loving oneness. Clean eating gourmet gastro cafe Brambles is offering gift hampers stuffed with all sorts of delicious edibles. Dive into a selection box of Molasses Cookies, Kale Brownies, Churros Popcorn, Granola, Scones and Berry Compote. Or, you know, give it to a friend.
AED 150. 6.30am-10pm Sunday-Thurdsay, 6.30am-5pm Friday-Saturday. Citadines Metro Central Hotel, Barsha Heights.
Shake like a bowl full of jelly
Dubai’s elite burger and shake outfit Black Tap are giddy with festive spirit. Or maybe it’s the sugar. Their limited edition festive CrazyShake includes – well, it sounds like literally all the chocolate. It’s a chocolate shake served with a chocolate frosted rim, crushed peppermint, topped with a peppermint chocolate chunk cheesecake slice, whipped cream and chocolate syrup. All the main Elf food groups.
AED 69, 22nd-31st December. Across all Dubai locations.
Christmas Eve (24th December)
Make way for the buffet
Stuffing is synonymous with festive feasts- and at Park Regis’ Kris with a View restaurant, stuffing yourself with traditional gourmet fare also comes with some enchantingly lofty vistas. Tuck into turkey and a banquet-sized buffet on the hotel’s 19th floor.
AED 199 food only. AED 329 food and soft drink package. Kids six-12 AED 99. 7pm-11pm. Park Regis, Bur Dubai. 04 377 1111.
Jingle all the way
Hit up Hitchki on the 24th December for their fancy festive party. It’s the perfect opportunity to try out their new menu – which features such alluring-sounding dishes as How’s the Josh, Tiger Jhinga Hai and Mac N Cheese Pop. Round off the meal with a free slice of plum cake and then hit the dancefloor to bust out some Yuletide grooves.
From 9pm. The Grand Millennium Hotel, Barsha Heights. 52 687 4081
Soul Street is setting up a mini festive market for its Chrimbo visitors. They’re hosting their tasty tinselicious brunch on the evening of the 24th and it includes cooking stations, special beverages and live entertainment. Just make sure you get back home before Santa.
AED 350. 7pm-11pm. FIVE Jumeirah Village Dubai, JVC. 04 455 9989.
The night before Christmas
T’was the night before Christmas, and contrary to rumour, it wasn’t silent at all, it was filled with fine-dining and good humour. Sicilia Restaurant is offering a romantic, candlelit, Italian Christmas Eve dinner with a must-try curated menu that delivers an authentic Mediterranean festive feast. Don’t miss their special winter truffle menu too.
Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate. 04 444 5613
Warehouse are doing away with stuffy tradition and ringing the jingle bells to their own festive beat. Their meal on the 24th is an all-inclusive BBQ Banquet with live cooking stations, free-flowing festive beverages and an atmospheric soundtrack – all for only AED 259.
8pm-12am. Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Garhoud. 04 702 2455
Christmas Day (25th December)
Hi Five Restaurant & Lounge is putting a financially prudent flex on Yuletide dining. Their four-hour homage to Christmas lunch is a set menu, with free-flowing house beverages and sackfulls of holiday cheer. All for a humble, humbug-less, AED 275.
Holiday Inn Express Dubai Internet City. 055 537 7714.
1pm-4pm. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, 04 438 0000.
Lounging around the Christmas tree
Santa baby, could you sort out Christmas Day on the beach. Could send the waiter right to our lounger too, thank you? Azure Beach is offering a 25th December as chilled as the North Pole. The beach club is serving up such festive fare as five-spiced beef tenderloin, cranberry glazed sticky chicken wings, crab rainbow roll and kimcheese quesadilla smoked vegetable dip, straight to your poolside sunbed.
AED 225 for soft beverage package. AED 345 for house package. 1pm-4pm. Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR. 04 342 1924.
Join the festive brunch at garden on 8 and you’ll get an opportunity to take part in a special Christmas Quiz – hosted by Dubai 92’s Jono and Rich. It’s a laidback affair, with festive flexibility – revellers can choose any three hour period they wish between 12pm and 10pm.
AED 399. Quiz starts at 8pm. garden on 8, Media One Hotel. 04 427 1000.
Have crikey Christmas
Proud flag-bearers of Antipodean culture, Bidi Bondi are putting on a very Aussie Christmas. Knock the festive season for six at the beach cricket pitch, grab a shrimp from the seafood buffet or stack your plate with snags from the barbie. Merry Christmas you mongrels. (Apologies to all our Down Under buddies for the gratuitous stereotyping).
AED 350 for soft drinks package. AED 495 for house drinks. 1pm-5.30pm. Bidi Bondi, Palm Shorline, Palm Juemirah. 04 427 0515.
All the sand lay round about
Luxury lounging destination, Cove Beach is holding a special edition of its weekly ladies’ day for Christmas. Girls get free-flowing pink grape and festive bev blends all-day long. Come in red swimsuit and Santa hat and they’ll even waive the AED 100 entry fee.
AED 100 (free with above-mentioned attire). Open from 10am-1am. Cove Beach, Caesars Palace, Bluewaters Island. 50 454 6920.
One of our favourite parts about Distillery’s Christmas dinner proposal, is that it’s inclusive. Meat-eaters can binge on roasted joints – but your veggie homies won’t go hungry either. Starters include house-cured salmon and beets, stuffing arancini and hazelnut & truffle soup. Then there’s veggie wellington or roast turkey with all the essential sides for your main course. It’s all neatly dove-tailed with desserts of Eton Mess, candy cane tart, or sticky toffee pudding.
AED 195 (includes festive welcome drink). Christmas meal served between 12pm and 11.30pm. Distillery, Souk al Manzil. 054 998 2003.