Grottos, Santas, meal deals and more last-minute festive fun in Dubai
Louise Emma Clarke
Last-minute eats and nights out
Aspen by Kempinski is currently hosting a festive afternoon tea, complete with traditional Christmas treats and mulled grape. Santa Claus will be in attendance between 3pm and 6pm, handing out early Christmas presents to little attendees. Dhs150 per person. Free to meet Santa. Daily 3pm-6pm. Until December 24. Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 0000).
Celebrate by the pool
Dine on a selection of festive favourites and barbecue classics at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai’s A Fine Winter’s Barbecue. The poolside event is on every day, giving you the perfect excuse to celebrate in the sunshine with friends and family. Dhs250 per person (including a bottle of beverage). Daily 11am-6pm. Until December 30. The Walk, JBR (04 318 6150).
Book an early festive brunch New Dubai Media City eatery Lounge Cafè Italiano is the place to go to on December 19. It will feature a traditional Italian spread, with plenty of festive activities to keep kids entertained. Every family will be given a complimentary gingerbread house to decorate. Dhs130 (adults), Dhs60 (kids aged six to 12), free (kids under five). Arenco Tower, Dubai Media City, www.loungecafeitaliano.com (04 453 3318).
Dine on the beach What better setting to celebrate the arrival of Christmas than the glamorous surroundings of Meydan Beach? The Christmas Eve dinner at Sur Mer Restaurant and Terrace includes a four-course menu and glass of red grape. Dhs350 per person. The Walk, JBR (04 4333 777).
Celebrate the day before Christmas Enjoy Christmas Eve in style by getting together with friends to party at The Irish Village on December 24, with free entry and music courtesy of DJ Marky Mark. The Irish Village, Garhoud (04 239 5000).
Have Christmas lunch without booking Both the JLT and DWTC branches of McGettigan’s will serve a three-course à la carte Christmas lunch from noon to 4pm. No bookings are necessary, though tables for large groups can be arranged in advance for a set menu. Dhs160 per person. McGettigan’s, JLT and DWTC, Downtown Dubai (04 378 0800).
Dining in the desert
Embrace Christmas with the famous Christmas Day brunch at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa. The family-friendly celebration will include a plethora of entertainment to keep everyone happy, including magic shows, pony rides, bouncy castles and carol singing. Dhs395 (adults), Dhs197 (kids aged five to 12), free (kids under five). Al Qudra Road, opposite Endurance City (04 809 6100).
Party in the snow
The stylish club White Dubai will be covered in snow for the ‘It’s a White Christmas’ party. From Dhs700 (drinks and sushi), from Dhs1,200 (high tables and drinks). December 25 and 26, 10pm onwards. Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse Rooftop, Nad Al Sheba, www.whitedubai.com (050 443 0933).
Drop and shop Still got some Christmas shopping to do? Drop the kids at the Falcon Juniors’ Club at Fairmont The Palm for a three-hour supervised Santa’s workshop complete with craft sessions, magic shows and festive games. You can hit the mall in peace. Dhs150 per child (booking required). Santa’s Workshop December 20-23, 2pm-5pm. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.fairmont.com/palm-dubai (04 457 3388).
Visit a festive market Madinat Jumeirah’s annual Christmas market has just opened, complete with traditional stalls, train rides, an ice rink and a giant snow globe. Head over after it’s dark to enjoy the twinkling lights and giant decorated tree. Free. Daily 3pm-midnight (weekdays), 1pm-midnight (weekends). Until December 27. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com (04 366 8888).
Festive family fun
Head to Santa’s Grotto If you have kids, Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to Santa’s Grotto – and Wafi is widely believed to have the best one around. If you haven’t got kids, tag along with someone who does for an instant dose of the festive spirit. Dhs60 per child. Until December 24, 10am-10pm (Saturday to Thursday), 10am-11pm (Friday). Wafi Mall, Sheikh Rashid Road www.wafi.com (04 324 4555). Hit the piste
A 20ft Christmas tree, traditional choir and Santa’s Grotto completes the Ski Dubai experience this December. Hit the piste on skis or snowboards, or ride the chair lift to Avalanche Café for one of the best hot chocolates in Dubai. Dhs200 (Snow Fun Pass), Dhs500 (Ski Dubai Experience). Sun-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu 10am-midnight, Fri 9am-midnight, Sat 9am-11pm. Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.theplaymania.com/skidubai (800 386).
Watch a festive show Take your seat for Ductac’s annual festive show. This year, it’s the choctastic musical Willy Wonka, which celebrates 50 years of Roald Dahl’s classic tale. From Dhs200. December 19, 3pm; December 20 and 24, 11am, 3pm; December 22-23, 3pm; December 26, 3pm and 7pm; December 27, 3pm; no show December 21 and 25. Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.willywonkadubai.com.
Sing carols in the desert Located 12km from Motor City, off Bawadi Bab al Shams Road, this desert event starts with communal fires being lit for barbecuing food (make sure you bring your own). The carols start when everyone is fed and the event concludes with hot chocolate and the release of sky lanterns into the star-lit sky. Free. December 19, from 4pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head to a Pantomime Get into the Christmas spirit with the Madinat Theatre’s pantomime of Alice in Wonderland. Dhs150 (balcony), Dhs175 (stalls). December 19, 7pm, December 20-24, 11am and 3pm, December 26-27, 3pm and 7pm, December 28-30, 11am and 3pm. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, www.madinatjumeirah.com (04 366 6546).
Attend a screening Head to Reform and enjoy the last of its Christmas screenings series. How The Grinch Stole Christmas will be shown on December 23 and Santa Claus on the December 24. Free to attend, food and drinks charged extra. December 24 and 25, 8pm. The Lakes Club (04 454 2638).
Food in a flash
Botched the bird? Fret not – just order a ready-made festive meal
Atlantis The Palm The 7-8kg medium turkey serves six to ten, the 9-10kg large turkey serves ten to 15. Each comes with trimmings including roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts. Order 48 hours in advance by Wednesday December 24. Dhs800 (medium), Dhs1,100 (large). Christmas pudding Dhs100 (medium), Dhs150 (large). Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, email@example.com (04 426 2626).
Fairmont The Palm Order roast turkey or angus beef striploin. Each comes with traditional trimmings and desserts. Turkey: Dhs450 (four people), Dhs550 (eight people) Dhs650 (12 people); roast beef: Dhs600 (2kg), Dhs1,120 (4kg). Until January 7. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, firstname.lastname@example.org (04 457 3457).
Grand Hyatt Dubai Get turkey with trimmings including chestnut stuffing and buttered Brussels sprouts for eight to ten people; roast angus rib eye including gratin potatoes and braised green beans for 12 to 15 people, and a traditional goose including apple-honey bread stuffing for four to six people. Order 48 hours in advance. Dhs950 (turkey), Dhs1,400 (angus rib eye), Dhs850 (goose). December 24-January 1. Oud Metha (04 317 2290).
Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa The hotel is offering starters, mains, sides and desserts, including smoked salmon platters, a whole roast turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas puddings and Yule Log. Dhs950-1,200. Until December 25. Dubai Marina (04 408 4257).
Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach You can pick up a 6-7kg turkey suitable for eight to 12 people with all the trimmings (larger sizes can be arranged on request) from Saturday December 20 to Thursday 25. From Dhs680. The Walk, JBR (04 449 8781).