The best thing about the New Year? The new stationery. The second best thing? A new social life to pen into your blank calendar. There’s always something spectacular happening in Dubai and 2018 will be a very special year for the UAE. It has been dedicated The Year of Zayed and will celebrate the milestone 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s late founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It will be a year to reflect on the role of the late leader in establishing the UAE Federation, and his local, regional and international achievements. There will be plenty to get involved with as part of this celebration, as well as plenty of other events, shows, festivals and new openings that you need to make of note of in your new diary. We’ve rounded up a selection that you won’t want to miss, so if your resolution is to make the most of 2018, read on and start planning your best year ever…
Dubai Shopping Festival
Wake from your Christmas turkey-induced slumber and hit the shops on Tuesday December 26, with the annual city-wide shopping extravaganza running until Saturday January 27. The festival kicks off with a 12-hour super sale where you can get your hands on discounts of up to 90 percent at Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Deira, City Centre Me’aisem, City Centre Barsha and City Centre Al Shindagha. There will be the return of the Friday Surprise, offering incredible discounts every Friday of the festival, with each week focusing on one exclusive offer somewhere in the city. Elsewhere, the festival will finish off with the massive “Final Sale”, a three-day event from Thursday January 25 to Saturday 27, which will be the final opportunity to snap up the best discounts. There will be fireworks displays every weekend through the festival at three Meraas sites, including La Mer, Al Seef and The Beach, opposite JBR. All that, and a whole lot more events, competitions, concerts, giveaways and massive discounts. Is there any better way to dispel the January blues than with four weeks of solid retail therapy?
Tue Dec 26 to Sat Jan 27. Various locations across Dubai, www.visitdubai.com/en/dsf.
Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk – The First Flight
A new Cirque du Soleil show is coming to town for a two-week run in January as part of a global tour – in hues of blue. Toruk – The First Flight is inspired by James Cameron’s record-shattering movie Avatar, in what is promising to be a stunning live setting. It’s being pitched as a “riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft, buoyed by a soaring cinematic score”, which are some huge claims, but considering the scale and success of the movie from which it has been inspired, it will have some large boots to fill. The immersive experience will be narrated by a Na’vi Storyteller – the race of characters in the film, and depicts a tale set thousands of years before the events of the film, with a natural catastrophe threatening to destroy many sacred elements of the Na’vi world.
From Dhs295. Jan 4-17. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.tixbox.com.
Chances are, after the New Year, you might be feeling a bit fat, miserable and skint. Luckily, McGettigan’s JLT can provide you with belly-busting laughs at the bargain price of just Dhs50, at its eighth annual Comedyfest. The festival will see comedians from across Ireland take to the stage at The Baggot to try and put a smile on your face. The festival will run over two days in January and will be headlined by funnymen Fred Cooke, Barry Murphy, Karl Spain and Eric Lalor.
Dhs50 (including a free drink or burger). Jan 11-12, doors open at 8pm, show starts 9pm. McGettigan’s JLT, Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster J, JLT (04 378 0800).
Legendary musical Evita will be arriving at Dubai Opera for a whopping 16-night stint in January and February. The classic Andrew Lloyd Webber show follows the story of Eva Peron, the first lady of Argentina, who dedicates her life to charity and becomes heralded as the spiritual leader of the country. Originally released in 1976, the show is famous for a number of massive songs, mainly Don’t Cry For Me Argentina – which sold more than ten million copies in the UK alone. It also hit No. 1 in eight countries, as the show itself won more than 20 major awards. The film adaptation of Evita, featuring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, won an Oscar for its portrayal of the stage show.
From Dhs250. Mon Jan 22 to Sat Feb 3. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Niall Horan at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Former One Direction singer and global superstar Niall Horan has revealed that he is coming to Dubai in January for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The singer has confirmed he will be flying in especially for the tournament, where he will participate in a ProAm competition alongside one of the world’s best golfers, Rory McIlroy. The Friday night clinic will run on Friday January 26 where Rory McIlroy and pro golfer Paige Spiranac will be showing Niall how to perfect his swing and giving top tips to audience members. Anyone with a ticket for the day’s golf can head to the session. You can also expect to see top names from the world of golf alongside McIlroy, including Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, and even Colin Montgomerie, among others.
From Dhs175 (daily adult ticket), free (kids under 16 with paying adult). Jan 25-28. Emirates Golf Club, Emirates Hills 2, www.omegadubaidesertclassic.com.
Russell Watson; English gent, performer to queens and presidents, and all-round vocal powerhouse, will be coming to perform to yet another impressive crowd (aka us), in Dubai this January. Russell Watson: Up Close and Personal will feature a selection of songs from Watson’s ten studio albums and four compilation albums – of which he has sold seven million. His vast discography includes an array of acclaimed musical performances, which has seen him become widely heralded as one of the top singers of his generation – with many pop influences and songs also in his repertoire. Not bad, that.
From Dhs395. Fri Jan 26, 8pm. Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, www.800tickets.com.
Following the huge Live on the Lake Remix 92 that took place at The Irish Village back in October, the ’90s pop megafest is back for another edition on Friday February 2. Irish girl band B*Witched lead the line-up this year, having pumped out massive tracks including C’est La Vie and Blame it on the Weatherman. B*Witched will be joined by S Club 3, the current members of legendary TV and pop sensations S Club 7. Other artists include 2 Unlimited with No Limit from back in 1993, Corona with club anthem Rhythm of the Night, Black Box, known for Ride On Time, Urban Cookie Collective with The Key The Secret and finally, Liberty X, who released hit after hit in the early 2000s. We can’t wait to dig out our pedal pushers.
From Dhs195. Fri Feb 2. The Irish Village, Garhoud, www.800tickets.com.
EDM pop titans The Chainsmokers headline the first night of Virgin Radio’s RedFestDXB on Thursday February 8. The electronic duo are getting ready to wow the crowds with a string of massive hits. They’ll be joined by soul singer Kelli-Leigh, who has collaborated with a number of artists including Duke Dumont and Jax Jones and sings lead vocals on James Hype’s single More than Friends. Electopop superstar Kesha will top the bill on day two, alongside Marshmello, who struck gold on YouTube with tracks Alone and Summer, both of which have amassed more than 140 million views. Bebe Rexha also joins the bill, returning to the UAE having played the official Justin Bieber pre-concert party earlier this year. Completing the line-up on both days is a Time Out favourite, DJ Dany Neville, and you can expect an appearance from beloved UK R&B star Craig David.
From Dhs395. Feb 8-9. Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, www.redfestdxb.com.
The Polish National Opera will be landing in Dubai in February for a tragic tale of forbidden love. Aïda tells the tale of the Nubian princess of the same name, and the young Egyptian warrior, Radamès, who have to decide between love and loyalty to their countries. Throw in a jealous betrothed and you’ve got the recipe for a real showstopper. The show, by composer Giuseppe Verdi, will be performed at Dubai Opera. We can’t wait to see how the drama unfolds.
From Dhs350. Feb 14-17, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival
Our favourite baby-faced soul and R&B superstar John Legend will be in Dubai in February to headline day two of the 16th edition of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival. The event will run from Wednesday February 21 until Friday 23, and Legend will be following absolute heroes of ’80s British pop rock, Duran Duran, who will be headlining the festival on the opening night. Also joining the line-up will be Ricky Martin, who will headline the final night of the festival on Friday 23 with some Latin beats. The gig will see crowds chanting out the lyrics to hit after hit, with huge tracks like All Of Me, Rio and Living La Vida Loca sure to whip the audience into a frenzy.
From Dhs325 (general admission). Feb 21-23. Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, www.dubaijazzfest.com.
The Shaolin Warriors live
It’ll be as fast as lightning, so blink and you’ll miss the arrival of the Shaolin Warriors, who will be kung fuing their way into town in early 2018. The legendary Shaolin Warriors – The Kung Fu Masters is set to make its GCC debut with a five-day run at Dubai Opera. It’s promising to be a spectacular show, which will be rolling into Dubai from Tuesday February 27 until Saturday March 3. The historic show, which stars 21 kung fu masters from Shaolin, China, follows the story of a young child’s initiation into the Warriors, to become a fully-fledged warrior following years of dedicated training. Having been running for the past 16 years, Shaolin Warriors has been a worldwide smash, showcasing at venues worldwide and captivating audiences with demonstrations of hypnotic and action-packed stunts.
From Dhs195. Tue Feb 27 to Sat Mar 3. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Calling all bookworms, wordsmiths and misanthropic poets. Put down your literature and put the social anxiety aside to mix with some like-minded folk at this landmark event. For the first time ever, Dubai Opera will host world-class poets for a spoken word event as part of the tenth annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. For the Love of Words will see some of the world’s finest literary talents from the UAE and the UK come together to perform their much-loved works. The ten-day event will take place at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City and will include a one-off event at the opera house on Tuesday March 6. Dubai poet Khalid AlBudoor, multi-award-winning British poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage, Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy – the first female Poet Laurette – the legendary British poet, presenter and children’s author Roger McGough, children’s author Jaqueline Wilson and comic-turned-author David Walliams will all take to the stage. In addition to the authors, you’ll also get to hear from Saroo Brierley, whose real-life story was told in the Oscar-nominated movie Lion.
From Dhs50. Mar 1-10. InterContinental Dubai Festival City, www.emirateslitfest.com. Dubai Opera performance from Dhs75. Mar 6, 2018. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Dara Ó Briain
Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain will be live on stage on Thursday March 15 for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. As part of his International Voice of Reason Tour, Ó Briain will perform for one night only at Dubai World Trade Centre. As host of shows including Mock the Week, Stargazing Live, Robot Wars and Go 8 Bit, this is sure to be a popular gig for comedy fans and robot-lovers alike.
From Dhs295. Thu Mar 15. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.dxblaughs.ae.
St. Patrick’s day
Get ready to shake your shamrock at a huge St. Patrick’s Day music festival at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, celebrating all things Irish. McGettigan’s and DGT Events are back for the second year with a stellar line-up of international acts, food and drinks and a range of live entertainment. Irish international artists will perform throughout the day, with acts to be announced soon. The festivities will showcase all that is great about Ireland, both domestically and abroad.
Prices to be announced. Fri Mar 26. Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, www.mcgettigans.com.
The Dubai World Cup
The world’s richest raceday and one of the biggest days in the city’s sporting and social calendar is set for Saturday March 31. The Dubai World Cup will see thousands of stylish racegoers treated to a stunning performance and the day will showcase nine top-class races and a total prize purse of US$30 million (Dhs110,000). Tickets for the Apron views area, which hosts the Style Stakes and post-race concert, are on sale for Dhs450 until Sunday March 18, and the price will rise to Dhs600 in the final fortnight. There are also plenty of build-up races in the lead-up as part of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, keeping racing fans happy from Thursday January 11 to Saturday March 10. Neigh-chance are we missing this (sorry).
Prices vary. Dubai World Cup: Sat Mar 31; Dubai World Cup Carnival: Thu Jan 11 to Sat Mar 10. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba, store.meydan.ae (04 327 2110).
Moscow City Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet
What’s more heart-wrenching than a couple of star-crossed lovers with warring families? Well, star-crossed lovers in tights, of course. The world-famous Moscow City Ballet and Orchestra will be taking to the Dubai Opera stage to perform Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet, for three performances in April. Coming from acclaimed Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev and staged by Victor Smirnov Golovanov (who also founded the Moscow City Ballet), this production is set in Renaissance Italy. Golovanov’s powerful interpretation combined with Prokofiev’s emotive score make for a truly dazzling stage.
From Dhs250 Apr 19-21. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
We like our shopping here in Dubai and the new Cityland Mall will also give us a nature fix. It’s being described as the world’s first nature-inspired shopping mall, and will feature a huge 200,000 sq m botanical garden among its many shops. It’s being developed by the folks behind Dubai Miracle Garden and Dubai Butterfly Garden, and is expected to open in mid-2018.
Wadi Al Safa 3, beside Global Village, www.citylandmall.com.
Deira islands Night Souk
Fancy a haggle by moonlight? By the end of 2018, you’ll be able to bargain under the stars with the opening of the Deira Islands Night Souk. The market will be located on Deira Islands (previously Palm Deira) and will be the first major project on the development to be completed. The souk will come to life after the sun goes down and will remain open until after midnight, so you can get your hands on spices, scarves and souvenirs.
Opening late 2018. Deira Islands, www.nakheel.com/en/retail/deira-islands-night-souk.
The wait for the opening of hotly anticipated tourist attraction Dubai Frame is almost over. Its website says the new landmark will open to the public in January, though, an official date is still to be confirmed. Also known as Berwaz Dubai, the Frame is comprised of two towers measuring 150 metres in height, and connected by a 93-metre-long bridge at the top. The location, at Zabeel Park, was specially chosen to give visitors the best view of both Old and New Dubai, and a picture-perfect view it shall be. Property giant Emaar has signed an exclusive agreement to market and promote the Dubai Frame, which it will do as one of its major tourist attractions, along with At The Top at the Burj Khalifa.
Dhs50 (adults), Dhs30 (kids), free (kids under three, adults over 60 and people of determination). Zabeel Park, www.thedubaiframe.com.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Library
We love settling down with a good book, and Dubai wouldn’t be Dubai if its new library wasn’t a 66,000 sq m, seven-story structure resembling an open book perched atop a rehl (a traditional lectern that holds the Qur’an). The library will house millions of books, and will include seven areas for interaction, events, activities and educational and cultural festivals. All going well, we should be nose-deep by mid-2018.
Al Jaddaf, Dubai Creek. For more information go to www.dm.gov.ae.
Seven Emirates run
A new seven-emirates run will take place in 2018 to mark the Year of Zayed. Next year is dedicated to the UAE’s founding father His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and to commemorate HH Sheikh Zayed’s act of passing the torch of unity across the seven emirates, the UAE Athletics Federation announced the new event. Residents and UAE citizens can all take part in the 5km runs, which will pass landmarks in each emirate.
Dates, times and venues to be announced.
Stella Di Mare
A swanky new hotel is set to open in Dubai Marina early next year – complete with a spa and salon, to make sure you look the part amongst all that grandeur. The five-star Stella Di Mare will be the first international location for the hotel brand, which already has six resorts in Egypt. Among its 31 floors and 396 luxurious rooms, you’ll find three splendid restaurants and three smashing bars – including the signature rooftop bar, Skyland. The first of the restaurants is Leonardo, an impressive Italian with artsy interiors inspired by the flair of Leonardo da Vinci. Triton is a fusion and Mediterranean food restaurant and La Fontana is an all-day dining venue offering an international buffet. The hotel bars will include the lobby lounge, Orphic Bar, providing tasty snacks and Italian coffee, a pool bar providing daily refreshment and Skyland, located on the 31st floor with spectacular views of Dubai Marina. There will also be a fully equipped gym and spa facilities, to work off all that grub.
Dubai Marina, www.stelladimare.com/dubai_marina_hotel (055 900 6446).
The World’s Longest Zip line
Get your harness on and gather your nerves for the world’s longest zip line, set to open in January at Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah. It follows the existing 300-metre Via Ferrata and the 1km zip line in Dubai Marina, which opened earlier this month. The RAK line’s exact length currently remains a mystery (although it’s said to be longer than 28 football fields), but it’s expected to break the current world record held by “The Monster” in Puerto Rico, which is 2,200 metres long. Do you dare take the plummet of all plummets? New Year, new ventures and all that…
Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah, visit en.rasalkhaimah.ae for more information.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
Your superhero dreams are about to become a reality as Metropolis and Gotham City are both brought to the capital as part of the eagerly anticipated Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. The jaw-dropping Yas Island theme park, set to open in 2018, will span 1.65 million square feet and will boast 29 rides, shows and attractions in six separate worlds. We can also expect the worlds of Cartoon Junction, Bedrock and Dynamite Gulch, based on iconic brands such as Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera, plus Warner Bros. Plaza, which has been inspired by the nostalgic glories of Hollywood from bygone years.
Prices and official opening date still to be announced. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.yasisland.ae.