‘Charitable’ and ‘fun’ are not the most obvious words to use when describing Christmas shopping (we’d probably opt for ‘panicked’ and ‘stressful’). Yet the numerous festive school fairs happening around town in the next month can actually make the process surprisingly enjoyable. What’s more, the proceeds go towards school supplies and charities, so you’ll really be entering into the festive spirit. We’ve picked three fantastic fairs worth a visit this winter.
JESS Night market
Friday November 25
This night market has been working hard to encapsulate the magic of Christmas for many years now, becoming something of an institution in the process, attracting hundreds of families every year. During the market, the school grounds will be crammed full of stalls selling all kinds of original handicrafts, from jewellery to artwork – perfect for finding unique and unusual gifts – and there are activities for children, including arts and crafts, cookie decorating, a santa’s grotto, a bouncy castle, tennis and football challenges and fairground games. Adults are in for a treat with an on-site beauty salon and well-being area, plus tombola and numerous cake stalls.
If you’ve still got room after stuffing your face with all the cakes, cookies and mince pies, it’s worth heading to the restaurant area, where the Jebel Ali Hotel will be providing delicious meals. There will be a number of displays and musical performances by JESS children throughout the day and Geordiebird from Dubai 92 FM will be presenting live from the night market. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to local charities including Red Crescent and Al Noor.
Free entry. 3.30pm-8.30pm. Jumeirah English Speaking School, Street 7a, near Safa Park, Jumeirah, www.jess.sch.ae (04 394 5515)
Kings’ Dubai Festive Fair
Thursday December 8
This festive market souk will offer more than 45 different stallholders selling both internationally sourced and locally made wares, with prices starting from just a few dirhams – ideal if you’re worried about the mounting cost of Christmas. If you’ve been saving to splurge, there will be plenty of gifts to peruse on the more expensive end of the scale, including jewellery, home decor, adult and children’s clothing, gifts, accessories, prints, music equipment, beauty products, photographic services, cards and specialist foods.
Throughout the evening, there will be a host of activities and prizes on offer, such as stalls run by schoolkids including lucky dip pots, soft toy tombola, toss the bean bag, a ‘Find Santa’ table and the ever-popular grotto. Quay Skillz youth facility will be running a dance mat challenge and other fitness challenges on a variety of interactive equipment, and you can join in for mere pocket money. Entertainment will be provided by the school choir, the Centre for Musical Arts, Turning Pointe and other groups who use Kings’ facilities.
All of the stallholders have donated items for the big raffle, and prizes will include gift vouchers, jewellery, clothing and accessories, gym membership and framed prints, with tickets just Dhs5 each. All money raised will go towards school facilities.
Entry by donation. 5pm-8pm. King’s Dubai, Street 17c, off Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim 3 (04 348 3939)
Repton Junior School Winter Art Fayre
Friday December 9
Now in its third year, this winter fête started life as a small community event offering a chance for parents, pupils and teachers to catch up with friends and raise money for charity. The fact that this fair has now blossomed into a major event with more than 100 stalls is testimony to the great job it does in offering a fun craft fair experience. Though there are an increasing number of outside vendors occupying table space at the fair, the school relies mainly on parents to fuel the sale, setting up stalls on behalf of classes and year groups, with all the proceeds going to Repton’s chosen charities.
Stalls run by parents usually feature cakes, home-made goodies or fun competitions for children, such as the ever-popular pie toss (at the teachers). Other stalls will offer arts and crafts, jewellery and clothing, children’s toys, nail art and a kite stall, and there will even be a magician.
Free entry. Open 10am-2pm. Repton School, Nad Al Sheba 3 (04 426 9393) Do you know of a festive fair? Let us know: email firstname.lastname@example.org