50 Dubai festive family ideas

Meet Santa, sing carols, watch panto and more Christmas fun

50 Dubai festive family ideas

’Tis the season to be jolly! Which is why we’ve left no turkey unturned in our bid to bring you the biggest countdown to Christmas and the new year yet. Think tree lightings, mince pies and mulled beverages, carol concerts, gingerbread construction and festive roast dinners galore. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

December 1
Tempt those taste buds at the Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach’s winter wonderland. As well as traditional German and Swiss festive delicacies, there’ll be turkey with all the trimmings, marizipan truffles, mince pies and much much more.
Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, www.moevenpick-hotels.com; Maureen.pamanano@moevenpick.com (04 449 8888).

Sign the kids up to a winter workshop at the new Mirath Art Centre in JBR. They’ll be running a flexible schedule throughout the winter holidays, with age appropriate creative classes for kids from tots to teens, including paiting, mixed media and 3D design.
Prices from Dhs350-Dhs890, from three-five days depending on age group. Mirath Art Centre, Amwaj 3, Plaza Level, JBR. www.mirathart.com (04 434 0128).

December 2

Happy UAE National Day! The lovable characters of Umm Khammas, Um Allawi, Um Saeed and Um Saloon from homegrown cartoon Freej will be appearing in Magic Planets across the UAE.
Catch them in Mirdif City Centre from 5.15pm to 6:15pm, Deira City Centre from 7.15pm to 8.15pm and Mall of the Emirates from 9.15pm to 10.15pm.

You can also munch on some National Day cupcakes to celebrate 40 years of the UAE, courtesy of Kitsch.
Their customized cakes cost Dhs14 each, and you’ll find them at Kitsch stores on Jumeirah Beach Road, DIFC and Vox cinemas.

December 3
This afternoon, head to the Address Montgomerie’s Carnival on the Lawn, for family fun and games, shawarmas and soft drinks, and the chance to catch up with Father Christmas.
Dhs110 (kids), Dhs50 (adults). 3pm-6pm. The Address Montgomerie, www.theaddress.com (04 390 5600).

December 4
The lobby of the Al Bustan Rotana has been transformed into a snow-covered Christmas village this month, and from today you’ll be able to pick up Christmas food and goodies, such as turkeys, chocolates and mince pies.
Until January 5, visit, www.rotanatimes.com (04 705 4818).

December 5
Take the sprogs to an afternoon Christmas crafting workshop at Super Dooper in Dubai Marina. Running between December 4-6, from 4pm-6pm, kids will learn how to make their own yuletide slippers and beautiful festive houses.
The two-hour workshops cost Dhs150 per child and include all materials. Damac Waves Building, Dubai Marina, www.superdooper.ae (04 454 8391).

December 6
Get the Christmas shopping done at Oasis Centre – from today they’ll be offering a series of special offers, family attractions and gift ideas for shoppers (not to mention the chance to ogle the sparkling decorations and huge tree). Santa will also be holding workshops throughout the month, where kids can watch festive movies, and make their own Santa hats, stockings filled with goodies and home-made decorations.
Oasis Centre Mall, www.oasiscentremall.com (04 515 4000).

It’s jolly old St Nicholas’ Day, so what better way to toast Santa’s good health than to head to the Gingerbread House at the Aquarium Lounge at the Crowne Plaza Dubai-Deira? From 4pm-8pm, St Nick will be there himself to hand out to the kids, and for Dhs49 you can help yourself to the buffet that’s chock full of mince pies, Christmassy goodies, hot chocolate and warm punch.
Aquarium Lounge, Crowne Plaza Dubai-Deira.; cpdeira.info@ihg.com (04 262 5555).

Tonight also marks the start of Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel’s Christmas decoration display, as well as the opening of the hotel’s festive shop in Al Bahou, where you can buy all those festive favourites for gifts or Christmas dinner.
Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, www.thegoodlife.ae (04 444 5613).

December 7
If you’re planning to celebrate at home but don’t know one end of a turkey from the other, now’s the time to book ahead your Christmas lunch. Check out our guide to the best takeaway services around Dubai, which will take all the hard work out of Christmas lunch and you may even be able to pass it off as your own work!).

December 8
Head along to the launch of the Madinat Jumeirah’s famous Souk Festive Market. Taking place every day from today until December 26 (3pm-midnight on weekdays; 1pm-midnight on weekends), they’ve got a whole host of fun, Christmassy activities for all the family. As well as a chance for the kids to meet Santa, there’ll be a Christmas train station, winter forest, snow ball throwing, t-shirt painting, Christmas movies, a cookie slide, and festive balloon bending. And as well as stalls selling traditional gifts, there’ll also be an ample selection of food and beverage stands to choose from to help you get in the Christmas spirit. Oh, and did we mention that entry is completely free?
For more information, visit www.jumeirah.com/dubaifestive

Tonight is also when the Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach lights up its Christmas tree in the lobby, complete with carol singers, Christmas sweets and festive beverages.
Free of charge, visit between 7pm and 9pm to join in the fun. Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, www.moevenpick-hotels.com (04 449 8888; Maureen.pamanano@moevenpick.com).

December 9
Gorge on some Stollen, the traditional German Christmas cake at Mall of the Emirates. Throughout the day, the Kempinski Hotel will be holding its annual Stollen Charity Cake Sale, where the main attraction will be a giant 480-metre stollen. The fun starts at 10am, with bell ringing, face painting for the kids, and an appearance by Santa and mall mascot Miss Frost.
Dhs5 per slice, Dhs100 for full loaf. Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, www.kempinski.com/dubai

December 10
Bake up a storm at Hey Sugar at Park Island Marina, with their latest concept, Mix Batter and Bake. In the 10am-noon morning session, kids will don a chef’s hat, and bake and decorate gingerbread cookies in Christmassy shapes (Dhs100 per child). In the afternoon session from 3pm-5pm, it’s all about decorating gingerbread houses – for Dhs150 per child they’ll get a chefs hat, a plain gingerbread house, and as much sweets and icing as they need.

We’ve long been huge fans of the Generation Creation brunches at Mazina in the Address Dubai Marina, so their December plans are sure to be a big hit. This month, in keeping with the festive theme, it’s all about gingerbread houses, with kids and their parents battling away to create the best decorated house, with the chance to win some great goodies for all those involved. Oh, and the supervised kids’ area, not to mention the slap-up buffet, are pretty darn fantastic too.
Dhs195 per person. 12.30pm-3.30pm. The Address Dubai Marina, www.theaddress.com (04 888 3828).

This afternoon (4-7pm), the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach is holding what they’re promising to be the ultimate kids’ Christmas party. With a buffet, bouncy castle, fun activities, and entertainment from Mr Magician and Mrs Camel and Baby Camel, and Santa will also be making an appearance with plenty of surprises for the little ones.
Dhs100 per child. Gazebo, Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort, www.sheratonjumeirahbeach.com (04 399 5533).

Also pop down to Dubai English Speaking School’s annual Christmas Fayre, which is being held today between 3pm and 6pm. There’s plenty of fun for all, with festive games and plenty of Christmassy prizes up for grabs. Plus, if you’re a crafter who’d like to sell your festive wares and book at table at the event, contact Kym at kaimcg@hotmail.co.uk.

December 11
Pick up some tempting treats at the Hamper Shop in the Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, which is open from today until December 29. They’ve got a great range on offer, from cookies and gifts to full on hampers – a great gourmet gift option.
For more information, visit www.jumeirah.com/dubaifestive.

Also ringing in the season from today is the Sweet Shop at Movenpick Hotel and Apartments in Bur Dubai, where you can pick up a traditional Christmas cake from today until December 31. Priced at Dhs176 for 1kg, or Dhs90 for 500g, the ingredients have been marinated for three months in advance, before being topped off with marzipan and royal icing, and served in a Japanese-style Furoshiki organza box – so it’s a great gift for aunties and uncles too.
Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai, www.moevenpick-burdubai.com (04 336 6000).

December 12
And if you’re feeling traditional, book a table at The Falls Lobby Lounge for a Christmassy High Tea. As well as the usual sandwiches and speciality teas, there’ll be English mince pies and spiced cookies to munch on.
Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, www.moevenpick-hotels.com (04 449 8888; Maureen.pamanano@moevenpick.com).

December 13
Stumped when it comes to choosing the perfect pressie for the nippers? Why not splash out (geddit?!) on a winter pass for Wild Wadi? Priced at Dhs400 for kids below 1.1m and Dhs600 for general admission, you’ll get free access for six months, plus you can take four friends at a discounted rate too.
On sale throughout December, www.wildwadi.com (04 348 4444).

December 14
It’s the last day for the kids to join one of Super Dooper’s fab Christmas workshops. This time, it’s all about making Santa’s wishlists and Christmas stockings, and these afternoon workshops have been running between December 11 and 14, from 4pm to 6pm.
Dhs150 per child. Damac Waves Building, Dubai Marina, www.superdooper.ae (04 454 8391).

December 15

It’s the magical first night of The Nutcracker Ballet at The Madinat Theatre. Running until December 17, the performance by the prestigious Vienna Festival Ballet Company tells the tale of Clara, whose nutcracker toy magically transforms into a soldier that whisks her away to an enchanted land. Don’t miss it.
Dhs165 (balcony), Dhs185 (stalls). Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah. www.itp.net/tickets.

December 16
Chukka up at the Christmas Cup Brunch and Christmas Bazaar at the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club. Grab a table on the sunny terrace at Palermo to watch the action on the polo pitch and get into the festive spirit, Dubai-style, with a slap-up seasonal brunch served between 12.30-3.30pm (priced between Dhs199 and Dhs375 for adults; kids between 6-12 half price). Then browse the stalls of the arts and crafts bazaar, the perfect spot to pick up some unusual stocking fillers (or you can book a stall to sell your own goodies too for just Dhs100 per table).
Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, www.poloclubdubai.com (04 361 8111).

December 17
For more gingerbread fun, hop along to the ballroom at the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek – between 2-4pm, purchase a gingerbread house (Dhs70) and the little ones will be able to put their own mark on it by decorating it with icing, goodies and sweets, for free! And, they’ll also get the chance to meet Santa, and receive a surprise Christmas present. It doesn’t get much better!
Call the information centre on 04 205 7333.

Over in Old Town, there’s an Elves Tea Party at the Royale Ballroom of the Palace Hotel. Kids can get their picture taken with Santa, and there’s a tasty buffet and a tree-lighting ceremony at the end of the afternoon. Book ahead to guarantee a place.
Dhs145. 3-6pm, email dine@thepalace-dubai.com for details (04 4287806).

December 18
It’s the Christmas holidays, so help the kids unleash their creative side (while making some fun festive gifts into the bargain) at Ductac’s Winter Camp. Running all week between December 18 and 22, they can try their hand at drawing, painting, ceramics and much more, under the expert guidance of Ductac’s art instructors.
Dhs900 per child. For more info, visit www.ductac.org (artsreception@ductac.org). Also runs December 27-29.

Hungry Mum Tina McFazdean’s Little Chef’s Holiday Cookery Camp is a fun way for kids to learn their way around the kitchen, from food safety to how to cook recipes from around the world. Suitable for ages five and up, the course runs from today until December 22, and includes lunch, healthy snacks, apron and recipe booklet.
Dhs700 per child. Location behind Metropolitan Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (050 458 3015; hungrymum@yahoo.com).

December 19
If the Christmas shopping has left you frazzled, pull up a pew and chill out to the sounds of the Christmas pianist at the Sofitel Jumeirah Beach. When you’ve got your energy back, don’t forget to check out Santa’s sledge, which is full of takeaway seasonal goodies, from turkey to Christmas cakes. For an extra treat, the hotel is also hosting a festive afternoon tea in the Plantation Lounge, including mince pies and yule logs for Dhs135 per person.
Pianist from December 19-23, afternoon tea served from December 18-January 7, 3-5pm. Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, www.sofitel.com (04 448 4870).

December 20
Warm up those vocal chords, as the choir at Le Meridien will be performing yuletide carols, every evening from today until Christmas Eve from 7.15-8pm. They’ll also be serving eggnog, hot chestnuts and mince pies, plus Santa will be there to say ‘ho, ho, ho!’ to the little ones.
Le Meridien, Garhoud, www.diningdubai.com (04 702 2347).

December 22
Treat the family to a festive grill night at Fountain restaurant at the Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai. From tonight until Christmas Eve, the little terrors will be entertained by the animators from Action Care in the Kids’ Club area.
Dhs165-205, under 12s half price, kids under six free of charge. 7.30-10.30pm. Fountain Restaurant, Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai, www.moevenpick-burdubai.com (04 336 6000).

December 23
Part of Christmas is all about seeing how much turkey you can cram into your family’s tums, after all, so why not start early at a festive family brunch? Foutain restaurant at Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai has a traditional brunch buffet, complete with roast turkey and all the trimmings, as well as a la carte house specials. There’s also kids’ entertainment in the supervised play area.
Dhs285 (food only), Dhs385 (with selected house beverages), kids under 12 eat half price, kids under 6 eat for free. 12noon-4pm. Fountain Restaurant, Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai, www.moevenpick-burdubai.com (04 336 6000).

December 24
Just one day to go! Snuggle down in front of the TV with a Christmas movie to get that festive feeling, see our feature here. And if you’re heading out, check out the options here or the full F&B listings on www.timeoutdubai.com.

December 25
Check out our pick of some family friendly Christmas dinners, below. For full Christmas Day listings, go to www.timeoutdubai.com.

If you can bear to leave the sofa after a hearty Christmas lunch, head to the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz Carlton JBR. Little ones aged five to 12 can help the chef decorate his gingerbread house, then enjoy afternoon tea with Christmas treats. And to keep the festive mood going, the choir will sing carols from 6-7pm.
Dhs225. 2pm-4pm. The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, The Walk at JBR (04 399 4000).

December 26
Unwind with a Boxing Day brunch. Try Palermo Restaurant and Terrace, where you can enjoy the winter sunshine and catch a polo match as you eat.
12.30-3.30pm (Dhs199-375 for adults). Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, www.poloclubdubai.com (04 361 8111).

December 27
In that post-Christmas slump, there’s another chance to get the kids off the sofa and doing something fun at the second installment of the Ductac Winter Camp which runs between today and December 29. Dhs500 per child. For more info, visit www.ductac.org (artsreception@ductac.org ).

December 29
Join Peter, Tinkerbell, Wendy, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys as they take to the stage in this spell-binding performance of Peter Pan at the Madinat Theatre, from December 21 until December 31. Suitable for kids aged five and up, there’s matinee and evening tickets are available, priced at Dhs150, as well as special discounted tickets for December 20, priced at Dhs135.
Madinat Theatre, www.madinattheatre.com.

December 31
Bye bye 2011! For full details of everything that’s happening around town, visit www.timeoutdubai.com. We reckon we’ll be heading to the Kite Beach to catch the spectacular fireworks from the Burj Al Arab and Atlantis.

But if you fancy a night out with the kids in tow, there are heaps of family friendly celebrations to ring in 2012 (just remember to book early to avoid disappointment). Two that caught our eye are: Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s Latitude, where guests dine on a NYE buffet, then have access to the sun deck to watch the fireworks display.
Dhs1,100 (includes glass of bubbly and selected house beverages). Dhs990 (children aged 12 to 20) Dhs550 (children under 12). 8pm ’til late. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, www.jumeirah.com/dubaifestive (04 348 0000)

Or the gala dinner at the Westin’s Serdaal Ballroom, which features Chinese acrobats and a kids’ corner.
Dhs1,650 (selected house beverages), Dhs575 children aged six to 12). 7pm-1am. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi (04 511 7139 ext 7139).

Have a wonderful New Year from the Time Out Kids team

Eat, Drink and be Merry!

Need some inspiration for Christmas dinner? For a full list of deals, check out www.timeoutdubai.com
Christmas Eve
Festive lunch and dinner, including a photo session with Father Christmas (dinner only).
Dhs195 (lunch; food only), Dhs275 (dinner; food only). 12.30pm-3.30pm (lunch), 6pm-11pm (dinner). Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).

A family brunch with buffet and assortment of beverages, plus fun activities for the nippers.
Dhs400 (selected house beverages), Dhs200 (children aged 12 to 20), Dhs195 (children under 12). 12.30pm-4pm. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, www.jumeirah.com/dubaifestive (04 348 0000) (also offers Christmas lunch).

Christmas Day
The Talk A classic Christmas atmosphere with festive carving stations, traditional buffet and dessert islands. There’s also an action-packed kids’ corner.
Dhs199-299, free for children 12 and under. 12.30pm-4.30pm. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, JBR (04 449 8888).

Zaytoun A fun, festive family brunch on the outdoor deck. Kids can enjoy a bouncy castle and face-painting.
Dhs195-295. 12.30pm-4pm. Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City (04 701 1127).

Al Forsan Feast on festive specialities. There will also be a live band, Father Christmas, face painting, games, balloon art, kite flying and pony rides.
Dhs295 (soft drinks). 12.30pm-4pm. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort, bas.restaurants@meydanhotels.com (04 809 6194).

Meet Santa!

Who says Father Christmas lives in Lapland? We hear he’s taken up residence around Dubai, and is waiting to hear all about those Christmas wishes!
Santa has kept his promise to return to Dubai on his Global Tour 2011. Surely the busiest man in town, you can catch him with the Toy Soldiers at Wafi City (04 324 4555) from December 1. Dhs55 will get you a photo in the grotto, a cuddly Toy Soldier, a pass for Encounter and festive refreshments for parents and kids. The man in red will also be at Oasis Centre (04 515 4000) from December 6, accompanied by carolling, movies and workshops. From December 8, head to the Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah, where you can kill two birds with one stone – shopping and Santa! The market is open until December 26. Or, if a winter wonderland is more your thing, the frosty slopes of Ski Dubai (800 5347873) will surely make Santa feel at home. He’ll be there (along with carollers, too), to meet kids, take photos and find out about their Christmas wish-lists from December 18-24.

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