Best Christmas family fun in Dubai

Family-friendly festivities in Dubai during December

Food, Festive
December 1

Start as you mean to go on with a two- or three-course Christmas feast at The One Deli in Jumeirah. Priced from Dhs79 to Dhs96, it includes a glass of kid-friendly mulled punch, and a coffee on the house.
Call 04 345 6687 for more details.

Check out the festive playroom at Raffles in Wafi. Running until December 24, kids can paint their own baubles for the tree at home (or hang them on the Raffles tree).
Call 04 324 8888 for info.

December 2

Happy National Day! There’s activities to celebrate the UAE’s 41st anniversary across town, check out www.dubaicalendar.ae.

Leading up to Christmas, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays at 19 in the Montgomerie are dedicated to chocolate. Priced at Dhs299 per person, grown ups can join their workshops with Chef de Cuisine, David Attwater, to put their culinary skills to the test in time for dinner on December 25.
Call 04 390 5600 or email montgomerie@theaddress.com.

December 3

Check out Little Explorers’ Sweet Snow workshops, which are running from today until the end of December. Kids can find out all about snow, play some snow-centric activities and even build a snowman! They’ll also be able to decorate some of their very own snowman cookies. Workshops run throughout the day and are priced at Dhs100 for 90 minutes. Little Explorers also has a drop and shop facilities for kids aged three to seven, priced at Dhs120.
Visit www.theplaymania.com or call 800-FUN for more information.

December 5

The Movenpick JBR is fast becoming one of Dubai’s favourite family venues to celebrate Christmas. Today sees the opening of their annual Christmas Market in the Falls Lobby Lounge, which has been transformed into a winter wonderland, and has plenty of festive fare from the likes of Germany and Switzerland to try.
Open until December 31, for more information, call 04 449 8888 or email hotel.jumeirahbeach@moevenpick.com.

Meet Santa at the Zebra Crossing Christmas bash from 4pm to 6pm today. For Dhs75, kids can join in songs, decorate a gingerbread house, and get a special gift from the man in red. Also on December 12 and 19.
Call 050 559 4903 to reserve a place.

December 6

Time for over-eating those mince pies! Start as you mean to go on with a Christmas-themed afternoon tea at The Palace Downtown Dubai, which runs from today until Christmas Day in Al Bayt Lounge. The spread includes traditional stollen, mince pies, fruit cakes and Christmas cookies, and costs Dhs120 per adult.
Call 04 428 7806 or email dine@thepalace-dubai.com for more information.

There’s not one, but three tree-lighting ceremonies taking place across Dubai tonight, so there’s no excuse not to get into the festive spirit, whichever end of town you live. A must visit on the annual Christmas calendar, the Crowne Plaza Sheikh Zayed Road will be lighting its tree with carol singing, festive treats and an early visit from Santa. Taking place from 5.30pm onwards. For more information, call 04 331 1111. In Bur Dubai, the Movenpick Hotel & Apartments will be flipping the switch for the festive season from 6.30pm, with entertainment including seasonal songs from the Jumeirah Music Centre’s choir, festive drinks and tasty treats.
Call 04 336 6000 or email hotel.burdubai@moevenpick.com. Finally, on JBR, the hotel choir at the Movenpick will be performing carols, and there’ll be seasonal sweets for all between 7pm and 9pm.

For an alternative festive celebration, head to Ping Pong’s Christmas party, which takes place today from 8pm to midnight at this dim sum restaurant in Dubai Mall. Tickets are priced at Dhs108 per adult, and can be bought in advance from the venue. Expect music, mocktails, non-stop dim sum, games and presents, plus an appearance from Santa.
Call 04 339 9088 for more information or bookings.

December 7

Try some last-minute shopping at the Time Oak Hotel & Suites’ annual Christmas Bazaar, which takes place today and tomorrow in the hotel’s gardens. With home grown crafts and artists showing their wares, stalls are also available to rent for Dhs250 per day.
For more information, call 055 556 1107 or email amina.ali@timehotels.ae.

You can also pick up some Christmas goodies at Crowne Plaza Sheikh Zayed Road’s gingerbread house of delights at Cappucino’s – which has all manner of tasty treats on offer, from cookies to Christmas pudding.
And if you’re in the mood for shopping, don’t miss the annual JESS Jumeira Night Market, which will be taking place between 3pm and 8pm. As well as the chance to pick up some bargains, there’ll also be Irish dancing, live music, kids’ activities and much more.

December 8

Take the kids to a gingerbread house decorating classes at the Ritz-Carlton on JBR. Priced at Dhs225 per child and held every Saturday from 2pm to 4pm throughout December, kids will be able to eat their creations along with hot chocolate, sandwiches and plenty of sweet treats.
Call 04 318 6150 or e-mail dine.dubai@ritzcarlton.com for bookings.

The Montgomerie’s Carnival on the Lawn is promising to be a fantastically festive day out for the entire family. With shawarmas and soft drinks in the sunshine, there’s plenty of fun and games laid on from kids, plus a visit from Santa. Taking place from 3pm to 6pm, it’s priced at Dhs110 per child and Dhs50 per adult.
Call 04 390 5600 or email montgomerie@theaddress.com for more information.

This evening, there’s also two Christmas tree lighting ceremonies to choose from. The Ritz-Carlton on JBR is celebrating the occasion with a festive afternoon tea in the lobby lounge from 5pm to 6pm. Priced from Dhs62 per person, you’ll be serenaded with Christmassy jingles by the resident harpist and the Jumeirah Music Centre’s children’s choir. Call 04 318 6150 or e-mail dine.dubai@ritzcarlton.com for more information. The Irish Village will also be staging their annual celebrations between 7pm and 9pm, with a choir, carols, and home-baked mince pies.
For more information, contact 04 2824750 or go to www.irishvillage.ae.

December 9

Mums and dads wanting to hone their festive culinary skills can try out a Christmas cooking class at Asado in The Palace Downtown Dubai. Taking place today between 11.30am and 2pm, you’ll learn to prepare, decorate and garnish some seasonal favourites, including pastries, Buche de Noel and festive morning muffins.
Priced at Dhs295 per person, to reserve a place, call 04 428 7806 or email dine@thepalace-dubai.com.

December 10

Check out the Tree of Hope in the Grand Lobby of Atlantis the Palm. The hotel is asking guests to make a donation, with all proceeds going towards the Al Noor Training Centre.

December 11

Book your traditional Christmas cake at the Sweet Shop in Bur Dubai’s Movenpick Hotel & Apartments. On sale from today until December 31, the ingredients have been soaked for three months in advance, and it’s presented in a gorgeous Japanese Furoshiki box, so is a great gift, too.
Cakes are priced at Dhs176 for one kilo, and must be ordered 24 hours in advance, call 04 336 6000 or through the website, www.moevenpick-hotels.com/dubai-bur.

You can also catch some carols and a tree lighting at Time Oak Hotel & Suites’ Vanilla Café, where the American School of Dubai will be entertaining guests with festive songs from 4pm to 6pm. There’ll also be the chance for kids to meet Santa Claus, while refreshments will be served by his little helpers.
Call 04 437 7888 or email fb.oak@timehotels.ae for bookings or more information.

December 12

Ski Dubai is celebrating the 12 remaining days in the lead up to Christmas with special games each day in the Snow Park, including snow man competitions, snow angels, a Christmas present hunt and a wreath throw. Activities will be happening daily, and entry will be priced at the same as general admission to the Snow Park, Dhs130 (adults), Dhs120 (children under 12).
For more information, visit www.skidxb.com or call 800-FUN.

December 13

The Madinat Jumeirah will be transforming the amphitheatre into a festive market from today until Boxing Day. With the entire venue bedecked in fake snow, Santa will be in residence for family photo opportunities, there’s festive F&B and plenty of trinkets and stocking fillers to spend those dirhams on before Christmas Day.
For more information, call 04 366 6546.

Caboodle Pamper and Play is also launching its ‘12 Days Before Christmas’ calendar of events in the run up to Christmas Day. As well as special activities, there’ll be daily festive movies at 1pm and 8pm, and Christmas story telling at 4pm each day. Christmas activities are priced at the usual rate of Dhs50 for the first hour for kids using the play facilities, or one-on-one drop and shop for Dhs85 per hour for kids aged two and up. There’ll also be new additions to the café menu, including cocoa, hot chocolate, gingerbread, smores and the ‘Elf Experience’, where kids can enjoy a cocoa or babycino with a mini cupcake and a special elf story for Dhs25.
For more information, go to www.caboodle.ae.

And if you can’t wait until December 25 for your Christmas dinner, from today, The Irish Village will be serving its traditional festive menu, complete with roast turkey, Christmas pud and cakes. It’s priced at Dhs85, and is served at lunch and dinner.
For more information, contact 04 2824750 or go to www.irishvillage.ae.

December 14

Santa will be in residence at his grotto in Ski Dubai from today until December 25. Located in the Snow Park, kids can meet Father Christmas between 5pm to 10pm on weekdays and between 10am and 10pm on weekends, to share wish lists and take pictures in the grotto. General Snow Park access costs Dhs120 for kids under 12 and Dhs130 for adults.
For more information visit www.skidxb.com or call 800-FUN.

Or why not head to Kidz Venture at Ibn Battuta Mall. In the 12 days until December 25, they’ll have a host of Christmas-themed events, including arts and crafts, plus caroles and jingles.
Call 04 361 9315 for info.

December 15

Bring out the kids’ creative sides with some gingerbread house decorating at Al Manzil Hotel in Downtown. Taking place today between 2pm and 4pm, there’ll also be snacks and juices laid on and Santa is rumoured to be making an appearance, too.
Tickets cost Dhs95 per child, call 04 4285926 or email restaurants@almanzilhotel.ae for more information.

There’ll also be an Elves Tea Party and tree lighting ceremony between 3pm and 6pm today at The Palace Downtown’s ballroom. Priced at Dhs150 per person, children under six are free, and a very busy Santa will also be there to meet and greet the kids.
Tickets must be bought in advance, call 04 428 7806 or email dine@thepalace-dubai.com.

For a more refined Christmas, especially if granny and gramps are in town, try the festive afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton, which launches today, and will be running until Christmas Eve. Priced from Dhs150 per person, there’ll be the usual scones and mini sandwiches, plus a harpist between 2pm and 6pm, and carols from 6pm to 7pm every evening.
For more information, call 04 318 6150 or e-mail dine.dubai@ritzcarlton.com.


December 16

If you still aren’t in a Christmassy mood, head along to the Crowne Plaza Dubai at 6pm. From today until Christmas Eve, the hotel’s Christmas Carolers will be performing seasonal songs for the public.

December 17

Caboodle is running special kids’ activities throughout Christmas. Today and tomorrow, it’s all about decorating a Christmas stocking, which they’ll be able to hang up for Santa on Christmas Eve. Craft activities are included in the entry price of Dhs50 for the first hour for kids using the play facilities, or one-on-one drop and shop for Dhs85 per hour for kids aged two and up.
Visit www.caboodle.ae for more information.

December 19

Continuing with their Christmas celebrations, today Caboodle will be helping kids decorate their own gingerbread.

December 20

Little Chefs Dubai is offering a series of fab ‘Food as Gifts’ one-day workshops for kids, between today and Christmas Eve. Suitable for kids aged seven and up, the day camps run between 9am and 2pm, and the Dhs185 price tag covers recipes, ingredients, lunch, healthy snacks and containers to take all their creations home.
Located behind the site of the old Metropolitan on Sheikh Zayed Road, call 050 458 3015 or email hungrymum@yahoo.com. Advance bookings essential.

Also starting today is The First Group Theatre’s Christmas panto, the Wizard of Oz. Running from today until New Year’s Eve, it’s suitable for kids aged five and up, and tickets are priced at Dhs165. Go to www.madinattheatre.com for more information and bookings.

December 21

Enjoy a pre-Christmas brunch at The Fountain restaurant at the Movenpick Bur Dubai. As well as the usual buffet, there’ll be a turkey with all the trimmings, plus magicians and performers entertaining guests. Priced at Dhs295 for food only, kids aged seven to 12 are half price, and under sixes eat for free. The family brunch will also be taking place on Boxing day.
Call 04 336 6000 or email hotel.burdubai@moevenpick.com for more information.

Or, take the kids to Kidz Venture at Ibn Battuta, where there’ll be a very special Christmas party, with activities guaranteed to make little guests smile.
Call 04 361 9315 for info.

December 23

Kids of all ages will enjoy the pre-Christmas activities at Atlantis The Palm this season. With the resort’s Christmas parties taking place today, the Kids Club is themed around Santa’s workshop, while Club Rush (suitable for teens) is themed on a traditional Christmas.
For information and bookings, visit www.atlantisthepalm.com/thingstodo/kidsclub.aspx.

It’s also the date of Caboodle’s Christmas party, which is open to kids under the age of nine. Kids can try festive arts and crafts, aided by Santa’s helpers, and there’ll be carolling, face painting and a good deed hunt.

December 24

It’s Christmas Eve, so what better time to start celebrating? There’s plenty of family-friendly festive Christmas Eve activities that are happening around town, so you’re bound to be spoiled for choice! Talk restaurant at Movenpick JBR is hosting a Christmas Eve dinner from 6.30pm to 11.30pm. With a festive carvery buffet, there’s plenty for little ones to enjoy, including a fun-packed kids’ corner and a visit from Santa. It’s priced from Dhs199 for adults, with kids under 12 dining for free.
Call 04 449 8888 or email hotel.jumeirahbeach@moevenpick.com.

For a sophisticated alternative, what about the festive feast at Traiteur in the Park Hyatt? While mums and dads enjoy all manner of gourmet delights, including shucked oysters, rotisserie beef, and potatoes roasted in hazelnut butter for Dhs525 per person, they’re also offering an optional babysitting service on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Babysitting is for kids aged four and over, and must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.
For more information, call 04 317 2222, or email restaurants.dubai@hyatt.com.

December 25

Happy Christmas! If you’re staying in for a family Christmas but don’t fancy cooking, check out some of our turkey takeaway suggestions on page 74. Otherwise, there’s all manner of Christmas deals going on around town.

The Mina A’Salam and Al Qasr Christmas day brunches are so popular with families that they’ve had a waiting list since mid-November. Expect a full-on festive experience, including a smorgasbord of tasty treats, live entertainment and much more. Both are priced from Dhs550 per person, with 25 per cent off for ages four to 20, and free for kids under four.
Log on to www.jumeirah.com for more information.

Also popular is The Westin’s Bubblicious Christmas Brunch, priced from Dhs450-690 for adults, and Dhs150 for kids aged between six to 12. As well as a traditional Christmas spread, they’ll have live jazz, Chinese acrobats, a petting zoo and kids’ corner.

For an international take on Christmas, Certo at the Radisson Blu Media City, is putting on an Italian feast with carols and a visit from Santa, priced from Dhs180 per person. Call 04 366 9111 for bookings and info.
Or for Far Eastern fare, try Saffron at Atlantis, which will be offering dishes such as noodles, teriyaki griddles and a sushi bar. It is open today for brunch (priced at Dhs550 per adult), and dinner from 7pm (priced from Dhs220). Parents of kids dining at Atlantis can also arrange for them to attend the Kids’ Club or Club Rush (priced separately).
Visit www.atlantisthepalm.com for more information.

To put your own unique family twist on the Christmas celebrations, book the Family Table at The Chef’s Palette at Flow Kitchen at The Fairmont on the Palm. With just one group booking available, the team will customize the experience to suit your exact needs. Kids will also have access to the Fairmont Falcons Juniors’ Club, and have the chance to meet Santa in his grotto. It’s available for up to 12 guests between 12.30pm and 3.30pm, priced at Dhs799 per adult. Kids aged six to 12 dine half price, while kids under five eat for free.
Call 04 457 3388 or go to www.fairmont.com/palm-dubai.

If you want to enjoy a dose of sunshine along with your roast turkey, head to either Zaytoun at the Crowne Plaza DFC, where they’ll be hosting a family barbecue on the outdoor leisure deck, with great views, heaps of food and live entertainment. Taking place between 1pm and 4pm, it’s priced from Dhs275 (adults). Call 04 701 2222 for more information and bookings. Or sit out on the lawns of Al Badia Golf Club, for the Picnic Brunch Gets Merry. Starting at noon, it’s priced from Dhs295 for adults, Dhs145 for kids aged six to 12, and free for kids under six.
To book, call 04 601 0111 or email www.albadiagolfclub.com.

December 26

Check out the Big Boxing Day BBQ at Talk Restaurant in the Movenpick JBR. Santa will be heading back for one last visit, and you can chill out next to the pool and help yourself to the seafood, sausages and grills from the BBQ.
Priced from Dhs150 for adults and free for kids under 12, call 04 449 8888 for more information.

Bunkers at The Address Montgomerie is also hosting a relaxed Boxing Day barbecue, with international dishes and live cooking stations.
Held from 1pm to 4pm, it’s priced from Dhs150 per adult, call 04 390 56000 or visit www.themontgomerie.com for more information.

December 31

If you’re keeping the kids up until midnight to see the fireworks, head to open ground for a free viewing of the spectacular fireworks that are set off from Atlantis The Palm, the Burj Al Arab and the Burj Khalifa. Blast off happens at midnight sharp, but the pyrotechnics tend to go on for a good 15 minutes or so.

There are a number of venues allowing kids to attend their New Year’s gala parties. The Al Qasr New Year’s Eve celebration is priced at Dhs1,400 per adult, with 25 per cent discount for kids under 20, and kids under four dining for free. From 8pm, the buffet will spread across Al Hambra, Arboretum and MJ’s Steakhouse, and entertainment comes courtesy of the in-house band, Metropolis.
Visit www.jumeirah.com for more information.

The Westin will be holding a New Year’s Eve buffet through its Blue Orange, Hunters and Spice Emporium restaurants, with entertainment from the Andrea Lisa Band. Priced at Dhs1,750 for adults, and Dhs425 for kids aged six to 12, it will be running from 8pm to 1am.
Call 04 399 9144 or visit www.westinminaseyahi.com.

January 1

If you’re not completely worn out after a full month of celebration, there are plenty of New Year’s Day brunches to indulge in.
For full listings, check out www.timeoutdubai.com.

January 6

Celebrate Three Kings’ Day, the final day of Christmas, at Talk Restaurant at the Movenpick JBR. From 12.30pm to 4pm, the buffet includes live jazz and a fun kids’ corner. Dhs222 for adults, with kids under 12 eating for free.
Call 04 449 8888 or email hotel.jumeirahbeach@moevenpick.com.

January 7

Dubai’s Russian community will be celebrating Christmas today. Seagrill on 25° at the Fairmont Palm will be offering a three-course seafood menu, priced from Dhs399 (adults), with kids aged six to 12 dining at half price, and under fives eating for free.
Call 04 457 3457 or email palm.dining@fairmont.com.

Talk at the Movenpick JBR is also hosting a Russian all-day brunch between 12.30pm and 5pm, and 6.30pm and 11.30pm, with flavours from across Russia and the Mediterranean.
Call 04 449 8888 or email hotel.jumeirahbeach@moevenpick.com.

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