Alternative family Christmas in Dubai

Surf, ski, swim and other ideas for getting out and about this Yuletide


Go surfing
While the Brits put the house on lock down for fear of catching pneumonia, the Bondi Beach brigade start December 25 with a surf session before a present has even been handed out. Christmas Day surfing has become as big as a tradition as arguing over the dish-washing rota for many people around the world. Dubai is no exception and the beaches of Sunset (for surfing) and Kite (for kite surfing) are sure to be filled with folk who fancy doing xmas day a little different (as well as those giving Mr Scrooge a run for all his hoarded cash). Stand-up paddling offers an alternative to anyone not quite prepared to mess up any salon-ready up-dos (as long as you don’t fall in).

Take a walk
And we don’t mean to Spinneys. The great UAE countryside remains resolutely open over Christmas and both Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai is promoting its coastal beach walks where possible. RAK and Fujairah are home to some of the most basic hike routes and the weather couldn’t be better for it in December. Pack an xmas picnic – turkey sandwiches constitute Christmas dinner and mince pies are easily transportable wrapped in tin foil – and set off on a planned route with the top of the mountain the base for your xmas celebrations. Tip: write out some charades and take them with you. It’s amazing how much fun you’ll have in teams.

What better way to test-ride those new kid’s Christmas pressies than with a festive cycle. Get the kids to spend some time decorating their freshly-unwrapped bikes from Santa with tinsel and set off for Al Kudra, or The Lollipop trail as it’s fast becoming known. The best bit is it’s a closed track, which means no close shaves with fast-moving motor vehicles, no matter how Evil Kinevil the youngsters are feeling. The Greenwich cycle ride in London is becoming something of a Christmas tradition in itself. Let’s get the Lollipop Loop just as famous. Most mornings you can forget the ‘gentle Sunday-afternoon pedal’ but today it’s Christmas day so you can make the rules. The loop is an 80-kilometre ride in total making it perfect for a full day of activity. Drinks and picnic spots are as frequent as you want to make them (don’t forget the blanket) or, if you don’t fancy soggy-stuffing sarnies, book in at Bab Al Shams for a festive lunch instead.

Stay in a hotel
Perfect for those who don’t plan on washing a dish for days. Many hotels offer a Christmas Day package but few come grander than spending the big day at Atlantis, The Palm. The list of Christmas capers is as long as the countdown to the big day itself. Lunch can be booked in any of the restaurants and staff at Aquaventure have all promised to say “Merry Christmas” as every tube rider takes the plunge. For the patriotic Brits (and anyone who fancies a giggle) the Queen’s Speech will be aired on the BBC at 7pm (local time).

A chronic shortage of snow in the UAE means Ski Dubai is the only place you can go to feel ‘climate Christmassy’. Take the kids and wrap up warm, have a hot chocolate and make some memories. Take a snap and confuse the rest of the family, wherever they are.

Plane spotting, riding or diving
Heathrow will more than likely grind to a halt at the first dust of snow. Why not make the most of living in a climate where planes can happily take to the skies on December 25. Granted it sounds geeky but Dubai International Airport has many fans watch the jumbos take off and land. If you prefer something special take a trip with Seawings from Jebel Ali Hotel and see the city from the air. Feeling adventurous? Skydive Dubai is accepting bookings for Christmas Day as you read. You know the drill.

Nothing says Christmas like the spirit of giving, and what better way to demonstrate this spirit than with your time for some of the people who need it most. Remind the kids about the true meaning of Christmas by offering to donate your family to do some charity work. Whether a cause for people or animals, the UAE is home to many great foundations and organisations which always need help. If you can’t spare time why not take food or clothing to those who need it.

Go to the beach or desert
Scoop up some of your best Christmas tunes and and hop in the car for your own Christmas adventure. Set a destination and pack the Santa hats. Swim in the ocean, sandboard, play games around the camp fire (staying overnight is also an option). Worrying whether Father Christmas will find the campsite, opening presents on the sand and an xmas lunch bbq is something they won’t forget for a while.

Sponsored: Order from restaurants in Dubai with NO delivery fee

It's a first international outlet for L'artisan Du Burger

Soho Garden to host one-off nights with seven famous London bars this season

Summer package includes 50 percent off room rates, complimentary breakfast and more

We pick out ten Dubai bars that are perfect for a bit of romance

Here are 40 of the latest openings in town, from clubs and bars to gyms and museums


Follow us