Skip to content

Christmas in Dubai 2024: Best Things to Do & Celebrations

    Are you considering celebrating Christmas in Dubai? It might be a great idea! Contrary to what one might expect, Christmas in Dubai is one of the most captivating festive occasions of the year. December is the prime time for visitors, particularly those from the northern hemisphere, drawn by the city’s mild temperatures and dynamic lifestyle. I often get asked if Christmas is celebrated in Dubai, and the question is valid: the UAE is a Muslim country, and Christmas is not a Muslim holiday.

    So, you might be intrigued to know that Christmas is also celebrated here, albeit in a manner distinct from Christian countries. Dubai is as a melting pot of cultures, hosting a thriving international community, and it is this diversity that has kindled the city’s Christmas spirit. However, it’s more the city’s flair for entertainment and marketing than a reflection of its cultural or religious beliefs.

    Over the years, Dubai has become known for its vibrant Christmas markets, festive events, and decorations that embellish its malls and renowned attractions. If the traditional winter festivities have lost their charm for you, consider an unconventional Christmas in Dubai. You might even extend your stay to experience the city’s most anticipated event: New Year’s Eve! In this guide, we have put all the local tips on the best Christmas events in Dubai, on the best things to do and see, and everything else you need to know to plan an extraordinary Christmas in Dubai!

    Best Celebrations and Things to Do for Christmas in Dubai

    If the prospect of cold temperatures, endless family dinners, and gray days no longer excites you, perhaps it’s time to consider a surprising alternative: spending Christmas in Dubai! Throughout December, Christmas celebrations take place across the city, including festive markets and family events. Moreover, December is one of the best months to visit the UAE. The temperatures are pleasantly mild, unlike the summer heat, making it the ideal time to enjoy outdoor activities. The city is bustling with events, celebrations, and even sales in the malls. In short, there is something for everyone.

    Madinat Jumeirah Christmas Market

    Have you ever heard of the Christmas Markets in Dubai? It sounds strange, doesn’t it? But it’s true, Dubai offers a unique twist on this festive experience that is not to be missed, presenting festive markets just a stone’s throw away from the desert. The most famous among them is the Madinat Jumeirah Christmas Market, located on Madinat Jumeirah Fort Island, just a short distance from the iconic Burj Al-Arab.

    Madinat Jumeirah Christmas Dubai

    This is undoubtedly one of the most scenic places in the city, a sprawling five-star luxury resort that spans two kilometers, inspired by traditional architecture, with winding streets and scenic canals. It is also home to three of Dubai’s most prestigious hotels: the Jumeirah Al Qasr Hotel, the Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, and the Jumeirah Al Naseem, along with the charming holiday residences of Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf.

    And it is the heart of Christmas celebrations in Dubai: the market’s enchanting atmosphere commences in mid-December and continues until the end of the year. Spanning an impressive 1,750 square meters, it offers a plethora of engaging activities for the entire family. Imagine a North Pole Train whisking you away on a magical journey, a majestic 36-foot tall Christmas tree, a four-lane bungee for thrill-seekers, and a Venetian carousel that transports you to a world of fairy tales.

    Don’t miss the chance to board the abra boat with Santa Claus as your companion, as it sails through waterways adorned with festive lights. In addition to the many attractions that will delight children, the Madinat Jumeirah Christmas Market also offers a diverse selection of shops and restaurants, as well as stalls offering gifts, holiday treats, and culinary delights to satisfy every palate, and street performances and carols until late into the night.

    Meet Santa Claus at Ski Dubai

    If you associate Christmas with snow and skiing, you can keep these traditions alive, even in the heart of the desert. Simply head to Ski Dubai, the renowned indoor ski facility nestled within the Mall of the Emirates. Celebrating Christmas at Ski Dubai is a popular choice, particularly for families with children. If you’re a fan of skiing, this is the perfect destination for your Christmas celebration in Dubai!

    As the Christmas season rolls in, Ski Dubai metamorphoses into a mesmerizing winter wonderland, bedecked with twinkling lights and festive decorations. The centerpiece of the attraction is Santa’s Grotto, where visitors can meet Santa Claus, take a memorable photo, and receive a special gift directly from him. Adding to the Christmas magic is Mrs. Claus, whose captivating stories about Santa Claus, reindeer, and elves infuse a warm and affectionate touch to the festivities.

    During this special occasion, Ski Dubai becomes a haven for sweet treats and seasonal delicacies. You can find gingerbread penguins, mince pies, and peppermint hot chocolate among the offerings. Beyond the festive fare, Ski Dubai is an excellent venue for family fun, boasting over 22,500 square meters of attractions, five distinct slopes – the longest one extending for 400 meters – and a vertical drop of 60 meters. Winter sports enthusiasts can indulge in skiing, snowboarding, and experience the exhilaration of sliding down the toboggan run.

    Winter Garden at Habtoor Palace Dubai

    Another popular venue for Christmas celebrations in Dubai is the renowned Habtoor Palace Dubai, which from early November to March also welcomes non-guest visitors to its captivating Winter Garden, an open-air space adorned with twinkling lights and festive décor, just a short distance from the Dubai Water Canal. This is also a popular spot for families, usually graced by a majestic Christmas tree.

    Encircling the tree is a diverse array of food stalls, offering over 50 options to satiate every culinary desire and serving a broad spectrum of delicacies, ranging from traditional hot chocolate and savory gingerbread to sandwiches and gourmet snacks, in addition to chips and lollipop waffles, shawarma pie and other Middle Eastern specialties, hot dogs and fries, blue cheese sliders and milkshakes.

    As December rolls in, Santa Claus graces the venue daily, spreading joy among young and old alike. Adding to the festive spirit is the iconic Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the date of which is usually announced a few weeks in advance (maybe come back and take a look at this guide, as soon as we know it we will announce it here). The festive ambiance is further enhanced by carols and musical performances. Moreover, this place is also a nice backdrop for taking Instagrammable photos, and it’s also pet-friendly!

    Christmas on Dubai’s Bluewaters Island

    Bluewaters Island, just a short distance from Dubai Marina, is one of the liveliest hubs of Christmas in Dubai. Here you can find Santa’s Secret Home, an enchanted village designed for family fun, with trees adorned with twinkling lights and colorful ornaments, reindeer sculptures, and a cave where you can meet Santa Claus and take a photo with him. Additionally, you’ll also find a mailbox specially dedicated to Christmas wishes where you can leave your letter, an ice rink, and other attractions, while the streets of the island are filled with a feast of colors and sounds, with musical bands, dancers, and performers.

    Recently, drone shows have also been added, where hundreds of drones come together to create choreographed lights and amazing shapes in the sky. If you decide to visit Bluewaters Island, don’t miss its most famous attraction: the Ain Dubai Ferris Wheel. Its air-conditioned, high-tech cabins lift you more than 250 meters above the ground, providing spectacular views of the stunning Dubai skyline and the azure waters of the Arabian Sea. And don’t forget to stop by the famous wax museum Madame Tussauds, where you can have fun taking photos next to celebrities immortalized in incredibly lifelike wax figures.

    Christmas at Dubai Global Village

    Dubai Global Village stands as one of the most beloved venues for Christmas celebrations in Dubai. For the occasion, it transforms into an even more magical and enchanting experience, designed to captivate families from all corners of the globe – both tourists and locals alike. This sensory journey through world cultures, brimming with numerous family-friendly attractions, also makes it a popular destination for the Dubai New Year’s Eve celebrations.

    From mid-October to the end of April, Global Village throws open its doors to present an extraordinary season of entertainment, shopping, cuisine, and attractions. With 27 pavilions dedicated to continents near and far, it provides a unique opportunity to delve into diverse cultures, exploring local crafts, traditional foods, and cultural entertainment.

    Global Village houses thousands of shops, each offering a wide array of products from various parts of the world. Visitors can immerse themselves in the aromatic spices of India, admire the charming matryoshka dolls of Russia, appreciate the intricate wood carvings of Africa, and discover fashionable finds from Europe, authentic Persian carpets from Iran and premium sidr honey from Yemen.

    Christmas at the Dubai Miracle Garden

    December is also one of the best months to visit the Dubai Miracle Garden, a floral wonder unlike any other, which covers an area of 72,000 square meters and has remained one of the most charming and fragrant destinations in the region for over a decade. The Dubai Miracle Garden opens its doors when the temperatures begin to drop in early winter and showcases hundreds of breathtaking floral compositions and a jaw-dropping display of over 150 million flowers in bloom.

    The garden is home to several famous structures and buildings, represented through stunning displays of vibrantly colored flowers, providing unique photographic opportunities. Among the most striking attractions of the garden are the giant replica of an Emirates A380 airplane, the floral copy of the imposing Burj Khalifa, picturesque houses and huts, as well as many other outstanding displays.

    But it’s also the ideal place for a leisurely stroll, with attractions for kids – including a trampoline park – and a beautiful lake. Right next door, the Dubai Butterfly Garden houses more than 15,000 specimens of 50 different species of butterflies. The 10 unique temperature-controlled domes allow these delicate creatures to fly freely in a comfortable and spacious environment.

    Christmas in the Dubai Desert

    Undoubtedly, a Dubai Desert Safari is an unparalleled experience and tops the list of must-do activities for a Christmas holiday in Dubai. Brace yourself for a unique adventure as you climb aboard a robust 4×4 jeep that will transport you into the heart of the desert. Winter, with its pleasantly mild temperatures, is the best season for a desert safari. Seize the opportunity to enjoy an exhilarating sandboarding experience by grabbing a board and racing down the shimmering crests of the tallest dunes. Additionally, you can relish a brief yet thrilling camel ride at one of the Bedouin camps located just outside Dubai.

    The desert camps also host traditional performances, brought to life by songs and dances. They offer the chance to indulge in a dinner featuring local products, typically including grilled meats and vegetables, and the opportunity to savor the region’s prized dates, all complemented by Arabic tea and coffee. If you’re in search of more adventure, you can opt to ride a quad bike or dune buggy through the undulating dunes.

    La Perle by Dragone: The Most Incredible Show in Dubai

    Dive into a realm of pure wonder and exceptional artistry: La Perle by Dragone has been the most famous and spectacular show in Dubai since 2017, seen by millions of spectators! If you’re traveling to Dubai for Christmas, you absolutely shouldn’t miss it, but remember to book your tickets well in advance, as it’s a very popular attraction! The show takes place in a custom-made 10-story theater in Al Habtoor City, at the heart of Downtown Dubai, and truly redefines the art of theater.

    Crafted by the creative brilliance of award-winning director Franco Dragone, it transcends the boundaries of a typical show. As the lights dim and the curtain ascends, you’ll be whisked away to a world where awe-inspiring choreography soars to new heights through audacious stunts performed by over 65 globally acclaimed artists hailing from 23 different countries.

    From gasp-inducing aerial acrobatics to gravity-defying daring dives and acrobatic feats executed on a moving motorbike, each sequence ignites a burst of adrenaline and awe. The show, drawing inspiration from Dubai’s pearling tradition, is a remarkable fusion of acrobatics, lights, sound, and technology, including a water theater with cascading waterfalls and streams of water coursing across the stage.

    Dubai Shopping Festival

    From the onset of December to the end of January, Dubai buzzes with heightened excitement as it morphs into a global shopping hub: the renowned Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), since its launch in 1996, presents a unique shopping experience with its seven-week-long dazzling celebrations and exceptional shopping opportunities, and with all the city’s major shopping malls offering bargain deals on a vast array of products, from cutting-edge electronics to high-end fashion from the most prestigious brands.

    Beyond the traditional venues like the Dubai Mall, there are other worthwhile shopping opportunities to be discovered in the historic district of Deira. The Dubai Gold Souk, renowned for its covered pedestrian streets, is peppered with countless shops offering a diverse selection of gold, silver, diamond, and gemstone jewelry. The glittering array of ornaments and exquisite craftsmanship is truly a sight to behold. A stone’s throw away, the Dubai Spice Souk enchants with its vibrant colors, aromatic scents, and a variety of shops selling herbs and spices, often displayed in large open sacks.

    However, DSF is more than just a shopper’s paradise. Each day, entertainment springs to life with shows, art exhibitions, and lotteries. Beyond the confines of the malls, the streets pulsate with a myriad of glamorous events, including culinary experiences that take you on a gastronomic journey around the world, avant-garde fashion shows, performances by internationally acclaimed artists, street games, and spectacular fireworks that illuminate the night sky.

    Christmas on the Beach in Dubai

    While the rest of the world decks its streets with twinkling lights and Christmas trees that illuminate the squares, Christmas in Dubai exudes a unique ambiance. Here, you’re welcomed by pleasantly mild temperatures and radiant sunshine, creating a distinctive backdrop for the festivities. So, what better way to celebrate Christmas than with a dip in the Emirate’s warm waters?

    Among the numerous options available, both resort beaches and public beaches offer a myriad of opportunities to relish the sea. A visit to Kite Beach, situated opposite Sunset Mall, is a must. Its golden sands and turquoise waters craft a perfect setting for relaxation and enjoyment. Don’t miss out on Jumeirah Beach either, which is just a few steps away from the renowned Burj Al Arab, one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Dubai also boasts a plethora of free public beaches. You can discover the best ones in our guide to Beaches in Dubai.

    However, if you wish to experience Christmas in a more active and adventurous manner, Dubai has some unique and thrilling experiences lined up. Kick off in style with an exhilarating speedboat tour from the picturesque Dubai Marina. As you pass by iconic sights such as Atlantis the Palm and the Burj Al Arab, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views!

    And if your thirst for adrenaline remains unquenched, why not try flying 150 meters above the Dubai coast, tethered to a parachute pulled by a speedboat? That’s right! A parasailing experience allows you to feel the thrill of soaring through the sky. For something less extreme, yet equally rewarding, consider embarking on a helicopter tour that will provide you with the most incredible view of Dubai: a bird’s-eye view of the city’s iconic landmarks!

    Christmas on Top of Burj Khalifa

    If you are planning your Christmas holidays in Dubai, you probably already know that among the many things to do, there’s one that is absolutely essential, something that anyone visiting Dubai simply can’t miss: ascending to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The area around the Burj Khalifa is also the heart of the festive celebrations, especially those for Dubai New Year’s Eve. This also means it’s the most popular attraction, and during the winter season, tickets are in high demand, so booking well in advance is essential.

    The view from one of the highest floors of this architectural marvel is absolutely breathtaking, stretching from the glittering urban landscape to the sea and the desert. Essentially, there are two observation decks, reachable by an elevator that propels you from solid ground to a soaring height of 555 meters in just sixty seconds. You can choose the full experience, which includes visits to the 148th, 124th, and 125th floors, or opt for a cheaper ticket that allows you to visit only the 124th and 125th floors, excluding the record-breaking observation deck on the 148th floor.

    Christmas at the Dubai Fountain

    At the base of the Burj Khalifa, you’ll find another of the city’s iconic attractions, the Dubai Fountain. This spectacle plays a significant role in the winter festive celebrations, and its shows are an experience not to be missed, especially since they’re free! As the world’s largest choreographed fountain system, it features extraordinary jets of water that ascend up to 500 feet (150 meters) into the air and over 6,600 lights, crafting a mesmerizing ballet of light and water, set to a diverse array of musical pieces from around the globe, spanning from classics to contemporary hits.

    The shows occur at predetermined times, typically every 30 minutes from 18:00 to 23:00, in addition to some afternoon shows and special performances. You can find the updated schedule of the Dubai Fountain here. Each show lasts approximately 5 minutes, and you can view it from the bustling terraces of the Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar. However, the best view is from the boardwalk (accessible for a nominal fee) or by partaking in a serene and memorable boat ride on the fountain lake.

    Christmas at a Wonderful Spa in Dubai

    Experiencing Christmas in Dubai, amidst an ambiance of luxury and wellness, is an opportunity not to be overlooked. With an extensive selection of health clubs and spas, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to indulging in a day of relaxation and pampering.

    Within the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, one of the world’s tallest hotels, the Saray Golden Hammam offers a luxurious experience that redefines relaxation standards with golden Arabian honey face masks and massages using 24-karat gold oil. At the Palace Downtown, you can delve into high-quality treatments that utilize organic products from top-tier brands, while the open-air cabin overlooking Burj Lake offers you a serene retreat. The award-winning Talise Ottoman Spa at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray boasts one of the best and largest hammams, offering a range of world-class rejuvenating treatments.

    Within Park Hyatt Dubai, you’ll find Amara Spa, an enchanting spa inspired by the healing remedies of the past, offering a carefully curated ambiance and professional treatments and massages using warm aromatic oil. Meanwhile, the Talise Spa at Madinat Jumeirah, located in the stunning surroundings of Jumeirah Al Qasr, one of Dubai’s most exquisite hotels, provides a holistic experience with private treatment rooms and pathways meandering through beautifully landscaped gardens.

    The Anjana Spa at Rixos The Palm Hotel & Suites, with its opulent ultra-all-inclusive amenities, offers traditional hammams. Its Sultan Package delivers a truly unique experience, enriched with luxurious ointments for silky smooth skin. Among Dubai’s finest, the Palazzo Versace Spa invigorates both body and mind with a Moroccan hammam and a sumptuous wellness ritual, while the One&Only Royal Mirage Resort is home to a splendid spa, featuring a stained glass mosaic ceiling and treatments that blend natural products such as rose, mint, and the purest clay for a comprehensive rejuvenation.

    More Tips for Your Christmas Holidays in Dubai

    If you’re planning your Christmas holidays in Dubai, we have a plethora of tips for you! Discover the best Dubai Christmas Markets scattered across the city. If you’re gearing up to experience the most magical moment of the year, don’t miss our definitive guide to Dubai New Year’s Eve.

    Dive into all the top things to do and see, and the experiences you simply can’t miss, by checking out our Dubai Travel Guide. Additionally, you’ll find all the practical information you need to plan your trip in our UAE Travel Tips, which includes details on visas, practicalities, SIM cards, insurance, local laws and regulations, and much more.

    If you’re curious about the weather, take a look at our guides on Dubai Weather in December and Dubai Weather in January. You may also want to check out our guide on the Dubai Dress Code to clarify any doubts about appropriate attire. Furthermore, if you’re looking to save on tickets to the city’s main attractions (up to 80% off), don’t forget to check out our guide on the Dubai Pass.