A practical guide to Dubai Christmas Markets, among the most extravagant in the world! It may be hard to believe that Christmas is celebrated in a Muslim country located in the heart of the Middle East. However, this is just one example of the cosmopolitan and multicultural side of the UAE, which boasts a large expat community and attracts millions of tourists during the winter period, making it one of the most enticing winter holiday destinations in the world.
Christmas has evolved into a celebration that transcends its religious origins, becoming an occasion of joy and happiness for families worldwide. This is evident even in places not traditionally associated with the Christian tradition. One of the best examples of this phenomenon is found in the Dubai Christmas Markets, offering a plethora of events and venues scattered throughout the city. With a full calendar of attractions and celebrations suitable for families and excellent shopping opportunities, these markets showcase Dubai’s unique take on this global holiday.
Dubai is a cosmopolitan metropolis that embraces cultural diversity and celebrates holidays in a unique and fascinating way. The Christmas period is arguably the best time to visit Dubai, thanks to its mild climate and the multitude of activities available. Many of the city’s iconic architectural marvels are transformed during the Christmas season with elaborate decorations, markets and stalls selling food, toys, and crafts. The experience of the Dubai Christmas Markets differs significantly from that of European cities; it’s more focused on shopping and entertainment. Nevertheless, it’s still worth exploring the many things to do, events, and celebrations in the city during this festive season.
The Best Dubai Christmas Markets and Events
Madinat Jumeirah Christmas Market
In the heart of Dubai, during the second half of December until the end of the month, a fascinating event transforms Madinat Jumeirah Fort Island into an unparalleled Christmas experience: the Madinat Jumeirah Christmas Market. This Christmas market is loved by residents and visitors alike, becoming one of the most anticipated moments of the year.
Spanning 1,750 square meters, the Madinat Jumeirah Christmas Market welcomes visitors to an enchanted world of shops, restaurants, and entertainment designed for the whole family, promising moments of joy from tea time to late evening. Here, you can immerse yourself in an atmospheric ambiance enriched by enchanting decorations and festive culinary delights. At the center of this magical setting stands a towering 36-foot-tall Christmas tree, beautifully decorated with glittering ornaments and dazzling lights.
This tree is the beating heart of the vast winter wonderland created within the market. An unmissable attraction is the evening arrival of Santa Claus, who arrives from the North Pole via the Madinat waterways on a traditional Abra boat. The announcement of his arrival is given by the festive ringing of the bells. Santa’s Grotto, nestled among the iconic Arabian wind towers, creates an intriguing combination of the Arabian atmosphere and Christmas ambience.
The Madinat Jumeirah Christmas Market also offers its interpretation of the Polar Express, with a magical North Pole train passing through the Madinat Souk, bringing smiles and joy to excited children. The Venetian Giostra adds further charm and magic to this event, capturing the imagination of all visitors. For those eager to do some Christmas shopping, the chalet-style stalls offer a variety of treats, from cut cakes to toys and souvenirs perfect as last-minute stocking fillers. And if you’re looking for a little more daring thrills, why not try bungee jumping? With the assistance of experts, it is possible to launch yourself into the adrenaline of a bungee jump.
A peculiarity of this market is represented by the delicious frankfurters served during the Christmas holidays, among which the meter-long frankfurters stand out. The food stalls follow the theme of an Arabian winter wonderland and offer unique specialties such as festive shawarmas and doners topped with cranberry sauce. It’s an opportunity to step away from the usual and enjoy a warm, spiced mulled wine instead of the classic annual chilled wine brunch. Meanwhile, a lively live band enthusiastically sings Christmas classics, filling the air with the iconic strains of Mariah Carey, Michael Bublé, and many more.
Read More: Discover our definitive guide to Christmas in Dubai, with all the best things to do and see, events and celebrations!
Winter Garden at Habtoor Palace Dubai
Between the first days of November and the month of March, Habtoor Palace Dubai transforms into an enchanting winter retreat with the creation of the captivating Winter Garden. The lush gardens of Habtoor Palace Dubai undergo a remarkable transformation into a mesmerizing winter wonderland where the magic of the season harmoniously blends with sparkling lighting and festive decorations, creating an enchanting atmosphere.
At the heart of this magical winter ambiance stands a grand Christmas tree, surrounded by a diverse range of food and wine stalls. With over 50 options to choose from, visitors can satisfy their every culinary craving. The stalls offer a wide variety of delights, from classic hot chocolate to delectable gingerbread slices, sandwiches, and appetizing snacks.
Among the dining options available, Shawarma Vibes tempts with savory snacks, while the Magic Corn kiosk delights with crunchy corn chips and waffle-flavored lollipops. For lovers of Lebanese cuisine, the Coop restaurant stand serves delicacies like Lebanese-style roast chicken and the delightful shawarma cake. Health-conscious visitors will find the Hamba fruit and vegetable shop an ideal choice. The nostalgic ambiance of Sauce is not to be missed, offering a culinary spectrum ranging from hot dogs and French fries to blue cheese sliders and milkshakes. This culinary area is a true palate pleaser.
As December approaches, Santa Claus makes daily appearances to greet both young and old visitors. Additionally, the iconic Christmas tree lighting ceremony promises to captivate spectators. Christmas choirs and performances by singers Alice Kube and Maria B add a musical touch to the festive atmosphere. What makes the Habtoor Palace Christmas Market even more unique is the opportunity to bring your four-legged friends along. Cats and dogs can enjoy the festive atmosphere and relax in the designated petting and grooming area.
Winter City Expo
During Christmas time, Expo City in Dubai transforms into an enchanting winter wonderland, capturing the magical essence of Christmas and Dubai New Year’s Eve. This fascinating event, known as Winter City Expo City, offers an extraordinary and one-of-a-kind experience, captivating the imagination of visitors of all ages. From mid-November to mid-January, this special event offers over 50 days of unforgettable celebrations.
The festive atmosphere comes to life on December 9 when Expo City lights up with a spectacular 52-foot-tall Christmas tree. Inside the iconic Wasl Dome, the event embraces the theme of “White Christmas“, creating an enchanting winter spectacle. The activities during the event are numerous and engaging. Adventurers can experience the thrill of zip-lining, challenge themselves on climbing walls, or enjoy fun slides. Even the youngest will find entertainment with an engaging show by Mrs. Claus that will captivate them.
Music enters the scene with the “Carols by Candlelight” concert, where classic Christmas melodies will fill the air, inviting everyone to dance and sing together. For those who want to express their creativity during the holidays, the gingerbread decoration and preparation workshops offer the perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit and unleash their inventiveness.
Even the little ones will not be disappointed, as they will be able to visit the toy factory, where the purchase of a personalized teddy bear will leave them with an indelible memory of this magical event. But the real surprise is found in Santa’s Grotto, where young visitors can write and deliver their letters to Santa Claus, cultivating joy and anticipation for the long-awaited day of Christmas.
Bab Al Shams Desert Resort
During the festive season, Dubai’s stunning Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa transforms into an enchanting desert-themed wonderland, captivating the imagination of all its guests. Located just a 30-45 minutes’ drive from Dubai, this luxurious and charming 5-star retreat, stands majestically in the landscape. Its architecture mimics the grandeur of a sand-colored fort, evoking the ambiance of a fortified rural Arab village in the heart of the desert. It’s like discovering a hidden gem: a precious emerald amidst the dunes.
Lush gardens, manicured lawns, shaded courtyards, dancing fountains, and meandering streams create a visually refreshing atmosphere, making Bab Al Shams a must-visit destination for anyone seeking fascination. The centerpiece of the festivities is a majestic, 40-foot-tall, beautifully decorated Christmas tree that captures everyone’s attention. A journey through the Christmas Markets offers the opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself, accompanied by seasonal carols and melodies. The air is filled with the comforting aroma of traditional mulled wine and hot chocolate, prepared according to the resort’s secret recipe, to be enjoyed while savoring delectable crumbled cakes.
And if you desire a bit of pampering after a busy shopping session, there’s nothing better than indulging in a festive afternoon tea at Al Sarab Rooftop Lounge. From here, you can admire breathtaking views of the Arabian Desert, completing the Christmas experience in a truly magical setting.
The Ripe Market is the perfect place for farmers and small businesses to share their treasures with the community. Located in the charming Academy Park, this destination comes to life during the winter season, adorned in festive attire to celebrate Christmas and the holidays. Take a stroll among the stalls and explore a world of fresh delights and artisanal creations at Ripe Market’s weekly events. Every Friday and Saturday during the winter months, the market relocates to different areas, each bringing its unique atmosphere. Police Academy Park is its beating heart, and many of its permanent outlets also welcome you throughout the week.
The Ripe Market is more than just a place of enchanting discoveries; it’s a beacon for those who love good food. Attracting both locals and visitors alike, the market celebrates local producers like Ripe Organic Farm, giving them the opportunity to showcase locally sourced organic fruits and vegetables. As you meander through the stalls, you’ll encounter unique objects, trendy clothing, handcrafted creations, and captivating toys – perfect mementos of this experience.
And what better way to entertain curious souls than with creative workshops, lively music, fitness classes for all ages, and educational activities that engage the mind? Be sure not to miss the educational farm, a true kingdom of learning for the youngest members of your family, and perhaps even embark on an exciting horseback ride.
During the Christmas season at the Times Square Center in Dubai, an enchanting event known as Winterland Family comes to life. This festival is meticulously crafted to offer enjoyment for the entire family, featuring a diverse array of captivating attractions and games.
Visitors will have the delightful opportunity to meet Santa Claus and his cheerful elves, immersing themselves in the magical ambiance of his cave. In the snow park, both adults and children can revel in the joy of playing and frolicking in the snow while participating in exciting and engaging winter games. Starting on December 8th, each day will be brimming with exciting shows, ranging from circus performances and lively dance parades to mesmerizing winter-themed acrobatic displays.
Youngsters will be spoiled for choice with activities specifically tailored for them, including a Carousel, engaging creative workshops, face painting and enjoyable water zones like the Water Fountain and Splash Pad, ideal for cooling off in the heat. Furthermore, a dedicated train and playground will leave children’s eyes sparkling with joy and amazement.
Dubai Desert Safari
A visit to Dubai would be incomplete without experiencing an exhilarating Dubai Desert Safari. The Christmas period, with its pleasantly mild temperatures, is unquestionably the best time to savor this adventure. Amidst the enchanting magnificence of the luxurious skyscrapers and pristine white sandy beaches, visitors often overlook the fact that they are in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, home to one of the largest and most majestic sandy deserts in the world.
Embarking on a desert tour from Dubai is an experience that transports visitors to a world of natural wonders and thrilling adventures. The journey begins with an exhilarating drive out of the city, across the golden vastness of the desert. Rolling dunes stretch to the horizon, creating a surreal and breathtaking landscape. Desert tours offer a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of sandboarding, where one can glide down the dunes on snowboard-like boards.
Next, the journey takes you to a traditional desert camp, where you can enjoy authentic cultural experiences such as hand henna painting, don traditional clothing, and savor a delicious dinner under the stars. The experience is complemented by belly dance performances and live Arabic music, creating an enchanting atmosphere that captures the spirit and soul of the desert.
As the sun retreats behind the dunes, the atmosphere in the Dubai desert becomes magical. Desert night tours offer a unique opportunity to observe the starry sky in all its glory away from the city lights. Nights in the desert are characterized by a sense of peace and tranquility as you sit around the fire and become entranced by the twinkling stars.
These tours often include the opportunity to experience the ancient art of falconry, where trained falcons gracefully soar across the open sky, allowing one to feel the profound connection between humanity and these magnificent creatures. Additionally, many night tours offer the option of spending the night in traditional tents in the desert, providing an authentic experience under the starry sky. A desert tour from Dubai is an unforgettable journey that offers complete immersion in the natural beauty and captivating culture of this remarkable region.
If you’re seeking an absolutely unforgettable experience, consider a hot air balloon ride in Dubai – the perfect choice for you! Soaring at an altitude of over 4,000 feet, you’ll have the chance to marvel at Dubai’s awe-inspiring desert landscape from high above. This exceptional adventure is conducted in small groups and is guided by expert professionals, including skilled pilots who prioritize your safety above all else.
Read More: Discover our guide to Dubai Desert Safari with advice on the best experiences and deals!
Christmas in Downtown Dubai and Atop the Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa, one of Dubai’s most iconic architectural wonders, stands majestically at 828 meters high, establishing itself as the tallest skyscraper in the world and a timeless symbol of elegance and design. During a visit to Dubai, ascending this towering marvel is a must, offering an experience that will be etched in your memory forever. The elevators, true masterpieces of technology, whisk you aboard at an impressive speed of 10 meters per second. In less than a minute, visitors can touch the summit of this glass and steel giant, while multimedia installations along the ascent route recount the story and intriguing facts about the birth and evolution of this extraordinary tower.
You will have the opportunity to visit the three observation decks of the Burj Khalifa: the most popular and affordable ticket allows you to explore those on floors 124 and 125, providing a panoramic and captivating view of the city below. For a more comprehensive and exclusive experience, consider ascending to the world’s highest observation deck on level 148, which is less crowded and undeniably more thrilling! And if all this isn’t enough, you can book an exclusive experience in the Burj Khalifa Lounge on level 154, perfect for savoring a drink with a view!
Read More: Discover our guide to Burj Khalifa Tickets with advice on which to choose, how to skip the queue and how to save up to 70%!
At the base of the Burj Khalifa, you can witness the incredible shows of the Dubai Fountain and indulge in the family-friendly shopping and entertainment offerings of the Dubai Mall, which also houses the incredible Dubai Aquarium. The Dubai Mall area is festively adorned for Christmas and is one of the primary venues for Christmas celebrations in Dubai.
More Tips for Your Christmas Holidays in Dubai
If you are planning your Christmas holidays in Dubai, we have many more tips for you! You can explore numerous resources for the best things to do and see by checking 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 wondering about the weather, take a look at our guides on DUBAI WEATHER IN DECEMBER and DUBAI WEATHER IN JANUARY. You may also want to consult the DUBAI DRESS CODE to clarify any doubts about appropriate attire.
Here, you can discover our ultimate guide to CHRISTMAS IN DUBAI and DUBAI NEW YEAR’S EVE. 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.