Best Places to Visit in the UAE for Christmas Cheer
Summary: Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to get some holiday cheer. This article highlights the best places to visit in the UAE for Christmas cheer.
As expats and digital nomads in the UAE, you might be yearning for that festive holiday spirit as December rolls around. While the UAE might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Christmas, you'll be surprised to find that there are numerous places that go all out to celebrate the season. From winter markets to glittering decorations, here are some of the best places to visit to get into the holiday spirit.
Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah
Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah transforms into a winter wonderland during the festive season. The Souk Festive Market is a highlight, offering everything from traditional Christmas decorations to artisanal gifts. Visitors can enjoy a variety of seasonal treats, including gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate. The market typically runs from mid-December and features a range of activities, such as visits from Santa Claus, an ice rink, and even a snowball zone for children.
We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to take a scenic abra ride along the waterways of Madinat Jumeirah, which offers a unique perspective of the festive decorations and twinkling lights.
Abu Dhabi's Yas Island
Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is known for its extravagant celebrations, and Christmas is no exception. Winterfest at Yas Mall offers a magical experience with its seasonal decorations, festive entertainment, and an array of shopping opportunities. The event usually includes a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in early December, live performances, and workshops for children. The entire island gets into the spirit, with hotels and restaurants offering holiday-themed menus and events.
We Recommend: Make sure to catch one of the live shows or musical performances that are part of Winterfest, which showcase a blend of international and local holiday traditions.
Dubai's Winter Garden at Al Habtoor City
The Winter Garden at Al Habtoor City in Dubai is a seasonal pop-up that offers a cozy holiday atmosphere. Visitors can stroll through the garden and enjoy the festive lights, Christmas tree, and a variety of food stalls selling holiday treats. The market often features live music, making it a perfect spot for an evening out. The Winter Garden is typically open from early December through the New Year.
We Recommend: Indulge in some of the gourmet hot chocolate on offer, which is a perfect way to keep warm while enjoying the festive ambiance.
Sharjah's Al Qasba
Al Qasba in Sharjah hosts a delightful Christmas festival with a traditional market where you can find handcrafted gifts and decorations. The area is beautifully lit up with festive lights, and there's often a large Christmas tree that serves as a centerpiece. The festival usually includes a range of activities for families, such as storytelling sessions and arts and crafts workshops, taking place throughout December.
We Recommend: Experience the Eye of the Emirates Wheel at Al Qasba for a panoramic view of the city's festive lights from above.
Ras Al Khaimah's Al Hamra Village
Al Hamra Village in Ras Al Khaimah offers a quieter but equally festive holiday experience. The village lights up with decorations and hosts a Christmas market where visitors can shop for unique gifts and enjoy seasonal snacks. There's often a Santa's grotto for the little ones and carol singing to spread the cheer. The market is usually open from mid to late December.
We Recommend: Try the traditional roasted chestnuts available at the market, a classic holiday treat that's both warming and delicious.
Dubai's Festival City Mall
Festival City Mall in Dubai is known for its spectacular Festive Market. The mall features an impressive Christmas tree and offers a range of activities, including a Santa meet-and-greet and a festive-themed Imagine light and water show. The market, which runs from early December, is a great place to find gifts, with a variety of stalls selling everything from jewelry to handmade crafts.
We Recommend: Don't miss the Imagine show, which combines lasers, lights, and fountains to create a stunning visual spectacle set to holiday music.
Abu Dhabi's The Galleria on Al Maryah Island
The Galleria on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi becomes a hub of holiday activity with its Winter Wonderland. The luxury shopping destination offers an elegant take on Christmas, with sophisticated decorations and a range of high-end shops where you can find the perfect gift. The Winter Wonderland usually features a skating rink and a festive lineup of workshops and entertainment.
We Recommend: Take a spin on the ice rink, which is a rare and delightful treat in the desert climate of the UAE.Whether you're looking for a festive market, a winter wonderland, or just a place to enjoy the holiday lights, the UAE has plenty of options to get you into the Christmas spirit. Enjoy the season!
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.
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