Christmas? In a Muslim country? You better believe it!!
If you’re seeking out a northern hemisphere winter holiday in the sun but don’t want to miss out on the fun and festivities of Christmas, Dubai could just be the destination for you!!
Christmas in Dubai is not a public holiday but is widely celebrated by the large expat community and tourists.
So other than the reassurance that the shops will still be open on Christmas Eve (and Christmas Day!!) what should you expect in Dubai at Christmas? We’ll take you through everything you need to know planning your trip at this special time of year:
Weather in Dubai at Christmas
In late December you should expect wonderful mild weather – average day time highs of 26°C/78.8°F and seawater temperature of 25.6°C/78°F. Rain is not unheard of in December but certainly don’t expect a long string of dreary grey days. Fog can be an issue in December, particularly in the early mornings.
The wonderful weather in December, combined with the fact it is also school holiday time in Dubai (along with most of the world) means that the week from Christmas to New Year in Dubai is one of the busiest of the year. You can expect hotel & AirBnB prices to skyrocket and in some cases, your first choice of accommodation may not be available.
Christmas celebrations in Dubai
Christmas festivities in Dubai, generally speaking, kick-off from as soon as National Day events have concluded (the weekend around 2 December). From shopping mall Santas to Christmas tree lightings at most of the city’s hotels, you will not escape the jubilant atmosphere of Christmas in Dubai.
Events this year will be number restricted and lower key than in previous years, but nonetheless, a bumper line up of tree lightings to Christmas fairs in slightly modified formats is expected.
The Irish Village Christmas Tree Lighting
One of the more well-known tree lighting events in the city and one of the early ones to get you in the mood, the outdoor terrace here is the perfect Dubai festive setting. Tables must be booked in advance – learn more here. (29 November 2020)
Rooftop Festive Village at Nakheel Mall
To be found atop Nakheel Mall on Palm Jumeirah until 2 January 2021, you’ll find a huge festive tree and Christmas market along with love music, entertainment and an ice rink. Ripe Market can also be found here in December and Santa’s Village is, of course, the highlight! Learn more at nakhellmall.ae. (10 December 2020 to 2 January 2021, 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM)
Festive Wonderland at La Mer
This beachfront wonderland promises a unique experience for celebrating Christmas in the sun – you can still find winter favourites like hot chocolate and mulled grape alongside festive food stalls and entertainment. Rumour is, you can follow the festive forest maze to find Santa and enjoy outdoor cinema classics. Learn more at lamerdubai.ae. (10 December to 25 December 2020)
Winter Wonderland at JBR
Found at popular beachfront venue The Walk in JBR, you’ll find ice skating through to bouncy castles before taking a unique audiovisual journey to the North Pole. Live entertainment is on offer and Santa will be making some appearances. Learn more at @winterwonderlanddxb (12 December 2020 to 7 January 2021)
Festive Garden at Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Sadly no famous festive market this year, but there’s still plenty going on at Souk Madinat Jumeirah for families. Enjoy the festive garden where holiday movies will be played daily (7:30 PM), kids crafting workshops and Santa’s Grotto (4:00 PM to 7:00 PM) Learn more @soukmadinatjumeirah (10 December to 26 December 2020)
Winter Wonderland at Ski Dubai
Another Dubai classic IS back for 2020; Ski Dubai is home to one of the city’s most popular Santa Grotto at Mall of the Emirates. Enjoy a day in the snow park, or simply come to meet Santa or cuddle up for storytime with Mrs Claus. Learn more at skidxb.com/christmas (1 to 25 December 2020)
Dubai Garden Glow – all winter
Although not entirely a Christmas event, the wonderfully enchanted setting of Dubai Garden Glow makes the perfect attraction to visit around Christmas for a magical evening.
Christmas Shows in Dubai
- Christmas Cracker Pop, rock and Jazz with Gareth Gates and Natasha Hamilton at Dubai Opera – 10 December 2020
- NSO Big Band’s Santa Baby! at Dubai Opera – 11 December 2020
- Cirque de Glace at Dubai Opera – 24 to 26 December 2020
Kids Christmas shows in Dubai
- Beauty and the Beast at the QE2 Theatre – December 16th to 27th, 2020.
- The Dubai Panto: Jack and the Beanstalk at Intercontinental, Dubai Festival City – December 16th to 27th, 2020.
- The Christmas Show at Fairmont the Palm – December 17th to 28th, 2020.
- The Snowman at The Theatre Mall of the Emirates – December 11th to 26th, 2020.
Free evening shows in Dubai
These events run throughout the year but are particularly special in the festive season and a great cheap night out in Dubai:
- Burj Lake Fountains Show & Burj Khalifa LED Light show – nightly from 6 pm in front of Dubai Mall – see exactly timings and best places to watch the show here.
- IMAGINE Dubai Light & Laser Show at Dubai Festival City – learn more and see daily timings here.
- Palm Fountains at The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah nightly from 6:00 pm – learn more here.
Christmas Eve in Dubai
More to come on this section soon as we update our events listing for Christmas 2020!
Christmas Day Brunch
If you think being in Dubai on Christmas Day means you will miss out on a traditional Christmas dinner then think again!
Many hotels and restaurants in Dubai will provide a hugely extravagant lunch with all the trimmings – the only real question is – what’s your budget? From pub feasts to 5-star luxury, here’s where you’ll get Christmas dinner in Dubai.
Budget Christmas Brunch in Dubai
Less than 250 AED per head with house drinks
- Claw BBQ – Souk Al Bahr (set menu 125 AED)
- Irish Village – Al Garhoud and Studio City (set menu 225 AED)
- O’Leary’s – Hilton Dubai Creek, Deira (brunch 219 AED)
Mid-range Christmas Brunch in Dubai
250 AED to 500 AED per head with house drinks
- Belgian Café – Dubai Festival City
- BiCE Ristorante – Hilton Dubai Jumeirah
- Bistro Des Arts – Dubai Marina
- BOCA – DIFC
- Boardwalk, Casa de Tapas & Lakeview – Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club
- Cascades – Fairmont Dubai
- Crown & Lion – Byblos Hotel, Barsha Heights
- Indya by Vineet, La Strega, Rhodes Twenty10 & Zengo – Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa
- JA Hatta Fort Hotel – Hatta
- Café Artois, Kitchen6 & Prime68 Steakhouse – JW Marriott Marquis
- McGettigan’s JBR – Hilton Dubai Jumeirah
- Bread Street Kitchen & Bar, Nobu, Seafire Steakhouse & Bar & WHITE Beach & Restaurant – Atlantis The Palm
- Picnic Pantry – Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City
- Publique – Souk Madinat Jumeirah
- Pure Sky Lounge & Dining – Hilton Dubai the Walk
- Raffles Dubai – Raffles Hotel, Oud Metha
- Spark by Caramel – DIFC
- Trader Vic’s JBR – Hilton Dubai The Walk
Luxury Christmas Brunch in Dubai
500 AED+ per head with house drinks
- Manava – Sofitel Dubai The Palm
- Reform Social & Grill – The Lakes, Emirates Living
- folly by Nick & Scott – Souk Madinat Jumeirah
- Geales, Maya Mexican Kitchen + Bar & Brasserie 2.0 – Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa
- Hakkasan – Atlantis the Palm
- Hidden Brunch – Taj Hotel, Business Bay
- Il Ristorante Niko Romito & Yacht Club Restaurant – Bulgari Resort Dubai
- Marina Social – Intercontinental Dubai
- Rhodes W1, Siddharta Lounge, Sloane’s, Toro Toro – Grosvenor Hotel
- Traiteur – Park Hyatt Dubai
- Winter Wanderlust Brunch – JW Marriot Marquis
Church services in Dubai at Christmas
Dubai is a proudly tolerant city when it comes to religion and there are several different denominational churches in Dubai.
- St Mary’s Catholic Church (services in English, French & Arabic Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass & Christmas Day)
- The Mar Thoma Church, Dubai (Services in English & Malayalam on Christmas Eve)
- United Christian Church of Dubai
- St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Jebel Ali (Services in English, Arabic, German, Tamil, French, Sinhalese, Arabic, Italian and Tagalog)
- Fellowship: A Christian Church in Dubai nondenominational
- St. Thomas Cathedral (Orthodox)
- The Holy Trinity Church (Anglican)
NB social distancing measures may mean that numbers are restricted at mass this year.
More on Dubai over the winter
For a complete picture of what happens in Dubai over the winter, including many more seasonal events, pop over here for our Dubai winter guide.
We also have month-by-month guides for what’s happening in Dubai:
Keep your eye out as we’re also updating our guide to New Year’s Eve in Dubai! Be warned, top venues book out fast and this year, especially with COVID restrictions, you should expect reduced numbers and venues that will be unable to operate so you will really need to plan ahead.
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws and customs to be aware of.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here: