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 to plan your trip at this special time of year:
Weather in Dubai at Christmas
In late December, you should expect wonderful mild weather – average daytime 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.
2022 Christmas Celebrations in Dubai
Christmas festivities in Dubai, generally speaking, start 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.
New for 2022, Expo City is transformed into Winter City for the festive season, from 23 November 2022 to 8 January 2023. Al Wasl Plaza again takes centre stage, with a 52ft Christmas Tree and a festive village.
From 20 to 25 December, a nightly Carols by Candlelight performance will take place.
Entry is free, with charges for some activities and workshops. Carols by Candlelight is 100 AED, with advance tickets required.
Winter Wonderland at Ski Dubai
A Dubai classic winter experience that never disappoints. Home to one of the city’s most popular Santa Grotto at Mall of the Emirates, not just Santa meet and greet’s with a Christmas goodie bag and a hot chocolate included.
You can also enjoy fun adventures in the snow park, including Snow Movies, snowman building and breakfast with Santa. Packages start from 125 AED for a standard meet and greet.
Learn more at skidxb.com/christmas (1 to 25 December 2022)
Want to make it extra special? Add on a stay at the Aspen Ski Chalets at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates. Ranging in size from a one-bedroom chalet up to the three-floor, three-bedroom ski chalets, each sleeps between two to six guests, overlooking the slopes of Ski Dubai.
Winter Wonderland at JBR
Found at the 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 @magiclaplandia360 (dates TBC)
Festive Garden at Madinat Jumeirah
Madinat Jumeirah’s Festive Market makes its return from 15 to 30 December 2022. Festive food and drinks with fun activities for the kids, this is always one of the best places to enjoy the festive season in Dubai.
Held at Madinat Jumeirah Fort Island, some of the highlights include a North Pole train and Venetian Carousel, don’t miss gingerbread house making, live entertainment and decorated abra rides.
Winter Garden at Habtoor Palace
One of the longest-running festive celebrations from 1 November 2022 until 31 March 2023, the Al Habtoor City rooftop is transformed into an enchanting winter garden. Expect dazzling decorations, carols, street artists, acrobats, mulled wine, gingerbread and even Santa in December!
Weekdays from 4:00 PM until 12:00 AM and 1:00 AM on weekends.
Winterfest by McGettigans at Dubai Media City
As well as hosting one of the biggest FIFA World Cup venues in the city, Winterfest at Dubai Media City Ampitheatre will commence the festive season with a tree lighting ceremony on 20 November 2022, followed by four weeks of festive markets and Santa’s grotto.
Entry for both World Cup and Winterfest is combined, with entry 50AED pp, fully redeemable on F&B.
Santa’s Secret Island, Bluewaters Island
Enjoy Santa’s winter grotto and giant snow globe; there’s also a skating rink on offer and festive workshops for kids.
This event is free from the 10th to the 29th of December 2022, from Midday to 10:00 pm.
* Also look out for the Dubai Shopping Festival drone show, expected to return on the waters between JBR and Bluewaters in late December.
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.
Cirque de Cuisine 2022: Naughty or Nice Edition
A special adults-only event at Atlantis, one night only on 16 December 2022. Roam around the Avenues and experience dishes from Atlantis’ signature restaurants, such as the world-renowned Nobu, Bread Street Kitchen, Hakkasan, Seafire, En Fuego and many more!
Expect roving entertainment and free-flowing drinks with an after-party at The Wavehouse. Tickets start from 695 AED.
Dubai Santa Run
Taking place on 10 December 2022, Dubai Festival City will play host to this fun family event. Adults need to register and pay 125 AED in advance; kids go free with an adult. There are 1km, 2.5km and 5km events, the chance to meet Santa himself and prizes on offer for best dressed.
Christmas Shows in Dubai 2022
- The Nutcracker Ballet at The Theatre (National Ballet Studio) at Mall of the Emirates – 10 December 2022
- The Sound of Christmas by Dubai Big Opera Band at Dubai Opera – 21 & 22 December 2022
- The Nutcracker (by the Russian State Ballet & Opera House) at Dubai Opera – 16 to 17 December 2022
- Candlelight: Christmas on Piano at L’Alliance Française, on 17 and 18 December, shows at 5:00 pm, 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm (ages 8+).
Kids’ Christmas shows in Dubai 2022
In addition to the above shows, you’ll find the following events, especially for families in December:
- Magic Phil’s Starlight Safari at Theatre by QE2 – 10 & 11 December 2022
- Rapunzel in Dubai – For your traditional Panto lovers, always a cracking show to enjoy at Fairmont the Palm, 15th to 26th December 2022
- The Snow Queen at the Theatre by QE2 – December 16th to 26th, 2022
- Elf the Musical at Mall of the Emirates – 17 to 24 December 2022
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 6:00 pm in front of Dubai Mall – see exact 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 Day Brunch 2022
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.
We are still confirming if all these brunches are running in 2022
Budget Christmas Brunch in Dubai
Less than 250 AED per head with house drinks
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)
More happening in Dubai over 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 from iVenture or a Go City 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:
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