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 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.
2021 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.
The Irish Village Christmas Tree Lighting
One of the more well-known tree lighting events in the city, this special event in Al Gharhoud will be spread over two evenings of festivities this year from 6:30 PM on both 6 & 7 December 2021. Minimum table bookings of 4, maximum of 10 – learn more here.
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 a breakfast with Santa. Learn more at skidxb.com/christmas (1 to 25 December 2021)
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, eachsleeps between two to six guests, overlooking the slopes of Ski Dubai.
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 (25 November 2021 to 30 January 2021)
Festive Garden at Souk Madinat Jumeirah
We are still awaiting news of whether this UAE favourite will be making a full comeback in 2021. Markets were cancelled in 2020 but craft workshops and Santa’s Workshop did go ahead with holiday movies on the big screen after dark (4:00 PM to 7:00 PM) Learn more @soukmadinatjumeirah (Dates TBC).
Santa’s Secret Island, Bluewaters
Up and coming entertainment venue – now showcasing the world’s tallest observation wheel Ain Dubai – Bluewaters is hosting a Santa’s Grotto, kids activities, roving entertainers and a nightly drone show at 7:00 PM and 9:30 PM daily. Learn more at bluewatersdubai.ae.
Festive Fairytale Bab Al Shams
A unique location in the desert, a festive market will be held from 10 to 21 December 2021, 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM daily. Marvel at the 40ft Christmas tree and enjoy the carols while you sip your mulled wine or hot chocolate. AED 50 tickets include a meet and greet with Santa.
Also look out for their Festive afternoon tea at Ya Hala Lounge Bar from 1 to 24 December, along with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day brunch specials. Learn more at babalshams.com/festive.
Winter Garden at Habtoor Palace
One of the longest-running festive celebrations from 1 November 2021 until 31 March 2022 the Al Habtoor City rood top will be transformed to an enchanting winter garden. Expect dazzling decorations, carols, street artists, acrobats, mulled wine, gingerbread and even Santa in December! (Daily from 5:00 PM until 12:00 AM). Learn more at alhabtoorcity.com.
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
- SHIAMAK Winter Funk 2021 at The Theatre – Mall of the Emirates – 3 December 2021
- The Nutcracker Ballet at The Theatre (National Ballet Studio) at Mall of the Emirates – 11 December 2021
- The Sound of Christmas by Dubai Big Opera Band at Dubai Opera – 21 & 22 December 2021
- The Nutcraker (by the Russian State Ballet & Opera House) at Dubai Opera – 23 to 25 December 2021
Kids Christmas shows in Dubai
- Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs at Fairmont the Palm – December 16th to 27th, 2021
- Sleeping Beauty Ice Show: Legend of Two Kingdoms at CocaCola Arena, City Walk – 4 & 5 December 2021
- Magic Phil’s Jolly Jingle at Theatre by QE2 – 11 & 12 December 2021
- Aladdin in Dubai at the Thatre by QE2 – December 16th to 27th, 2021
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 Day Brunch
Please note the below is still based on 2020 – we’ll bring you latest pricing for 2021 as soon as we can!
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)
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 from iVenture or a Dubai Go City 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:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.Dubai Travel Planner