Everything you need to know about visiting Dubai in December
December is probably our favourite month to encourage visitors to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. There is so much to enjoy, from the perfect weather to National Day and Christmas festivities around town – though it is also one of the most expensive and crowded times to visit.
Dubai Weather in December
If it’s the scorching heat of the summer months that has ever put you off visiting Dubai, then get set for the wonderfully mild days of December and the winter months in Dubai.
You’ll experience average temperatures in December of around 26°C/78.8°F, and the average sea temperature is around the same, 25.6°C/78°F. It can even be a little too nippy for ocean swimming by month end – ensure your resort or hotel has a temperature-controlled pool!
The minimum temperature you can expect overnight in Dubai in December is 15°C/59°F. In the city, you won’t need much more than a light jacket. Though note, if you are heading to the desert or the mountains overnight on a camping or glamping trip, it could be several degrees cooler; you’ll want a warmer layer of clothing.
With 8 hours of sunshine on average, you should expect mostly blue skies, though rain and fog are not unheard of in the winter season. Use the cooler weather to get out there and enjoy the natural wonders that surround Dubai.
You can read our complete guide to Dubai Weather in December here, as well as our suggested ideas of what to pack for Dubai in December.
Dubai Special Events December 2023
- Commemoration Day – 1st December In honour of those soldiers who served their country and lost their lives for the United Arab Emirates. Previously called Martyrs Day, this day of national importance and reflection has been moved to coincide with the National Day holidays. Commemoration Day has not been announced as a Public holiday this year (2023), but schools and many Government offices will be closed, with distance learning/work-from-home arrangements in place for this half-day.
- UAE National Day (Public Holiday) – 2nd, 3rd and 4th December – marking the occasion of the country’s federation in 1971. You will find 52nd Anniversary Union Day events across the city. This year’s theme is sustainability, and the holidays fall inside the COP 28 Summit, which is also taking place in the UAE until the 12th of December.
- The Emirates Dubai Rugby 7’s – back bigger and better than ever; one of the city’s biggest sporting events will take place on the 2nd and 3rd December 2023 at the Sevens Stadium, south of the city. Don’t forget those evening concerts. DJ Luck & MC Neat and Becky Hill will entertain this year.
- Dubai Opera has a great line-up this December with the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scalia and their Concert for Tomorrow on December 1st. Comedian Russell Howard will take to the stage on the 11th of December, followed by Handel’s Messiah on the 13th.
- From the 15th to the 17th of December get festive at Dubai Opera with the Ballet Theatre and State Opera Orchestra of Astana’s adaption of The Nutcracker.
- Christmas Festivities – a great lineup of events is still expected across the city, from winter markets and Christmas tress, to opera shows, kids singalong events and, of course, Christmas Day brunches and takeaway meals. NB Christmas Day is NOT a public holiday in the UAE. You can find our complete listing of Christmas events in Dubai here.
- New Year’s Eve – 31 December always sees spectacular fireworks show that light up many of the city’s famous buildings. Crowds can be manic, and hotel costs in prime locations are sky-high, so book well in advance to enjoy this one! Find the lineup of New Year’s Eve events here, which includes Sting performing live at the Atlantis!
Suggested Dubai Activities in December 2023
Given the mild sunny days, it’s a perfect time of year to do some of Dubai’s more physical outdoor activities. Our top picks for things to do in Dubai in December are:
- Take on the Ras al Khaimah zipline course – Jebel Jais Flight! Not only the longest zipline in the world, where speeds can reach up to 160kms an hour, but also Jebel Jais Tour – seven different zipline courses that meet on a suspended platform in the Hajar Mountains.
Top tip: If you don’t fancy the self-drive up to Ras al Khaimah, check out this tour which can pick you up from your Dubai hotel. It includes transfers to Jebel Jais and the zipline experience.
- Take a tour around the world at Dubai’s Global Village – an international fair-style event held nightly; you’ll find seasonal celebrations, including Union Day and Christmas, marked with stage shows and fireworks.
- This is the perfect time of year to experience Dubai Garden Glow, Dinosaur Park, and the Ice Park in Zabeel Park. An evening wonderland, the festive season makes it all the more magical.
- Take a tour of the UAE’s east coast. Cross the spectacular Hajar Mountains and experience the calm, warm waters of the Gulf of Oman. There are snorkelling opportunities, as well as boat tours that can take you in amongst the spectacular khors of Musandam, Oman, without needing to cross the land border. Check out this east coast Fujairah day trip, or you can hire your own car and set your own pace.
- Take a Desert Safari – the cooler weather makes it the perfect time to get out on a dune-bashing adventure, or if you’d prefer a more sedate way to enjoy the desert, take a journey to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
- Visit Hatta. Hatta can be found to the south of Dubai, near the Oman border, approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes from Downtown Dubai. Enjoy kayaking or paddleboarding, or try the tandem water bikes with a friend! The Hatta Heritage Village will take you through the fascinating history of this mountainous border town, or get into the mountains on one of the hiking trails or hire a mountain bike. Find our complete guide to visiting Hatta here – along with detailed driving directions and public transport.
- Day trip to Abu Dhabi – there’s no better time to visit Abu Dhabi than in the cooler winter months. The month of December is particularly special, as you’ll get to experience the special events that surround Union Day, as well as Christmas Festivities, from Winter Fest on Yas Island to special theme park theming at Warner Bros World, SeaWorld and Ferrari World for the winter season. Don’t miss the public art exhibition Manar Abu Dhabi happening this winter.
- Seek out Souk Madinat Jumeirah – one of the most festive places to visit in Dubai in December. The annual Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market is one of the best in the city, with the Burj Al Arab providing a beautiful backdrop to their delightful Christmas tree.
Dubai with the Kids in December
This is a fabulous time of year to visit Dubai with your family, though, as we’ve mentioned, it is also one of the most expensive times to visit, and accommodation is booked up in popular locations.
We suggest families look at booking serviced apartments or Airbnb – we have selected our favourite Dubai family apartment options here – or go all out if you’re in a big group and book a family villa with a pool!
There are activities aplenty for families to enjoy, here are some suggestions for December:
- Attend a Christmas show at the QE2 Theatre – this hotel-come-entertainment venue permanently docked at Port Rashid is a wonderful family experience with winter shows a highlight. This year, there are several feature shows, including Cirque Du Silly with Magic Phil and Peter Pan, from 15 to 26 December 2022. See the full Theatre by QE2 line up here.
- Little ones can catch the fun favourite Blippi at the Coca-Cola Arena on December 12 and 13. To book tickets click here.
- Visit Santa in his snowy Grotto at Ski Dubai! A favourite with local families seeking the perfect Santa photo meet and greet opportunity. Book earlier as this is very popular! Tickets go on sale in early November.
- Swing your way through Mushrif Park – a little hidden gem on the city’s outskirts is Aventura Parks – high ropes and zip lines through the almost forest-like Mushrif Park. Ideal in winter when the waterparks are getting a little cool, but your kids still want an active adventure – other than the occasional Emirates flight landing over your heads, you won’t believe you’re in the city! Check out session times and pricing here.
- Thrilling roller coasters at Motiongate – home to the most thrilling rollercoasters in the Middle East, Motiongate, part of the Dubai Parks & Resorts complex on the city’s western side, is a family favourite of ours. Rides cross all ages and interests, from the giant indoor Dreamworks to Lionsgate and thrilling Hunger Games rides. Stay at Lapita Resort or Rove at the Park and get your theme park tickets included or check out the One Day Pass here.
- Catch a free drone show – as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival, the DSF Drones Show will appear between JBR and Bluewaters Island from 8 December to 14 January 2024.
You can find our complete family guide to Dubai with over 80 suggestions on family activities in Dubai here.
Splurge for December in Dubai
- It’s easy to get carried away in Dubai and splurge without realising it! But if you are coming to Dubai for something special in December, you can’t go past booking one of Dubai’s top hotels or restaurants to ring in the New Year. Here you’ll find our top selection of hotels with the best views of Burj Khalifa.
More FAQs About Dubai in December
Yes, December is one of the best times to visit Dubai if you prefer cooler weather. It is also peak tourist season, so be mindful that this makes it the most expensive time for accommodation, and you can expect lines and crowds everywhere you go.
It’s not unheard of for rain to fall in Dubai in December, though it’s not a daily occurrence – we wouldn’t go packing an umbrella ‘just in case.’ If it does rain in Dubai, it’s best to try and stay put, as it can lead to chaos on the roads and minor flash flooding. It typically lasts less than a day or two before rain clouds move on. The average precipitation is about 20mm in December.
Dubai is in a Muslim country, though it receives a large influx of international workers and tourists of all religions. Whilst Christmas is not a recognised public holiday, it is widely observed in Dubai in the tourism and hospitality sector. You will have no problem finding some festive cheer in Dubai in December – although they may be called winter festivals rather than Christmas.
Due to increased demand for hotels during December, December can be an expensive time to visit Dubai. There can be shopping bargains to be had and deals if you book in advance, but do expect it to be the most expensive time to visit Dubai as demand outstrips supply for basically everything – particularly the week of Christmas to New Year.
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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:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE 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 hotel, event or tour recommendation links. First published November 2019, updated for December 2023.Dubai Travel Planner