Planning a trip to Dubai’s spectacular water stage show
For several years now we have zoomed down the E11 passing the vividly coloured V Hotel in anticipation of what we’d find inside. Advertised very assumptively as “Dubai’s No1 show” – would it ever live up to the hype?
Let’s take a look at exactly what you can expect from a night out at La Perle.
What exactly is La Perle?
La Perle is Dubai’s first live stage with a permanent home in Al Habtoor City, Dubai.
A purpose-built aqua theatre sees a magical fairytale story performed by a cast of 65 artists – including dancers, circus performers, and motorcyclists from 23 different nationalities. Part theatre, part circus, prepare to be simply dazzled and awe-inspired throughout the 90-minute show.
The show itself is the creative work of Franco Dragone, renowned for his past roles as creative director for Cirque du Soleil and A New Day in Las Vegas with Celine Dion.
La Perle – The Story
There is a storyline of sorts, though to be honest, we didn’t entirely understand what it was! Later research shows us that it is about a young fisherwoman who falls into a dream-like state and travels through the UAE in search of a lost pearl.
During her journey, she comes across people from completely different worlds and cultures. In a nod to the local culture of the UAE, the pearl is the pivotal object in the story.
La Perle – The Theatre
The purpose-built theatre is structured in such a way that the entire room is part of the show. Expect 270-degree views and light projections that transform the walls, floor, seats, right into the dome of the building from magical forest to manic street scene in seconds.
The water stage is clearly the center point, holding a staggering 2,700,000 liters of water and 8 meters deep! Artists come and go with grace and spectacular death-defying high-flying dives should be expected.
It’s truly an immersive experience with a lot going on from the water stage to acrobatics and moving stages and props. There are moments where the light and sounds effects make you feel like you’re in an underground cave, before hurtling you into a busy street.
Circus or stage show?
La Perle is difficult to define in just a few words; part comedy, part beauty, and emotion, along with dare-devil stunts all rolled into one. With mystic and charm leaving you hanging for more after each act (but perhaps also slightly scratching your head if there really is a storyline and how it will all come together – hint – try not to decipher any story and just enjoy the show!)
One thing we would advise is don’t go in expecting exactly the same as Cirque Du Soleil. There are definitely some hold-your-breath moments but it’s not quite the same from a circus perspective.
Best seating for La Perle
The 1300 seat water theatre is designed for optimal viewing pleasure, no matter where you sit there are no ‘bad seats’.
If you want an intimate experience, meaning you can see the facial expressions up close, then go for the VIP seats or gold seats in the lower section of the theatre. For a better aerial view over the whole show – there’s plenty you’ll want to capture from the corner of your eye – opt for a silver seat.
In our opinion – many of these are just as good, we think, as gold seating. We would opt to be as close to the center if possible.
If you are attending the show more than once (many do!) then there are plenty of opportunities to see the action from a completely different angle on the next occasion, there will be bound to be details you missed the first time.
(*As of early 2021 the show is seated with social distancing in mind which is great as you have no one immediately to the front of your side or back, though the thin crowd does mean the show is currently lacking in a little crowd atmosphere – we understand crowds are picking up again as we roll back into the busy winter season).
Tickets for La Perle
There are dozens of outlets you can buy your La Perle tickets from, as well as from La Perle themselves (via Platinum list).
We always recommend our readers use an app such as Get Your Guide for booking tickets in Dubai – we love that they have a money-back guarantee so you can cancel up to the last minute and all your ticket bookings are kept in one handy app on your phone.
Booking direct with La Perle and other third-party vendors you can also add dinner packages, or some may throw in popcorn and a drink with your tickets. Locally you may also find offers with Fazaa and other discount programs – we recommend you shop around.
Is it worth the money to see La Perle?
The stage, costumes, and effects are truly worthy of the accolades the show receives and would undoubtedly make for a great night out in Dubai.
Is it uniquely Dubai though? We only understood the pearl references AFTER the show – it wasn’t abundantly clear when we were watching that there was indeed a local theme to it.
It’s nonetheless impressive; you’ll find yourself holding your breath at times and your eyes alight with excitement, most definitely a fun night out in Dubai.
When can I catch La Perle
The program is variable throughout the year depending on climate and peak tourist season. They run almost throughout the year with only a few scheduled recesses for the artists to rest and maintenance to be performed.
At present, the La Perle schedule sees performances on Tuesday to Saturday evenings, with a 6:30 PM and 9:00 PM show.
We have previously seen matinee performances Friday and Saturday afternoons but check the schedule for the time you’re looking to visit – it seems to change frequently!
Who would La Perle suit?
Anyone looking for an entertaining night out is bound to be wowed by the show. It can equally be a romantic outting as a girls night out or a multi-generation treat.
Kids will most certainly enjoy the show too, but be aware there are loud noises, younger children, or those that scare easy it may not suit.
They do matinee performances as well which is perfect for families. The matinees are also great if you have quite a tightly packed Dubai schedule. You can be out the door again by 6pm which still leaves you time for dinner plans elsewhere in the city and in the summer to catch the sunset.
(At the time of re-publishing this guide in late 2021 we cannot see matinee shows scheduled)
What can I do after the show
If you don’t want to rush things, it’s best to save eating dinner until after the early evening show.
Situated within the Al Habtoor City complex, you have a great range of dining and nightlife venues right on your doorstep.
You are also right next to the Dubai Canal waterfall which lights up at night. A nice place for a pleasant waterside walk and admire the city skyline of Business Bay.
La Perle Dubai Location
La Perle is found in V Hotel, part of Al Habtoor City, Dubai. Al Habtoor is immediately west of the Business Bay/Downtown area of the city.
See other nearby accommodation choices for La Perle here:
It’s a short distance away from Business Bay and Downtown Dubai by foot – though not suggested that you try to walk in the peak of summer.
It’s best to arrive by taxi/Uber, though there is nearby paid parking (follow signs for Al Habtoor City Parking), or paid valet parking is available (50 AED). Valet services are complimentary for VIP ticket holders.
By Metro, your closest stop is Business Bay but it’s still a bit of a walk.
A few more things to bear in mind planning a visit to La Perle
- The show is not suitable for infants, no under 2’s are permitted. Children 2 to 12 can get a slightly discounted ticket and you’ll need to base appropriateness on their ability to sit quietly, handle loud noises and flashing lights – it is a lively show but intense quiet moments too.
- You will need photo identification to collect your tickets. Its advised to arrive 45 minutes in advance. (There’s a pub just at the foyer where you collect your tickets if you’d like a drink while you wait).
- Photography is allowed with no flash.
More frequently asked questions about La Perle Dubai
There’s no strict dress code for La Perle, but we’d certainly recommend changing out of your touristy day clothes and dressing up for the occasion – men in trousers and collars and women with evening wear. Whilst some get very dressed up in their best theatre outfits, you’ll be fine with the same sort of attire you’d wear to a nice restaurant.
It’s always an idea at any indoor venue in Dubai to pack a cardigan or scarf/wrap, too, just in case the air conditioning is fierce.
You can find our complete guide to Dubai dress code advice for different occasions and situations here.
This is probably one of the most popular questions everyone is asking after the show! From flooded stage to completely dry in the matter of 1 minute!
As well as the 65 performers involved in the show, there is 70 to 80 technical staff involved at any given time (including 5 scuba divers in the tank ready to assist with speakers and cameras so they can see what is happening above!).
The larger pool that covers the who stage can in fact drain in just 90 seconds! The floor around the pool is a sponge that has holes in it so that water can drain through.
“There is an SFX (special effects) pump room that has two 300 HP pumps pumping 1,000 litres of water per minute. There are four big 600 mm pipes that carry out the quick drain operation from the main performer pool. We have the ability to fill the pool 30 cms and drain the pool 30 cms. There is also an in-between storage tank, where the water is temporarily stored”.
– Julian Zazzaretta, technical director of La Perle (quoted in an interview from MEP Middle East)
Yes, there are at least 4 weeks of the year where the artists can rest and any major maintenance works are carried out. Do check these dates before trying to book your tickets to La Perle tickets to avoid disappointment.
La Perle runs for 90 minutes with no intermission.
So is La Perle Dubai’s No.1 Show?
The thing about bold claims like this, it’s easy to be number 1 when you’re the only one.
La Perle remains the only resident stage show here in the UAE. There is Dubai Opera which brings with it a huge schedule of rotating entertainment throughout the year, but it’s about the only sort of “stage show” entertainment that comes close.
There are also daily free “shows” at a number of locations across the city – for free – at Dubai Mall (the Dubai Fountains), the Palm Fountains which can be viewed from The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, and IMAGINE water & sound show at Dubai Festival City.
Other concerts and nighttime entertainment in Dubai are seasonal such as Global Village or ad hoc. You’ll find live entertainment, for example, on a desert safari, or late at night in the nightclubbing scene – but nothing is comparable to the spectacle of a stage show like La Perle.
La Perle really sits in a class of its own when it comes to live entertainment in Dubai. Perhaps not “uniquely Dubai” but worthy of its accolades.
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.
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