This year’s National Day celebrations mark 52 years of unification for the United Arab Emirates.
Early December is one of the most wonderful times of year to be in Dubai. Not only do you experience fantastic mild weather, but there is always so much going on, from the joy of many seasonal events returning to the great outdoors to winter festivals, markets and, of course, the country’s birthday – National Day!
National Day (Union Day) is celebrated on 2 December annually to mark the day the country of the United Arab Emirates was formed in 1971 under a Federal Constitutional Monarchy.
In 2023, National Day Celebrations in Dubai will be taking place on Saturday, 2nd and Sunday, 3rd of December 2023. Monday the 4th of December has also been declared a public holiday. Commemoration Day (previously known as Martyrs Day) will occur on 30 November but will not be marked as a public holiday.
2023 was designated ‘The Year of Sustainability’, and many events around the city are expected to take on a sustainability theme.
Dubai National Day Events & Fireworks 2023
We are still awaiting a complete lineup of events for National Day, but here are the ones that we know about so far, as well as the venues with a reputation for putting on a fabulous display for National Day.
We would strongly advise booking early for anywhere reporting to have fireworks views and expect to pay significantly more than usual at restaurants offering front-row seats.
Expo City Dubai
Coinciding with the COP28 summit, the National Day Celebrations at Expo City Dubai will feature a range of innovative technologies and stunning projections. Based on the art of Sadu, the breathtaking show in the Al Wasl dome will symbolise the threads of unity and sustainability that have existed in the UAE since humans first inhabited the land now considered the UAE.
The show will be broadcast live on all local TV channels on the 2nd of December and will be open to the public from December 5th until December 12th. Tickets are AED 300 per person.
Always a fun way to mark National Day in the UAE, Dubai Global Village will be putting on special shows to mark the Year of Sustainability from 1 to 3 December this year.
The festivities will include art installations, such as a huge flag arch at Mini World and themed exhibits showcasing iconic UAE symbols. There will be live stage performances, roaming entertainment and family-friendly craft activities, as well as the opportunity to try falconry. There will also be kiosks featuring traditional handicrafts, including basket weaving and henna art.
There will also be some spectacular fireworks after the sun has set!
The normal entry fee to Global Village of 18 AED applies to participate in these events.
Bluewaters will celebrate in style with a magnificent fireworks display on Saturday, 2nd December at 9:00 pm. There will also be street performances and roaming entertainment throughout the weekend.
Starting at 4:00 PM on 1 December, a Union Day parade will be taking place with participation by Dubai Police on horse patrol, over 60 school students and 100 performers, embracing the spirit of unity.
Festivities will continue on 2 and 3 December with an Arabic Folk band led by Adel Ebrahim performing on stage on 2 December, 8:30 PM. This will be followed by several performances on 3 December, including Hamdan Al Abri and Yamane el-Hage.
Dubai Festival City (TBC for 2023)
Dubai Festival City normally put on an awesome show with fireworks, live entertainment including big-name stars, shopping deals and much more. The plans for 2023 are yet to be announced, but we will be sure to update this page when we know more.
Downtown Dubai (TBC for 2023)
We are awaiting news of an official National Day event for the Burj Khalifa and the surrounding Downtown area of the city. The normal Burj Lightshow and Fountain Show program will run throughout the long weekend.
If you want front-row seats at one of the nearby restaurants, make sure you check out our guide to the best dining venues on Burj Lake.
National Day Events & Cultural Traditions in Dubai
As well as fireworks, flags, and festivals, there are many traditional events that you will see all over town. Here’s what you might expect to see and experience:
- Al Ayala Dance – Also known as Ayyala, yowalah or stick dancing is an Emirati traditional group dance with separate groups of males and females. Men in their kanduras face one another in rows with bamboo sticks, whilst musicians move between them. Girls in traditional dress (far more colourful than the usual black) will stand in front, tossing their long black hair from side to side. (The dance is so important to the country’s heritage it is now recorded on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage Items of Humanity)
- Yola Dance – Also known as Yowla, Yollah or al-yawlah is a traditional weapons dance or victory dance involving boys or men swinging sticks, swords or (replica!) rifles.
- Falconry Displays – a highly valued custom in the UAE, falconry displays help visitors understand the importance of these birds of prey to Bedouin life.
- Ishy Bilady – the country’s national anthem will be played loud and clear throughout events over the weekend – you can pick up some pointers on the words here.
For learning more about the country’s culture and heritage, we strongly recommend you include a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in your Dubai itinerary.
Attraction Discounts & Special Events in Dubai
National Day also brings with it a number of amazing offers for residents and tourists alike. We’re still collating deals now (expect many to be announced rather last minute!) but look out for:
Legoland – Dubai Parks and Resorts
Between November 24th and December 3rd, enjoy a special program of events at Legoland for National Day 2023. This includes a sustainability-themed workshop as well as scavenger hunts and lots of other fun activities.
There’s also a special UAE National Day-themed Bricks Brunch on Saturday the 2nd, which includes arts, crafts and cookie decorating.
City Centre Malls
Shoppers can enjoy 52x cash back on their SHARE app on their purchases at participating stores in City Centre malls. This includes food and beverage outlets as well as retail. Participating malls include City Centre Deira, City Centre Me’aisem, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Shindagha and My City Centre Barsha.
As well as enjoying some retail therapy, visitors will be treated to a variety of cultural performances including Al Harbia and Ayala dancing.
Save on attractions throughout Dubai
This National Day, the View at the Palm Jumeirah is offering 52 AED off tickets for UAE residents and GCC visitors. To find out more click here.
Residents can also avail of a special entry price of AED65 on the 2nd and 3rd of December at Dubai Miracle Garden.
More coming soon as we update this round up on National Day events in Dubai for 2023
Other Things to Know About National Day Holidays in Dubai
- Schools, Government offices and most businesses will have Monday off to celebrate this special occasion – visitors should be mindful of this if they need any sort of visa processing etc.
- If you have a car, public parking is free! (but be mindful that everywhere can be INCREDIBLY busy!)
- Want to get dressed up? Go for it! Traditional dress in the colours of the UAE flag, locals and residents alike wear the UAE’s colours of red, green, white and black with pride, you should feel free to do the same.
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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