How to bring some seasonal magic to your expat posting in Abu Dhabi
A concern of many Christian families when they first hear they will be posted to a Muslim country is, “will we still be able to celebrate Christmas?”.
Or are you seeking some winter sun over December and wondering if there will be any festive events going on in the UAE?
It might surprise newcomers and visitors just how many festive celebrations you will find in Abu Dhabi. In this guide, we will help you with:
- Finding pre-Christmas events in Abu Dhabi
- What to do on Christmas Day in Abu Dhabi
- Christmas Staycation ideas in the UAE
This post is part of our Expat Life series – come and read more above living in Abu Dhabi as well as things to see and do in the UAE
Pre-Christmas Celebrations in Abu Dhabi
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the city will start to come alive with winter festivity.
Conveniently, the country’s national colours of Red, Green, White and Black fit pretty neatly into the traditional colours of Christmas – so as soon as the National Day holidays are finished (2-3 December), attention in the retail stores and hotels becomes solely about Christmas.
What is there to do in Abu Dhabi at Christmas? Christmas Markets, Events & Performances
Winter Wonderland – Al Maryah Island
While the outside temperatures might not feel wintery (you can expect around an average of 26c for Christmas Day), the Winter Wonderland event on Al Maryah Island does its best to bring a touch of magical seasonal fun to the heart of the city.
The Galleria promises a range of festive delights, including beautiful decorations, roaming entertainment, a winter village and the opportunity to meet Santa himself! Note that the decorations were scaled back somewhat in 2021 in comparison to previous years.
The Winter Wonderland occurs outside on the waterfront between the Rosewood Hotel and the Four Seasons. In 2022 the Winter Wonderland will be accompanied by the Ripe Festive Market. There will be live performances, an ice-rink, activity huts and a petting zoo.
From the 9th to the 25th December 2022
You can visit Santa from the 9th December until the 24th December between 10am and 10pm. He will be in his grotto on level 3 by the Central Kitchens. Booking is necessary and we would advise that you book early!
For more details visit the Galleria website.
Worried you will have a full house at Christmas? Look at these options for apartment hotels in Abu Dhabi for your extra guests
Magic Phil’s Starlight Safari
Theatre by Erth, presents the UAE’s favourite children’s entertainer Magic Phil in ‘Magic Phil’s Starlight Safari’ a fun-filled Christmas extravaganza on Saturday, November 26th 2022.
Join Holly on her journey to the North Pole at Theatre by Erth this December! This musical adventure through the snow will be running from the 4th to the 7th of December. For more information click here.
The festive pantomime Aladdin will bring some magic to the capital this December, with performances between the 20th and 26th of December 2022 also at Theatre by Erth. Tickets start at AED 96 and are available here.
Raha Beach/Aldar Community Santa Chase (2022)
On Saturday, 10th of December 2022, Santa will touch down in Al Bandar before leading runners around the canal paths between Al Bandar, Al Muneera and Al Zeina in the Raha Beach area of Abu Dhabi. There are 2.5, 5 and 10 KM races, as well as a race for children. The event supports the work of operation smile with 10 AED from every entry fee donated to the cause. Santa hats and costumes are encouraged!
Le Royal Meridien Festive Craft Market (2022)
Start the festive season at Le Royal Meridien on the 3rd of December. There will be over 40 craft stalls, food and beverage stalls and a visit from Santa. Entrance is free and vouchers can be purchased on the day for the food and beverage stalls.
There will be children’s entertainment on stage from 3 to 3.45 pm and a festive sing-along with Santa at 4pm.
The Swiss Business Council Christmas Market (2022)
After a pandemic hiatus the beloved Swiss Christmas Market will return to Abu Dhabi! The market will be held at the Venetian Village at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the Khor Al Maqta area between Thursday 8th and Sunday the 11th December 2022. Open 2pm to 10pm on Thursday and Friday and 10am to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday.
St Joseph’s Christmas Festival (2022)
This annual parish event brings a whole day of festive activities, shopping bizarre, food stalls and fun activities for the kids. From 10am on Sunday December 11th 2022.
Festive at The Green, Abu Dhabi City Golf Club (2022)
Things are getting very festive on the Green on December 11th as the outdoor venue hosts a stunning Christmas market full of handmade gifts and holiday cheer. There will be seasonal movies on a big screen, live performances, face-painting and a visit from Santa. From 1pm -5pm.
Al Muneera Beach Plaza Market
This seasonal market returns to the relaxed beachfront setting of Al Muneera. Enjoy crafts, food stalls and live entertainment every evening while watching the sunset over the water.
TBC for 2022
Sanderson’s Festive Market
One of Abu Dhabi’s favourite community cafe’s will play host to a festive fair with local handicrafts and plenty on offer by way of kids entertainment and great food in this one-day event.
TBC for 2022
Abu Dhabi Mall Festive Market
A collection of more than stalls, along with Santa photo sessions (see more below) and crafting workshops
Abu Dhabi Mall, TBC for 2022. Learn more here
Shams Boutik Winter Festival
Inside the “Waitrose Mall” on Reem Island there will be several days of festive fun including choir singers, gingerbread and cupcake-making activities and rumour has it the big man himself will be making an appearance though no confirmed times yet.
TBC for 2022
Yas Island Christmas Events
Winter Carnival – You will find this large outdoor event held at Gateway Park South. Starts at 2pm daily and they will have a tree lighting ceremony every night at 7pm, followed by fireworks at 9pm.
Expect kid’s activities and rides (some paid), as well as a Christmas Market and entertainment, including a snow zone.
Ferrari World will also be hosting its own ‘Winter on Italian Street’ celebrations from 12th November 2022 until January 6th 2023, which will include socially distanced performances, arts and crafts and a gingerbread factory (tickets sold separately). Learn more about Ferrari World here.
You can also celebrate Christmas with Batman and Bugs Bunny at Warner Brothers World’s Winter Spectacular! There are beautiful decorations and magical Christmas shows, as well as lots of other festive treats. The celebrations for 2022 will start on the 12th November and will run until early 8th January 2023. For more details, click here.
Adult Christmas Events in Abu Dhabi
Christmas Karaoke and Disco Night at Stills
Boogie on down with DJ Sharara at Still’s this Christmas Eve for a fun night of festive karaoke. From 8pm until 11pm at Still’s, The Crowne Plaza, Yas Island.
Fun Festive Sweater Evening (2021) TBC 2022
Put on your flashiest festive sweater for an evening of holiday fun at PJ O’Reilly’s evening brunch on Thursday 9th December from 7-10 pm. Packages start at 149 AED for soft beverages and 225 AED for house beverages.
Murder Mystery at the Office Christmas Party! (2021) TBC 2022
In 2021, In the detail events are offered Murder Mystery Christmas parties. Contact In the detail directly for more information.
Christmas Bake Sale
Many hotels will host Christmas Bake sales alongside their Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies, gingerbread workshops and other festive activities. Some of the tastiest treats can be found at the Rosewood Hotel and at the Emirates Palace Hotel until the end of December.
Christmas Carols and Religious Services
The most famous run in the city is by St Andrews church, their annual Carols in the Desert.
Sadly this wonderful event had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and may no longer run as the key organisers have left the country. Please look up their Facebook page here to see if the situation has changed.
Grace Evangelical Church plan to run their own Carols in the Desert from 4.00 pm until 8.00 pm on the 9th of December 2022. For more details click here or check out their Facebook page for the most up-to-date details.
- St Joseph’s Mass Timings
- St Paul’s, Masaffah Mass Timings
- St Andrew’s Mass Timings
- Grace Church General Information
You will also find carolers at many of the tree lighting events and Christmas Day Brunches we list below.
Tree Lighting Ceremonies in Abu Dhabi
A fun evening for the kids can be attending annual tree lighting ceremonies at various hotels all over town. There are often carol singers, mulled wine and mince pies and sometimes even a visit from Santa Claus! Here is a list of some of Abu Dhabi’s most beautiful Christmas trees:
- 3 December 2022 Saadiyat Beach Club 6pm-10 pm
- 7 December 2022 St. Regis on the Corniche (combined with gingerbread workshop) from 3pm-7pm.
- 7 December 2022 Sheraton 6pm
- 8 December 2022 Saadiyat Golf Club 7pm-10pm
- 8 December 2022 The WB, Yas Island 5.30-6.30pm
- 8 December 2022 Conrad, Etihad towers 7pm – 8pm
- 9 December 2022 Fairmont, Bab Al Bahr 7pm – 9pm
- 9 December 2022 Shanghai-La, Qaryat Al Beri, 6pm
- 9 December 2022 The Emirates Palace 6pm
- 9 December 2022 St. Regis Saadiyat 5.30-7.00pm
- 9 December 2022 The Hilton, Yas Island 6pm-6.30pm
- 9 December 2022 Yas Links Golf Club 6-7pm
- 10 December 2022 Dusit Thani, 6-7pm (combined with Christmas Market)
- 11 December 2022 Jumeirah Saadiyat (in-house guests only)
- Anantara, Eastern Mangroves TBC. For reference it was held on the 12 December 2021
- 17 December 2022 Yas Acres Golf and Country Club 6-10pm.
Always check directly with the venue to confirm timings and whether booking is necessary. Some events may involve a fee whilst others are free.
Where can you get a photo with Santa in Abu Dhabi 2022?
Other than at the events mentioned above, Santa will also visit many of the city’s malls. These were the locations and dates for meeting the man in red in 2021:
WE ARE CURRENTLY AWAITING DETAILS FOR 2022
- Abu Dhabi Mall – From the 14th to the 25th of December 2021, you can find Santa in his magical grotto from 11am to 8pm. Festive parades will also be on the 15th, 17th and 19th of December. For more details, click here.
- Galleria Mall – From the 9th to the 25th December 2022 you can visit the Galleria’s Winter Village and meet Santa. Visits to Santa must be booked in advance.
- Yas Mall – Yas Mall’s Winter Wonderland festivities run from the 10th to the 25th December 2021. Santa will be there but his ‘office hours’ are still to be announced.
Yes, some of these Santas seem to work very late at night, but as you will see, being here a while, it’s a very stay-up-late culture and Santa crosses over all races and religions when it comes to kids’ entertainment! Don’t be surprised to see yourself in line with children in national dress.
Please check back in December 2022 for up-to-date information about where to see Santa this year
Gingerbread Activities in Abu Dhabi
A festive family favourite in Abu Dhabi is attending a Gingerbread workshop or party. A number of venues cancelled their workshops during the pandemic, but thankfully many are up and running for 2022.
Jones The Grocer will be offering a Gingerbread House decorating at their Al Mamoura branch on Sunday 20th November and Sunday 18th December 2022. The workshop costs 149 AED and includes everything that you need to make a gingerbread house.
The same branch will also offer a class making reindeer brownies and Christmas biscuits on the 4th of December 2022. Other dates are available for other Jones the Grocer branches across the city. For more details click here.
The following workshops have also been confirmed for 2022:
- The St. Regis on the Corniche will host their gingerbread house-making workshop on Wednesday the 7th December 2022 at 3pm. The cost is 150 AED per child. The St. Regis Christmas tree lighting ceremony will also take place on the 7th, so you might want to stick around!
- The Anantara at Eastern Mangroves from 6 to 8pm on the 17th December 2022, at a cost of 150 AED. Children will also enjoy a visit from Santa.
- The Ritz-Carlton will have separate workshops on December 18th, 21st, 24th and 29th 2022 with a fee of 175 AED per house.
- A gingerbread house making workshop has also been confirmed at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island resort on Saturday 17th December at 1pm. The cost is 250 AED per child but does include afternoon tea.
- The Saadiyat Rotana Resort will host gingerbread house workshops on December 11th and December 18th 2033 from 3pm-5pm at a cost of 135 AED per child.
- The Emirates Palace will have a Cookie Decorating Party on December 23rd 2022 at 4pm as well as a Gingerbread House Building Competition on the 24th December at 3pm. Contact the Emirates Palace for more details.
- The gingerbread factory at Ferrari World costs 200 AED per project and must be paid for in addition to your park entry ticket. It is a lovely set-up with lots of little extras and a cosy setting but you must book in advance as it does get busy!*
Note: Always book in advance for these sessions! The fee is per child but if you enquire nicely, siblings may be allowed to share one project.
Festive Afternoon Teas in Abu Dhabi
Please check back in December for more up-to-date information about where to enjoy a festive afternoon tea in 2022!
A new sensation in Abu Dhabi is enjoying an afternoon tea in the lead-up to Christmas, with all sorts of bite-sized festive-themed treats, you’re sure to get into the Christmas spirit. Afternoon tea needs to be booked at least 24 hours in advance.
- The Ritz Carlton – from 19 December 2022 to 7 January 2023 2pm to 5pm, 160 AED per stand.
- Conrad at Etihad Towers will transform their impressive lobby into a stunning winter wonderland this holiday season. A festive afternoon tea can be enjoyed either in the lobby or in the Observation Deck at 300. Prices start at 230 AED per person.
- St. Regis on the Corniche
- The St. Regis, Saadiyat will have a ‘Ginger Bell’ afternoon tea with lots of festive flavours for 195 AED per person between the 1st and 30th December 2022.
- The Shangri-La’s award winning afternoon tea has gone Christmassy for the festive period. Available until the 7th January 2023 at a cost of 120 AED per person.
- The Westin will have festive afternoon teas from December 1st 2022 between 2pm and 6pm. Prices start at 150 AED for two people.
- Maglis at The Rosewood will have a ‘Winter Inspired Afternoon Tea’ with nutcracker cookie decorating for the kids from the 25th of November 2022 until the 15th of January 2023. Prices start at 210 AED per person.
- The Emirates Palace will have an extravagant Christmas afternoon tea from the 9th to 26th December 2022. Prices start at 245 AED per person.
- The Stratos revolving lounge at Le Royal Meridien have also brought back their famous tippling tea for the festive period starting at 99 AED per person.
Other family events
Maker Space in Al Zeina usually host a variety of crafty Christmas themed workshops including wooden gingerbread house making in December. You can find out more by phoning 02 558 8624. The cost is usually around 200AED per family. Suitable for ages 4 and up.
Shopping for gifts and supplies in Abu Dhabi
Yes, you can get Christmas decorations and other supplies in the UAE. They may not be as plentiful as in some other countries, but you do not have to dig deep to find them. Year after year, more and more is becoming available. Our top tip is to buy things when you see them.
ACE Hardware store is well known for having their plastic trees and decorations ready from about September!
You will also find most of what you need in Carrefour, Lulu’s and many other supermarkets and speciality shops (including Pottery Barn, Marks and Spencer (Yas Mall and Marina Mall Branches) and West Elm) from November. You can also try reliable old IKEA!
Not saying items are particularly cheap, but they can be found. Daiso is one of the better budget options but you do get what you pay for.
As for Christmas presents for the kids – don’t suppose you’ve got anyone arriving from overseas shortly? While we have plentiful malls with international brands, expect to pay top dollar.
Some big companies do deliver direct to the UAE, and you can use Shop & Ship services, but by the time you add shipping cost, and import taxes – it may well be cheaper to buy your flight overseas, stock up with full suitcases and bring them back. Plan ahead from the summer! before!!
Related Reading: 15 Christmas Facts and Traditions around the world
Christmas Day in Abu Dhabi
Now not forgetting it is still a Muslim country, Christmas Day is NOT a public holiday.
That said, with children on school holidays, a lot of understanding employers will allow their Christian employees a day of leave – but not all.
(Psst, one awesome thing is all the shops are still open! So forgotten batteries, Santa fails, last-minute lunch details, no problem!)
Christmas Brunch in Abu Dhabi
If you think Saturday Brunch is a big thing in Abu Dhabi, wait until you see Christmas Brunch! Hotels will pull out all the stops for one of the most spectacular spreads of the year. Save the cooking for another day and have someone else do the dishes!
Almost every hotel will have some variety of Christmas lunch but the popular ones will book out early (normally by the end of November/early December) and require full payment upfront to guarantee your seats. You will find most have a Christmas Eve option, too.
(Always when booking something like Brunch, check if tax is included, and cut-off ages for children discounts)
Here are a few of our favourite Christmas brunches for families – thanks to our many readers for these suggestions over the years:
THIS LISTING IS NOT FULLY UPDATED FOR 2022: SOME DETAILS BELOW MAY STILL REFLECT 2021 PRICING
Ritz Carlton – Giornotte
A spectacular spread across Giornotte Restaurant including turkey and Wagyu beef through to lavish desserts. Santa will also be making an appearance – in previous years he has arrived on camelback! As well as all the traditional Christmas trimmings, don’t forget they also have Abu Dhabi’s finest cheese room!
2022 Prices starting from 688 AED rising to 888 AED for premium bubbles. Children 6-11 50% off, under 6 free.
Timing: 1pm to 4pm, Sunday 25th December 2022
Jumeirah Saadiyat – White
A beautiful beach-side brunch with a wide variety of Christmas treats. Each table also gets to decorate their own gingerbread house. There’s indoor and outdoor seating and lots of treats in store!
Prices start at 580 AED for the soft drinks package, with outdoor seating rising to 850 AED for bubbly. Kids aged 4 to 11 pay 290 AED.
Timing: 1.00pm – 4.30pm Sunday 25th December 2022
Westin Abu Dhabi (next to Abu Dhabi Golf Club)
An incredibly popular family offering at the Santalicious Brunch at Fairways restaurant at the Westin. The action spills from their usual Friday Brunch setting at Fairways, onto the balcony, then a chilled vibe on the lawn. There’s usually a big lineup of kids’ entertainment, games, a bouncy castle and a visit from Santa.
Prices start from 495 AED for the soft drinks package rising to 795 AED for the Champagne package. Children from 6-12 are charged 245 AED.
Timing: 1.00 pm – 4.30 pm, Sunday 25th December 2022
Fairmont Bab al Bahr
The Fairmont will be offering a fabulous international market themed buffet brunch with live cooking stations, chilled seafood, pizza and pasta as well as a turkey station that will feature stuffing and cranberry sauce!
There will be live entertainment, Christmas market stalls, kids activities and a visit from Santa.
Prices starting from 315AED for the soft drinks package rising to 615. Children 6-12 165 AED, Under 6 free.
Timing: 12.30 pm to 4 pm, Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th December 2022 and 1st January 2023.
(Every time we have booked as a group at Fairmont we always get return vouchers to come back and use the pool!)
St Regis Abu Dhabi 2022
The options for Christmas Day 2022 include decadent set menu at Villa Toscana as well as the amazing international flavours of the Festive brunch at The Terrace. The hotel looks amazing with its multiple Christmas trees and quaint gingerbread cottage.
The Terrace brunch starts at 345 AED per person for a soft drinks package rising to 595 AED for the champagne package. Options at catch range from 450 AED to 695 AED per person.
Timing: 1pm to 4pm
St Regis Saadiyat – Olea
Enjoy the alfresco setting of Olea, including live entertainment, live cooking stations, seafood, carving stations and heavenly dessert spread.
Prices starting from 380 AED, children 6-12 180AED, Under 6 free
Timing: 1pm – 4pm, Sunday 25th December 2022
Alternatively, brunch on the beach at Buddha Bar with a DJ and live saxophonist from 425 AED per person.
Conrad at Etihad Towers 2022
Get one of the best views in the city up high at the Nahaam/Sole Christmas Day mega brunch. Prices start from 525 AED rising to 835 AED for the premium drinks package, children 6 to 12 years 200 AED, under 6 free.
Whilst the mega bunch books up quickly an alternative is the adults only Latin American VaKaVa brunch from 2-7pm. Soft drinks packages are 350AED, whilst the house beverage package will set you back 650 AED.
Timing: 12.30pm -4pm, Sunday 25th December 2022
Aqua at the Rosewood 2022
An awesome family brunch at any time of year, Aqua really pushes the boat out at Christmas. The Christmas roast will include turkey and all the trimmings as well as succulent roast beef and Yorkshire puddings! Children are usually very well taken care of at the Rosewood and we’re sure Christmas will be no exception!
Prices start at 255 AED for food only, rising to 455 AED for champagne.
Timing: 12- 4pm, Sunday 25th December 2022
Related Reading: Abu Dhabi’s Best Family-Friendly Brunches
Christmas Turkey Takeaway
Still want Christmas at home but someone to help with the heavy lifting? Why not look at some Turkey cooking (and delivery) options.
These are just some of the venues we know will do a preparation service – though we are struggling to find ordering details for some.
You are best to call and get their packages and delivery timeframes.
- Abu Dhabi City Golf Club 19th Street (02 445 9600)
- Abu Dhabi Golf Club (056 536 2230)
- Al Maha Arjaan Cafe 302 (02 610 6666)
- Aloft Abu Dhabi (02 654 5193)
- Anantara Eastern Mangroves – Ingredients (02 656 1166) available until the 8th January, from 650 AED.
- Beach Rotana (02 697 9011)
- Belgian Beer Cafe – Radisson Blu Yas Island (02 656 2406)
- C-Mondo (02 409 6514)
- Circle Cafe (056 771 4908)
- Courtyard by Marriott 5th Street Cafe (02 698 2222)
- Dusit Thani – Urban Kitchen (02 698 8137)
- Fairmont Bab Al Bahr (02 654 3333)
- Four Seasons – Crust (02 333 2222)
- Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi (02 657 4888)
- Jones the Grocer – Various locations (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana – The Lounge (02 657 0167)
- Le Meridien (02 644 6666)
- Le Royal Meridien – Wheat (02 674 2020)
- Marriott Downtown – Central Grounds (02 304 7777)
- Park Rotana (02 657 3319)
- Ritz Carlton – Giornotte (02 818 8282)
- Rosewood (02 813 5520) available until the 28th December 2022, 625 AED.
- St Regis Abu Dhabi (02 694 455) available until January 7th 2023, from 550 AED.
- St Regis Saadiyat – The Drawing Room (02 498 8888)
- Saadiyat Beach Club (02 656 3555)
- Saadiyat Beach Golf Club – Hawksbill (02 499 8100)
- Saadiyat Rotana (02 697 000)
- Sheraton Abu Dhabi (02 677 3333)
- Sofitel Abu Dhabi (02 813 7777).
- Southern Sun – Filaments (02 818 4888)
- The One Bistro (02 641 1040)
- Westin – The Lounge Festive Hampers (02 616 9999)
- W Abu Dhabi – W Lounge (02 656 0600)
Make sure you book super early on (like November) as some of the best, most convenient mealtime slots disappear fast!
Most restaurants will require a minimum 72 hours notice up to 7 days and might give early bird booking discounts.
Expect anywhere from 450 – 695 AED roughly depending on the size of the bird and trimmings (and from experience, the trimmings are never enough vs size of the bird; be prepared with emergency backup supplies)
For Christmas 2022, Conrad at Etihad Towers will be offering a complete Christmas turkey hamper serving 8-10 people for 900 AED. This includes turkey, turkey chipolatas, herb-roasted potatoes, parsnips and carrots, brussel sprouts, sage and apricot bread stuffing, turkey gravy, cranberry jelly, mince pies and crackers. Additional sides can be added from 70 AED. There is also a roast beef option starting at 980 AED to serve 10 people. In addition you can order a delicious Christmas pudding for 100 AED, or a chocolate Yule log for 210 AED.
Why not do something a bit different and enjoy your takeaway turkey with a pallet picnic set up from In the detail events? This small Abu Dhabi-based company can also organise Murder Mystery and Escape room dinner parties to keep you all entertained this Christmas.
We await details of staycation packages for 2022
If you are seeking a “home away from home” here are a few options of resorts in the UAE that will include a special spread for Christmas to make it a truly unique event:
Ritz al Wadi Desert Resort
Head over to the beautiful deserts of Ras al Khaimah for a truly unique experience. As well as your desert resort stay, there are two Christmas lunch dining choices in the Kaheela Restaurant or at the Farmhouse with magnificent Desert views. Musical entertainment, Santa & his helpers and a live jazz band set the tone.
There are also gingerbread making workshops on the 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th and 24th December as well as Festive Afternoon Tea at The Farmhouse on selected dates.
Christmas Day Brunch from 395 AED at Kaheela and 475 AED at Farmhouse.
Qasr al Sarab, Liwa Desert
Deep in the desert dunes, Qasr al Sarab is synonymous with desert luxury in the UAE, and what more unique way to celebrate the festive season than in the opulent surrounds of this desert resort.
Santa will arrive at Al Falaj, their Bedouin venue at 5.30pm followed by dinner at Al Waha from 540AED.
Alternatively, dine under the stars of the empty quarter with Jazz in the Dunes, an opulent Bedouin spread with live entertainment from 540AED, 7pm start.
There is also a lunch option for those with little kids who would like to dine earlier at Ghadeer with an a la carte menu.
Learn more about Qasr al Sarab Christmas Events Here | Check current prices for Christmas accommodation here
Got overseas visitors to impress over Christmas?
There are two unique UAE events that coincide with Christmas that can add a wonderful local spin to your festive plans. We recommend you add these to your visitor bucket list in December:
Al Dhafra Festival
The Al Dhafra Festival is held in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi every December to celebrate the culture and traditions of the Bedouin people. The event has now expanded to cover several locations in Abu Dhabi emirate.
Events range from date packing to goat milking, Saluki racing to camel racing – but our favourite event and the one that draws competitors from across the region with huge tribal support and massive prize money is the Camel Mazayna – a camel beauty competition.
You’ve got to see it to believe it, an utterly unique and incredibly warm and welcoming event for foreigners to embrace more of the UAE culture.
You can read our tips for taking kids to the Al Dhafra Festival here, as well as a Beginners Guide to the Al Dhafra Festival (know thy camel!). Getting an official timetable or up-to-date information in English has always been a challenge!
Zayed Heritage Festival
Held in Al Wathba just outside of Abu Dhabi city presents a great opportunity to continue the festivities and traditions that surround National Day into the winter months. Through song, dance, food and craft, experience the UAE in-depth and the international cultures that make up the country.
There are also modern elements, including nightly light and laser shows, fun fair, fireworks displays (Thu, Fri, Sat evenings 8pm) and a daily World Heritage Parade at 5pm.
More of the UAE Outdoors
Don’t forget it’s also the coolest time of year in the UAE which makes it just perfect for getting out and exploring all over the Emirates without the stifling heat.
We have a bumper list of ideas on how to keep the whole family entertained outdoors on our sister website Family Travel in the Middle East.
Make sure you grab your downloadable checklist to keep your winter months brimming with ideas.
More Abu Dhabi Expat Resources
Don’t forget to check out our full collection of articles about expat life in Abu Dhabi, including:
- Family Guide to Living in Abu Dhabi
- Where to stay in Abu Dhabi
- Abu Dhabi’s best apart-hotels for groups & longer stays
- 100+ Family things to do in the UAE
- How to spend New Year in Abu Dhabi
- Best Abu Dhabi outdoor spaces
- Best Abu Dhabi indoor playspaces
- A guide to British International Schools in Abu Dhabi
- Beginners guide to desert & beach camping in the UAE & Oman
- Family Travel in the Middle East Group – a separate Facebook community group for regional travel ideas with kids.
- Abu Dhabi Travel Planner – a website owned and edited by Our Globetrotters to give a complete guide to tourist activities in Abu Dhabi Emirate. We also run Dubai Travel Planner if your plans see you travelling further around the Emirates.
Got more questions or want to continue the conversation? You can connect with the Globetrotters Page on Facebook, we also run a local kids activity page on Facebook called With the Kids to help stoke your weekend and after-school ideas.
Helpful? Bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest
Do you have a favourite way to celebrate Christmas living in the UAE? We’d love to hear more about how you celebrate abroad – or do you prefer to head home with family & friends each year?
Disclosure: This post is in no way sponsored by any of the places mentioned. It is editorial content only, not a review or endorsement of any of the services. All opinions, as always, remain our own. This page contains some accommodation affiliate links that may provide a small commission to us if you make a booking, but at no extra cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.
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