You know that moment on a Thursday afternoon when your work buddy asks what you’re doing this weekend and your mind goes blank? Well worry no more, friends, because What’s On has the perfect solution, whatever mood you are in.

Dubai Christmas Festival Get into the spirit of the festive season at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, where every bit of the traditional Christmas has been laid on for your pleasure. And we mean children AND adults. Running from Thursday- Saturday there is an extensive market of arts and crafts to help you start stockpiling stuff for under the tree, while a fun fair, pantomime and snowball fight – using Hollywood machines – will keep the kids entertained for hours on end.

Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai. Dhs60 on the door for 12+, kids 2-12 get in for Dhs30. Tel: (050) 7341277. Metro: Nakheel.

Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. Give kids the ultimate Christmas experience of a meet and greet with Santa from now Thursday right up to the big day. There is also an outdoor festive market with traditional chalets with decorations, sweets, gingerbread cookies,and gifts by the Santa’s sack full.

Al Garhoud, Deira, Dubai. Tel: (04) 283 3370. Weekdays 4pm to 11pm. Weekends 12pm to 11pm. Metro: 

DUCTAC Santa Claus and the Christmas Adventure is back at Centrepoint Theatre… although we hope you embrace the spirit of it all and cast your imagination off to the North Pole. This fantastic adventure takes place at Santa’s HQ and tracks the great man himself as he bids to track down his missing elves and reindeer. Tickets cost Dhs115 andthere are showings on Thursday and Friday.

Centrepoint Theatre, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates. Tel: (04) 341 4777. Metro: Mall of the Emirates.

Animal magic
The art scene in Dubai may be in its infancy, but it is certainly flourishing. And it seems the whole vibe is infectious, catching on even in the animal world! That’s right, for this month only visitors to the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo will be able OTTERS get up on their little feet, grab a brush, and paint a picture. Cato, Tiny, Bitoy and Diego, all six-year-old males, have become masters of the brush, we’re told. To celebrate, a new campaign, ‘Great Otter Art Exhibition’, has been launched at one of the largest and most diverse aquariums in the world. It runs until December 30.

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Dubai Mall, Downtown. Tel: (04) 448 5200. Weekdays 10-10, Weekends 10-midnight. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. Taxi: Dubai Mall.

Great Otter Art Exhibition

Art after dark
Art After Dark strikes just the right balance between art, music and comfy sofas. The new weekly event takes place on the terrace bar of The Ritz-Carlton in DIFC, with street art on canvas propped on easels and lit with clever little lights. Alongside the art, artists show off their skills with live demonstrations, turning blank canvases into fresh creations. Art After Dark also acts as a kind of after-party for Art Nights happening elsewhere in DIFC. Resident Break DJ Lobito spins a cool mix of global beats and breaks, touching on everything from funk, Latin and soul, to hip-hop, Brazilian, afrobeat and reggae. In short, a chilled night of culture to start your week.

 No.5 Lounge & Bar, The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, Dubai, Sun 6pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3722323. Metro: Financial Centre.

Get crafty with GOOD at The Magazine Fair
Fancy making your own Christmas decorations? Get down to The Magazine Fair at The Archive in Safa Park on Saturday where GOOD will be teaching you how to sew festive tree decorations (for free!) with UAE experts reMADE DXB. The fair will feature magazine titles from across the region each curating their own stand, plus live music from swing band The Swingin’ Aces, vintage clothing, vinyl, foodie stalls and a barbecue. Entry to the park costs Dhs3.

The Archive, Safa Park, Gate 5, Jumeirah, Dubai. Tel: (o4) 04 349 4033 Taxi: Safa Park

Beetle Mania
A man who turns into a beetle is the attention-grabbing plot of a new play on stage this month. Metamorphosis is a play based on Franz Kafka’s short story about a young man, Gregor Samsa, played by Daniel Wakefield, who awakes to find that he has morphed into a giant insect. The play – on December 5, 6 and 7 –  looks at how this grotesque happening affects his life and his family. A spokesperson for the Dubai Drama Group told What’s On: “Metamorphosis is a study in the neurosis of a family when confronted by a huge change in their collective situation. The play will challenge the audience’s idea of what theatre is.” You might want to bring a can of bug spray.

The Jam Jar, 17a St, Al Quoz, Dubai, 7.30pm, free. Tel: (04) 3417303. Taxi: Behind Dubai Garden Centre.

Punchline Comedy Club brings Wayne Deakin, Dave Johns and Daniel Townes to Jumeirah Creekside Hotel on Thursday December 5. The trio will perform in Dubai as part of their three-date tour of the UAE, starting at Danat Hotel in Al Ain before concluding two nights later at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.The comedy kicks off at 9pm.  Tickets  for all shows are priced at Dhs150, excluding food. for more details.

Also, The Laughter Factory returns to Dubai with a solid arsenal of awesome ready to bring the house down at Mövenpick Hotel, Crowne Plaza Hotel and Grand Millennium Hotel in December. Gordon Southern, a comedy club veteran, and Josh Howie, a Woody Allen fan, are the men behind the mic on Thursday and Friday nights from 9pm. Tickets cost Dhs140. Tel: (04) 3551862.

Dave Johns

Dubai International Film Festival
Of course, if you’re on ‘the list’ then you’ll need to dig out that tuxedo or ball-gown for your red carpet experience of the Dubai International Film Festival, which starts on Friday December 6. For most of us, though, there is still plenty to get involved in. The festival opens with invite-only ‘Omar’, a story of a young baker in Palestine.

However from Saturday December 7, the public are able to get involved. For the family, there is Disney blockbuster ‘Frozen’ which follows heroine Anna on an epic mountain adventure with Kristoff and his reindeer Sven. There is also the ultimate 3D adventure, Walking With Dinosaurs. There will also be free screenings taking place in Burj Park, Downtown Dubai, starting with Champ of the Camp by Mahmoud Kaabour.

Aside from screenings, Hollywood legend Martin Sheen, the multi-award winning superstar of more than 80 films over five decades, will host an ‘In Conversation with’ on Sunday December 8 at Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

For all the information you need on getting involved with DIFF, click HERE to visit our comprehensive guide.

Dubai International Film Festival

And in the normal cinema…
Saving Santa (3D)
A lowly stable elf finds that he is the only one who can stop an invasion of the North Pole by using the secret of Santa’s Sleigh, a TimeGlobe, to travel back in time to Save Santa – twice. Voiced by Martin Freeman.

Oldboy Directed by Spike Lee this remake of this iconic Korean thriller stars and Josh Brolin as a kidnapped man trapped in a room for 20 years before being handed an escape route. The star promptly plans to bring revenge on his captors.

The Best Man Holiday Taye Diggs and Terrence Howard (Hustle and Flow, Butler) combine in this light Christmas comedy in which college friends hold a reunion over the festive period. The plot may be common but there is plenty of charm to keep you hooked as old relationships and jealousies emerge.

Enough Said James Gandolfini stars in his final feature prior to his untimely death earlier this year, alongside Julia Louis Dreyfus. The story is of the early stages of the pair’s relationship and has been touted for acknowledgement in awards season. Described as “wryly charming, impeccably acted, and ultimately quite bittersweet, Enough Said is a grown-up movie in the best possible way”.

Devil’s Pass 
Based on the true story of a group of nine hikers who mysteriously died on an expedition in Russia more than 50 years ago, this film traces the steps of young American filmmakers bidding to explain exactly what happened. It’s all very ‘Blair Witch Project’ with an eery winter background for good measure.

Meydan Sur Mer, JBR
The new Mediterranean restaurant in JBR opens its beachside terrace for Saturday brunch between 2pm-6pm, offering stunning views over the infinity pool and private stretch of sand. A DJ will provide the a funky theme to your relaxed dining with Chef Marcello serving a selection of favourite starters and salads alongside a carving station, risotto and pasta stations and buffet desert selection. Sangria (295Dhs) or Champagne (695Dhs) round it off nicely.

Meydan Sur Mer terrace, Meydan Beach, The Walk, JBR, Dubai. Tel: (04) 433 3777

Reform Social and Grill, The Lakes
Reform Social & Grill, which makes a stab at old world charm and serves up decent British classics such as fish and chips and crumbed lamb cutlets, has launched its brand new Reform Brunch Experience, from 12-4pm every Friday (soft drinks Dhs230, alcohol Dhs350, children Dhs55). Homesick Brits can come here for a Victorian Fruit Cup (or Pimm’s to you and me), full English with pork sausages, fish & chips, whole sea bream, Australian Angus flank steak and ‘Scarborough Fair’ whole spring chicken. The venue is well prepared for the autumn, with a pretty outdoor terrace, a garden with a playground and a pool bar run by Fitness First next door.

The Lakes Club, Emirates Living District, Dubai, daily 7am to midnight. Taxi: The Lakes Club.

Reform Bar and Grill

El Sur, Jumeirah Beach
Starting on Saturday November 30, and on every Saturday from 12:30 – 3:30pm, the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi’s brand new El Sur restaurant will be putting on a mouthwatering Spanish feast. Dine indoors or make the most of the fabulous weather on the stunning terrace while enjoying classic tapas with a contemporary twist, all for Dhs295, including soft drinks or Dhs425 including free-flowing Sangria, sparking, wines, beer and selected cocktails.

Westin Mina Seyahi, Jumeirah Beach, Dubai. Tel: (04) 399 4141

Hola Hola Toro Toro, Dubai Marina
The Grosvenor House’s Pan Latin restaurant Toro Toro is paying homage to the lively family-style dining of Latin America with the Hola Hola Toro Toro brunch. Guests can expect to find a range of small sharing plates which include guacamole, fresh and flavoursome ceviche dishes and yucca fries. An array of hot South American staples such as chorizo empanada’s, beef stuffed pastries; crispy calamari and salmon flatbreads with hot horseradish are also on offer, as is the churrasco grill with its premium cuts of chicken, lamb and beef, served by highly skilled passadors. Hola Hola Toro Toro is available from 12.30pm-4pm every Friday at Dhs400 inclusive of bubbly and selected beverages and Dhs300 inclusive of soft beverages.

Toro Toro, Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina, Dubai. Tel: (04) 317 6000. Brunch on Friday 12.30pm-4pm. From Dhs300.

Toro Toro

Story Rooftop Lounge, Media City
One of Dubai’s hottest new bars, Story launches ‘A Different Story’ brunch where diners can expect an explosion of Peruvian flavours, delicious cocktails and stunning views every Friday from 1–4pm for only Dhs299. Diners will find the likes of Anticucho de Conchos (scallops in olive oil, lemongrass, aji amarillo and coconut), Ceviche Nipon (snapper with leche de tigre, gari, yuzu, coriander and sesame oil), Spring Rolls de Lomo Saltado (beef tenderloin, soy sauce, red onion, vinegar and coriander rolled and fried) and Ensalada de Quinoa (avocado, lemongrass, olive oil, hummus, lime, cheese and quinoa salad) on the menu.

Story Rooftop Lounge, next to Zayed University, Media City, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3659911. Brunch on Friday from 1–4pm.

Grab a coffee Costa UAE are celebrating the opening of their 100th store (at World Trade Centre, Abu Dhabi) in the region by giving away 60,000 prizes and even a trip to the UK. Other prizes include complimentary coolers, Costa Cortos, coffees, limited edition mugs and three Gold Cards that provide winners with complimentary coffee for an entire year.  Find your nearest store HERE.

Iconic Reggae Selector Earl Gateshead – read more here
Over the past decade ska, roots, dub and dancehall collective Trojan Sound System have become an institution in British sound system culture. Earl Gateshead, the DJ who’s been bringing reggae to the masses since 1979, leads this merry band of selectors and vocalists.

And on Friday December 6, the legend touches down in Dubai for a special set at Casa Latina, Ibis Al Barsha. But you’ve got a lot to live up to, Dubai, because speaking to us ahead of the gig, Earl revealed the highlight of his year so far. He said: “The opening ceremony at Outlook Festival in Croatia was a massive night for me. It was in the Roman Amphitheatre at Pula and I played proper rebel reggae. We really felt we were doing something. Bringing bass culture into the mainstream. It was a fair sized crowd – 6,000 – but it felt really intimate. The vibe that night was so warm and friendly, really special. The Wailers followed me on and I was full of emotion as they played.” So, top that folks…

Casa Latina, Ibis Al Barsha, Barsha, Dubai. Tel: (056) 6920196. 10pm-3am, Dhs95. Taxi: Ibis Al Barsha.

Earl Gateshead

Hip hop and dance extravaganza, Sandance Beach – read more here
The Sandance Beach will be taken over on Friday December 6 by one of the most hotly-anticipated line-ups of hip-hop and dance acts to visit Dubai this year. Rappers Cypress Hill and legendary beat-maker Afrika Bambaataa are the star turns alongside Moodymann, Josh Wink, The Cuban Brothers and Stereo MCs, who all of whom will provide the entertainment over 10 hours next to Atlantis, The Palm.

Sandance Beach, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, 4pm to 2am, Dhs250. Tel: (04) 3688098. Taxi: Atlantis The Palm.

Lil Kim at O1NE, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
American rapper, record producer and actress Lil Kim brings her indisputable sound to Abu Dhabi on Thursday December 5. Once voted as one of the ’50 Greatest Women in Music’, she is known as much for her music as she is her hell-raising behaviour alongside the best of New York’s hip hip artists, including Notorious BIG. Three of her studio albums have gone platinum – ‘Hard Core in 1996, ‘The Notorious K.I.M in 2000 and ‘La Bella Mafia in 2003 – and she was the first female rapper to top the US Billboard Hot 100 with her collaboration with Mya, Pink and Christina Aguilera on the single ‘Lady Marmalade‘.

O1ne, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (o5) 2788 8111, 11pm.

Most Wanted – read more here
Weekly underground club night Wanted have found a new home and they’re settling into their new abode with a string of cool guests in the coming weeks. Originally a Wednesday night gig at the now defunct Club Trilogy, Wanted switches to Thursdays at the recently opened Amnesia Underground (formerly the Submarine Club).

Amnesia Underground, Grand Excelsior Hotel, Bur Dubai, 9pm to 3am, Dhs80, ladies free before midnight. Tel: (050) 7258277. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates, then taxi to hotel.