From food shows to festive theatre, and free outdoor cinema to legendary DJs, this weekend’s a busy one. It may be mild outside, but Dubai’s heating up (well that came out cheesier than expected).

Thursday 17

1. Learn more about a great Islamic Poet


Held at cultural space Creekside tonight, the panel War Songs: The Poetry of Antara ibn Shaddad will feature a discussion between editors from the library of Arabic literature. They will talk about the challenges of translating Antarah to English, and about the warrior himself. There will be recitals in both Arabic and English too.

Creekside, Bastakiya, 6pm to 7pm Thursday. Register here before going. 

2. Visit the BBC Good Food Show

Paul Hollywood

Are you a fan of The Great British Bake Off? Well Paul Hollywood is in town, and you’ll find him at the BBC Good Food Show, which runs from today until Saturday at Dubai World Trade Centre. There will be a supertheatre at the show where you’ll see star chefs including James Martin, Paul, Andy Bates, Ed Baines, Silvena Rowe and Atul Kochhar in action (we’ll definitely be judging their knife skills).

If you’re a mega fan you can buy VIP Gold Tickets (Dhs350 on the door) which includes VIP seating in the first five rows of the Supertheatre, access to the VIP lounge, a glass of bubbly or a pot of tea and valet parking. Paul Hollywood will be at the supertheatre on Friday from 1.45pm to 2.30pm, and from 5.30pm to 6.15pm. On Saturday he’ll be there at 1.45pm again, and from 8pm to 8.45pm.  

The show will also feature stalls selling all things seasonal and regional.

Dubai World Trade Centre, 11am to 9pm, until December 19. For more info head to the website. 

3. Check out DJ EZ

When it comes to UK garage, there are few that do it better than DJ EZ. EZ has been bouncing around the globe all year riding the resurgence in popularity of the garage music genre. Now, he’s here in Dubai, and going to be playing a set down at Zero Gravity for garage-heads new and old to enjoy.

Zero Gravity, Skydive Dubai Drop Zone, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai, 8pm to 3am, men free before 10pm, ladies free before midnight, Dhs100 after. Tel: (04) 3990009. 

4. Go to the Winter Wonderland Festival 

Despite the drop in temperature, it’s still hard to replicate the feeling of a classic wintery Christmas when you live in the desert. The Dubai Wiinter Festival is a weekend’s worth of having a go at doing just that, with a Santa’s grotto, Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Peter Pan’s Christmas Adventure show and mince pies galore. Oh, and The Boxtones are going to be playing there too.

DWTC, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, 4pm to 10pm, Dhs35 to Dhs130. 

5. Bounce after dark

Bounce is hosting a festive fiesta tonight with DJs providing trap, RnB and hip hope tunes, a surprise visit from the main man in red and even snow. That’s right. Snow. Apparently bad santa will take on good santa in the dodgeball arena too. A battle of the ages.

Bounce, Al Quoz, From 8pm to midnight, Dhs80 per hour per person. Tel: (04) 321 1400. 

Friday 18 

6. Go to a rather-fancy Christmas market

Swish Pan-Asian restaurant Novikov is transforming its private dining room into a pop-up shop this weekend (from 12pm to 7pm on Thursday and Friday). There will be local and international brands selling quirky items for your home, statement fashion stuff and sweet treats too. We imagine a lot of the stuff will be on the higher end of the price bracket. A good thing to pop into if you’re on that end of town.

Novikov, Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road, 12pm to 7pm Thursday and Friday. Tel: (04) 388 8744. 

7. Snuggle up for a festive film 

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the millionth repeat watch of Home Alone, Elf et al, and JLT will be showing some festive favourites outside on its big screen this month. Catch Saving Santa, an animated adventure featuring the voice of Martin Freeman, on Friday December 18. The film starts at 7pm, but the festive fun kicks off from 5pm.

Between cluster O and R, JLT, Dubai, 5pm to 10pm, free. Tel:(04) 4257152. Metro: Dubai Marina.

8. See the band of the year

It’s been a while since Atlantis has flown in a big star to perform on the Palm, but now the Dubai landmark has come up trumps with not one, not two, but three major names set to play Live @ Atlantis this month. Years and Years, Rudimental and Roger Sanchez. Read all about it here.

Nasimi Beach, Atlantis The Palm, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, 4pm to 3am, from Dhs250. Tel: (04) 4262000.

9. Go to a Fatboy Slim set

Fatboy Slim at Sandance

Norman Cook swaps festival stages for a more intimate gig at Pacha Ibiza Dubai tonight. The veteran party starter comes armed with wit and wisdom too…

Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, 8pm to 3am, Dhs250. Tel: (04) 5670000. Taxi: Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

10. Nosh on a traditional roast dinner

The Irish Village - Christmas in Dubai

For 12 days the Irish Village is serving up a three-course Christmas menu: and in typical IV style they’re just sticking to all the classics – a traditional roast and Christmas pudding, none of this fusion guff.

Sit outside by the Christmas tree, wear your best (read: worst) festive jumper and enjoy the meal, which costs Dhs135.

The Irish Village, Garhoud, 12pm to 11pm throughout the weekend, Dhs135. Tel: (04) 2395000.

11. Go to Unbuttoned at Eden Beach Club

DJ Dixon is back again. The Innervisions founder is set to liven up this Dubai beach club by playing some real house and techno music with support from resident DJs Kay Tek and Trix.

Rixos The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, 10am to 11pm, free entry after sunset. Tel: (04) 2771477.

Saturday 19

12. Heal yourself at an art workshop 

al barari

Held outside in the beautiful gardens of Al Barari, this workshop from ‘soul’ artist Daniela Nikolova will be all about feeling gratitude through art. Participants are asked to bring something that comes from Mother Earth (flowers, sugar, cacao powder, quinoa, rice, barley, seeds, etc). Also, wear something warm, as it may get chilly.

Al Barari Showcase Gardens, 11am to 1pm, Dhs150. Tel: (04) 320 7350. You can register here.  

13. Mother, Baby and Child Show

At this parenting show you’ll find play areas, fairground attractions, a festive market, a food zone and all the big baby brands in one place.

DWTC, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, December 17 to December 19, Dhs25 for adults, Dhs15 for children.

14. Modern Woman Show

This three-day shopping fest brings together a bunch of offers from different fashion and beauty brands. There’ll be clothing, jewellery, beauty products, perfumes and more. Christmas shopping sorted.

DWTC, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, December 17 to 19, 11am to 9pm.

15. See a festive stage show


Miracle on 34th Street, is the story of a young girl called Susan who dreams of a father and brother to make her family whole (oh gosh, we’re tearing up all ready)… and then she meets an old bearded fella’ named Kris Kringle, and well, you can guess who he really is. This is one for the whole family.

Madinat Theatre, Madinat Jumeirah. Various times from today until December 30. Dhs180 for stalls, Dhs155 for balcony seats.  

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