Festive feasts, art markets, last minute shopping, live music and even giant dinosaurs crafted from jelly – the city’s offerings are diverse this weekend.

*MORE: 30 Christmas Day brunches and dinners in Dubai*

Wednesday 23

1. Visit JBR’s night bazaar


Tonight is your last chance to shop at the night market in the Rimal area of JBR – a perfect opportunity to pick up some quirky last-minute Christmas gifts.

Rimal Sector, Jumeirah Beach Residence. Last night tonight, 6pm to 10pm. 

2. Go to a panto’

Get ready to shout ‘behind you!’ while watching Cinderella, pantomime-style. Root for the poor damsel while she battles her evil sisters and get amongst it with plenty of audience participation (which may be some people’s worst nightmare, but is great fun for kids).

DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha. Dhs130. Various times until December 29 (tonight at 7pm). Tel: (04) 341 4777. More info and tickets on website.

Thursday 24

3. Ride around the Creek


One of the coolest things we’ve done recently is ride a bike along the Dubai Creek – it’s a chance to participate in a whole new rhythm of the city, as well as partaking in the occasional strong whiff of diesel (but hey, it’s all part of the ambience). There are a surprising number of free-to-ride areas, and there’s a pedestrian tunnel so that you can walk over to the Bur Dubai side and then pedal through the heritage village. Plus, you get in a spot of exercise while sightseeing.

Why not try it yourself this long weekend? Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers is now offering by-the-hour bike rental (and they’ll give you a map so that you can plan your path through the labyrinth streets of old Dubai. Pictured above is a suggested route). Bike and helmet rental starts from a very reasonable Dhs25 per hour, but next time we go we’ll be booking the two-hour rental and three-course meal at Vivaldi package which sets you back only Dhs120 (the food at Vivaldi is proper Italian too).

Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, Baniyas Street. From Dhs25 to Dhs120 (various packages). More info on website.

4. Meditate the seasonal madness away

Christmas can be a stressful time of year, a good way to mitigate that is to truly clear the mind. That’s what will happen at Miracles Welness Centre’s one hour guided meditation tonight. You should walk out feeling like your head’s been spring cleaned.

306 Icon Tower,Tecom, Dubai. Dhs40, 6.30pm to 7.30pm. Register here. 

5. Shop at Cos on the other end of town


We’ve often driven to Dubai Mall specifically to have a mooch around Cos (nobody does artfully sack-like dresses quite like the upper-echelon Swedish high street brand). But a trek is no longer necessary for those of you who live up the ‘New Dubai’ end of town as Cos has just opened in Mall of the Emirates. Yay.

Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, 10am to 10pm Sunday to Wednesday, 10am to midnight Thursday to Saturday. Tel: (04) 4099000.

6. Listen to bongos at Inka 

If you’re over overt festive cheer but still looking for a good night out before Christmas Day, new Downtown venue Inka hosts a recurring Bongo Night every Thursday. The night’s all about live percussionists accompanied by resident DJ Roberta Mermand, as well as panoramic views of the city.

Sofitel, Downtown Dubai, free entry, 10pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 3469295. More info on Facebook.

Friday 25

7. Visit Ripe

ripe market zabeel

Yes, Ripe Market is running on Christmas Day, and for the occassion it will turn into a ‘winter wonderland’ with twinkling trees, carol singers, a visit from Santa, gingerbread house making, festive shopping, mulled juice, mince pies, turkey sandwiches and more. (The organic veggies will still be there too.)

Gate two, Zabeel Park, 9am to 3pm, Zabeel. More info on Facebook

8. Go to a Christmas village

Emirates Golf Club is getting festive all weekend, with Christmas activities running from December 23 to 26. There will be a Santa’s Grotto, a food village (our kind of town), a Christmas Bazaar, a kids’ zone, a light show and live music. Call for details on exactly what will be happening at the time you want to visit.

Emirates Golf Club, next to Nakheel metro station, Sheikh Zayed Road. Free entry, 3pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 417 9999. More info on website

9. Head to the mountains


Still have no idea what to do on Christmas Day? Well why not see if you can get a last minute booking at the quaint, mountainside Hatta Fort Hotel. For Dhs1,890 two of you will get Christmas Day lunch, Boxing Day breakfast, welcome cocktails, a night’s stay and be able to partake in a bunch of Christmas activities (including magic shows, sand painting and treasure hunts).

Hatta Fort Hotel, Hatta, Dhs1,890 per room per night (including food). Tel: (04) 814 5155. More info here. 

10. Chow down on dim sum


Plates and plates of endless dim sum: is that your dream meal? Well, pack flavoursome parcels in at Royal China’s dim sum brunch – at Dhs258 for all-you-can-eat dim sum, it’s a great deal for Christmas Day (during which many places charge a premium).

The Balcony, Precinct Building 4, DIFC. 12pm to 4pm, Dhs258 with soft drinks, Dhs388 with house beverages and Dhs488 with bubbles. royalchinadubai.com

11. Go to a loud and proud Christmas gig

Blast Night is a free gig at The Music Room boasting the loudest bands in the UAE. Listen to Alpha.Kenny.Buddy’s visceral tunes or to PullBox, who take inspiration from Seattle grunge. Other bands playing on the night includ Verdict, Tsvet Repitlia and Cathect. If you’re the type who likes to wear ear plugs during group fitness classes, this is not for you.

Majestic Hotel, Al Mankhool Road, Bur Dubai. 6pm, free entry. Tel: (04) 359888. More info on Facebook. 

Saturday 26

12. See art, and shop too


Disappointed with your Christmas presents? Or lack thereof? Well The Mine in Al Quoz is hosting a Boxing Day market today from 12pm to 7pm that will feature six local designers and concepts.

Also, you’ll be able to check out the exhibition that’s currently on at The Mine while you’re there. uNclear deal is curated by Mehdi Abdolkarimi and is a collection of contemporary pieces from Iranian photographers. Each work looks at Iran’s urban areas to explore how the country’s character and history are etched onto the landscape. (Pictured is a work by Mehrdad Afsari.)

The Mine, Street 8a, Warehouse 38, Al Quoz, Dubai. 12pm to 7pm today. Tel: (04) 3791704. Find more event info here. 

13. Walk with the (jelly) dinosaurs


Burjuman is home to the dinosaurs this month, with a volcano park, giant dinosaurs covered in jelly (yes, you read that correctly) and kids workshops aplenty (which are free if you spend Dhs100 at the mall).

The workshops will run from 5pm to 9pm on weekdays and 2pm until 9pm on weekends until January 1 (call for exact times for the different options), while animated dinosaurs will be seen roaming around the mall until December 27 at various times, like from 2.45pm to 3.15pm, 4.30pm to 5pm, 6pm to 6.30pm and 7.30pm to 8pm.

14. Try festive food at Jones

If you’re keen on eating something festive without having to commit to a whole three course meal (or indeed a whole turkey), Jones The Grocer’s Chef’s Special Menu runs until January 1 and features dishes like roast turkey galantine with apricot and safe stuffing, roast potato, parsnip, broccoli and peas. We’ll be ordering the beetroot-cured salmon with fennel, capers, clementines, sour cream and melba toast and then the santa baked cheesecake. Prices start from Dhs36.

Al Manara (04) 3466886 and Al Safa (04) 3881038. More info on Facebook.

15. Dance away Boxing Day 

Win! Brunch for SIX at 360

Audio tonic and the Sole Agency are getting together for a Boxing Day Social bash at 360º today – go there and you’ll find Kristian Valdini, Megadon Betamax and Tobie Allen dropping house and a touch of disco.

Jumeirah Beach Hotel, 5pm to 3am, free entry. More info here.

– For more about Dubai straight to your newsfeed, follow us on Facebook.