Another long weekend – glorious! Here are your next four days in Dubai sorted.

Thursday 8

1. See a free film on The Beach


The 13th Dubai International Film Festival is now in session (see all of the films showing here), and as part of it they’re hosting free movie screenings on The Beach opposite JBR. Read about all the screenings at The Beach here – tonight at 7.30pm you’ll be able to watch The Red Turtle, an animated movie about a shipwrecked man whose escape attempts keep being thwarted by a giant red turtle. It’s a collaboration between Japan’s Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) and Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit.

The Beach opposite JBR, 7.30pm daily until December 14, free. More info on website

2. Catch some Dublin music live

The smart folk at America’s National Public Radio call Bell X1 “a brilliant co-mingling of electronic music and anthemic pop rock,” and they’re playing at McGettigan’s in JLT tonight. See you there. Entry is only Dhs50 (and that includes a house drink). 

McGettigan’s JLT, Dubai, doors at 8pm, show at 10pm. More info on website. 

3. Go see The Nutcracker

What’s more magical than a production of The Nutcracker? One that’s performed on ice. Watching it will be an instant hit of festive cheer – and the cast is made up of World, European and National Championship level skaters. In fact, this exact production enjoyed sold-out runs at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, Thursday 4pm and 7.30pm, Friday and Saturday 3pm and 7pm, until December 10, Dhs250. Tel: (800) 36227. More info and tickets on website. 

4. Go to a noble gig

Duke Dumont is performing live at Nasimi Beach this weekend – with hits like Need U (100%) and Ocean Drive in his locker, he’s always guaranteed to bring the house down. Should be a belter.

Nasimi Beach, Atlantis The Palm, 7pm to 3am, free. Tel: (055) 200 4321. More info on Facebook. 

Friday 9

5. Cheer on marathon runners


There’s a half marathon today that will see runners take on the Creek. Cheer the runners on from 6am (encouraging crowds will make their day).

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Baniyas Road, Dubai Creek, Dubai, 6am. Tel: (052) 683 8444. More info on website.

6. Or go on an entirely different run


This morning at Zabeel Park you’ll find 5,000 Hello Kitty fans running in a chillaxed 5km run, and you can join them. When you register you’ll get a race pack including Hello Kitty kit for your run. Should be a surreal one (in a good way, we think?).

Zabeel Park, Dhs145. Gates open at 7am, race starts at 9am. Register for the run (and buy your ticket) here.

7. Buy your Christmas presents


Are you in need of some Christmas present inspo’? Toil & Tinker’s festive edition should help. From pop culture prints, colourful cushions and slick sandboards, it’s the ultimate alternative gift emporium. Screen printing workshops will give you the chance to get your hands dirty too.

Toil & Tinker, The Courtyard, Al Quoz, 12pm to 7pm, free. Tel: (04) 3410977. More info on website

8. Explore interactive art and more…


Dubai Design District is hosting the second edition of alternative cultural festival Meet D3 this weekend. This season, UK singer-songwriter Jess Glynne will be headlining, as will Lebanese pop legend Myriam Fares. The weekend-long party will also host a collection of sculptures and art installations (look out for an orchestra of instruments made from everyday objects) and from fashion and furniture pop-up stands from top designers. Head here for a guide on what to expect (and the timings for specific elements of the fest’).

December 8 to 10. Dubai Design District, Ras Al Khor Road, 6pm, free. Tel: (800) 42633. Taxi: Dubai Design District.

9. Visit the St Regis festive market


The Versailles Garden at the St Regis now has a free-to-visit Christmas Market – head down any weeknight from 5pm to 9pm, or 3pm to 9pm on weekends and you’ll find a Santa’s Grotto, shopping, a hops garden, a Christmas stage with live entertainment, a snow fight zone (cool), a merry-go-round, Christmas cookie decorating stations and more. There will be a Christmas tree lighting ceremony (the pine is 16 metres tall) at the garden tonight at 5pm. Oh, and Santa will visit, but instead of a sleigh he’ll be in a red Bentley.

St Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor City, 3pm to 9pm tonight (Christmas tree lighting at 5pm), free. Tel: (04) 435 5544. More info on Facebook.

10. Watch master golfers in action


The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters carries on this weekend – and today players and guests will be turning the course pink to raise awareness of breast cancer. There are also food trucks, raffles, free spa treatments, a children’s play area, and it’s free to attend. The first tee off is 7.15am, and the tournament village is open from 9am to 6pm all weekend.

Emirates Golf Club, 7.15am to 6pm, until Saturday December 10, free (although hospitality packages can be purchased). More info on website. 

11. Dance to Basement Jaxx at Barasti

Barasti is putting on a big weekend over the next few days, with Friday night set to be the most massive: you’ll be able to seek out where your head is at with Basement Jaxx before dancing to the tunes of Armand Van Helden. Ooh, and entry is free. The Jaxx will be on from 11pm to 1am, and Armand from 1am to 3am.

Barasti, Al Sufouh, 2pm to 3am Friday, free entry. Tel: (04) 318 1313. More info on website.

Saturday 10

12. Watch a dance off


You’ll be able to see more than 80 dancers strut their stuff at Dubai’s first Choreographer Dance Challenge in Al Twar Dubai. There’s certainly nothing quite like a dance off.

New World Private School, Damascus Street, Al Twar, Dubai, 6pm, Dhs50. Tel: (04) 2639998. More info on website. 

13. Visit the Winter Festival


From this Thursday to Saturday there’s a Christmas festival at the gorgeous and green Dubai Media City Ampitheatre that will boast a pantomime, mulled drinks, a Santa’s Grotto and more.  Today you’ll find a choir and The Boxtones on stage, plus plenty of festive food. See the full schedule here.

Media City Ampitheatre, Dubai Media City, from 2pm to 10pm today, Dhs130 for a ticket to the Pantomime and entry to the festival, Dhs70 for just entry, Dhs40 for children. More info on Facebook.

14. Catch music on the beach (FYI: This event has now been postponed due to the holiday)


Lean back with a burger in hand as local creative collective Freshly Ground Sounds make music on the beach. In collaboration with the What’s On Award-winning food truck Salt, Freshly will perform a sunset gig on kite beach with a host of unique stalls and sliders to enjoy.

Kite Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road, 4.30pm to 7.30pm, free. More info on website

Sunday 11 (also a day off!)

15. Start the day with Pilates


We love the beautiful new shopping courtyard The Collective in Al Quoz, and their regular new Pilates class is the perfect way to start the morning. Don’t forget your yoga mat and that you need to sign up beforehand.

The Collective, The Courtyard, Al Quoz, Dubai, 7.30am to 8.30am, Dhs90. Tel: (055) 255 6457. More info on website. 

16. Go for brunch in DIFC


You can have a long leisurely brunch this Sunday because it’s a public holiday, and why not check out new DIFC Gate Village spot Mercato? The Gate Village used to be tumbleweed territory on weekend mornings, but we popped by this cafe for a big breakfast last Saturday and it was packed. The coffee isn’t the best, but the food (and fresh bread) is great and the vibe is lovely.

DIFC Gate Village 1, DIFC. Tel: (04) 320 5207. 7am to 6pm. More info on website.

17. Support local theatre


This full length play tells a true story of Irish immigrants in Edinburgh between 1827 and 1828: you might have seen the 2010 movie, which is dark and funny all at once. A nice and cultured way to round out the three days off.

The Junction, Al Quoz, 6pm and 8pm today, Dhs100 (Dhs60 for students). Tel: (056) 675 6834. More info on website.