Free facials and meditation sessions, new markets, Arab music festivals, Indian theatre royalty. It’s a bumper Dubai weekend folks, here’s what to do…

Thursday 19

1. Visit a market by the Burj


We really enjoyed the food, film and local boutique shopping at Market Out The Box last year, and it’s back for another round! Situated in the gorgeous Burj Park, the market starts today and runs from 4pm to 10pm Sunday to Thursday and 10am to 10pm Friday and Saturday. It’s on for nine days, finishing up on Jan 28. There will be film nights, yoga classes and more – keep checking back on their event page for updates on the schedule.

Burj Park, Downtown Dubai, 4pm to 10pm today, until January 28. More info on website

2. Chill with some cool Cats

Munkustrap CATS

We’ve heard mixed reports about Cats (the negative reviews seem to be coming from Les Mis die hards), but any musical theatre fans should definitely check out one of West End and Broadway’s longest-running shows at Dubai Opera. The show is based on verses from a 1939 book by T S Eliot, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and takes place in a junk yard on the night of the “Jellicle Ball”.

Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, Dubai. January 16 to 28, showings at 2pm, 7pm and 8pm (depending on day). Tickets from Dhs275. More info on website.

3. Go to a street food festival (where no kids are allowed)


This weekend and next, the seaside parking lot next to Barasti will become Street Food Market DXB. It will feature 20 pop ups and food trucks, but there’s one catch: no kids are allowed, the event is for those over 21 only. Oh, and local DJs will be providing some curated tunes. Read about the different food trucks you’ll find there here.

Dubai International Marine Club, Al Sufouh, 7pm to 2am tonight, running this weekend and next, Dhs10 entry. More info on Facebook

Friday 20

4. Cheer on the marathon runners!


Whether you’re lacing up your trainers or just planning to join the cheering crowd, there’s no denying the annual Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is a big deal. The main race starts at 6.30am, and will take the elite runners just over two hours. Head to the grandstands to cheer them on, along with the there-every-year, so-much-fun Ethiopian fans. For more on timings, routes, road closures and where to park, head here.

Starts on Umm Suqeim Road, opposite Madinat Jumeirah, from 6.30am, free to watch. More info here. 

5. See Jessie J perform live (for free!)


Forget about the Price Tags at the Mall of Emirates this weekend – instead, go and see a free Jessie J show… geddit? The British pop star will take to the runway/stage at the Central Galleria at 6pm on Friday as part of the mall’s ‘fashiontainment’ weekend for the Dubai Shopping Festival.

Mall of the Emirates, Barsha, from 6pm Friday, free. Tel: 04 409 9000. More info on website

6. Catch some of the region’s best artists (all in one weekend)

We love the soulful and smart rock of Lebanon’s Mashrou Leila, and tonight we’ll get the chance to see them live right here in Media City – they will be joined by Jadal from Jordan, Emel Mathlouthi and Salhi from Tunisia, Souad Massi from Algeria, Neobyrd from Egypt and Abri and the Funk Radius from right here in the UAE. The Wasla Festival will also showcase art, and is all about connecting the cultural dots around the region. We dig it.

Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City, Dubai. January 20, 2pm to 2am. Tickets from Dhs235. Tel: (052) 8103385. More info and tickets on website.

7. Watch Indian acting royalty perform in the flesh


There’s a play on at Ductac today that will see the entire Shah family – Naseeruddin, Ratna, Heeba, Imaad and Vivaan – all on stage at once for Riding Mad In All Directions. It’s performed in English and is based on short stories by Canadian writer Stephen Leacock. So you can expect many tales to be told on the night.

Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Barsha, 5pm and 8pm tonight only, tickets from Dhs200. More info and tickets on website.

8. Catch some tunes with twang

American country music duo the Bellamy Brothers have 14 No. 1 singles to their name in the US of A, and have been going at it since the ’70s. They’re playing at the gorgeous and leafy Emirates Golf Club tonight – the perfect venue to square dance to Redneck Girl at.

Emirates Golf Club, Sheikh Zayed Road, from 7pm, Dhs200. Tel: (052) 671 1100. More info on Facebook.

9. Watch a Palestinian film

Tonight free film club Cinema Akil is hosting a screening of Dégradé, a Palestinian film with equal parts tension and humour. Remember, these films are free, but seats are on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan to get there early.

The Yard, Alserkal Avenue Al Quoz, 7pm, free. More info on Facebook.

10. Party on the beach with Europe’s finest

Blue Marlin has given the January detox a firm bodyswerve with their usual go-big-or-go-home line-ups, and the pick of the bunch this month is the pairing of Cologne duo Andhim and the much-loved Danish artist Noir. And it’s happening tonight! We’ll be the ones front and centre, loving life when Andhim play their Bee Gees-sampling Boy Boy Boy. 

Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel, Ghantoot, Dubai, 1pm to 11pm, free guestlist. Tel: (056) 113 3400. More info on Facebook

11. Brunch at the beach


Everyone loves the beach. Everyone loves brunch. Why not have both? Nikki Beach Resort & Spa have launched two new brunches, one of which falls on Friday. The Saint Tropez afternoon brunch features a live DJ and the option for indoor seating (if you’ve had a little too much sun already).

Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai, Pearl Jumeirah, Dubai. Dhs310 inclusive of soft beverages, Dhs395 inclusive of house beverages, Dhs140 for children aged six to 12. 12.30pm to 4pm. Tel: (04) 3766000. More info on website. 

Saturday 21

12. Go to a potter’s market


Yadawei is holding an open studio and potter’s market this weekend, where Dubai’s ceramics set can sell their wares. The perfect place to pick up that special mug for the office that’s distinctively yours.

Eighth Street, Al Quoz, Dubai (opposite Alserkal), Sat 10am, free. Tel: (04) 379 1312. More info on website

13. End your weekend with a free meditation


In JLT this evening you’ll find a free sunset meditation from Reiki Master Isla Armstrong at 5pm near the JLT basketball court. What a zen way to wind down the weekend.

JLT Basketball Court, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, 5pm to 6pm, free. More info on Facebook.

14. Share your favourite book with the world


Souk Madinat Jumeirah is joining the UAE’s reading initiative with the Books For All campaign: next door to the Madinat Theatre box office you’ll find a bookshelf – you can share your favourite book there to spread the love, or borrow a book to gain knowledge. There’s also a bookshelf in Jumeirah Emirates Towers.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah, free. More info on Instagram page. 

15. Get a free mini-facial


Herbal Essentials are putting on free skin analysis and mini facial sessions over the next few weeks at Boots Pharmacies – until the 22nd you’ll find them at Deira City Centre, from January 23rd to 25 at Dubai Mall and from the 30th to 31st at Mall of the Emirates.

Various Boots locations, until January 31st. Tel: (056) 915 8332. More info on Facebook.