12 places to enjoy Christmas Eve in Abu Dhabi
T’was the day before Christmas, and the city was stirring…
One of the best parts about any event or celebration is the anticipation. That and the presents. And the tinselly sort of anticipation, the slow swell of festive feels, immersion in the season of goodwill that reaches a climax on Christmas Eve is the star on top of the excitement tree, the calm before the storm of eviscerated wrapping paper, and we think we might actually prefer it to the day itself.
If you’re down to hit the town on Christmas Eve, join us under the mistletoe as we take you on a tour through the best ways to spend the Chrimbo warm-up act.
The venue’s popular Weekend Spritz is getting remixed and aggressively smothered with festive spirit for Christmas Eve. But because this is a Tom Aikens conceived restaurant — it’s going to be a classy affair, an Italian Christmas classy affair in fact – with live music and menu items such as spaghetti vongole, panettone, and fresh wood oven-fired fare. The drinks will be just as sophisticated, with plenty of the titular spritz blends available alongside Almalfi-inspired mixology.
The Abu Dhabi EDITION, Al Bateen, choose a three-hour window between 12.30pm to 5pm Dhs295 soft, Dhs395 house, Dhs495 bubbles. Tel: (0)2 208 0000. editionhotels.com
Christmas Eve at a fine-dining Italian restaurant, Cafe Milano has a very European accent. The menu features shareable ‘dolci Natalizi’, a crabmeat salad with festive touches, homemade pasta (of course), and a traditional Milanese festive dish, pan-seared monkfish with pumpkin puree.
Four Seasons Hotel, Jazeerat Al Maryah, Dec 24 6pm onwards, prices from Dhs410. Tel: (02) 02 333 2222. fourseasons.com
Cinderella at Theatre by Erth
We’ve had enough of the food options. “Oh no we havn’t”. Well, having a theatrical break won’t hurt anyway. This classic princess story is a pantomime classic. Crystal slippers, bungling butlers, comic relief in the form of Buttons, ugly sisters, fairy godmothers, and the age-old story of Cinderella’s will-they-wont-they? with the handsome prince. Expect singalongs, choruses of ‘he’s behind you’ and all the fun of British Christmas carry-on.
Theatre by Erth, Khor Al Maqta, Dec 16 to 27, Dh97. abu-dhabi.platinumlist.net
Cove Beach Abu Dhabi
It’s all about the sun, sea and sleigh bells at Cove this Christmas season. UnCover new depths of festive spirit with a seasonally enhanced version of their Friday brunch which takes the form of a four-course set menu. As the clock hands tick closer to Santa’s sled-off, you can enjoy a three-course dinner menu, starting at just Dhs150. Throughout the day, ‘yule’ be serenaded by nostalgic Christmas songs mixed up with other retro classics and served by a trio of legendary DJs: DVS, Keeny, and Nuf.
Makers District, Al Reem Island. Dec 24, brunch 1pm to 5pm, starting from Dhs249, dinner starting from Dhs150. Tel: (056) 398 7895, @covebeachabudhabi
Fairmont Bab al Bahr
It’s beginning to look a lot like brunchmas at Fairmont Bab al Bahr — their multi-restaurant festive Friday brunch includes food stations showcasing the culinary might of CuiScene, Marco’s and Bridges Bar. Word on the street is, Old Papa Chrimbo visit will be popping in for a pre-emptive toy delivery.
Fairmont Bab al Bahr, Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, Dec 24 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs249 soft, Dhs347 house, Dhs649 premium, under 12s 50 per cent off. Tel: (0)2 654 3333. fairmont.com
Christmas Eve is getting a full Glo-up at Rosewood this December 24. There’s a pair of alfresco festive dining experiences (brunch and evening dinner) to make merry at. Highlights of the grand garden brunch include opportunities to gobble-gobble ‘all the turkey and trimmings’, a dedicated kid’s corner with the opportunity to secure the swag via gifts from Senior Claus, a saxophonist, and a traditional Christmas dessert spread.
Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, brunch midday to 3pm, basic package Dhs395, bubbles package Dhs495, Dhs80 hourly beverage extension. Tel: (02) 813 5550, @osewoodabudhabi
This Corniche sky terrace restaurant offers two things we’re particularly fond of about Abu Dhabi Christmases — chilling and grilling. And on December 24, they’re putting on a traditional Chrimbo banquet with a French twist. Think roasted turkey with chestnuts, Brussel sprouts, braised cabbage, honey glazed carrot, lashings of turkey gravy; coq au vin, boeuf a la bourguignonne, duck confit, and foie gras. MORE? There are more international menu options available too, live music and maybe even a visit from the sleigh master-in-chief.
Grills@Chill’O, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, Abu Dhabi. Dec 24 7pm to 11pm. Dhs275 soft, Dhs370 house, Dhs545 bubbles, Dhs110 children ages 7 to 12. Tel: (0)2 813 7777. sofitelabudhabicorniche.com
Have a holly jolly kris Kringle eve at Khayal with a lavish buffet and plenty o’live cooking stations. There’s mulled grape, mulled vibes and we understand that the man in red is mulling over a visit to come and spoil the little ones ahead of the big day.
Khayal, Marriott Al Forsan, Khalifa City, Dec 24, 6.30pm to 11pm. Dhs249 soft – add Dhs149 and upgrade to house or Dhs199 and upgrade to bubbles, Dhs99 for children, under 6 free. Tel: (0)2 201 4000. marriott.com
Rattle those jingle bells, deck your halls with spiky bush sprigs and say ‘feliz navidad’ to festive feels, because Kuzbara is coming to town with a special Xmas Eve buffet dinner. Plate up gastro-gifts from live stations offering soup; roast meat joints and other carvery delights; and festive desserts including a classic dark chocolate Yule log. If the kids behave thems-elves they can take home cute little gifts. Book before December 10 for a 30 per cent discount.
Give your night before Chrimbo an authentic Asian flavour with the special Christmas Eve dinner at Li Jiang. The four-course menu includes delicate dim sum, handmade noodles, yakitori chicken, panfried toothfish and mocha tea cheesecake for dessert, all available against the stunning backdrop of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Dec 24 7pm to midnight, Dhs450 soft, Dhs650 house. Tel: (02) 818 8888, @ritzcarltonabudhabi
Like Rudolph, our visits to Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island at Christmas time usually leave us red-nosed and happily stuffed with all the lovely plates of food left out for us. As they are at Turquoise Restaurant Christmas Eve dinner. There’s roast turkey, beef Wellington and more carved at live cooking stations. And for a sweet end, there are festive treats including gingerbread cookies, magical entertainment and classical music.
Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island, Al Saadiyat. Dec 24 7pm to 10.30pm. Dhs499 per person. Tel: (0)2 492 2222. rixos.com
If you like your December 24 celebrations a little more fancy, head to Sacci for a night of real festive indulgence. Chef Giovani has prepared a decadent five-course festive feast. Pair your set menu with house drinks for a very reasonable Dhs399. Off menu, guests will find a big stack of live entertainment waiting for them under the tree.