Winter wonderlands, grottos and Christmas markets in Dubai

A visit to one of these spots is a must to put a festive spring in your steps…

Christmas markets in Dubai are back. Not only is it a great way to celebrate the festive season, but you can also shop for loved ones, indulge in Christmas treats, play a few games, meet Santa, bond with loved ones and much more.

Here are 10 winter wonderlands, grottos and Christmas markets in Dubai you have to check out.

JLT Festive Market

JLT festive market

When: Until December 23

Sleigh it on over to JLT Park Amphitheatre to meet Santa, enjoy festive live entertainment, themed activities, gift stalls, exciting competitions and lots of treats. The JLT Festive Market is located between Clusters P and Q and the merriment lasts from 4pm to 10pm. Oh, Santa will be there for a meet and greet, too so hope you’ve been nice this year. The market is free to visit but register here.

JLT Festive Market, JLT Park Amphitheatre, between Cluster P and Q, until Dec 23 4pm to 10pm. dmcc.ae

Nakheel Mall Festive Village

nakheel festive market

When: Until January 2, 2022

Up on the Nakheel Mall’s rooftop (click click click…), visitors can experience a festive village with a tall festive tree, a winter market, ice rink, play area for the little ones, VR games, workshops, pop-ups and live stage performances. There’s food and drinks, too and a whole lot of festive decorations and lighting. The Village is open until January 2, 2022 from 4pm to 11pm only on the weekends.

Nakheel Mall, Center of Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, Nakheel Mall rooftop, until Jan 2 4pm to 11pm on weekends. Tel: (800) 6254 335. @nakheelmallpalm

Harbour Wonderland

Harbour Wonderland

When: Until December 30

This seafront district has added some festive touches to its harbour and so now features an ice rink, snow zone, a Santa meet and greet, festive stalls, games and more. Don’t miss the giant origami-styled Christmas-themed boats and the floating nautical-themed Christmas tree in the harbour. There’s music and food and bevvies available, too. Entrance is free.

Harbour Wonderland, Dubai Harbour, Dubai Marina, daily until Dec 30 2pm to 11pm. @Dubaiharbour

The Ripe Market

ripe Christmas markets in Dubai

When: Until December 25 (every weekend)

Ripe Market at Academy Park is getting a sprinkle of some elves magic dust and transforming into a festive market. It takes place on Friday from 9am to 9pm and on Saturday from 10am to 9pm from November 26 to December 25. Activities the whole family can enjoy include visiting Santa’s grotto, wreath-making workshops, gingerbread decorating and much more. You can even buy real Christmas trees, shop for gifts and listen to live festive music. If you need to refuel, sleigh on over to the food and beverage stalls.

The Ripe Market, Academy Park, Umm Sequim, Dubai. All weekends from Nov 26 to Dec 25, Fri (9am to 9pm) and Sat (10am to 9pm). Tel: (0)4 315 7000. @ripemarket

Ski Dubai

ski grotto

When: Until December 25

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Head to Ski Dubai where a plethora of festive activities awaits. The whole family can meet Santa and his merry elves at his grotto and sip on signature hot chocolate, while the little ones get a gift and a photo with the big man in red. You can also do breakfast with Santa on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday morning (8 to 10am) from December 1 to 24. On the menu, there’s snowman pancakes, hot chocolate and more. Each ticket includes one breakfast dish and a beverage from a wide-ranging menu as well as a souvenir photo. A line-up of all the events can be seen here.

Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Tel: (600) 599 905. skidubai.com 

Winter Garden at Habtoor Palace

When: Until December 31 (5pm to midnight.)

Located outside the Al Habtoor City, this winter garden has a number of jolly activities the whole family will enjoy. There are fun rides for little ones, a dedicated play area, art displays and more. And of course, foodies will have plenty of food vendors where they can indulge in Christmas treats. Santa himself will also make an appearance. If you have a furry four-legged family member, they are welcome to join in.

Winter Garden, Habtoor Palace Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Tel: (0)4 435 5555. lxrhotels3.hilton.com

Times Square Center

times square centre

When: Until January 2, 2022

Families can head on over to Time Square Center and visit Santa Claus’s Grotto. Sit in a traditional sleigh for a photo with Santa or have the little ones write their Christmas letters. At the Floating Toy Factory, you can take home a toy that has been created from plastic waste or get creative with Mrs Claus in her arts and crafts space. The grand festive tree here is also made out of recycled plastic cups from the world’s oceans.

Time Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Tel: (0)4 341 8020. @timessquaredxb 

Bab Al Shams


When: Until December 21

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort is set to welcome the festive season with the launch of the biggest festive-themed desert market. Taking place daily between 6pm and 10pm, and priced at Dhs50 entry, guests can explore the huge market right in the Dubai desert. There’s live music and entertainment including daily carols, stalls selling gifts and a 40-foot tall Christmas tree. There’s even a chance to meet Santa.

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort, Al Qudra Road, Dec 10 onwards. Tel: (0)4 809 6100. babalshams.com/festive

Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market

souk madinat jumeirah

When: Until December 30

The annual Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market returns this December where visitors will step into an enchanting winter wonderland. There’s an immersive market with shopping and entertainment including a live band playing seasonal tunes. Fuel up on traditional festive food, a North Pole train ride and snap up the chance to ride the Abra with Santa.

Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market, Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh 1, Dec 16 to 30 Sun to Wed 3pm till late, Thur to Sat 12pm till late. jumeirah.com 

Theatre of Digital Art

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When: Until January 20

Theatre of Digital Art in Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a must-visit for art lovers but this December it’s a must-visit for those feeling festive. The creative team has launched an immersive Christmas-themed digital multimedia show displaying a realistic and picturesque winter scene. Top this off with live actors and you will truly feel like you’re witnessing a scene in the North Pole. The 15-minute narrative is one that children will love and includes snow-covered forests, glittering palaces and even lollipop trees. Over the weekend, there are festive workshops, too.

Theatre of Digital Arts, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Nov 21 to Jan 20 11am to 1.30pm. Dhs100 combo ticket one adult and one child, Dhs50 per adult, Dhs60 per child. Tel: (0)4 277 4044. toda.ae 

For all things festive, head on over to whatson.ae/Christmas