10 top things to do in Abu Dhabi this January
New restaurants, a huge comedy gig plus a glamping spot you need to know about…
The new year is the perfect opportunity to tick off some fabulous new things to do in Abu Dhabi. Whether it’s dining your way around Yas Bay (challenged accepted), keeping active with a community run, or checking out a sporting or comedy event, here’s where to hang out in the UAE capital this January.
Throughout January: Dine your way around Yas Bay
If you’ve exhausted all your usual go-to restaurants in Abu Dhabi you’re in luck, as a huge new collection are awaiting your arrival at Yas Bay. The long-awaited development opened last month, and while not all the restaurants have opened their doors, there’s still an impressive selection to choose from. Those who’ve dined in Dubai are probably familiar with playful Mexican restaurant La Carnita or chic pan-Asian hotspot Asia Asia – both now serving up a lively atmosphere and delicious dishes at Yas Bay. Those looking for refreshing beverages and beautiful views can head to Siddharta Lounge for a sophisticated vibe, or lay back and listen to the top tunes with a cocktail in hand at Cafe Del Mar Abu Dhabi.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, various timings. yasbay.ae
January 8: Work up a sweat with a community fun run
Is a healthier lifestyle part of your 2022 resolutions? If so, lace up your trainers and race over to Yas Links on Saturday January 8 for Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s first event of 2022. Depending on how confident you’re feeling, book in for a 3km, 5km or 10km community run, which takes runners around the perfectly maintained paths of Yas Links.
Yas Links, Yas Island, Saturday January 8, from AED 55. premieronline.com
Saturdays in January: Be dazzled by a fireworks display
The Sheikh Zayed Festival, located at Al Wathba, broke a trio of Guinness World Records with its dazzling display to ring in 2022 with a jaw-dropping array of pyrotechnics that eclipsed previous records for “volume, duration, and form.” But for those who missed out, a weekly fireworks showcase will continue every Saturday until the end of the festival in April, meaning you can catch those pops, bangs and colourful illuminations at 10pm every Saturday until April 1, 2022.
Al Wathba, until April 1, 4pm to midnight (1am on weekends), tickets Dhs5. zayedfestival.com
Throughout January: Make a splash at Abu Dhabi’s new wave pool
West Bay, on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, is shaping up to be quite the one-stop destination for pleasure and leisure seekers, and its latest addition is making a serious splash. Downtown Abu Dhabi’s first wave pool and lazy river combo can now be enjoyed at the beautiful beachfront setting, and the best news is that access to the pool and the lazy river comes free with West Bay day passes. For weekdays, adults get in for Dhs150, but get Dhs100 of that back on food. At weekends it’s Dhs200 but you still get the Dhs100 back as credit.
West Bay, Abu Dhabi Corniche, pool and adventure park 10am to 6pm, day passes available from Dhs150 (with Dhs100 back for food and beverage purchases). Tel: (02) 692 437, @westbayabudhabi
Saturdays in January: Feast at Abu Dhabi’s biggest brunch
In case you hadn’t heard, Saturday is the new Friday, so Abu Dhabi’s best brunches are switching up from Friday fiestas to Saturday sessions. Among them is W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island’s B.I.G – Brunch In Garage, now taking place every Saturday from 1pm to 4pm. Kickstart your weekend with funky vibes and banging bites at this high-octane party, enjoying flavours from five different culinary destinations as the resident DJ sets the tone and vibe. Go B.I.G. or go home!
Garage, W Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Yas Island, 1pm to 4pm, Saturdays, Dhs279 soft, Dhs379 house, Dhs529 sparkling. Tel: (02) 656 0000, wabudhabiyasisland.com
January 20 to 23: See some top sporting talent at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be held at Yas Island for the first time this year, as Yas Links Abu Dhabi hosts the opening Rolex Series event of the 2022 season. First staged in 2006, the tournament has been played at the iconic Abu Dhabi Golf Club for 16 consecutive years , and as part of the Rolex Series, the premium tournament category on the European Tour’s International Schedule is one of the season’s unmissable events. Off the course the unrivalled Championship Village will once again provide fun filled family entertainment featuring an array of food and beverage options, live entertainment and much more.
Yas Links, Yas Island, Thursday January 20 to Sunday January 23, free entry but tickets required. ticketmaster.ae
Throughout January: Retreat to nature and go glamping
Retro airstream trailers and cosy cabins with private plunge pools are the ultra cool new ways to glamp in the UAE capital. Bab Al Nojoum – Al Mugheirah Resort features 20 one-bedroom airstream trailers as well as a collection of cabins. Make the most of the locale and pack out days at the adventure hub, then retreat to the resort and enjoy a barbecue complete with master griller and prime cuts of pre-marinated meats, watching the sunset with s’mores and more.
Bab Al Nojoum Al Mugheirah Resort, Qassar Al Mighayra St., Al Mirfa, from Dhs615. Tel: (02) 895 3777 babalnojoum.com
January 21: Laugh out loud with a famous funnyman
Six-time Grammy nominated comedian Jim Gaffigan will take to the stage for the first time in the UAE this January, performing a one-off gig at Etihad Arena on Friday January 21. Known as a comedian, actor, writer, producer and two-time New York Times best-selling author, expect a laugh a minute as Gaffigan recalls hilarious anecdotes from general life.
Etihad Arena, Yas Island, 7pm to 10.30pm, Friday January 21, tickets from Dhs195. Tel: (02) 496 8000, etihadarena.ae
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout January: shop local at a farmer’s market
After a two-year break, the farmer’s market has returned to Deerfields Mall, bringing with it the opportunity to snap up local produce from more than 20 farmers every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Running from 4pm to 10pm in the recently renovated garden area, visitors can also browse crafts and accessories from local artisans, and throughout January there will also be a bouncy castle, family-friendly games and activities – perfect for keeping little ones occupied as you shop.
Garden area, Deerfields Mall, Al Bahyah, 4pm to 10pm, Friday to Sunday, free. deerfieldsmall.com
January date TBC: Beat the bars at a new escape room
Taking inspiration from iconic TV shows, The Crystal Maze and Fort Boyard, Prison Island – Beat the Bars is a new adventure experience opening at Abu Dhabi Mall. The first Prison Island experience outside of Europe – you’ll find the original in Switzerland, plus locations in Spain, The Netherlands, Norway, France and Belgium – is set over a 1,000m² expanse. Make no mistake, this isn’t a regular escape room — it’s a network of 26 individual ‘cells’ featuring tasks each more challenging than the last, and you’ll have to beat them all if you want to escape the island.
Abu Dhabi Mall, opening soon, tickets from Dhs125, @prisonisland.abudhabi