Festivities downloading…

It’s a bit of a festive weekend this, so whether you’re celebrating Easter or Ramadan or both or neither — we’ve got the very best ways to spend your free time. Chocolate optional.

Friday, April 15

What’s On at the park

As always in the cooler months there’s a double header of animated kids classics to get, erm, animated about this weekend at Umm Al Emarat Park’s Cinema in the Park. On Friday it’s Paw Patrol: The Movie — featuring an infuriating theme tune, emergency service negligence, and a voice cast that includes Kim Kardashian, Jimmy Kimmel and Tyler perry. Seriously. On Saturday it’s the turn of Encanto, an absolutely spellbinding Pixar coming of age tale that hits you right in the “I’m not crying, you’re crying”s.

Movies are free, but entry into the park is charged at Dhs10. Showings at 6pm and 8pm. Located at Umm Al Emarat Park, find the full list of upcoming movies at ummalemaratpark.ae

The life aquatic

National Aquarium Abu Dhabi junior program

If you’ve ever caught yourself saying “You know what these kids need? A JOB” The National Aquarium at Al Qana has the answers. Their ‘Junior Marine Biologist’ educational programme is completelt unpaid (in fact you will have to pay) but kids aged five to 15 will give them an insight into the fascinating world of marine biology (and presumably a gratifying sense of a day’s hard graft). They can literally get their hands dirty with aquatic animal feeding and cleaning. Between Monday to Friday, it runs from 2.30pm to 5.30pm and costs Dhs350 per child. Email education@thenationalaquarium.ae at least three days in advance to reserve a spot.

The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi, Al Qana, Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (02) 418 6666thenationalaquarium.ae

Inflated fun, deflated price

Say bonjour to the second Abu Dhabi location of AirManiax right in the heart of the capital’s excitement hub, at Yas Mall. It’s a gigantic indoor kids’ entertainment megaplex arriving, mercifully, just in time for the return of summer heat. Located on the ground floor of the mall, next to the Grand Prix entrance, this intelligently designed adventure complex is now open and offers multiple themed zones and attractions for all age groups of kiddlywinks. And as part of the launch celebrations, AirManiax is giving our readers a 20 per cent discount on access to all the wild adrenaline-surfing mayhem. You just need to quote ‘What’s On‘ when booking by phone: (02) 635 2544, by email: yas@airmaniax.com, or at the location.

Air Maniax Abu Dhabi is open now at Yas Mall, daily 10 am to midnight, prices from Dhs85 for 60 minutes. Tel: (02) 635 2544, airmaniax.booknow

Saturday, April 16

Stanning Natural History

Things to do in Abu Dhabi Stan TRex Abu Dhabi

A ‘now showing’ Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition will offer a glimpse of what to expect from the Natural History Museum when it’s eventually completed, including attractions that show what Abu Dhabi was like seven million years ago, a rich and varied landscape of rivers, savanna grasslands and forests. And it’s completely free to visit. There are two core artifacts on display, Stan — a mostly complete 39-foot-long, Dhs117 million, 67 million year old Tyrannosaurus-Rex skeleton — a fossilised relic of the notorious Late Cretaceous apex predator and the ‘Murchison meteorite’ which has been given an estimated age of over seven billion years.

Manarat Al Saadiyat, until May 12, Free. @manaratalsaadiyat

Locked up

Taking inspiration from iconic TV shows, The Crystal Maze and Fort Boyard, Prison Island – Beat the Bars is a new adventure experience now open at Abu Dhabi Mall, soon. Set over a 1,000m² expanse, this is no escape room — it’s a network of 26 individual ‘cells’ featuring tasks each more fiendishly conundrous (shhh, that’s a word) than the last, and you’ll have to beat them all if you want to escape the island, with winner’s bragging rights.

Abu Dhabi Mall, Dhs125, @prisonisland.abudhabi.

Market in the calendar

The Yas Bay Waterfront has just launched a special ‘Waterfront Nights’ series and of course, it’s completely free to enter. Decked out with festive-inspired decorations, the thriving entertainment-hub will also now feature a Ramadan night market for the remainder of the Holy Month. The festivities will kick off at 8pm nightly with visitors taking a starlit stroll the water’s edge, exploring the assorted stalls of 23 homegrown businesses. The fine-craft boutiques offering artisanal must-haves include Going Places, Tinka, Searina, Al Karaz Boutique, Boutique Jewelry, and Go Kids.

Yas Bay Waterfront, Yas Island, nightly from 8pm April 14 until the end of Ramadan, free to enter. @yasbayuae

Sunday, April 17

Food-Shang clan

The locally-based cheffing legend and UAE Pit Master supreme, Hattem Mattar is heading to the ESS Lounge at Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi this month for their latest installment of the Culinary Masters Series.Mattar lives by his mantra ‘food and fire brings people together’ which makes him the perfect pick for a special iftar edition of this festival of gastro-noms. Staged at the hotel’s waterfront venue, this chef of note has conceived a luxurious four course menu — built on seasonal produce from land and sea and prepared in that signature flame-licked fashion that earned him such widespread esteem.

Available between April 13 and 17, it’s priced at Dhs298 (with a grape pairing option for Dhs468). You can book your place by calling: (02) 509 8555 or sending an email to restaurantreservations.slad@shangri-la.com.

Egg-citement in the park

Park Hyatt’s UAE famous weekend ‘lunch’ has got a spring its step this Sunday. Traditional Easter additions to the banquet include lamb cooked Argentinian asado style and Easter eggs with poached lobster (not sure if the dribble is fear or excitement). Little ones can check into Camp Park for an, yep you guessed it, egg hunt (although given the fact it’s Park Hyatt, this is probably the ‘Faberge’ of Abu Dhabi egg hunts). Elsewhere the ever-popular seafood bar and customary freshly shucked oysters will be making an apperance. A strong selection of desserts also persists with DIY tiramisu, white chocolate and passion fruit tulips, and milk chocolate with vanilla and honey-bee.

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, 1pm to 4.30pm Sun April 17, priced from Dhs375. Tel: (050) 740 5323, @parkhyattad

Worth shelling out on…

The crafty menu and botanical tendrils of the alfresco, Alba Terrace always supply that big weekend energy. Which makes it a cracking choice for Easter Saturday. For this season’s eatings — there’s a festive four-course menu for you to try, which includes marinated tuna and quail egg with green beans, rocket salad, balsamic vinaigrette, pulled lamb pizza and mains of seafood risotto and crispy lamb cutlets marinated in yoghurt. For dessert, there’s an egg custard tart and a decadent Easter chocolate trolley. We’re presuming that’s chocolate on the trolley, rather than a trolley made of chocolate, either way we’re sold.

The Abu Dhabi EDITION, Al Bateen, Sun April 17, (any three hours) between 12.30pm to 5pm, from Dhs215. Tel: (02) 208 0000, @albaterrace

A bit of in-spa-ration for you

Found on the idyllic shores of Saadiyat Island – this little piece of pampering paradise comes with an indulgent blend of old and new world treatments. You can for example, get involved with a detoxifying and rejuvenating lipocell sculptor session (Dhs770 for 90 minutes), or take part in the time-honoured ritual of ancient Thai massage (Dhs770 for 90 minutes), and their Day Retreat represents excellent value at Dhs1,700. Pro tip: Marriott Bonvoy members (it’s free to join) get 20 per cent off.

The St. Regis Saadiyat Island. Tel: (02) 498 8996, @stregissaadiyatisland

Images: Provided