9 amazing things to do in Abu Dhabi this weekend: Dec 30 to Jan 1

Make the most of the final weekend of the year…

The end of the year is nigh, and as we count down to 2023, we’re here to make sure you fill your days with fun stuff. From fancy new menus to last chance pop-ups, we’re making New Year’s weekend a capital one in Abu Dhabi.

Here’s 9 epic ways to spend the final weekend of 2022.

Friday December 30

Tuck into a tasty new menu at Fouquet’s

The What’s On Award-winning Fouquet’s is transporting guests to the snow-dusted streets of Paris with its new winter menu. The iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi restaurant has created a new menu that is ideal for the UAE winter, with heartwarming winter specials including a lentil soup with cumin and poached egg, French frog’s legs and homemade pâté en croûte, and the Provencal beef stew.

Fouquet’s Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, 12pm to 10pm weekdays, 12pm to 10.30pm weekends. Tel: 02 205 4200, louvreabudhabi.com

Head to a luxe cinema to see the new Avatar

Abu Dhabi’s largest stand alone cinema — with monster-sized screens, high-end dining options, and luxurious VIP viewing suites – can be found at Al Qana. The 15-screen multiplex includes a 3DMAX viewing experience, a VIP Cinema, a Kids Cinema, XXL Theatre, Standard Theatre, Standard Plus Theatre, Arthouse Theatre, Presidential Theatre, the Backlot Cafe, Graffiti Lounge and Azul Lounge. Their big blockbuster this week is the new Avatar (check out our spoiler-free review here), with screenings from 11am to 11.45pm on Friday. For the ultimate viewing experience, book one of the XXL screenings, with tickets priced from Dhs37.

Cinemacity, Al Qana, tickets from Dhs37. cinemacity.ae

Enjoy the final few days of Mother of the Nation

Mother of the Nation Festival (MOTN) is back in action on Abu Dhabi’s corniche and has now, in response to popular demand, has now been expanded to run until January 1, 2023. The family focused fun is compartmentalised into six themed zones encompassing opportunities for guests to be entertained, enwisened and to dine out at a deliciously curated collection of pop-up yum-stufferies. There’s a strong thrill-culture balance. And we’re all about those ratios. Participating pop-ups this year include a long list of foodie favourites from across the globe. From the UK, the halal burger joint Patty&Bun is found in the Food Hub; London’s famous cake parlour Peggy Porschen is in residency at the festival’s Shopping District; and Australian brand Knafeh Bakery by the Bearded Bakers takes its favourite Middle Eastern desserts to the festival’s Inspire Space. Another must-visit, Truffle Burger lands in Abu Dhabi at the festival’s Inspire Space with its classic burgers, which are a huge hit in the UK.

MOTN Festival, Abu Dhabi Corniche, until January 1, priced from Dhs30 (access to certain attractions is also chargeable). ticketmaster.ae 

Saturday December 31

Say goodbye to 2022 with a gala dinner

Set the tone for a wonderful 2023 with an indulgent NYE buffet dinner featuring delicious food, and a lively atmosphere at White. Then head to after-party on the boardwalk and welcome the New Year with a spectacular firework display. Looking for more ways to spend New Year’s Eve in Abu Dhabi? Check out our full round-up here.

Jumierah at Saadiyat Island Resort, 8pm to midnight, Dhs780 with soft drinks, Dhs880 with house drinks, Dhs980 with premium drinks, Dhs390 for children aged six to 11, under-sixes free. Tel: (02) 811 4342. @jumeirahsaadiyat

Retreat to the desert

With Liwa Village extending its run into the new year, they’re going all-out for New Year’s Eve. From 10pm on December 31, a star-studded line-up of Arabian artists will entertain visitors, followed by a dazzling fireworks display that will illuminate the dunes. Performing on New Year’s Eve will be Kuwaiti singer Khaled Al Mulla, Saudi musician Khalid Abdulrahman and Saudi artist Ali Bin Mohammed. The Zuma pop-up at Liwa Village is also back on New Year’s Eve, with a set menu priced at Dhs1,000 per person.

Liwa Village, Liwa Desert, open 4pm to 2am, concerts from 10pm, from Dhs15. liwavillage.ae

Marvel at the fabulous fireworks

The weekly Zayed Festival fireworks will be turned up a notch on New Year’s Eve, as organisers attempt to break three world records with their supersonic display. As the clock strikes twelve, visitors can expect a fireworks display that lasts an eye-watering 40 minutes at the Al Wathba festival, with quantity, time and formation records all attempting being broken. A giant drone show, using more than 3,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, will also light up the skies of Al Wathba. Entrance to the festival is ticketed (Dhs5).

Al Wathba, 4pm to midnight, Dec 31, Dhs5. zayedfestival.ae.

Sunday January 1

Welcome the first day of the year with a recovery brunch

Sore head from the night before? The cure for that is a lazy day by the pool, so dig out your swimwear and head to Saadiyat Beach Club for their New Year’s Day brunch. There’s a menu of Mediterranean hits served from 1pm to 4pm, paired with free-flowing soft drinks for Dhs299. Feeling brave? Upgrade to the house package and it’s Dhs399.

Saadiyat Beach Club, Saadiyat Island, 1pm to 4pm, Sun Jan 1, Dhs299 soft, Dhs399 house. Tel: (0)2 656 3555, saadiyatbeachclub.ae

Meet your mates for the first breakkie of 2023

Sanderson’s is UAE-based culinary kingpin Sergio Lopez’s first solo venture in the capital and it’s blessed with that kind of class that goes right down to the marrow. The breakfast menu is filled with bright, innovative, devastatingly attractive taste-led experiences, such as cheesy moutabell (Dhs59), sweet potato breakfast pizza (Dhs59), B.E.L.T croissant (bacon, egg, lettuce and tomato) (Dhs59), tahini avo toast (Dhs59) and that’s just for smouldering starters.

Al Seef Compound, Behind Al Seef Village Mall, Khalifa Park Area, 8am to 8.30pm, from around Dhs57. Tel: (02) 222 1142. @wearesandersons

Retreat to a private island for a pool day

This James Bond-style island is the seat of one the most luxurious resorts in Abu Dhabi, but you can score a license to chill there (a day pass) for Dhs750. This includes pool and beach access, your return ferry crossing, and Dhs550 back to spend on dining, drink, watersports and spa activities. There are some great restaurant options available too — there’s the seafood restaurant Hooked, Smokin’ Pineapple (which has its own surf pool) and Frangipani — the home of the hotel’s Saturday brunch. Nurai’s spa offers premium pamper opportunities, the latest trending treatments and relaxation as standard. Need to occupy the little ones too? There’s a nautical tonne of activities for kids including waterpark and flume adventures, shell painting and a packed fun-tineray at the dedicated Petit Z club.

Nurai Island, is a 15 minute boat ride from the Welcome Centre on the east side of Saadiyat Island, near exit 14 of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Highway, guests should arrive at least one hour before session start time. Book your space now, by calling (02) 506 6229, nuraiisland.com