The countdown begins

It’s almost here. The day we’ve all been waiting for. Counting down days, checking our calendars, waiting breathlessly. No, we’re not talking about New Year’s Eve. We’re talking about the long weekend. Because New Year’s Eve is temporary but the desire for a day off is forever. One can never have too many long weekends.

Here are 12 exciting things to do in Abu Dhabi this long weekend.

Friday, December 29

Tuck into Lebanese delicacies on Nurai Island

nurai island

Head over to Hooked Restaurant for their Lebanese Night, held every Friday. From 7pm to 11pm, be entertained with the mesmerizing performance of a belly dancer and the tastes of fresh Levantine cuisine. With a la carte menu pricing and a minimum spend of Dhs400, indulge in the finest sea fare. Don’t worry about transportation; boat rides are included.

Hooked Restaurant, Nurai Island, Fridays, 7pm to 11pm, minimum spend Dhs400, (0) 2 617 2211, @nurai_island 

Festive cheer at Ferrari World’s Winterfest

All the winter fun and feels, made festive with Ferrari World’s Winterfest. It’s a family fun hotspot, with extravagant decorations, themed shows and performances, and exciting activities that will keep the little ones entertained.

Winterfest, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, from Dec 5. Tel: (600) 511115.

Check out the Animal Barn Pop-up at Umm Al Emarat Park


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Get the chance to interact and learn about birds of prey, parrots, snakes and other reptiles at the Animal Barn Pop-up held in collaboration with Al Ain Zoo. Starting from December 22 all the way through mid-January, visitors will have the special opportunity to interact and take pictures with their favorite animals. This stint of sessions will take place from December 29 to 30, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm.

Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi, Dec 29 and 30, 4.30pm to 6.30pm, @ummalemaratpark

Catch Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

See the last week of the year off in style, as you join Aquaman on his quest to protect his kingdom and save the world from large-scale destruction.  The heroes of the DC Universe are here to unleash their superpowers in Atlantis, and that makes for a mouthwatering entertainer this holiday season.

VOX Cinemas, various locations, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs46. @voxcinemas

Saturday, December 30

Witness jaw-dropping feats at Broadway


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Enter a world of theatrics, mystery and enchantment at Broadway in the Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental, with their incredible new show, Impossible. Drummond Money-Coutts (DMC) brings his acclaimed skills to the capital, and you can get ready to be captivated with immersive feats here.

Broadway, Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental, Fri to Sun, Tel: (0) 2 690 9000, 

Experience Winter Nights at Saddle

Saddle is back with the magical Winter Nights experience. As the weather improves, the captivating, open-air Winter Nights is the ultimate outdoor destination. The venue, with its unobstructed views of the city’s beautiful skyline and the canopy of the starry sky, offers fabulous food choices and even better company.

Winter Nights, Saddle, Hudariyat Island, Khalifa City, weekdays, 7am to 1am, weekends, 7am to 2am, @saddledubai

Catch the last of the Liwa Village Festival

Liwa Festival will take place from December 16 to 31, and we’re expecting huge heritage things. The 2022 session was a wild success with visitors enjoying access to concerts, family activities, shows, rides, arcade gaming, spectacular immersive dining opportunities, engaging demonstrations of Emirati heritage and crafts, eGaming tournaments, souk shopping from top-tier local fashion brands and more.

Liwa Festival 2023, Liwa Village, Liwa Desert, Dec 16 to 31, @liwavillage

Sunday, December 31

Jam out with Tamer Hosny at the Mother of the Nation Festival


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Tamer Hosny will bring his best hits as part of the Mother of the Nation Festival. The New Year’s Eve concert at the Abu Dhabi Corniche will also include Saif Nabeel, and you can also look forward to a beautiful firework show lighting up the sky afterwards as we usher in 2024. Tickets are available here.

Tamer Hosny, Mother of the Nation Festival, Abu Dhabi Corniche, Dec 31, 9pm, from Dhs245. @motnfestival 

Ring in 2024 at 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant

Located inside the Four Seasons Hotel, 99 Sushi serves a 14-course menu, including 99’s most-appreciated signatures such as the 99 katsu sando with Kobe A5. The meal is paired with free-flowing drinks until midnight, when guests will be offered a free glass of bubbly as a prelude to the lavish after-party.

Four Seasons Hotel, The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Dhs1,199 dining room, Dhs1,499 window seat, Dhs1,999 terrace. Tel: (0)2 672 3333. @99sushibaruae

Catch a dazzling fireworks and laser show in Al Maryah Island

Al Maryah Island

Al Maryah Island will be welcoming 2024 with a stunning fireworks and laser show display on New Year’s Eve, which you can catch at The Promenade. Residents and guests are invited to take in views of the display from South and North Plaza and witness the breathtaking spectacle all evening on the 31st December, with laser shows scheduled at 10pm, 10.30pm, 11pm and 11.30pm whilst the last is followed with a countdown to midnight.

The Promenade, Al Maryah Island, various shows, @almaryahisland 

Monday, January 1

Kick off the new year at Yas Acres Golf & Country Club


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They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but make it the most important meal of the year with Yas Acres Golf & Country Club. After partying it up the previous night, now is the time to relax and enjoy breakfast with enchanting mangrove views from the terrace. The three-hour breakfast affair includes eggs Benedict, waffles and sides, and health-boosting smoothies to kick start 2024. Little ones can keep busy with arts and crafts, face painting and more fun-filled activities. Parents, can sit back and relax while soaking in the views and the tunes from a live band.

Yas Acres Golf & Country Club, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; Jan 1, 2024; 7pm to 11pm; Dhs180 per adult and Dhs60 per child over the age of 4; Tel: (0)2 208 7222;

Keep the little ones busy at the Inflatable Park at Adrenark


So, you’ve got the day off to recover from the previous night – this is the best way to keep the little ones entertained while you do that. With two very fun options including a standard free-play option and one a high-octane race that will have you donning tracking bracelets and navigating an inflatable obstacle course, the possibilities are endless. Young thrill seekers have plenty to look forward to here.

Adrenark, Al Qana, Abu Dhabi. Mon to Wed 10am to 10pm, Thu 10am to 11pm, Fri and Sat 10am to 12am, Sun 10am to 11pm. Tel: (0)2 418 6620. @adrenarkuae

Images: Getty/Supplied