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  • Writer's pictureYaya Middle East

Ultimate Guide to UAE's Festive Season: Markets, Lights, and Family Fun

Updated: Jan 26

Celebrating the Holiday Season in the UAE: A Guide to UAE's Festive Season

The holiday season in the UAE is a spectacular transformation. In Dubai, towering skyscrapers are illuminated with festive lights, turning the city into a twinkling fairy-tale wonderland. This time of year is perfect for families to enjoy the mild winter weather, making outdoor activities and adventures especially appealing. Our guide below highlights the festive markets and seasonal wonders across the UAE, offering delightful experiences for everyone. Explore our guide to the UAE's festive markets and more for a delightful holiday experience:

Dubai: A City of Lights and Modern Wonders

Ripe Market: A vibrant and family-friendly outdoor market in Dubai. It features a variety of stalls offering organic produce, artisanal foods, and unique handcrafted items. The market is known for its lively atmosphere, with activities for children, live music, and fitness workshops, making it a popular weekend destination for families and individuals seeking a blend of shopping, entertainment, and community spirit.

Ripe Market Dubai

Winter Festival at Expo City: This festival transforms Expo City into a winter wonderland. It showcases a range of festive activities and attractions, including a Christmas market with an array of seasonal goods and gifts. Visitors can enjoy winter-themed entertainment, interactive installations, and festive food options.

Dubai Museum: This historical gem in the heart of Dubai offers enriching guided tours that bring to life the city's rich past. Through interactive storytelling sessions, visitors, especially children, can journey through time, exploring Dubai's evolution from a small fishing village to a cosmopolitan metropolis. The museum's exhibits provide a deep dive into local history, culture, and traditional Emirati life.

Dubai Opera: Situated in the prestigious Downtown Dubai, the Dubai Opera is a world-class venue for performing arts. It features a variety of child-friendly performances, from enchanting ballets to captivating operas, often blending traditional Emirati themes with international styles. This cultural hub offers an inspiring atmosphere, fostering a love for the arts among young minds through its diverse range of shows.

Global Village: Global Village on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road is a melting pot of international cultures. It features pavilions from around the world, each showcasing its unique heritage through performances, cuisine, and traditional crafts. The village also offers numerous child-friendly activities, including thrilling rides, interactive workshops, and live entertainment, making it a perfect destination for a family outing that blends fun and education.

Dubai Christmas Festival: The Dubai Christmas Festival at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre is a festive extravaganza. It's a seasonal favorite, featuring a bustling Christmas market with an array of holiday gifts and treats. The festival's highlights include winter-themed activities, live entertainment, and the enchanting Santa's Grotto, all set against the backdrop of Dubai's glittering skyline, providing a magical holiday experience for families and children.

Sharjah: Cultural Experiences

Al Montazah Park: Nestled in Sharjah, Al Montazah Park is a cultural haven offering an array of exhibits and workshops that celebrate Emirati heritage. It's a place where children and families can immerse themselves in the rich traditions of the UAE, engaging in interactive activities that educate and entertain, such as traditional Emirati crafts, music, and storytelling, making it an ideal educational destination.

Sharjah Art Foundation: This vibrant cultural institution in Sharjah is dedicated to fostering artistic expression and creativity among children. It hosts events like the "Colors of Sharjah" painting event, where kids can explore their artistic talents while learning about local art and culture. The foundation provides a nurturing environment for young minds to express themselves through various art forms.

Sharjah Light Festival Market: A festive celebration of culture and tradition, the Sharjah Light Festival Market features an array of traditional crafts, local cuisine, and performances. It's a family-friendly destination where children can participate in craft workshops, experience the local culture through food and music, and enjoy the festive ambiance, making it a memorable experience during the holiday season.

Sharjah Festival of Lights

Al Jubail Souq: Located in the heart of Sharjah, Al Jubail Souq offers a traditional marketplace experience with its festive stalls. Visitors can find a wide range of traditional Emirati products, from handicrafts to local delicacies. The souq is also a hub for cultural exchange, hosting storytelling sessions about Emirati folklore, providing an authentic and educational experience for both residents and tourists.

Abu Dhabi: Festive Strolls and Cultural Insights

Corniche, Abu Dhabi: The Corniche in Abu Dhabi invites visitors for festive strolls along its picturesque waterfront. This scenic location becomes even more special during the holiday season, encouraging families to participate in photo challenges that capture the essence of the season, blending the beauty of the city's skyline with the joy of the holidays.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: Renowned for its stunning architecture, the mosque offers kid-friendly sessions that introduce the intricacies of Islamic art and architecture. These educational sessions are designed to engage young minds in appreciating the mosque's beauty and cultural significance.

Louvre Abu Dhabi: The 'Little Explorers' program at this iconic museum allows children to embark on a journey of discovery. Through interactive experiences, they explore various artifacts, igniting curiosity and an appreciation for global cultures and histories.

Al Maryah Island Winter Carnival: This carnival transforms Al Maryah Island into a winter wonderland. With a winter-themed market, ice rink, and snow play area, it provides a festive and enjoyable experience for families looking to celebrate the winter season in Abu Dhabi.

Al Maryah Island Winter Carnival

Souk Qaryat Al Beri Festive Market: Set in Abu Dhabi, this traditional market is adorned with festive decorations. It offers interactive workshops, providing a hands-on experience for visitors to learn about local crafts and traditions in a vibrant market atmosphere.

Ras Al Khaimah: Christmas Markets and Winter Festivals

RAK Christmas Market at Al Hamra Convention Centre: This festive event transforms the Al Hamra Convention Centre in Ras Al Khaimah into a winter wonderland. It features a range of holiday attractions including a charming Santa's grotto, making it a perfect family destination for celebrating the joy and spirit of the Christmas season.

Al Marjan Island Winter Festival: This festival on Al Marjan Island offers a delightful winter experience with its seasonal market, ice rink, and snow play area. It's an ideal destination for families looking to enjoy winter sports and festive shopping in a picturesque setting.

Fujairah: Arts and Traditional Markets

Fujairah International Arts Festival: This festival showcases an artisan market, live performances, and child-friendly art workshops. It offers a cultural feast for the senses, providing a platform for local and international artists in the scenic Emirate of Fujairah. The festival is an excellent destination for families and art enthusiasts looking to engage with diverse artistic expressions and activities.

Fujairah Friday Market: A traditional market known for its vibrant atmosphere, offering pony rides and a petting zoo. It's a popular spot for families, where children can interact with animals and enjoy the lively market scene. The market is a testament to Fujairah's commitment to preserving cultural traditions while providing entertaining experiences.

Umm Al Quwain: Markets and Handicrafts

UAQ Friday Market and Traditional Handicrafts Festival: Located in Umm Al Quwain, this market and festival offer a unique glimpse into local culture through their extensive range of local products, antiques, and handicraft workshops. It's a vibrant hub for those interested in traditional crafts and offers an immersive experience for visitors to learn and participate in the creation of local handicrafts. This event is ideal for those seeking authentic cultural experiences and unique souvenirs.


In each Emirate, families and nannies alike can actively shape a cultural journey for children by tailoring activities to the unique offerings of the country. From exploring lush parks and modern wonders to delving into historical sites and natural beauty, the UAE provides a diverse tapestry for children to explore, learn, and appreciate the cultural richness of their surroundings.


By integrating joy, creativity, and wonder into daily activities, parents, guardians and nannies alike can help children develop a profound appreciation for the special moments of the holiday season, turning each day into a magical memory that lasts a lifetime.

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