Santa's grotto, snow park, Christmas market: 9 must-visit winter wonderlands in Dubai

Travelling band performs the best carols, an ice-skating rink with faux snow and a spectacular show at the Al Wasl Dome awaits visitors at Expo Winter City

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Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Fri 23 Dec 2022, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 25 Dec 2022, 4:39 PM

With the festive season upon us, several places all over the UAE have turned into winter wonderlands and festive markets. With jingling bells, make-believe snow, carols, humongous Christmas trees and Santa Claus himself, residents can head to many destinations around the city to get into the festive spirit.

Here's a list of winter wonderlands around Dubai where residents can enjoy festive celebrations, indulge in delicious treats, and enjoy fun-filled activities with friends and families.

Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market

The winter festival has arrived in all its true glory at Madinat Jumeirah with several activities, including Santa’s grotto, kids’ workshops and roaming entertainment. Moreover, there is a festive train at the amphitheatre that the kids can ride throughout this season.

Winter Garden at Habtoor Palace

You know winter’s here when you see the tall Christmas tree decked up with delicate ornaments and lights while driving by Sheikh Zayed Road.

For years the winter garden at Habtoor Palace has been one of the most popular destinations to enjoy Christmas festivities. This year, there is a minimum spend of Dhs. 25 per person to enter. Visitors can shop for knickknacks or enjoy the wide variety of cuisines available in the garden.

Expo Winter City

— Christmas Market? Check

— Santa’s grotto? Check

— Fake snow? Check

— Christmas carol? Check

Everything associated with Christmas, you will find at the Expo winter city. With a travelling band that performs the best carols, an ice-skating rink with faux snow and a spectacular show at the Al Wasl Dome, the city has transformed itself completely for the festive season. Food trucks and cafes serve everything from burgers to Santa cookies to cotton candy. For adventure lovers, there is an alpine zipline, a giant inflatable bag jump and rock climbing. A giant letter to Santa station is the spot for the young and young-at-heart to post letters to the North Pole. Visitors can also go to Santa's House to get a picture with Santa or Mrs Claus. With activities including cookie decorating, gingerbread house making and painting shirts, there is something for everyone in the city.

IMG World of Adventure

Dubai's largest mega-themed indoor entertainment destination will keep the mood festive by transforming into a winter wonderland with festive decor, entertainment and activities.

A variety of winter-themed attractions and activities including the Winter Wonderland, Fro-Zone, Santa’s Grotto, the Elves Workshop and the Bauble Giants are part of the celebrations. The Santa Express, featuring an Elf driver, will be another unique experience. The Christmas Parade will feature the full cast of characters including the Ice King and Queen, Toy Soldiers and Snowflake Dancers. Visitors can also enjoy a special meet and greet with all of the Marvel and Cartoon Network characters.

The Christmas tree lighting will also feature Christmas Carol Performances, Santa on Dino Buggy, a Dino and Santa Skit and a Character Parade.

Ibn Battuta Mall

Enter the magical world of the Northern Hemisphere and experience artificially created Northern lights and a dazzling display of aurora light. Guests can also learn about the magical myths of the Northern lights in the mini museum, all taking place at India Court until 1 January 2023.

Visitors can also enjoy Insta-worthy photo opportunities such as Santa’s Grotto located in China Court, a star tunnel, giant baubles, lit candy canes, Santa’s sleigh and more. There will also be live performances by Santa and The Elves, Musical Toy Box Ballerina, roaming carol singers and a festive pop band.

Meet Santa and his elves in China Court every day from 2 pm to 10 pm while performances and roaming entertainment on every weekend.

Ski Dubai

For those missing the snow and cold of Christmas in their hometowns can head straight to Ski Dubai where the Snow Park has everything you need for a fun outing. Visitors can buy tickets to enjoy a meet and greet session with Santa Claus which includes a gift, a hot chocolate and a printed photo of the encounter. For those who want to spend extra time with Santa can opt to either have breakfast with him.

Visitors can also choose to learn skiing or enjoy an encounter with penguins at the snow park. Guests can also choose to bundle up, grab popcorn and enjoy a unique snow cinema experience.

Winter Fun at Nakheel Mall

Start the countdown to Christmas with celebrations at Nakheel Mall, which will transform into a winter fun zone with activities such as an edible snow station, bubble spin and fishing games. Children can also decorate cookies, candies, ornaments and more through a variety of free workshops, every day from 4 pm to 10 pm.

Families can head to Santa’s grotto for a free meet and greet session with Santa or pose for a festive selfie by one of the two Christmas trees. They can also join the ‘Sea-Wonder’ parade will make its way from Al Ittihad Park to Nakheel Mall on 23 and 24 December from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Circle Mall

Visit Circle Mall’s ‘home away from home’ themed Snow Fest where children can enjoy a meet-and-greet and storytelling with Santa at his cosy grotto between 4 pm and 8 pm during weekdays and 4 pm and 9:30 pm on weekends.

The free of charge activities include the 'Fireplace’, a cosy area for families to gather around and listen to tales narrated by Santa, workshops where children can make their own ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree or decorate some Christmas cookies.

There will also be stilt walkers and roller ball dancers roaming around every weekend and a colourful festive parade.

Bluewaters

Santa’s Secret Island at Bluewaters is making the season all the more festive with its activities, including Santa’s Workout Session, Santa’s Ice Rink, Santa’s Workshop and Santa’s Grotto. Entry to all these activities is free, except the Ice Rink which requires a minimum spend of AED 150. Santa’s Secret Island is taking place until 28 December, and families can enjoy activities with Santa and his elves from 4 PM to 9 PM daily.

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