5 Christmas markets in the UAE

Okay, there might not be snow on the ground and your chin won’t be buried in a pure-wool scarf, but if you can’t enjoy a Christmas market, we reckon you can’t enjoy anything. Stalls, seasonal smells, Santas… what’s not to love? Here are five places in the UAE where you can sample some festive spirit.

Dubai Ice Rink
It probably doesn’t get more wintry than a solid block of ice, does it? The Dubai Ice Rink at The Dubai Mall will at least be covered for the duration of this market, which will run from December 16 into the New Year. There will be more than 40 stalls selling gifts and goodies, as well as live music, food and beverage stalls and, of course, Santa’s Grotto.
Where: The Dubai Mall
Dates: December 16-January 5
Price: AED20

Swiss Christmas Market
The Swiss Business Council, Abu Dhabi has been hosting their annual Christmas market for 11 years now and it keeps getting bigger and better. Again hosted by Beach Rotana’s courtyard and sponsored by – who else? – Nestle, the Swiss-style village will be a carnival of chalets, lights, carols and an ooompah-ing Swiss folk band. Expect chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
Where: Beach Rotana
Dates: December 9-12

Yas Marina
Probably the biggest Christmas market in the capital, this offers more than 60 stalls selling unique gifts for all the family – and any pets, too. There’s lots of artisanal products on offer including handmade clothing, organic beauty products and, our favourite here at ShortList, upcycled furniture. As an added attraction, there’s a Snowball Zone for no-chill artificial snowball fights and make snow fairies while enjoying the marina views and UAE weather.
Where: Yas Marina
When: December 12, 1pm-7pm

Fort Island’s Festive Market
Madinat Jumeirah doesn’t do mediocre, and their winter market certainly is as polished and as lavish as you would expect. Set over 1,750 square metres, and surrounded by the famous Arabesque architecture, the Fort Island will be converted into a playground of ice-rinks, slides, a North Pole Train and, of course, dozens of stalls for food and handcrafts. There’s also a prodigious tree.
Where: Madinat Jumeirah
When: December 17-27, 3pm-12am

Dubai Winter Festival
The UAE’s largest festive market is a retail powerhouse, with 130 market stalls – as a guide, Mercato Mall has about the same number of shops – it’s not only a great day out, it’s the ideal place to finish (start?) your Christmas shopping. Our Issue 5 cover star Clare Napper even has a stall there, so say hello.
Where: Dubai World Trade Centre
When: December 17-19, 3pm-10pm
Price: AED75 (12 and above), AED35 (3-11 years)

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