Dubai may be known to all as an Arabian metropolis of sparkle and splendor, thanks to its wondrous architectural landmarks and phenomenal engineering marvels. Dubai, however, is more than that; it is equally a hub of arts, culture and unrivaled leisure and entertainment. The city’s packed events calendar with some cool festivals and live shows that are conducted throughout the year is a testament to this fact. So, want to discover the city’s exciting events and festival scene? Take a look at this exclusive guide on festivals in Dubai.
TOP FESTIVALS AND CULTURAL EVENTS IN DUBAI
Dubai Shopping Festival
Dubai Shopping Festival, best known as DSF, is probably the Arabian Peninsula’s greatest festival. Operating for more than 25 years, this is a super lively event, dedicated to discount shopping (with up to 70% to 90% off for branded items), exuberant shows and jaw-dropping leisure experiences. It mostly starts in December and lasts till January or first week of February. Besides endless fun and thrill, it even lets you take home swanky cars or other prizes worth whopping amounts, with mega raffle draws as well as daily giveaways.
Global Village is the region’s ultimate amusement, entertainment and shopping destination. It runs for only approximately six months in the winter season. It is referred to as a colossal open-air, multicultural theme park which means it is where you can discover the culture, history and of course culinary specialties of different parts of the world. With close to 30 pavilions representing about 80 countries, it also packs an array of live shows, celebrity performances and magnificent firework shows. So if you happen to visit Dubai anytime between October and March / April, this seasonal Dubai spot should be top on your checklist.
Dubai Food Festival
For hardcore foodies traveling to Dubai, this festival is unmissable! As the name indicates, Dubai Food Festival is an annual event that celebrates the diversity of astonishing culinary flavors and incredible dishes from across the globe. Whether you wish to taste exotic starters or main course delights or melt-in-the-mouth desserts, this exclusive festival will embark you on a tempting gastronomic adventure and journey like no other. In fact, you get to be part of several amazing food experiences such as Foodcations, Hidden Gems (which depicts the homegrown concepts) and Dine and Win. It usually falls in February or March and lasts for about 20 days.
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Dubai Expo 2020
This is for our readers who are planning for a Dubai vacation in the last quarter of 2021 or the first quarter of 2022. For those in the know, it is the greatest EXPO event and the first of its kind in the MENASA region. Running from 1st October 2021 to 31st March 2022, its colossal site event in Dubai South is a sphere unto itself, featuring pavilions of over 190 countries. Yes, every country has its own pavilions, allowing you to discover its inspiring art scene, fascinating culture, and mostly the most sophisticated in science and technology. With so much to see here, a day or two is not enough to see them all; be sure to do good research and plan in advance to get the best out of your Dubai Expo 2020 site visit.
UAE National Day
The UAE National Day is one of the most looked forward to holidays in Dubai. This historically significant event falls every year on 2nd December; it marks the celebration of the spirit of the union. It is on this day the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was formed in 1971 at Union House (which is now converted to the Etihad Museum.) If you are in Dubai during National Day, get ready to be part of an unmatched festive fervor enriched by exciting parades, live concerts and mesmeric fireworks display at the city’s prime attractions including Global Village, Dubai Festival City and the largest of its kind Palm Fountain.
Dubai Summer Surprises
Summer months in Dubai are mostly overlooked due to extreme heat and limited access to outdoors. That said, visiting Dubai in summer is as exciting and remarkable as traveling to the place in winter. Apart from a string of attractions like Ski Dubai, Dubai Ice Rink and the Middle East’s first of its kind Chillout Ice Lounge, you get to enliven your summer Dubai trip with some cool events, mainly Dubai Summer Surprises or DSS as it’s fondly called. Rightly so, DSS is considered the summer version of the iconic Dubai Shopping Festival. Rife with kid-exclusive attractions, spend and win prizes, and super bargain shopping options, DSS mostly takes place from July and runs for two months till September.
Ramadan in Dubai
Dubai may be an uber modern city, but lying within its steely façade is its traditional culture and heritage, deeply rooted in the Islamic religious beliefs. One of the best times to experience it is during Ramadan. For those unversed, Ramadan is the Islamic lunar calendar’s most significant month, popularly known as the month of fasting. With the majority of dining venues in the city closed during the day time in Ramadan, you will be entailed to abstain from eating and drinking in public from dawn to dusk. But, after this, you are in for a treat, as Dubai’s culinary scene comes to life like nowhere else, with dedicated Ramadan night fairs, special Iftar tents, and discount shopping.
Eid in Dubai
Eid in Dubai is one of the most important Islamic occasions. It is celebrated twice a year by way of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. Eid Al Fitr is followed by Ramadan and is renowned as the festivities of the breaking of the fast, while Eid Al Adha is the feast of sacrifice (which usually occurs a little over two months after Eid Al Fitr). If it is a culture and tradition inspired holiday you are after, Eid in Dubai is hands down the best time to visit Dubai. Both Eid celebrations are marked by endless fun-filled activities, cultural performances and other special events.
Al Marmoom Heritage Festival
Dubai is famed all over the world for the richest of its kind Dubai Horse Race. But, did you know that Dubai also hosts a festival devoted to camel racing and Khaleeji culture? To experience it, all you have to do is to come down to Dubai in the spring season to be part of the Al Marmoom Heritage Festival. The major attraction is camel racing where robotic jockeys are used (instead of human jockeys) for racing. Apart from this, you get to shop local handicrafts, sample delightful Emirati cuisines and enjoy live performances during the festival.
As indicative of its name, Art Dubai is one of the region’s most awaited art events that is held every year at Madinat Jumeirah Conference and Events Centre. Mostly held in March every year, this three-day event draws in both local and international geniuses from close to 40 countries. If you wish to be part of an exclusive event that exudes positivity through the showcase of classic masterpieces and the interesting contemporary creations, Art Dubai is the event to go.
As you are now aware of Dubai’s unmatched events scene, don’t just limit your Dubai trip to its surefire delights like Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, and theme park attractions (such as IMG Worlds of Adventure and Dubai Parks and Resorts.) Make sure that you set aside some time to experience top festivals and cultural events in Dubai. You surely won’t regret it.