‘Tis the season to be jolly, so get into the festive spirit with a shopping spree at the winter markets that are popping up, offering plenty of gift ideas at their stalls, plus a chance to sample world cuisine and enjoy fun family activities. We pick out some of the best markets to visit.
Winter Village Abu Dhabi Mall
Santa and his elves will stop by the Abu Dhabi Mall every day until Christmas Day with surprises for families. Kids can get a photo taken with Santa and take part in craft-making workshops. There is also a festive market, with vendors offering accessories and handmade items. Take advantage of the usual Christmas promotions in the mall’s stores, too.
• Until December 25; www.abudhabi-mall.com
Gingerbread-house decorating Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi
Get the kids excited about contributing to a delightful Christmas by enrolling them in a gingerbread house-decorating session at the hotel. The classes will give them the chance to use their imagination to create edible designs using chocolate, icing and sweets. The sessions, for children ages 4 to 12, are at the Dolce Cafe.
• From today until Thursday, from 4pm each day; Dh175; www.ritzcarlton.com
Christmas Market by Ripe Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi
Enjoy the cool weather as the community comes together to celebrate the season in the park on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. With resident vendors and food trucks serving up some festive cheer, Ripe’s season’s seasonal event is a great way to ring in Christmas and the new year.
• December 24 and 31; www.facebook.com/ripeuae
Ripe Market Dubai
Get your hands on some quirky presents and unique decorations from the vendors at these markets around town. Keep your strength up while shopping with snacks and desserts from all over the world, while enjoying festive entertainment and music outdoors.
• Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Hotel, December 21 from 2pm; Zabeel Park, December 23 from 9am; Barsha Pond Park, December 24 from 3pm; www.facebook.com/ripeuae
Festive on the River Riverland Dubai
The newest entertainment destination in Dubai has been decked out with Christmas trees and twinkling lights to get the celebrations going. Riverland, in Dubai Parks and Resorts, is hosting a winter market at the Riviera Plaza, with pop-up stores and food stalls, along with fun activities and workshops for kids. They also have a chance to meet Santa.
• Until January 7; www.dubaiparksandresorts.com
Truckers Christmas Weekend Emirates Golf Club Dubai
Start the celebrations by joining this funky festival, organised by Food Truck Jam, which will run from noon until midnight each day throughout the Christmas weekend. Feast on new food concepts while relaxing on the lawn to the sound of merry tunes from resident artists.
• December 23 to 25, from 12pm; Dh50, tickets available from www.800tickets.com; www.facebook.com/truckersdxb
Santa’s Grotto Maison Mathis Arabian Ranches, Dubai
Santa will stop by this Belgian restaurant tomorrow to take requests from children. They can have their photo taken with him and receive a gift – if Santa agrees they have been good this year. The venue will also host carol singers from Dubai City Sounds on Tuesday night.
• Santa’s grotto: Tomorrow, from 3pm; Carols: Tuesday from 7pm; www.facebook.com/MaisonMathisARGC/
Winter Festival Al Majaz Waterfront
Sharjah will put on a snowy show to ensure a true winter feel at the waterfront festival. The three-week event offers a variety of activities each day, from ice-skating sessions at the East Events Circle area to an inflatable maze for the kids. There will also be an artificial ice-tube slide, as well as plenty of food stalls with healthy options for the entire family.
• Until January 7; www.facebook.com/AlMajazWF