26 Fun Things To Do In Dubai Over The Winter Holidays (& Beyond!)
School’s out and there are 3 weeks to fill! Whether you’ve got visitors in town or you’re looking for fun ways to spend time with your fam, we’ve come up with a Sassy alphabet of things to do! From indoor play to outdoor adventures and everything in between, it’s time to start working through the list, mamas!
Make a day of it at Al Ain Zoo, home to over 4000 animals housed in enclosures which closely resemble their natural habitats – no tiny little cages here – we approve. While there’s plenty to do and see here, from train tours to a fab kids play area, camel rides and animal petting (plus the opportunity to learn about the conservation efforts of the zoo and its commitment to protecting endangered species), the unique opportunity to interact with the giraffes wins our vote every time. Make your way to the giraffe feeding area to offer a tasty treat in the form of a crunchy carrot or lettuce leaf to your new long-legged friends and let the littlies come face to face with the tallest animals on land. Magical – the stuff of childhood dreams. Oh and totally affordable too, mamas – kids up to the age of 12 cost only AED 10 each (under 3’s free) and adults AED 30. Perfect!
Get up close and personal with lots of beautiful butterflies in their specially built home just next to Dubai Miracle Garden. This mini garden-of-paradise is spread over several connected ‘domes’ complete with plants, colourful flowers, bird-song and lots and lots of butterflies! There are paths to meander, fruit feeding stations where you get to watch the insects feeding and special netted areas that allow the kids (and you!) to hold the butterflies.
There’s nothing like setting up camp and sleeping under canvas with your little gang – and with long school holidays plus lovely cool weather, it’s the perfect time to do it! If you’re a camping novice and you like your little luxuries (or want someone else to take care of the tent etc and guarantee you a comfy night’s sleep) then book a trip with the Arabian Glamping team who have the most gorgeous tents and who’ll sort everything from the location to the food and even pretty fairy lights to complete the magical experience! Arabian Adventures also offer an overnight experience in the pristine Dubai Conservation Reserve complete with pick up/drop off, camel rides, bbq dinner and permanent tents with double beds. Great if you have visitors in town and want to give them a taste of the desert!
With three theme parks and one waterpark, Dubai Parks and Resorts offers loads and LOADS of fun for the whole fam. Featuring more than 100 incredible indoor and outdoor rides and attractions at Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park, this labyrinth of fun will keep you all busy. And why not make a staycation of it? Dine at Riverland and stay at Lapita Hotel, a Polynesian-themed family resort inside the park complete with lazy river and tonnes more for the kids to enjoy.
Psst… Dubai Parks & Resorts have a special GCC Residents Offer – just show your ID and get tickets from only AED 95 for access to all areas.
Got visitors in town or just want to instill a little sense of place, culture and history into your little ones? Head to the Etihad Museum, located at the very place where the UAE was founded in 1971, where you can learn all about this amazing nation and how it came together through artefacts and more. And while tinies might not really understand much, there’s plenty of space for them to run around in while you browse!
Times Square Center has been transformed into a family winterland complete with a ginormous beautifully decorated tree, Christmas songs on repeat, gift-shopping opportunities and loads of fun festive happenings guaranteed to give you and your gang a huge dose of holiday cheer. From competitions to winter game stalls and ‘find the snowflake’ hunts around the mall, you can have a good go at taking home some fabulous prizes too! If you’re visiting before Christmas then a visit to the big man (aka Santa) is a must! And a ‘snow park’ on the first floor is just the place for the kids to let off some steam while you chill, mamas!
All that glitters is gold at the gold souk in the heart of old Dubai. Located on the creek, we suggest a day of exploring this amazing historical area, jumping on and off abras as you weave your way along the creek and through the old streets.
Start at the Al Fahidi Historic District (formerly Bastakiya) where you’ll find one of the oldest traditional Emirati neighbourhoods in Bur Dubai and stunning architecture (plus gorgeous little cafes for a hot chocolate and bite to eat!). Then journey along the creek to Deira and into the Gold and spice souks. A perfect mini adventure.
Compound pool not heated? We hear you, mamas! If you’re looking to catch some winter sun and swim some lengths while the kids splash around then hotel swimming pools are the perfect place to do it (plus you get poolside service so if a drink/snack are in order it’s all too easy!). But yes, all those hotel visits can take their toll on your wallet – so we can’t recommend Privilee enough, a membership which gives you access to some of the best hotels in Dubai – and to all of their facilities too! Starting at AED 499 for monthly membership, you get all sorts of perks like free entry for kids, kids club access at some of the participating hotels, discounts on F&B, gym access and lots more.
Read More: Our Top 5 Family Friendly Privilee Pools
Get your skates on and enjoy one of THE most wintery activities at Dubai Mall where an Olympic size ice rink awaits! With skating sessions for all ages even the little ones can have a go by hanging onto a penguin skating aid (so cute!). And from December 14th –January 5th the ice rink will be hosting Dubai Snowfest, complete with snow play zone, falling snow over the ice at certain times, winter market, arts & crafts stations and much more.
When it feels like EVERYONE else has jetted off for an exciting holiday, the kids are climbing the walls and you’re desperate for a change of scene – book in for a staycation, mamas! The Jebel Ali Resort is offering a ‘Fun Family’ package which includes 25% discount on their best available rates, complimentary tickets to Dubai Parks & Resorts plus complimentary breakfast and buffet dinner and access to the private beach, three pools, gym and kids clubs. Yay!
Definitely our favourite beach in Dubai, Kite Beach has EVERYTHING you could possibly want for a really fun day out. From sunbeds/umbrellas for rent (if you need a little comfort – we hear you, mamas!) to watersports (including SUP’s, so much fun), lifeguards on duty to plenty of food options at the permanent beachside cafes or new food trucks that have parked up for the season – we plan on spending many hours here over the hols.
Gorgeous store Level Kids is all decked out to make sure that we’re feeling festive and having fun this December. Starting on 3rd and going right through until 31st, your little people will be able to enjoy heaps of activities and wintery events guaranteed to ramp up the magic of Holiday Season. From themed arts & crafts activities to the chance to watch all of the best Holiday movies with a hot chocolate in hand plus a ‘Glam Station’ for themed face painting plus much more – why not pop in and then enjoy a stroll around City Walk?
A cross between walking into a fairytale and an Alice in Wonderland style adventure, Dubai Miracle Garden is an outdoor space made up of crazy floral creations. With billions of flowers and colours planted into all sorts of shapes and creations, this is a fab place for a run around and for snapping some really cute photos of your kids amongst the blooms (that heart archway is an instagram mamas dream!). And don’t miss the Emirates Airbus A380 created entirely of flowers – amazing! The Butterfly Park is right next door too if you want to combine the two.
Kids got new bikes from Santa? Put them to good use at the Nad Al Sheba cycle park where they can practice in safety along a specially created track complete with speed bumps, roundabouts and street signs that’ll help them learn the rules of the road! And all with brilliant views of the Burj Khalifa/downtown Dubai.
The latest indoor play area to open in Dubai (which means ‘Joy’ in Hawaiian) is unlike anything else in the city – a truly visionary venue whose founders (parents themselves) have taken inspiration from their travels and from the most successful children’s museums, science centres and art studios across the world to create ‘tomorrow’s playground’. Each visit will allow 2 hours of play and is guaranteed to be awesome – there are 8 separate galleries spread over 2 beautifully designed floors, plenty of natural light and space and an environment that allows for natural exploration rather than over-stimulation. We are HUGE fans (the ‘Toshi’s Nets’ climbing/swinging gallery has to be seen/climbed on to be believed…). Oh and they’re doing a great winter camp here too if you want to keep your little ones busy and using those brain cells.
We may live in the desert but Dubai is FULL of gorgeous green parks that are just perfect for playing/picnicking/enjoying. With playgrounds, lakes, cafes and more – check out our full roundup of parks in Dubai and try a few new ones over the holidays, mamas!
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Al Qasr is part of the fabulous Madinat Jumeirah complex – the perfect place to take guests or explore with your family over the winter holidays. Book in for their award-winning Friday brunch which includes everything from barbecued dishes to live cooking stations and fabulous entertainment or head over for afternoon tea before taking an abra ride along the waterways of the Madinat Jumeirah and heading to the winter market, on until 27, December and so much fun for the whole family with everything from snowball fights to gingerbread decorating, abra rides with Santa and much more.
When school’s in, trying to muster up the energy to go out for a date night in the evening can be tricky to say the least (those early starts are a killer!). Take advantage of the mini lie-ins and head out with your hubby for a night on the town at one of Dubai’s gorgeous restaurants. Our roundup of new foodie spots to try is just the place to start.
This children’s centre is a great day’s outing for the whole family with seven themed areas, packed full of ‘hands on activities’ and plenty of fun – the travel and transport section was the biggest hit with our little ones (not to mention our husbands!). Like a well-loved child’s toy, this great value spot is a little rough around the edges but it’s definitely worth the drive out to Sharjah.
Filled with action and entertainment, enter a colourful arena exploring the dynamics of water, the five senses, the art of travel and the mechanisms of building, become a star on TV, climb the wall and ‘shop till you drop’ in the children’s supermarket. Oh and you may want to check out Sharjah Aquarium, Sharjah Science Museum and awesome Arabian Wildlife Center too. www.sharjahmuseums.ae
One of the best ways for the kids to burn off some energy while having heaps of fun? On a trampoline! And we don’t mean in the back yard, mamas! With 3 fabulous trampoline parks in Dubai your little people can be leaping, bouncing, jumping for joy in a safe environment – while you grab a cuppa (or join them?!).
Choose from Bounce or Flip Out in Al Quoz and Jump Boxx in Uptown Mirdif – all of them have got fun activities planned for the winter holidays too. AND if you want to jump around outside, La Mer – the new beach area in Jumeirah – has an outdoor trampoline called ‘Hawa Hawa’ all the way from Japan.
The Dubai Mall Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is JUST the place for a little school holiday outing. Filled with magical creatures from seahorses to penguins, sharks to crocodiles – all housed in a beautifully designed space, your kids will be able to learn about about marine conservation, watch the animals being fed and much more. If they’re 5 years and older you can also sign them up for the ‘Junior Aquarist’ programme which costs AED 150 per child and includes feeding the animals, ride on a glass bottom boat, behind the scenes tours and much more. And after all that watery fun, the shops and restaurants of Dubai Mall await!
So how about this for cosy… an outdoor cinema screen on a roof terrace, complete with bean bags, couches, snack options and a starry sky. Tickets include a seat and a food and beverage pack as well as a blanket to snuggle up in if it gets chilly! Take the kids to see ‘Ferdinand’, a very cute animation about a young bull – showing throughout December.
Get ready for fun, mamas! This fantastic theme park based on the folk hero Juha is a great place to get wet and wild over the winter months, whether your kiddos are big or small. The fam can laze along the stretch of Juha’s Journey or get ready to scream on the Tantrum Alley, while surfer dudes and dudettes will want to check out Wipeout and Riptide Flowriders to catch some waves. And for the really tiny ones, there’s a massive watery jungle gym and there’s changing facilities in the changing rooms – check out the Wild Wadi Water Park helpful guide for mamas with babies!
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Calling all you little dudes and dudettes – come and have fun on 2 wheels at this awesome spot just off Kite Beach. Built by skaters, for skaters, X Dubai is a shaded skate park with grassy areas and benches for non-participants to lounge on and watch from (the kids love doing this too if they don’t fancy a go). Bring 2-wheeled scooters, skate boards or BMX bikes and navigate 29 obstacles including a mini bowl, crater, street elements and more (basically lots of ramps and hills and things to whizz up and down!). Helmets are available onsite and are obligatory – so if you don’t own then you can borrow/rent. Work up a sweat and then cross the road for a dip in the sea. Perfect. AED 35 per kiddo, per session.
From Yas Waterworld to Ferrari World there’s SO much to do on Yas Island. Go along for a day – or even for a mini staycation (the Yas Viceroy is a firm fave) and try Yas Beach complete with bars, restaurants, pools and a dedicated kiddie area with activities including sandcastle building and more. And if you’re heading to the Capital then a visit to the newly opened Louvre Museum is a must too. In addition to the museum galleries and exhibitions – and to a truly awe-inspiring space – there’s a ‘Children’s Museum’ which hosts family-friend exhibitions and interactive workshops aimed to inspire young minds.
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Spanning 47.5 hectares, Zabeel Park is one of the larger parks in Dubai, located between Al Karama and World Trade Centre at Zabeel Square on Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s also home to Dubai Garden Glow, a very cool theme park made of 10 million energy saving bulbs and loads of luminous fabric plus a dinosaur park with more than 100 animatronic dinosaurs and also an ice sculpture park created with 5000 tons of ice. Sound good? We think so! Plenty to do/see/explore!