Discover this month’s best happenings around Dubai, from Christmas celebrations and chocolate tastings to al fresco markets, photo walks, and more.
December 1 to 2: Channel a Champion
Shaun O’Neale, previous winner of MasterChef USA, is the latest international champion to take up residency at MasterChef, The TV Experience. On the menu? A five-course tasting menu featuring a wide range of signature dishes from the former DJ, with all options offering an upscale, modern American style of cooking – think: ‘Tomato Tartare’, ‘Lemon Meringue Redux’, and his winning ‘Truffle, Mushroom, and White Asparagus Risotto’. Find more details and book your spot here.
December 1 to 5: Customize Your Kicks
Marking the return of sports campaign We Play DXB, Nike is celebrating the thriving basketball scene of the region. Not only has the brand partnered with 15 athletes of different ages and backgrounds who have made the UAE their home, but the basketball community has also been treated to a court mural in JLT alongside a tournament and community-led activations. As for the cherry on top? The Nike outlet of The Dubai Mall is offering exclusive customization workshops for five days in a row.
December 1 to 23: Watch This Space
Yet to watch must-see films like Clueless, Love Actually, and Dirty Dancing? Well, you now have a reason to make your way to Habtoor Grand Resort. Hosted by Urban Outdoor Cinema, screenings are taking place every Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – just in case you need to recover from those post-weekend blues. See the full line-up and buy your tickets here.
December 1 to 28: Catch a Flick
Movie screenings continue (almost) daily at Cinema Akil throughout December, with the independent cinema platform hosting a flawlessly curated selection of documentaries, foreign flicks, and animated films. On the roster? More screenings of Algerian drama Papicha alongside a series of dance-centric films like Dancing Shorts and Pina, powerful melodrama Sorry We Missed You, the return of Home Alone to get you in the festive spirit, and more. See the complete schedule here.
December 1 to January 31: Get a Makeover
How to contour, building an enviable glow, creating a statement pout – it all awaits at the Dior Backstage beauty pop-up, which is still up and running in the Grand Atrium of The Dubai Mall. Not only will Dior experts be conducting makeup masterclasses, delving into product specifics, and offering tips and tricks, but there’s also something new to look forward to daily. Keep up with the continuously updated schedule here.
December 1 to April 4: Tour the World
Impulse purchases, street food, cultural performances, extreme rides, family-friendly attractions, and even star-studded concerts – if you want to pair the return of cooler weather (finally!) with a little old-fashioned fun, part theme park/part market Global Village is where it’s at. More details on the recently launched 24th edition can be found here.
December 1 to May 31: Discover Nikkei
Bringing a unique and insanely delicious fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine – a.k.a. Nikkei – to diners is the Kayto pop-up at Jumeirah Al Naseem. Here, chef Cristian Goya is using Peruvian ingredients to bring out the best in delicate Japanese-style fare, ranging from delicious starters such as ‘Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna Tartare’ to must-order mains like ‘Saikyo Miso Black Cod’ and ‘Wagyu Beef Tataki’ that is served with Kayto’s signature sauces. Oh, and for your sake, we’ll have to insist that you stay back for the divine ‘Cheesecake Brûlée and Mandarin Sorbet’. Book here.
December 2: Sing Happy Birthday
A little patriotism is in order as the UAE celebrates its 48th National Day. And amongst multiple displays of fireworks, family-friendly activities, live concerts, parades, and Emirati-inspired treats taking over menus citywide, Savoir Flair is celebrating by putting two of our favorite Emirati women to the test, quizzing them on all things local nostalgia – Chips Oman sandwiches, rope-climbing clowns, camel humps, and more. Catch the video here.
December 4 to 7: Feel Festive
Christmas is coming early to Dubai, courtesy of Dubai Opera, as The Nutcracker arrives on our shores. Brought to life by the legendary St. Petersburg Tchaikovsky Ballet Theatre, this beloved ballet will pair exquisite dancing with beautiful sets and Pyotr Ilyic Tchaikovsky’s timeless score performed by a live orchestra. Buy your tickets here.
December 5 to 7: Be Well
Celebrating wellness through fitness classes and yoga sessions, products by leading brands in the industry, free samples of your favorite healthy treats, and tips from nutrition experts is Dubai Active. Taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre, the event will also allow participants to get up close and personal with top fitness stars as Kayla Itsines and Kelsey Wells are set to appear. Book here.
December 5 to 7: Feed Your Sole
Sole DXB returns to d3, marking the 8th edition of the footwear, fashion, and lifestyle fair – and defying the notion that Dubai is devoid of street culture. Once again, the coolest streetwear brands will gather to unveil new designs as performances by the likes of Burna Boy, Koffee, and Wu-Tang Clan entertain audiences. Elsewhere on the agenda? Film screenings, industry talks, and the inaugural edition of d3 Marketplace. Learn more here.
December 5 to 27: Bundle Up
There’s something for the whole family as the festive edition of #WOWJBR kicks off at JBR – think: free-to-enjoy activations in stores, holiday-themed characters roaming up and down The Walk, a full-fledged winter forest, chances to win gifts directly from the North Pole by listening out for a ringing phone, and even an ice skating rink that is free to enjoy. Learn more here.
Wellness center Life’n One is hosting a two-day garage sale from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., which translates to discounts on its retail products, live music with Flordeliza, a menu tasting with chef Kiki, a marketplace with conscious vendors, free yoga classes, sample readings, art workshops, and so much more – and it’s free to attend! Find more details here.
December 6 to 28: Please Your Palate
Raise your hand if you have no idea what the term “single origin” means – then join the Cacao & Coffee: Tasting, Pairing & Making workshop hosted by artisanal chocolate factory Mirzam. Taking place every Friday and Saturday this month, it will focus on cupping techniques and the identification of both coffee and chocolate notes. Register here.
December 7: Take a Walk
Explore a side of Dubai you may not have seen and hone your street photography skills with the Karama: People & Places photo walk hosted by Gulf Photo Plus. Not only will this three-hour trek teach you techniques for difficult lighting conditions and tips on how to compose an image, but it will also take you through a route in Karama that is is laced with culture and history. To book a spot, click here.
December 9 to 15: Get Clean
Having emerged from the same ethos as The Amanqi Edit, the newly launched The Amanqi Lab curates the finest selection of clean beauty products and is hosting its very first beauty wellness week. December 12 will see the platform host its Clean Beauty Collective at AOFM with a panel of prominent speakers and exclusive consultations by Lion/ne. The following day, The Amanqi Lab will make an appearance at Barry’s Bootcamp in DIFC, while December 14 and 15 are dedicated to a clean beauty pop-up at Genki in Wasl 51. Learn more here.
December 12 to 14: Party Hard
Art, food, fashion, and oh-so-much-music will collide as LUVYA – a.k.a. “the party of the year” – takes over FIVE Palm Jumeirah. Scheduled to perform are DJ sensations Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike alongside Lost Frequencies, Craig David, and more. LUVYA is expected to take place across the hotel’s 150-meter private beach, The Penthouse, and The Secret Room. Buy your tickets here.
December 13: Snap Happy
You constantly take photos with your smartphone – now do it right by attending the Smartphone Photography & Editing workshop at Gulf Photo Plus. The three-hour session will delve into essential camera controls, focus, and exposure lock in addition to teaching you the fundamentals of using light and shadow. Also included? How to develop a personal style, apps to conduct in-camera editing, accessories to enhance your phone’s capabilities, and more. Register here.
December 13: Support the Arts
Marking the first year of Jameel Arts Centre, Jaddaf Aloud! is Dubai’s first museum-led cultural festival celebrating the city’s creative talent, supported by leading cultural initiatives, artists, and the community-at-large. This festival will host pop-up programs, an evening music festival, food, and a curated makers’ market in addition to storytelling sessions, family-oriented workshops, and activities led by artists and designers – all of which are free of charge. Find more details and sign up here.
December 13 to 28: Be Merry
An abra ride with Santa, a giant snowball zone, an interactive Christmas tree, Christmas hits, food stalls, and plenty of opportunities to make gingerbread houses – the festive cheer carries on, this time at the annual Festive Market on Fort Island in Madinat Jumeirah. Inspired by the Christmas markets found across Europe, it will be open daily. To learn more, click here.
December 14: Adopt, Don’t Shop
The Red Paw Foundation and thejamjar have joined forces so that you can come and meet some adorable rescues from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – and see if you find your pet mate this month! And should inspiration strike, participants are also welcome to bring their drawing equipment and sketch the adorable fur babies. Find more details and book your spot here.
December 14: Laugh Aloud
Culture junkies are in for a treat as another National Theatre screening of Fleabag arrives at Courtyard Playhouse. This award-winning one-woman show by the brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge that inspired the hit TV series of the same name is nothing short of unmissable. See what all the fuss is about by registering for a membership to Courtyard Playhouse’s NT Live program here.
December 15: Drink Up
Homegrown F&B concept Project Chaiwala is taking over International Tea Day, spreading joy (and caffeine) by giving away complimentary cups of its freshly brewed karak chai to all walk-ins at its Dubai Media City and Alserkal Avenue outlets. Guests will also get a chance to test their skills at pouring like a true “chaiwala” with the #chaillenge. A word of advice if you make it over there: the ‘Chilli Cheese Toast’ is a must-try.
December 17 to 21: Enter the Forest
INKED pop-ups are always a good idea, and the next in the series will be no exception. Entitled The Black Forest, it will transport you to a place where the air is cool, misty, and rich with the scent of soil and wood. This multi-sensory journey to Germany’s majestic Black Forest will serve a modern take on flavors native to the Germanic landscape, from the wholesome taste of a sauerkraut pie to chestnut-ricotta ravioli in smoked truffle forest broth and – you guessed it – the iconic black forest dessert. Book here.
December 25: Celebrate Christmas
Christmas dining with a twist, the best films to watch over the festive season, gifts guides to shopping for everyone from your BFF and significant other to the culture vulture in your life, beauty looks to try for a holiday party, a round-up of the best beauty advent calendars out there, and so much more – Savoir Flair will be here to offer a little help with all things Christmas in the coming weeks, so watch this space. Oh, and Merry Christmas!
December 26 to February 1: Splurge on Something
Over one whole month of sales – need we say more? The annual Dubai Shopping Festival returns on Boxing Day for its milestone 25th edition, featuring discounts and promotions by malls, dazzling displays of fireworks across town, family-friendly shows, musical performances, and bigger-than-big giveaways, keeping the festive cheer going well into 2020. Learn more here.
December 30: Swear Off Fast Fashion
Maintaining a closet without fast fashion is challenging, but far from impossible, which is why the talk on slow fashion and conscious shopping at Kave comes highly recommended. This very reasonably priced session will educate participants on the true human and environmental cost of fast fashion, give tips on how to transition towards slow fashion, and even introduce a highly sustainable garment from the Indian subcontinent. Register here.
December 31: Ring in 2020
As 2019 draws to a close, you’ll be wondering how to spend New Year’s Eve, what to wear to wherever you’re headed, which celebrities you can look to for sartorial inspiration, how to incorporate 2019’s Color of the Year into your home, and what trends you can expect in the new year across fashion, food, beauty, travel, and weddings – we’ll report on it all, and then some.