- From BBQs at the Al Qudra Lake to football fan zones and Christmas markets, Dubai is the place to be this winter
- Pakistani legends Abida Parveen (December 9) and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (December 29) can be caught live at the Coca-Cola Arena
November to February is generally considered the best time to visit Dubai. Along with the multitude of year-round indoor activities, outdoor activities also become an option as the weather cools down.
If you are planning to head to the emirate in the next few months, here is a list of some must-do activities.
1. Take in the nature at Al Qudra Lake
When you think of Dubai, being close to nature isn't the first thing that jumps to mind. But drive for about 30-45 minutes and you will be at the Al Qudra Lake — located inside the Al Marmoom Desert Protection Reserve in the middle of the Saih Al Salam Desert.
At the lake, you can do your own BBQs and light bonfires. You can also pitch a tent and spend the night stargazing, waking up to the perfect sunset.
There is plenty else to do: go for a walk, bike on an 86km cycling track or climb one of the observation towers for bird watching. You might even spot some foxes and rabbits.
The lake is an artificial desert oasis designed to encourage sustainable tourism in Dubai.
Also featured inside the reserve is the Saruq Al Hadid Archaeological Site and The Love Lake, extension of the Al Qudra Lakes featuring two intertwined hearts.
And if you are in town around 9-11 December, you can catch the 'Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert' festival.
Some off-roading is required to get to the reserve so it is best to go in a 4x4 vehicle.
It is worth noting: BBQs are allowed as long as there is a suitable cooker/stand. Fires on the sand are not allowed.
And if you're not quite ready to head back to the city, then in the vicinity is also Al Jiyad Stables boasting 120 horses; a camel farm called Kamel Uschi where visitors can enjoy camel rides and Bedouin food; and a luxury resort called Bab Al Shams.
2. One Degree Cafe
Another option to get away from the city’s hustle and bustle is One Degree Cafe, a pop-up outdoors cafe located at the Dubai-Sharjah border, offering visitors a desert getaway where they can enjoy their drinks, food and entertainment against a backdrop of sand dunes.
Guests will find entertainers in costumes, traditional dance and fire performances.
The pop-up business first opened three years ago and has quickly gained popularity due to its authentic and relaxed setting.
3. Get into the festive spirit
If being in the desert is not your cup of hot chocolate, turn your attention to the many festive celebrations taking place in the city.
Explore Dubai’s winter activities that involve plenty of fake snow, Christmas markets and huge, decorated fir trees.
Start by checking out the Habtoor Palace Dubai — its lush gardens will be transformed into an enchanted wonderland, with food and shopping stalls as well as children’s activities and live entertainment.
Al Wasl Plaza at Expo City Dubai will have a chalet-style Christmas market, traditional fairground games and a place for children to post their letters to Santa. Expect to be immersed in winter amid wreath- and ornament-making workshops; a toy factory that customises teddy bears plus hot chocolate, mulled drinks and mince pies on offer.
Meanwhile, Ski Dubai, already embracing winter year-round, will go that extra mile to convert into a mini winter wonderland.
4. Soak up some football fever
If you’re a football fan who is not going to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup, being in Dubai is probably the closest you’ll get to soak up some of that footie fever.
Those with thousands of dollars to spare can view games on a big screen from the top deck of a $20,000-a-night yacht from Xclusive Yachts. The three-storey, 140-foot (43 metres) vessel has a big screen, jacuzzi, bar and a swanky lounge complete with a glittering crystal leopard statue.
A more affordable option is to attend a match screenings on a yacht that's open for public and costs $100.
If you don't want to be sailing in the Arabian Gulf but you do want views of the water, then head the Official BudX FIFA Fan Festival™ at Dubai Harbour.
According to a statement, the festival will screen “every minute of every game of this year’s FIFA World Cup on custom-designed gigantic 330sqm screens featuring cutting edge 4D audio.”
Another option is the Address Beach Resort’s Football Fan Zone which will have a fully airconditioned 250-seater tent and multiple screens. Expect live entertainment between matches.
There are plenty of other fanzones and screening venues including: JBR Football Village, beach club Zero Gravity, Four Seasons Resort and the Football Park DIFC.
5. Attend a concert
Fans of Indian music will be able to catch some of their favourite musicians from across the border live as part of the Winter Music Fest at The Agenda in Media City.
Lucky Ali of 'O Sanam' fame will be performing on December 3, while vocal powerhouses Rekha Bhardwaj and Harshdeep Kaur will be belting out their hits on January 14.
Meanwhile, Pakistani legends Abida Parveen (December 9) and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (December 29) can be caught live at the Coca-Cola Arena.
Also at the Coca-Cola Arena, watch Grammy Award-winning DJ Tiesto live on December 19. He is performing as part of the inaugural World Tennis League (December 19-24) where fans can watch Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios play and also watch concerts by Ne-Yo and deadmau5.
Fans of international pop star Kylie Minogue can see her live on New Year’s Eve at Atlantis, The Palm. If you are planning a trip for next year, you can see Tom Odell at Dubai Opera (February 4).
And let’s not forget some of Dubai’s most-loved attractions that open in the cooler months — Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Miracle Garden and Global Village to name a few.
We’ll be bringing you more details on them all in the weeks to follow.