Flickering candles, glittering decorations, Christmas music playing, the scent of pine trees and a hint of cinnamon, the chatter and laughter of friends and family, glasses of wine and cocktails and a sumptuous feast on the table. Is that roughly what you would like your Christmas this year to look like?
Rather than spend hours browsing all the options we have listed our favourite, most sparkly and magical options to celebrate christmas in the UAE.
Every year, Etihad Towers sets up a magnificent, lavishly decorated Christmas Tree in their lobby, which in itself is a great reason to stop by this beautifully designed hotel. On top of that, the team have put together a selection of options to celebrate Christmas.
There is afternoon tea every day between the 1st and the 31st of December in the Lobby Lounge. In addition, the hotel offers cooking classes on the 23rd and 24th – learn how to make gingerbread and snowmen!
On Christmas Eve you can choose between an Italian set menu at BiCe or a French styled set menu at Brasserie Angelique.
On Christmas Day both set menus at BiCe and Brasserie Angelique are available, as well as a special Christmas lunch buffet at Rosewater which has all your Christmas favourites, and a visit from Santa! The other option is a brunch at Nahaam where a band will be playing during the feast.
Emirates Palace is also known for its lavish and extravagant Christmas tree. Although it does not have real gems anymore, it is still a sight.
Emirates Palace start the season off with hampers and turkey and lamb that you can take home from Le Café, who will also host a festive afternoon tea during the season. While you are sipping tea and enjoying treats, consider donating to the Golden Hearts campaign. The funds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
On Christmas Eve, choose between a set menu at seafood restaurant Sayad or elegant Italian restaurant Mezzaluna as well as a sumptuous international buffet at La Vendome which is sure to have all your favourite treats.
On Christmas Day, La Vendome again hosts an extensive festive lunch buffet, with Santa and his elves paying a visit, and Mezzaluna offers a special set menu for lunch.
This more minimalist and modern hotel has a lot to offer this festive season. Most famous is their life-sized gingerbread house which you can walk through between the 6th of December and the 7th of January. Why not let your kids decorate their own gingerbread house? On Saturdays in December you are welcome to do so together with Chef Kim Gates. Sofitel also have turkeys to take away and serve at home.
For Christmas Eve, head to Corniche for an extensive buffet, or try the set menu at Grills@Chill’o. On Christmas Day, Sofitel host both the buffet at Corniche and the set menu at Grills@Chill’o, as well as a White Christmas party at Jazz & Fizz. For the ladies, Sofitel has a Christmas ladies’ night on the 27th at the Jazz & Fizz as well!
The luxurious Rosewood on Al Maryah Island have a great festive season planned for you, starting with festive afternoon tea at the Majlis Lobby Lounge between the 14th and 26th of December, and the option to order roast turkeys, tenderloin and lamb to take home. The Hidden Bar has created special cocktails for the season as well.
On the 23rd of December, Sambusak, Rosewood’s Lebanese restaurant has a Beirut Market Brunch on, and on Christmas Eve, choose between a mixed served and buffet style dinner at international fine dining venue Aqua or a grand buffet at Sambusek.
On Christmas Day, Aqua has a sumptuous brunch and dinner buffet waiting for you, as well as a brunch and dinner buffet at Sambusek.
Shangri-La’s opulent hotel in Abu Dhabi is gearing up for an extraordinary festive season, starting with a gingerbread cooking class on the 17th of December!
On Christmas Eve, Sofra Bld, Shangri-La’s souq styled buffet restaurant, will serve a huge buffet that will include traditional Christmas favourites. Shang Palace (Chinese) and Hoi An (Vietnamese) will offer a set menu for the evening, and Bord Eau, the French fine dining restaurant will serve a special set menu as well. Pearls & Caviar by Sergi Arola offer a special tasting menu. Finally, Ess Lounge will air a Christmas movie at the open air cinema!
On Christmas Day the hotel combines the delicacies from Sofra Bld, Hoi An, Shang Palace and the Pool Bar & Restaurant, into one magnificent festive brunch. For dinner, the venues will again serve set menus or buffets, similar to Christmas Eve, and the open air cinema is open again.
Even when it’s not Christmas this hotel is so beautifully lighted and designed that it’s hard to imagine what it could look like during the festive season! Thankfully the hotel has a lot of events on so you can pick and revel!
Festive afternoon tea is on at Al Bayt on the 24th, 25th and 26th of December. On Christmas Eve, head to Ewaan’s lavish buffet or experience a more exotic Latin American Christmas at Asado or a Thai Christmas at Thiptara, both offering choices a la carte.
On Christmas Day and on Boxing Day, Ewaan again put on a huge spread for brunch and dinner.
Another beautifully designed hotel – imagine the sparkle of combining an Arabian style palace with Christmas lights and decorations!
On Christmas Eve, enjoy a set menu at international fine dining restaurant Celebrities, or a more casual set menu at The Beach Bar & Grill overlooking the ocean. Go for regional specialities with Tagine’s set menu or Indo-European with Nina’s set menu. Atmospheric Eauzone also has a special set menu available. Kids are entertained with Christmas card making and decorating, a gingerbread cookies workshop and gingerbread house decoration.
On Christmas Day, Celebrities has an exquisite festive brunch, whilst The Beach Bar & Grill, and Eauzone will have set menus available for lunch. During Christmas Day, children can play Christmas games, there is a family funfair, Santa will visit on a camel, there will be a magic show and children can take camel and pony rides.
Set on the creek and spread out over a huge area, this beautifully designed property has festive written all over it this year.
On Christmas Eve, top notch Traiteur will have a festive buffet with live cooking stations, whilst on Christmas Day Traiteur will again put on a huge spread, this time with Santa visiting.
Stylish Raffles at Wafi are going all out this year for Christmas and have a long list of options and activities to choose from.
The magic starts with the Christmas Market, in the Raffles Garden, which will have live cooking stations with traditional food and drinks. If you join the brunch everything is included! Between the 1st and 24th of December, Raffles Salon will host afternoon tea as well. And to top off all the preparations, you can order turkeys for at home.
On Christmas Eve, a special Christmas buffet will be set up, while on Christmas Day the ballroom and garden will be transformed to one big Christmas feast with all the favourites you can imagine, and a visit from Santa.
Luxurious and grand Al Qasr is a place not to be missed during the festive season, where all the feasts they put on are made even bigger and more magical than usual!
The festive souk is back at Madinat Jumeirah between the 17th and 27th of December and will include a giant snow globe, ice rink and lots of other fun activities for all ages or enjoy afternoon tea at Al Fayrooz Lounge between the 17th and 26th of December.
On Christmas Eve, enjoy the delicious spread at Arboretum’s buffet which will include all your Christmas favourites, or savour Pai Thai’s festive specials in a sparkling setting. Or for the ultimate dinner, Pierchic will be serving their a la carte menu plus a few festive specials.
On Christmas Day, Al Qasr combines Al Hambra, Arboretum and MJ’s Steakhouse to a magnificent buffet with appearances from Santa and a live band. You can also head to Khaymat al Bahar for a festive buffet with an ocean view, or for a more carnivorous experience go to The Hide for a festive brunch. Pai Thai will be hosting a festive lunch as well as Pierchic who will be putting on their spectacular brunch buffet.
On Boxing Day Arboretum and Pierchic again host huge feasts.
We have written about Christmas in Abu Dhabi if you are looking for more options!