What To Do This Long Weekend

Enjoy 5 days of socially-distanced celebrations this 49th UAE National Day.



While the 49th National Day celebrations are rather different this year, there are still fireworks to be enjoyed if you head to Dubai Festival City Mall. For the first time ever, shoppers and diners have the chance to watch two fabulous fireworks displays and an Arabic-themed IMAGINE show combining lasers, light, fire and water as they enjoy their dinner from waterside seats. Because of this year’s exceptional circumstances, outdoor access to Festival Bay will be temporarily closed, with no access for walk-in diners. However, visitors who pre-book can enjoy the fireworks, with restaurants offering a choice of outdoor and indoor seating, allowing for all social distancing measures being adhered to. 

Venues participating in the celebration include Al Fanar, Chilli’s, Peppermill, Famous Dave’s, Five Guys, Nandos, Semsom, Turkish Village, Joe’s Crab Shack and the Intercontinental Hotel, all of which offer tables with perfect views of the fireworks display.

Customers must pre-book to secure their spots, with shows taking place at 7.00 pm-9.15 pm with fireworks at 9.00 pm, and 9.30 pm-11.30 pm with fireworks at 11.00 pm.


You can still enjoy a visual spectacular at home, with the UAE’s official 49th National Day ‘Seeds of the Union’ show broadcasting live from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday at 6:15 pm. Taking the form of a moving sculpture surrounded by sea and illuminated by visuals portraying themes inspired by the UAE’s history and values, the 40-minute show will be shown on Abu Dhabi TV, Dubai TV, Dubai One and Mathrubhumi along with several other channels, and streamed for free online via the National Day YouTube channel, its official website and social media channels including Facebook and Instagram on @OfficialUAEND.

It will also be screened for free at selected VOX theatres in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Dubai, but tickets must be pre-booked. Inspired by the show, landmark buildings across the UAE will be lit up in the country’s national colours, including the headquarters of ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Al Ain City Municipality, Marina Mall, Khalifa University, the W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, with its 828-metre high facade featuring an illuminated LED screen that guides people to the platforms and channels broadcasting the show. Meanwhile, more illuminations will light up other key landmarks across the Emirates, including Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Emirates Palace, Mohammed V University, and Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.


JBR is hosting a packed schedule of free entertainment and activities over the National Day holiday. From December 2 to 5, JBR will be decorated in the colours of the UAE flag, and visitors to the city’s original dining and retail beachside destination can enjoy roaming entertainment with jugglers, stilt walkers, ribbon dancers, and musicians in action from 4 pm-8 pm every day. 



Fancy a spot of socially-aware shopping? Then head down to West Elm at Dubai Mall, who are hosting sustainable and ethical-focused online retailer One Good Thing on December 3, 4, and 5 for a special festive gifting pop-up. With comfort and joy being particularly important this year, items range from one-of-a-kind jewelry and sustainable bags, to reclaimed wood headphones, conservation-focused camping gear, and upcycled travel goods – just the thing for gifting with a feelgood factor. 



In the capital this National Day weekend? Running until December 5, The Abu Dhabi EDITION in Al Bateen Marina is hosting The Abu Dhabi EDITION UAE National Day Gallery, showcasing an array of pieces and live paintings by local artists, alongside the contemporary hotel’s own impressive art collection.

Curated in partnership with iAM Studio Abu Dhabi, visitors can view works from Budour Al Ameri, Salama Al Nuaimi, Khaled Al Jabri, Jeramie Christian, Leila Marie and Sultan Al Hashimi, as well as exclusive photography by Wilfred Thesiger.  


We may not be able to enjoy a trip to Lapland this festive season, but you can get into the spirit of things with an afternoon of gingerbread house building. Swisotel Al Ghurair is hosting a delicious high tea with a gingerbread house decorating workshop – perfect for keeping little elves entertained as you much your way through an array of teatime treats. From 12 pm-4 pm, Dhs150 for two adults and two kids. 


Bring your appetite to Dubai’s Reform Social and Grill on December 5 to enjoy a foodie-must-try: the inaugural Best of Dubai Chefs. Taking place on The Lawn at the family-friendly hotspot in The Lakes, fifteen of the city’s most talented and reputable chefs will be taking part in the one-of-a-kind gastronomic spectacular, with each chef offering unlimited street-food-style small bites with pairing beverages from their own individual stations. With a choice of five starter dishes, seven mains and three desserts, foodies can work their way through the menu or head back for more of their favourite dishes for a flat fee of Dhs300.

With a packed schedule of live music and entertainment throughout the four hours, chefs will also be on-site throughout the day, giving visitors a chance to meet their favourite local chef and cajole their favourite recipe from them. Call 04 454 2638 or WhatsApp 058 647 8692 to book – advance booking recommended.  


If you’re looking for gorgeous, ethically-sourced gifts, head to Seva’s Festive Market on December 4 and 5. Taking place in the serene gardens of the much-loved wellness center in Jumeirah 1, the theme at Seva is conscious shopping, with all manner of clean and ethical beauty goodies, clothes, crystals, books, and trinkets on offer from an array of hand-picked, local vendors. Home to the city’s first vegan cafe, stock up on festive goodies for all as you nourish mind, body, and soul.    

Lucy Wildman

Lucy Wildman

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