The UAE’s official 52nd National Day will be celebrated on Sunday December 2, 2023, and it’s a three day long weekend for the UAE residents. It’s high time to start thinking about how to make the most of the days off work.
National holidays in the UAE begin on Saturday, December 2 and continue until Monday, December 4, 2022. Here are some of the things to do in Dubai for the perfect long weekend:
Head to Expo City Dubai
The yearly commemoration of the UAE’s founding coincides with the eagerly awaited COP28, a global climate change conference occurring at Expo City from November 30 to December 12, with this year’s official National Day ceremony focusing on ‘highlighting the UAE’s sustainability journey from its union in 1971 to the present day,’ as reported by the state news agency, WAM.
The official ceremony will be broadcast live on December 2 on all local TV channels, as well as on the official website www.UnionDay.ae
Later, experience the live event from December 5 to 12 at Expo City, featuring a 30-minute show at Jubilee Park showcasing snippets and performances inspired by the UAE’s sustainability journey; tickets are priced at Dhs300. Doors open nightly at 4 pm, offering unreserved seating on a first-come, first-served basis, and the show kicks off promptly at 6 pm.
Watch the Union Day fireworks
In honor of the UAE National Day, there will be spectacular fireworks across the city, offering a breathtaking sight not to be missed.
There will be two fireworks held at Global Village to celebrate UAE National Day on Saturday, December 2nd & Sunday, December 3rd at 9 PM.
On December 2, visit iconic spots like Al Seef (9 PM) for dazzling UAE-colored fireworks and traditional treats. Witness illuminating displays at The Beach, JBR (9 PM), and savor special offers from December 1 to 2.
Fireworks at La Mer Dubai will be at 8:30pm on December 1 Wednesday and December 2 Thursday.
In addition, Bluewaters and Festival City in Dubai will not feature fireworks displays this year.
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Bluewaters will celebrate local heritage, emphasizing traditional bands like Harbia, Lewa, and Nadba performances. The event will also highlight handicrafts and showcase the talent of a henna designer.
Free; Dec 1 – Dec 3: 5:45pm – 10:00pm (henna) | 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 9:10pm (Nabda performances) | 6:00pm, 7:30pm, 8:40pm, 9:20pm (Harbia performances).
Dec 1 – Dec 2: 5:00pm, 6:00pm and 8:10pm (Liwa performances).
Visit Ibn Battuta Mall
Ibn Battuta Mall will host a variety of kid-friendly workshops in celebration of National Day, featuring activities like rock painting, bookend marker making, sock puppet design, khoos weaving, and pot painting from Friday to Sunday.
Traditional henna art stations and carom tables will be set up throughout the mall, with popular character mascots Modesh and Dana making a special appearance on Sunday.
Free; From Friday, December 1, to Sunday, December 3. The schedule includes rock painting sessions at 2pm, 5.30pm, and 8pm, bookmark crafts workshops at 2.30pm, 6pm, and 9pm, T-shirt painting workshops at 3pm and 6.30pm, puppet making activities at 3.30pm, 7pm, and 9.30pm, pot painting sessions at 4pm and 7.30pm, and khoos weaving at 4.30pm and 8pm.
Free Play Sessions for Kids at Gymboree – National Day Weekend Special
Join the fun at Gymboree in Springs Souk Dubai as they welcome kids for a complimentary play session on Friday, December 1, and Saturday, December 2, in celebration of National Day weekend. This newly opened Gymboree center at Springs Souk caters to children from babies to six years old, offering an exciting opportunity for little ones to enjoy some free playtime.
Free. Fri Dec 1 and Sat Dec 2. Springs Souq Dubai (050 205 4942).
Discover Hatta on foot
Nestled amidst the Hajar Mountains, Hatta is adorned with rolling peaks and valleys, providing an ideal setting for hiking. Explore the winding wadis at the mountain foothills near the Oman border, where the diverse terrain unfolds—from sandy stretches to rugged rocks. December presents excellent weather for a hike in the Hajar Mountains!
In contrast to its Californian counterpart, the 19.28-metre-tall Hatta Sign swaps the Hollywood Hills for the Hajar Mountains and the vibrant streets of Beverly Hills for a quaint Emirati town. Hatta is a haven for nature enthusiasts in Dubai, with its landscape featuring date farms, hiking trails, and breathtaking turquoise springs.
Create your own adventures at LEGOLAND Dubai
Celebrate UAE Union Day at LEGOLAND Dubai with themed events, LEGO brick activities, scavenger hunts, and Character Parades from November 24 to December 3.
You can also indulge in National Day Playcation deal at LEGOLAND Dubai Resort for a stay in a Lego-themed room, free breakfast, and access to the theme park or water park with special activities. Children aged two to 12 can participate in sustainability-themed workshops during stays between November 24 and December 3. Additionally, don’t miss the National Day brunch on December 2 at Bricks Family Restaurant, starting from Dh195 per adult and Dh99 per child aged three to 12.
From November 24-December 3; starts from Dh1,500 per night on December 1-2; Legoland Dubai Resort, Dubai Parks & Resorts; 04 825 1650.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Discover a dynamic lineup of performances celebrating Emirati heritage and history at Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Traditional Ayyala dancers and storytellers will breathe life into Emirati folk customs. Simultaneously, carpet and fishnet weavers, along with falconry shows, will illuminate enduring cultural traditions. Children can engage in interactive workshops, such as crafting Sadu designs—Arab geometrical patterns that narrate stories—participate in face painting, and enjoy decorating cookies.
The event is free and takes place from Saturday, December 2, to Sunday, December 3, with Ayyala dancers performing at 3pm, 6pm, and 8pm, storytelling sessions at 3.30pm, 6.30pm, and 8.30pm, carpet and fishnet weaving demonstrations from 1pm to 3pm and 6pm to 8pm, kids workshops from noon to 3pm and 5pm to 8pm, and falconry shows from 2pm to 8pm at Souk Madinat Jumeirah.
Explore Dubai Safari Park with your kids
Located in the middle of the desert in Al Warqa’a, the wildlife facility houses an expanded community of 3000 animals, including 78 types of mammals, including 10 different carnivores and 17 primates, 50 types of reptiles, 111 kinds of birds, plus amphibians and invertebrates, from across the world living in climate-controlled environments similar to their natural habitats.
Among its attractions are the world’s first drive-through crocodile exhibit; the UAE’s largest group of baboons, the largest drive-through lion exhibit, and the only drive-through hippo and tiger exhibit in the country. Not to mention their specially curated Kids Farm, which is a combination of a farm and a petting zoo.
Timing: Open every day 9.00AM –5.00PM.
Ticket prices: Dhs50 for adults, Dhs30 for children under 12, kids under 3 years of age can access it for free.
Live the island life
Celebrate UAE Union Day at Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai with a special offer of up to 20% off room rates, inclusive of breakfast.
Enjoy the family-friendly beachfront property’s “Me & Also Me” National Day deal, featuring discounted room rates and complimentary breakfast. Situated on Dubai Islands waterfront, the hotel offers a variety of amenities for children, including a lazy river, splash park, water slides, Candy spa and lagoon pools. Adults can uphold their wellness routine by utilizing the fitness center or experience rejuvenation through Thai-inspired therapies, including couples’ treatments at Spa Cenvara. Booking directly through the website also provides a 10% discount on food and beverages.
December 1-3; from Dh1,300 per night over National Day weekend;04 522 9999; centarahotelsresorts.com
Embark on a road trip to RAK and discover the UAE’s highest peak
Ascend to the summit of Jebel Jais, part of the spectacular cloud-piercing Hajar mountain range, for breathtaking sunrise and sunset panoramas.
Ziplining across the canyons of the majestic Hajar mountains, is by far one of the best things to do in Jebel Jais. Experience hair-raising speeds of up to 150 km per hour as you cross jagged mountain peaks and swirl through deep ravines, at a height of at 1680 metres above the Arabian Gulf.
Measuring 2.83 kilometers long, the record-breaking zipline is roughly the length of more than 28 football pitches, with the flight taking around two to three minutes. For adrenalin junkies seeking thrilling adventures, it’s a must-do!
Cost: From AED 450
Timings: 09:30 am – 04:00 pm
Get a sneak peek of Dubai’s Miracle Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden is a classic example of Dubai ingenuity – how one can grow and maintain a complete 72,000 square meters flower garden in the hot climate of Dubai. Located in the district of Dubailand, Dubai, the garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden and features over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants.
Set in the heart of the Dubai Miracle Garden is the largest floral art display of Emirates Airbus A380 covered in more than 500,000 fresh flowers and living plants. The new season at this family-friendly attraction introduces a waterwheel, floral tunnels, innovative 3D water and lighting installations, and more blooms crafted specifically for UAE Union Day.
Ticket price: AED 95 per adult (Aged 12 and above) & AED 80 for children aged 3-12years. UAE Residents with valid EID can book tickets at AED 65 exclusively on Miracle Garden counters.
Desert Safari: Venture into the Sands
The desert safari in Dubai is a quintessential activity when visiting the emirate. The desert safaris include cutting passes through the sand in a 4×4 vehicle. You can also indulge in sandboarding, sand sledding, and sand skiing during the safari.
You can opt for morning or evening desert safaris, but night desert safaris are the best, as the desert becomes even more beautiful at night when clouds open up to a sky full of stars.
Read more: 9 of the best desert experiences in Dubai
Uncover old Dubai at Dubai Creek with a quick Abra ride.
Lastly, dive into Dubai’s rich heritage by taking an Abra ride across Dubai Creek. These traditional wooden boats will ferry you from one side of the creek to the other, offering glimpses of the city’s historic past. Once across, explore the old souks (markets) like the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk, where you can haggle for treasures and souvenirs.
The ride costs just AED1 (US$0.27). This journey stands out as one of the most affordable yet authentic experiences in the city.