Spread some cheer: It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Whether you’re a Grinch in need of some cheer or just love the festive season, here is our pick of events throughout December to soak up the spirit

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Christmas may come but once a year, but you’d better not pout because here in Abu Dhabi we’ve got a whole month of events where you can get into the spirit.

From baking classes and reindeer games for Santa’s little helpers to markets, family festivals and events for bigger elves in search of a party, we’ve got you covered because ‘tis the season to be jolly.

For little elves

On 7th December at Orange Wheels, little ones can make gifts for friends, while on 12th December, it’s time to decorate some gingerbread real estate. Finally, Santa will pay a visit on 21st December. Prices vary. Al Wahda Mall, Hazza Bin Zayed Street. Times vary. Contact: 02 667 4411, orangewheels.com

From 9th to 30th December, children can decorate their own gingerbread house at Dolce Café under the guidance of the café’s big elves – or pastry chefs. AED 175++. The
Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqtaa. 4pm–5pm and 6pm–7pm. Contact: 02 818 8888, ritzcarlton.com

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We’ve heard from a good source that a certain jolly old man will be at Hallabolou on 16th December, so expect a day of themed activities, including ornament decorating and a snowball fight. AED 120 in advance, AED 150 at the door. Villa A54, Marina Office Park, near Marina Mall. 10am–2pm. Contact: 02 622 2285, facebook.com/hallabolou

The littlest of Santa’s helpers can get in on the seasonal spirit with a fun festive morning with Music Monkeys on 19th December. Expect a special sing-a-long, stories and mince pies for the grown-ups. From AED 30 for adults, from AED 70 for children over six months. Limited spaces available. The Dome@Rawdhat, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street. 9am–11am. Contact: lisa@musicmonkeys.ae, facebook.com/musicmonkeysuae

Festive families

As Buddy said in Elf, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear. Carols in the Desert returns on 8th December, so gather in the dunes to enjoy a braai – that’s a barbecue, basically – before singing your hearts out. Free, but bring your own food. GPS coordinates 24.40759N, 54.96457E. Convoys leave from the Ice Rink parking at Zayed Sports City or the International School of Choueifat, Khalifa City from 3pm. 4pm–10pm. Visit: facebook.com/carolsinthedesert

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Yas Marina’s Let it Snow returns from 8th December to 3rd January. On 8th and 9th December, assemble by the tree for the lighting ceremony and meet Santa. On 15th and 16th, a festive market will take over the promenade. Don’t miss the real snow zone and fun activities running throughout the season, too! Free, prices vary for activities. Yas Island. From 2pm. Contact: 02 406 2000, yasmarina.ae

From 11th to 25th December, Nation Galleria will transform into an indoor snow globe with daily indoor flurries, as well as the opportunity to snap your own wintry picture. Prices vary. Corniche West. 10am–10pm; snowfall from 4pm. Contact: 02 333 8288, nationtowers.ae

Festive treats await at Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort throughout December. Kick things off on 13th December with gingerbread house decorating before you cosy up on the beach with blankets for a seasonal movie. On 16th December, cook up a traditional Italian feast including gnocchi, while on 23rd December, don the apron for some traditional sweet treats including gingerbread and plum cake. AED 139 for gingerbread factory, free for movie but AED 15 minimum spend required, AED 140 for classes. Corniche East. From 4pm. Contact: 02 677 3333, facebook.com/sheratonabudhabi

Get that festive feeling at The Galleria from 14th to 26th December. With a Santa’s grotto, ballet show and a performance inspired by Disney’s Frozen, plus activities including bungee trampoline, a snow zone and cracker-making, there’s plenty to ensure Christmas goes off with a bang. Free. Al Maryah Island. 3pm–10pm. Contact: 02 616 6999, thegalleria.ae

Yas Mall will be celebrating the season with its annual Winter Festival from 14th to 25th December. Festive-themed performers will take over the mall daily with two performances, while Santa will be on hand at the Town Square grotto for any last-minute wishes. From 19th December, the mall is also forecasting daily snowfall. Prices vary. Yas Island. Entertainment daily noon–2pm and 5pm–10pm. Contact: 800 927 6255, yasmall.ae

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Ferrari World Abu Dhabi will celebrate the holidays with some snowy fun from 15th December to 6th January. Expect ice skating shows, a snow play area and animatronic antics from Bjorn the polar bear. From AED 295. Yas Island. Daily 11am–8pm. Contact: 02 496 8000, ferrariworldabudhabi.com

For the grown-ups

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On 8th December, head to McGettigan’s and enjoy the Jingle Bell Brunch with all the trimmings and a live band, while on 13th December, wear a festive sweater for the Christmas Jumper Party, with unlimited beverages and food. Prices vary. Al Raha Beach Hotel and Resort, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street. Times vary. Contact: 02 652 4333,
facebook.com/mcgettigansauh

Don your festive pyjamas on 14th December and head to Victors as the bar gets set to host its Poppin’ Christmas PJ Party. Take a selfie with Santa, enjoy the live band and if you turn up in the dress code, you could walk away with a grand cash prize. Free. Hilton Capital Grand, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street. From 9pm. Contact: 02 666 5508, facebook.com/advictors

Don’t put away the jumper just yet, though. At Velocity Sports Bar, those dressed in their best – or worst – Christmas sweater receive pints for just AED 10 every day until 24th December. Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi, Hazza Bin Zayed Street. 4pm-7pm. Contact: 02 304 7777, facebook.com/marriottdowntownad

Grab your mates and wear your most hideous seasonal sweater for a special festive discount at Jazz@Pizza Express’ brunch, as well as enjoy tunes from the soulful Martin Go. 15th and 22nd December. AED 179 in costume, AED 199 otherwise. The Hub, World Trade Center Mall, Khalifa Street. Noon–4pm. Contact: 02 444 7752, facebook.com/jazzpizzaexpressad

Christmas shopping

Until 9th December, Beach Rotana will be full of festive cheer with its 13th annual Swiss market. The hotel’s courtyard will be decked out in mini chalets plying Yuletide gifts, decorations and freshly-baked cookies, while a Swiss folk music band will deliver some seasonal musical cheer. Free. Next to Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Zahiyah. 4pm–10pm. Contact: 050 824 2931, facebook.com/swissxmasabudhabi

Get your hands on unique gifts at Alliance Française’s Christmas market on 9th December. With stalls from local artisans and homegrown crafters, you could find some great stocking fillers here. Villa 75, off Al Bateen Street. 9.30am–5.30pm. Contact: 02 612 2900, afabudhabi.org

Christmas is all about giving, and if you’d like to give a little more, shop Sheraton Abu Dhabi’s seasonal second-hand flea market on 9th December. Not only can you snag some great gifts, but proceeds from stall rentals support children in need. Corniche East. 9am–2pm. Contact: 02 677 3333, facebook.com/sheratonabudhabi

Last minute stocking fillers and festive eats can be found at Le Méridien on 16th and 23rd December, with an al fresco Christmas market in The Village. Free. Next to Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Zahiyah. 4pm–9pm. Contact: 02 644 6666, facebook.com/lemeridienabudhabi

Santa sightings

He’s making a list and checking it twice! We have it on good authority that Saint Nick will be visiting these spots in Abu Dhabi…

Head to BU! on 9th December for a family brekkie and you’ll find Mr Claus has popped down for a visit – we’ve heard he loves a burrito. Prices vary. The Hub, World Trade Center Mall, Khalifa Street. 10am–3pm. Contact: 02 666 8066,
butrinity.com

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Santa will be on the move at Westin Abu Dhabi’s annual lawn chase on 9th December. Word is, he runs pretty fast, but if you can catch him then great prizes await. After all that activity, you can chill out at the Christmas market and snap up some bargains, plus enjoy carol singing and more. Free. Sas Al Nakhl. Noon–7pm. Contact: 02 616 9999, facebook.com/westinabudhabigolfresort

For Garden City residents, Santa will be making a stop at Hili Rayhaan by Rotana on 15th December. Enjoy freshly baked cookies and carol singing then tell the big guy what you really want for Christmas. 117th Street, Al Ain. 6pm–8pm. Contact: 03 705 3333, rotanatimes.com

WORDS Camille Hogg

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