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Best Places In Dubai to Visit During UAE National Day Holidays

The UAE National Day Holidays are upon us, marking the unification of the seven emirates into one nation back in 1971. As the country gears up to celebrate its 52nd anniversary, festivities and events occur across Dubai to commemorate this momentous occasion. 

From world-class shows and spectacular fireworks displays to cultural festivals and exciting activities, there is no shortage of incredible experiences in the city. To help you make the most of the 4-day public holiday weekend, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to the best places in Dubai to visit during the UAE National Day celebrations.

Downtown Dubai

The vibrant Downtown Dubai neighborhood completely transforms into a sea of colors with decorations blanketing the best luxury properties in Dubai. Nestled right at its heart is the world-famous Burj Khalifa, the epicenter for some of the city’s most lively National Day festivities. 

Be sure to pass by the Dubai Mall to see it decked out wall-to-wall in decorations as lively music and dance performances bring performers dressed in traditional attire. Nearby Souk Al Bahar will host a special bazaar where you can shop for souvenirs while indulging in Emirati cuisine and Arabic sweets. 

Top Things To Do:

1. Watch the mesmerizing LED light and fireworks show at Burj Khalifa

Each year, Being a luxury property in Dubai, Burj Khalifa puts up a massive display of colorful lights and beams coordinated to the UAE national anthem, flag colors, and cultural songs. The Dubai Fountain dance performances also happen in sync, making it an unmissable spectacle.

The shows typically take place from 6 PM to 9 PM between December 1st and 3rd, so be sure to head there early to grab the best viewpoints. Some venues at The Dubai Mall terraces and Souk Al Bahar will have tables for dinner with a direct sightline, too.

2. See Dubai Frame lit up 

The striking Dubai Frame structure is another famous city landmark decorated with lights to mark National Day. Visit during sunset hours from December 1st to 3rd as its golden facade glitters from thousands of bulbs. 

Make your way up to the Sky Deck viewpoint on the top floor to capture some Instagram-worthy shots with the colors beaming against the Dubai skyline at night. 

3. Browse through retail and food markets

With many people on holiday for the long weekend, downtown venues gear up with retail markets and pop-up food stalls amidst all the celebrations. From handicrafts and souvenir stores to food trucks dishing out Emirati snacks, browsing through them makes for a fun cultural experience.

Souk Al Bahar and Zabeel Park are some of the best places that will host the UAE National Day Market from 4 PM onwards between December 1st and 3rd. Expect henna artists, Arabic calligraphy displays, karak tea stations, and more there too.

Global Village

As Dubai’s biggest cultural extravaganza, Global Village completely embraces the National Day vibes with decorations galore and exciting festivities across its 100+ pavilions. Expect stage shows, live music, folk dances, fireworks, and endless cultural entertainment throughout your visit.

Top Things To Do: 

1. Catch the UAE National Day concerts  

At the main stage and cultural venues, specially curated National Day concerts will happen every evening. Top Emirati artists like Hussain Al Jassmi, Eida Al Menhali, and Mohammed Al Shehhi will perform between December 1st and 3rd. 

Visitors can sing and dance along to beloved patriotic songs as the musicians pump up nostalgic tunes in harmony. Tickets typically sell out fast, so book your slots early if you want guaranteed entry.

2. Watch the dazzling fireworks displays 

As one of the best places in Dubai to enjoy fireworks, Global Village puts up massive pyrotechnic shows every National Day evening at 9 PM and 10:30 PM between December 1st and 3rd. 

Head to the central Carnaval funfair zone 10-15 minutes early to occupy the best viewing spots, as the open areas give a direct sightline facing the main stage. You can catch the colorful lights glittering over the Global Village backdrop for an Instagrammable video, too!

3. Indulge in National Day specials 

From decoration vouchers and gift hampers to wallet top-ups and retail discounts, keep an eye out for National Day special deals at stores and kiosks across Global Village. 

There’s plenty to shop at the World Market area with souvenirs while the food carts will dish out Emirati snacks like balaleet (sweet vermicelli) and madrouba (sweet coconut fingers). 

4. Marvel at the UAE National Day Carnival Parade

On December 2nd evening, a grand carnival parade will be held at Global Village featuring over 500 performers and walkabout artists dressed in traditional Arabian attire. It’s a lively event for families where marching bands spiel out beloved Emirati songs as dancers spread the festive cheer.

Expect appearances from stilt walkers, dancing horses, and even parachutists descending from the sky above! Be sure to line up across the Main Square zone by 5:30 PM to occupy a good spot. 

Dubai Mall & Souk Al Bahar  

As two of the top places to visit in Dubai, Dubai Mall, and Souk Al Bahar also host National Day decorations and events galore across all levels and outdoor terraces. Between the never-ending shopping sprees and dining choices, you’ll come across plenty of entertainment, too.

Top Things To Do:

1. See the UAE National Day decor and projections 

Once night falls, impressive light displays brighten up Dubai Mall’s interiors and exteriors in coordination with the Burj Khalifa shows nearby. The Souk Al Bahar archways lit up in red, green, and black hues.

Both venues also have outdoor seating terraces and lounges overlooking Burj Khalifa that offer exclusive views of the National Day projections screened on the building facade. 

2. Watch cultural performances at the Waterfall Atrium

At Dubai Mall’s central Waterfall Atrium zone, National Day cultural performances will happen multiple times from 6 PM onwards between December 1st and 3rd. 

Visitors can catch traditional Ayala and Yola dance shows as performers dressed in Emirati attire spin and sway gracefully to the nostalgic music. It makes for a picturesque spectacle with the illuminated waterfall in the backdrop.

3. Dine at Souk Al Bahar restaurants  

While checking out Souk Al Bahar’s National Day bazaar and henna artists, make time for a meal at one of the sit-down restaurants. Top picks like Shabestan and Arabian Tea House offer set menus with classic Emirati dishes to celebrate the flavors of the UAE. 

Their outdoor terraces present a nice ambiance to unwind over food as you watch the dazzling colors of the Burj Khalifa light shows nearby.

4. Kids can enjoy the festive atmosphere 

Little ones will love the celebratory atmosphere across Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar, with mascots like Modhesh distributing balloons and candies. 

At Dubai Mall, the animated characters get dressed up in National Day-themed outfits too. So expect to spot them across all levels for selfies and hugs with the young fans. It makes for a fun family day out!   

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The Beach Opposite JBR

As one of Dubai’s top lifestyle destinations, The Beach offers fun ways to soak in the National Day holiday vibes across its retail and dining attractions. Wander through the decorated marketplace or relax by the waterfront as fireworks paint up the skies.

Top Things To Do:

1. Watch the fireworks over the sea

Head to The Beach by 8 PM on December 2nd for the spectacular National Day fireworks hosted there at 9 PM. Find a spot to settle down across the grassy lawns and outdoor dining terraces that offer a direct sightline facing the Arabian Gulf waters.

You’ll have a panoramic view overlooking the fireworks glittering over the ocean, backdropped by the towering skyscrapers along the Marina and JBR coastline. It makes for quintessential Dubai imagery worth documenting on cameras!  

2. Shop at the National Day Market  

During National Day weekends, the open spaces around The Beach are occupied by local pop-up market stalls filled with Emirati-themed gifts and handicrafts. 

Browse through handmade souvenirs, organic food products, traditional attire, miniature paintings, and more as you immerse yourself in local art forms and appreciate the rich culture. 

3. Dine with a view 

Make your National Day evening extra special by reserving a table at one of the rooftop restaurants lining The Beach. Sophisticated venues like Asia Asia and Koko Bay have terraces offering uninterrupted views of the grand fireworks in the Arabian Gulf waters.

Pair the sights with fine wines and gourmet plates for an indulgent celebration-filled night. Call ahead, though, as these prime spots tend to get fully booked.

4. Catch public musical performances

To bring alive the festive cheer on National Day evenings, the central plaza stages at The Beach will host musicians playing beloved Emirati tunes. 

Dance along and sing the classics with members of the public of all ages as popular bands recreate nostalgic, patriotic songs for visitors to enjoy.  

Dubai Festival City Mall 

As Dubai’s biggest family entertainment destination, Dubai Festival City Mall pulls out all the stops for UAE National Day by blanketing itself in splendid decorations and hosting exciting activities. Outside, IMAGINE laser shows will highlight breathtaking visuals related to Emirati culture and traditions. 

Top Things To Do:

1. See the Festival Bay laser show 

Dubai Festival City is renowned for its cutting-edge IMAGINE laser show that represents stunning designs via lights beaming from nearby skyscrapers. 

The National Day edition pays tribute to iconic Emirati elements with eye-catching graphics showing coffee pots, Bedouin tents, camels, and more! The illuminated visuals projected over the Festival Bay waters look even more surreal once night falls.

Find a nice waterfront dining spot or wander the promenade for majestic views. Shows typically occur after 8 PM between December 1st and 3rd, lasting 15-20 minutes, so schedule your visit accordingly.  

2. Ride the Abra boats

As you explore Dubai Festival City Mall’s surroundings, hop onto traditional Abra boats for quick 5-minute rides to cross between the retail and residential zones. A nice way to take in the sights, the small wooden vessels hark back to the UAE’s pearling history and give a taste of Emirati culture.

3. Try National Day desserts 

The Festival Plaza dining hub will buzz with pop-up stalls offering Arabic sweets and luqaimat (fried dough balls with date syrup) made especially for National Day. 

Tucking into them makes for an authentic Emirati experience. Sweet-toothed foodies must try the puffy golden Zalabiya pastries, too – a beloved local favorite. 

4. Enjoy family fun activities  

Especially on weekends, Dubai Festival City Mall will have roaming Emirati cultural mascots handing out balloons and sweets to kids during National Day. Henna artists and face painters will be stationed around as well.

Let the little ones partake in all the fun through dress-up photo booths, traditional game stations, and possibly camel rides! It promises smiling faces all day long.

La Mer Beachfront 

This lively beachfront spot at Jumeirah, which offers the best villas in Dubai, is ready to host celebrations across its hip dining, retail and recreational zones. Enjoy National Day vibes with beachfront views as colorful shows glitter Dubai’s coastline.  

Top Things To Do: 

1. Marvel at the Grand Parade 

On December 2nd, La Mer puts together an exciting National Day parade with hundreds of participants showcasing different aspects of Emirati culture. Expect marching bands, classic car displays, cultural dances and more.

It starts at 4 PM from the Laguna Waterpark zone and culminates at the central La Mer Fountain area around 6 PM. Reach early to occupy a nice roadside spot for the flag-waving spectacle. 

2. Watch fireworks explode over the ocean  

Time your visit with La Mer’s mega fireworks display hosted on December 2nd at 8:30 PM to celebrate the UAE National Day in style. Find a beachfront lounge spot at venues like SAL and Olea and gaze at the colorful sparks illuminating Dubai’s iconic skyline by the coast.

3. Shop local brands

National Day weekends see La Mer highlight many homegrown fashion and lifestyle labels at a dedicated retail enclave. Browse clothing, beauty products, accessories, homeware items and more from popular Emirati brands.

4. Dine under the stars 

An outdoor dinner by the sea is always special. On National Day evenings, La Mer’s cluster of beachfront restaurants like Folly and Mamaesh turn magical with views of glittering firecrackers painting Dubai’s night sky. 

Catching the action over some fine-dining makes for an unforgettable moment with loved ones. Call ahead for availability though as tables are in high demand. 

Dubai Frame

This iconic Dubai attraction brings National Day alive through decorations and activities at its piazza zone plus observation decks providing panoramic city views across both eras – old and new Dubai. Going up 150 meters, it’s quite a sight!

Top Things To Do:  

1. Capture skyline shots 

As one of Dubai’s best vantage points, the Dubai Frame observation decks provide incredible elevated views of Dubai’s sprawling landscape. Visitors can spot stunning 360 scenery from the floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Between December 1st and 3rd, the dusk timing lets you take in glittering sights of Dubai’s icons like Burj Khalifa glowing in UAE National Day decor. Definitely worth bringing your cameras!

2. Selfies at the picture frames  

In spirit with the venue name itself, gigantic picture frames have been erected around Dubai Frame’s courtyard zone to click some quirky self-portraits. 

Lined decoratively with National Day emblem colors, they make for fun photoshoots to reminisce the celebrations. Strike your best pose!  

3. Relish Emirati hospitality  

Local music, food stalls, and family entertainment will also take over Dubai Frame’s courtyard during the National Day weekend. Think live bands playing decades-old nationalistic songs as visitors feast on traditional Emirati snacks like balaleet and khameer. 

There will also be plenty of contests, giveaways, and giggling kids getting their faces painted in the flag’s colors. 

The Pointe at Palm Jumeirah

This chic retail and dining strip at Palm Jumeirah, the best residential community in Dubai, is ready to host exciting National Day events across all venues. Wander beside the scenic waterfront promenade as fireworks blast off in synchronization to Burj Al Arab’s shows.  

Top Things To Do:

1. Dine under the stars 

Outdoor restaurant terraces like Asia Asia and Mama Pho overlook Dubai’s glitzy coastline vistas, including Atlantis Hotel and Burj Al Arab. Reserve yourself a table at either on National Day evenings to catch celebrations with five-star views! 

Endless plates paired with glittering scenes of firecrackers make every moment picture-perfect. You’ll return home with a camera roll full of social media-worthy images.   

2. Relish the fireworks action 

The Pointe hosts incredible firework displays starting 9 PM on National Day evenings. Find a cosy spot at the waterfront promenade benches or wander through the courtyard beside Prive restaurant for enchanting views facing Burj Al Arab.

With elaborate shows happening on both sides, sparks literally surround all of The Pointe area much to delight for visitors looking to maximise their celebrations.  

3. Embrace retail therapy 

Treat yourself to the latest fashion at Courtyard Avenue, home to high-end brands like Fendi and Gucci. Given the public holiday, every label is sure to launch some attractive National Day offers and limited edition UAE-themed merchandise you can proudly flaunt as memorabilia. 

Keep aside extra luggage space while packing!      

4. Catch musical concerts  

Talented Emirati singers and bands will be lined up to play upbeat National Day tunes at the Central Avenue piazza. Bring your mats for a lively evening under the stars, enjoying contemporary renditions of the national anthem plus regional classics.   

Al Seef Heritage Area   

This sprawling creekside locality brings Dubai’s past to life through restored homes and wind towers interspersed by modern cafes and shops. Stroll beside the waterfronts while appreciating Emirati history and culture through authentic experiences.  

Top Things To Do:  

1. Tour traditional architecture 

Get lost amid labyrinth lanes showcasing over fifty traditional Gulf-style houses from the early 1900s. Note gorgeous decorative gypsum works across door frames and window panels paying homage to Dubai’s pearling era. 

Sign up for an insightful guided walkthrough to hear stories about Emirati tribes and forefathers while surveying these well-preserved relics.  

2. Savor Arabic hospitality  

At streetside Arabic restaurants like Aseelah and Al Fanar, sink your teeth into signature Emirati dishes like hareis, machboos, and luqaimat prepared by expert local cooks. Top it off with special UAE National Day dessert samplers and karak chai amid cozy courtyard ambiance.  

Practice using your hands instead of cutlery for an authentic cultural experience. Say shukran (thank you) to friendly servers too!

3. Shop traditional souvenirs   

National Day weekends see Al Seef bustle with pop-up market stalls selling regional handicrafts and memorabilia. Browse handmade perfume boxes, embroidered fabric rolls, incense burners, aromatic oils, and pure oud wood keepsakes from Yemen, Morocco, and India.

Dubai Parks and Resorts

This expansive theme park hub creates a festive spirit for UAE National days by creating colorful decorations and offering special rates across its Hollywood-inspired attractions. Thrill-seekers can ride world-class rollercoasters with views of grand fireworks. 

Top Things To Do:  

1. Watch firecrackers from rollercoasters  

Time your ride between 8 PM and 9 PM on National Day evenings so you’re gliding on attractions like Batman: Knight Flight and Green Lantern as fireworks blast outside. It makes for a euphoric experience! 

LEDUAE fog, an eco-friendly smoke device, also fills parts of the park in UAE flag colors bringing alive the celebrations. Definitely worth keeping your cameras ready.

2. Enjoy new stage shows

The central Riverland zone will host dedicated National Day concerts every evening featuring singers and musicians dressed in traditional Emirati attire. 

Visitors can sway to the feel-good music as choreographed dances and Arabic rhythms celebrate cultural roots with an extravagant spectacle of sights and sounds.  

3. Kids can meet their favorite characters 

From beloved DC Superheroes to cartoon stars like Scooby Doo, kids can bump into life-sized mascots walking about Riverland for hugs and snapshots. With all of them dressed up in UAE flag-inspired outfits, it doubles the holiday cheer.

4. Experience Emirati cultural displays 

Across Riverland, there will also be various educational showcases spotlighting Emirati heritage like Sadu weaving, Arabic calligraphy, and even camel-rearing! Kids and adults alike can get hands-on trying out these intricate arts.

Expo City Dubai

Although a year has passed since the extravaganza, Expo City Dubai continues the National Day festivities through colorful events at signature pavilions like Al Wasl Dome and the Surreal water feature. Don’t miss nightly fireworks too!

Top Things To Do: 

1. See impressive water and light shows 

At the epicenter zone with the 130-meter-tall Al Wasl Dome, magical displays of multicolored fountains and lights happen after sunset in tandem with regular fireworks. 

Dazzling graphics celebrating the UAE fly across the dome’s 360-degree canvas as visitors soak up the vibrant ambience from benches circling the massive water body. 

2. Take in the Surreal water feature 

The sparkling Surreal water and light feature provides more stunning visuals through its 290 water fountains and shifting colors. Come after dusk and find a nice spot around this popular selfie spot to witness an unforgettable show.

3. Watch fireworks glitter Expo City icons   

Each evening, starting 8 PM, impressive firecrackers launch off around Al Wasl’s periphery to create jaw-dropping scenery with Expo structures like the falcon-shaped UAE Pavilion and the glowing Garden in the Sky observation tower illuminated in the backdrop. 

4. Enjoy world festival performances 

Expo City continues to bring a global experience through ongoing cultural festivals. National Day weekends will spotlight accomplished Emirati talents taking centerstage alongside international artists and bands.  

Dubai Miracle Garden

The world’s biggest natural flower garden embraces National Day by installing a floral display of a gigantic UAE flag spanning over 18 meters in length! Kids and adults alike can walk through the creation of over 100,000 colorful petals.

Top Things To Do:

1. Marvel at Flower Flag spectacle 

This specially designed floral installation pays tribute to the UAE National Day as visitors can walk under and around it while capturing photos. Spanning 18.5 meters in width, it took gardeners over 72 hours to assemble into shape.

Other flower-covered National Day exhibits have been erected nearby too like floral camels and large 1971 emblem displays – all equally picture-worthy!  

2. Gaze at fireworks amid fairy tale settings

Find a nice spot on Dubai Miracle Garden’s grassy lawns or Switzerland village zone half an hour before 8 PM. Treat your eyes to dazzling firecrackers glittering up Dubai’s skies with this ever-blooming fantasy forest in the background. It promises dream-like views!

3. See everything in new colors  

From its 18-meter-high floral teddy bear to a colossal floating lady structure, the entire expanse of Dubai Miracle Garden has been repainted to match the UAE flag palette. So expect to see brilliant strokes of red, green and black hues blanketing its record-setting displays.

4. Dress up your little ones as Emiratis  

Let kids try on traditional Emirati attire available at pop-up tents set up within the garden premises on National Day weekends. Adorable ones get to dress like old-world Arabs in dishdashas, abayas and sheilas, adding fun twists to your family day out. 

Popular Events During UAE National Holidays

  1. The Magic of Michael Jackson

The National Day weekend is a time for great entertainment. One option is to see Michael: The Magic of Michael Jackson, a show starring Ben Bowman, a popular Michael Jackson tribute artist from the UK. Bowman will take you back to the golden musical era of the King of Pop. So, get ready to relive the good old days with this music maestro’s electrifying performance.

Venue: Coco-Cola Arena

Date: December 3, 2023

Time: From 20:00 hrs

Entry Fee: AED 140 – AED 460

  1. Rugby Sevens

One of the Middle East’s largest and most anticipated sport and entertainment events is returning in December, making it the perfect way to spend your National Day holiday. With high-energy athletes and brilliant DJ performers involved, you’re sure to have an exciting and fun-filled experience.

Venue: Sevens Stadium Dubai

Date: December 1 to December 3, 2023

Entry Fee: AED 425 – AED 550

Wrapping Up

That brings our guide to an end on the very best National Day celebrations happening across Dubai for memorable holidays with your loved ones. From world-famous fireworks and cultural performances to historic sightseeing and family entertainment, there’s something incredible for visitors of all ages to enjoy. 

So get into the celebrations and happy UAE National Day! Whatever you end up doing, this list has got you covered for a weekend filled with festivities.

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