Seasonal events in Dubai

There’s always something happening in Dubai

Plan your visit around the best seasonal events and make your stay in Dubai unforgettable.

Melinda HealyJournalist and travel writer
15 September 2022

Dubai is a spirited destination, full of life and packed with tourist appeal. All year-round Dubai is an arresting destination, where you can see wonders that will stay with you forever. It’s as much about playing host to elite sporting events as it is about acknowledging its cultural past and paving the way as a global innovation leader. You just have to look at the city’s seasonal calendar to see that not only does the emirate rate right up there as an art powerhouse, it can also lay claim to some of the world’s most notable shopping destinations. Whether traveling as a family unit, on your own, as a couple or in a group, Dubai has something to suit all tastes and interests, in winter or summer, autumn or spring.

Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature (early February)

One for literary lovers, the Emirates Lit Fest has grown considerably since its first iteration in 2009. Considered right up there with some of the world’s most prominent international events, the 10-day festival features a series of workshops and debates, panel discussions with renowned local and international authors, and performances. Amateur writers are encouraged to enter a plethora of story and letter writing competitions.

Sponsored by Emirates Airlines, this literary celebration is the work of the Emirates Literature Foundation, a non-profit organisation that’s all about bettering literary skills in the region. For more on the festival go to

Art Dubai (early March)

For the past 16 years, the Middle East’s leading international art fair has done its bit to raise the profile of Dubai-based artists and those from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region and get them the international recognition they deserve. The three-day fair is held at Madinat Jumeirah and features curated works in the categories of Contemporary Modern, Bawwaba (“Gateway” in Arabic) and Art Dubai Digital, with as many as 80 galleries from more than 30 countries on display. Tickets cost about AED 60: for more details head online to

Dubai International Boat Show (early March)

This five-day extravaganza is touted as the ‘most exciting marine and lifestyle show’ in the region. Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or in the market for an upgrade or new vessel, Dubai Harbour is the place to be. Superyachts, luxury yachts and even innovative prototypes call this marina home for the duration of the show. And while we all know that it’s the boats that draw the crowds, there is entertainment on the sidelines and plenty of dreamy competitions on offer too. Ticket prices vary by season. Register your interest at

Dubai World Cup (late March)

The world’s richest horse race brings the world’s largest integrated racing facility to capacity every year. Offering a purse of $12 million, the Dubai World Cup attracts royalty, A-grade celebrities, racing enthusiasts and tourists with an appetite for entertainment to Meydan Racecourse.

No gambling

Gambling is against Sharia Law, which means it’s illegal to bet on the races in Dubai. If caught you could face a hefty penalty.

Located 10 minutes from Business Bay and with 60,000 spectators on the edge of their seats for the nine-race programme, the World Cup is one of the biggest parties on the calendar. The after-race entertainment is as much of a drawcard as the racing itself, with artists like Rudimental, David Guetta and J-Lo closing out the big day.

General admission and premium ticket packages vary by when you buy them, so check the website for the latest prices.

Dubai Summer Surprises (Jul 1 - Sep 4)

It’s no secret that Dubai is an international shopping destination, home to some of the world’s biggest malls, but for 10 weeks during summer, tourists and visitors are enticed indoors and given incentive to spend. For the past 25 years, Dubai Summer Surprises has seen retailers drop some of the biggest discounts and deals around. Restaurants, hotels and entertainment complexes often get in on the action too. The deals, surprises and promotions can take up to 90% off, so hold onto your wallets if you’re visiting during this period. For more go to

Dubai Garden Glow (Sep-Jul)

This attraction is a family favourite, for obvious reasons – it’s a shining light on the annual calendar, and ticks all the boxes with its glow-in-the-dark displays, neighbouring dinosaur attraction, and, of course, yummy food and photo opportunities. Millions of LED energy saving lights and recycled materials have been used to bring Zabeel Park to life and it’s simply mesmerising. Said to be the world’s first outdoor glow garden, every inch of the 40-acre park lights up the soul, and kids can be heard gasping at every turn. It’s pure delight and costs AED 55 to enter. For more go to

Dubai Miracle Garden (Oct-Feb)

This ‘blooming’ great spectacle is in keeping with everything Dubai does – it’s world-class. Each year this 72,000 sq m garden paradise comes to life with as many as 150 million flowers awakening everyone’s spirit. Designed to capture the imagination, the Miracle Garden was first established in 2013 and continues to turn heads year after year with its quirky displays, just like the much-publicised Emirates Airbus A380 super jumbo aircraft emblazoned with greenery. Avoid the crowds by visiting the Dubailand attraction during the week. Tickets cost from AED 40 – you can buy them online.

Global Village (Oct-Apr)

For the past 25 years, residents and visitors have been making their way to this open-air attraction in droves. Located off Sheikh Zayed Road at Exit 37, the ​​17,200,000 sq ft destination features 26 pavilions representing 80 countries. There are a host of rides, food for miles and cultural entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.

Whether showering your tastebuds with authentic Yemeni honey or Moroccan Tagine, sitting tight for the fireworks, or snapping a selfie in front of the ‘Eiffel Tower’, Global Village is a favourite and an event that is anticipated all year round. Open from 4pm, it’s best to arrive early to beat the crowds. Tickets start from AED 20. For more go to

Rugby Sevens (early December)

The Dubai Rugby Sevens is considered the largest international sporting event in the Middle East and the three-day event is as much about the off-field action as it is the competition on it. Fresh from the Hong Kong round, spectators will converge on Dubai’s purpose-built rugby field – Sevens Stadium – all of them getting into the spirit by dressing up and celebrating in the stands and at the Rugby Rocks concerts.

There are several ticketing options to choose from, from general passes to reserved weekend seating and VIP Hangar passes. Ticket prices vary from year to year. For more check out

National Day Parade (Dec 2)

The UAE uses National Day to acknowledge the country’s formal nationalisation and the beginning of the federal unification of the Emirates in 1971. Widespread celebrations are held across the UAE, with street parades, fireworks, and concerts held during the two-day public holiday period. It’s a joyful time of the year and one the locals look forward to – it is an opportunity to reflect on how far the UAE has come since unification. The parks fill up with families gathering together, and the streets and buildings are emblazoned with the colours of the UAE flag.

About the author

Melinda HealyAlthough born in PNG, Mel is an Aussie-made journo who's always been more interested in passport stamps than possessions. A whiz with words, Mel spent a number of years living and working in the United Arab Emirates, it was here that she shared insight into Dubai and Abu Dhabi with the world. Mel believes travel is a privilege and an educator.