Everything you need to know about visiting Abu Dhabi in December
Abu Dhabi is a truly magical place to be in December. National Day festivities are always a colourful and exciting way to kick off the month, with the whole country painting itself in the national flag colours of red, green, white & black.
Schools locally break up early to mid-December, and plenty of hotels and shopping malls can be found decking the halls. You can experience festive markets as well as full-on “winter wonderland”, and this year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will fall early in December.
A festive brunch in a nice hotel is an absolute must if you’re here over Christmas itself, or you can join in one of the many tree-lighting ceremonies, Santa Chases, or gingerbread house-making classes across the city.
There are carol services in church and out in the desert for anyone wanting to sing some good old-fashioned carols. Or, for a much more local traditional experience, why not attend a camel beauty pageant? You heard right; read on!!
Further Reading: When is the best time of year to visit Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi Weather in December
Abu Dhabi’s average daytime maximum temperature in December is a pleasant 24.7°C (76.5°F), with highs as much as 31.6°C (88.9°F) and average lows overnight down to 20.1°C (68.2°F).
In December, you should expect sea temperatures of 24.9°C (76.8°F) on average. Maximum sea temperatures are expected at 27.4°C (79.3°F) through to a minimum of 22.5°C (74.4°F) by month-end.
In general, you should expect mild, sunny days, but rainstorms are not out of the question in December. Whatever time of year you visit Abu Dhabi, you will still want a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses – you can find our full packing list tips for Abu Dhabi here.
Weather information sourced from the National Centre of Meteorology Climate Report 2003-2019 for Abu Dhabi Corniche and seatemperature.org
Abu Dhabi Special Events in December 2024
We are still updating this monthly guide to Abu Dhabi events for December 2024; many events still reference 2023 so please check back later in the year as we update this guide.
Annual Events in Abu Dhabi During December
- Commemoration Day – 1 December – a day of respect for those who lost their lives serving the UAE. Schools will convert to distance learning on this day, but no public holiday will occur. TBC 2024
- National Day – 2, 3, & 4 December – 2024 will mark 53 years since the unification of the United Arab Emirates. (Public Holiday) – learn more here. There will be fireworks in various locations, including the Emirates Palace, Yas Bay, Al Maryah Island, Bawabat Al Sharq Mall, and the Sheikh Zayed Festival. There are also likely to be fireworks on Abu Dhabi Corniche (although these locations are yet to be confirmed).
- The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held annually on the Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island. This event typically occurs in late November, but the busy events schedule sees the annual season closer, occurring from 6-8 December this year. Make sure you grab your tickets to the GP early, as the event does sell out, or reserve your seat at a Grand Prix Brunch for a unique way to experience the race.
- Al Dhafra Festival – A traditional Bedouin Festival held in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region, near the town of Madinat Zayed. Events range from Saluki racing and falconry to the much-converted – Camel Mazayna, finding the region’s most beautiful camels. This really is one of the country’s most exciting and intriguing cultural events – you can learn more here. This year’s festival is still TBC (last year it ran from the 21st of October 2023 until the 8th of February 2024).
- Sheikh Zayed Festival – Held nightly on the outskirts of the city in a purpose-built showground, this annual event showcases local culture. We expect the opening fat to be around 15 November and run throughout winter. Learn more here.
- The Mother of the Nation Festival will bring a variety of live acts and other entertainment around the Emirate with events centred on Abu Dhabi Corniche from December 8th until December 31st (2024 TBC). For more details, click here or jump over here to book your tickets.
Winter Festivities in Abu Dhabi 2024
There’s usually a huge array of Christmas events held in Abu Dhabi in December, from Santa Chase events to Christmas markets, various tree lighting ceremonies, the Winter Wonderland showcase on Al Maryah Island and a big Christmas family event on Yas Island.
These are some of the events that occurred in December 2023 (We’ll be updating for 2024 in Q4)
- Stock up on Christmas goodies and enjoy a visit from Santa at Le Royal Meridien’s Jingle Bells Family Market on the 2nd of December.
- Breakfast with Santa at Le Royal Meridien. Join the big man in red whilst indulging in a delicious breakfast at the cosy Royal Meridien on Sundays from the 3rd of December until the 18th of December 2023.
- There will be Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies throughout the city during December with the Emirates Palace lighting their gorgeous tree on the 8th.
- As well as tree lighting ceremonies, there’s likely to be lots of gingerbread house-making workshops around town. One of the best can be found at the St. Regis, also on the 8th of December.
- This year, Yas Winter Fest will take place at Yas Gateway Park from the 6th to the 10th of December. There will be loads of winter-themed fun at this family-friendly festive event.
- ‘Winterfest’ also comes to Ferrari World on the 8th of December and will stay until the 7th of January. There will be festive shows, arts and crafts, and gingerbread decorating workshops (book in advance to avoid disappointment).
- There are Christmas trees galore at Warner Brother’s World’s Winter Spectacular, running from December the 5th until January the 9th 2024.
- The Illusionists will be bringing ‘Magic of the Holidays’ stage show to Etihad Arena from the 8th to the 10th of December.
- Little ones can get festive with the Dear Santa festive event at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation on the 10th of December.
- Enjoy your favourite Christmas movie soundtracks with a Candlelight Christmas at the Emirates Palace on the 15th of December.
- NB Christmas Day, Monday the 25th of December 2023, is NOT a public holiday in the UAE. All shops and businesses will trade as normal for a Monday. Restaurant Christmas Day brunches book up early, so make sure that you book in advance. There’s a good, up-to-date guide here on what to expect in Abu Dhabi over Christmas.
- New Year’s Eve – celebrations across the city on 31 December! You can find a detailed guide to what’s happening for New Year’s Eve in Abu Dhabi here.
Other Special Events in Abu Dhabi in December 2024
In addition to annual cultural festivals and winter events, numerous other interesting things are going on in the capital this December:
- The Etihad Arena is the place to celebrate National Day this year with an extraordinary concert experience featuring popular Emirati singers Hussain Al Jassmi, Balqees and Ahlam. To find out more click here.
- The Meteora World Tennis League will be bringing ‘the greatest show on court’ to the Etihad Arena between the 21st and 24th of December. As well as the action on court, there will be a range of international stars in concert including 50 Cent, Akon, Ne-Yo, and UB40. For tickets and more information, click here.
- The EMG Gaming Festival will hit the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on December the 8th.
- The 15th December sees Umsiyat 2023: Fang Jinlong and the Chinese Chamber Orchestra performing at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation.
- The BLAST Premier World Final will take at the Etihad Arena on the 16th and 17th of December, with the world’s best Esports teams competing for prizes worth $1 Million.
- The Michelin Guide Food Festival will be held from the 8th to the 10th of December at Louvre Abu Dhabi Park.
Suggested Abu Dhabi Activities in December 2024
December is the perfect month for experiencing the UAE’s desert. Take a night time desert safari, which includes dune bashing, camel rides, sandboarding, henna painting, and traditional music around a Bedouin camp.
There are many companies that offer this service with pickups from central Abu Dhabi hotels or other pick-up points; here are a few to try:
Day Trips from Abu Dhabi in December 2024
It’s a great time of year for heading further afield in the cooler weather, so why not arrange a camping trip into the Liwa Desert?
Explore the UAE’s vast empty quarter
Do it in style and stay overnight in Qasr Al Sarab or join a more rustic group of campers who will take you deep into the dunes and past Liwa’s historic and hidden forts.
Historic Al Ain
Open during the winter season, take a step back in time at the Jebel Hafit Desert Park, and explore the UNESCO sites of Al Ain, followed by glamping or BYO camping site options at the foot of Jebel Hafit, the tallest mountain in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Alternatively, as mentioned above, a day trip out to the Al Dhafra Festival is one of the most unique and rewarding cultural experiences not to be missed. You will need to hire your own car and probably get slightly lost in the desert but it’s a wonderful and unique experience you’ll never forget – a detailed guide here on how to get there and what to expect as a tourist.
Abu Dhabi With Kids in December 2024
This is definitely the kids’ time of year in Abu Dhabi! From Mall Santas and festive winter wonderlands, our top pick for an action-packed outing is Ferrari World. During December, as well as their fabulous fun adrenaline rides with an Italian motoring theme, they run Winter Wonderland, full of extra shows and events over the December school holidays.
Close to the city, many new leisure facilities have opened on Al Hudayriat Island, including Circuit X with a skate park, high ropes course, BMX track and splash park – timed slots by age groups on weekends so even your littlest ones can join the fun. There’s also a free beach and cycling track here, the newly opened heritage trail and even some glamping options, just a stone’s throw from the city.
For more nature experiences, check out Jubail Mangrove Park, on the outskirts of the city between Saadiyat Island and Yas Island enjoy the wonders of the mangroves in this boardwalk park, or take a kayak to get up close for this amazingly tranquil experience.
Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack as well as top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our hotel or tour recommendation links.Abu Dhabi Travel Planner