falcons on display for national day at Yas Bay waterfront

UAE’s 53rd National Day Events in Abu Dhabi For 2024

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner Team

Looking to visit Abu Dhabi over the National Day weekend in early December?

It is an amazing time to be in Abu Dhabi. Not only are you almost guaranteed beautiful mild weather in early December, but there is always so much going on!

National Day (recently renamed Union Day) is celebrated on 2 December to mark the day the country of the United Arab Emirates was formed in 1971 under a Federal Constitutional Monarchy. 2024 marks 53 years of unification.

We’re presently updating this guide for 2024; listings below refer to 2023 to give you an ideal of what to expect

As well as celebrating the history and culture of the UAE, National Day also marks the achievements of all Abu Dhabi residents. Children dress in the colour of the flag, and people decorate their houses and cars with all sorts of UAE-themed paraphernalia.

How long is the National Day holiday?

In December 2024, Abu Dhabi residents will enjoy a 4-day weekend from Saturday, 30 November to Tuesday, 3 December.

We await notification in 2024 on which day Commemoration Day (originally called Martyrs Day) will be observed and whether an additional day of Public Holidays will be added for the occasion, as it was NOT granted as a day off in 2023.

Abu Dhabi National Day Events in 2024

The traditional National Day show will be broadcast on TV and online, followed by events across the UAE. This year’s major event will occur at Expo City Dubai as part of COP28. Here are some of the events due to take place in Abu Dhabi: 

National Day Celebration at Etihad Arena 2023

A unique new event for National Day 52 in Abu Dhabi, this stage event is to be held on Friday, 1 December, at Etihad Arena, bringing together a spectacular lineup of Emirati artists, including Hussain Al Jassmi, Balqees, and Ahlam with national songs and smash hits.

Tickets start from AED 250, with doors opening at 7:30 pm, and the show starts at 8:00 pm.

Buy tickets to this event on PlatinumList

Fireworks & Festivities at the Galleria Mall – Al Maryah Island 2023

This year, The Galleria on Al Maryah Island will be hosting a 2-day National Day commemorative event on Saturday, 2 December and Sunday, 3 December 2023, on the Promenade (between the Rosewood Hotel and Four Seasons).

Held from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM, enjoy traditional National Day events with the following highlights:

  • Nightly fireworks display at 9:00 PM.
  • Abu Dhabi Police Marching Band can be seen on 2nd December from 4 pm to 5 pm.
  • Collaboration with Abu Dhabi National Library and Archives – share part of the UAE’s history with the beautiful display on Level G showing historic images of the UAE and H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Learn more here.

National Day Fireworks at Al Maryah Island

Celebrate at Yas Bay Waterfront 2023

Celebrations will take place at the Yas Bay Waterfront on both Saturday, 2 December and Sunday, 3 December, from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Visitors can expect a great array of activities, including henna artists and craft demonstrations, including Talli Embrodiery and Khoos weaving demonstrations, along with photo opportunities with falcons and beloved Ayyala dance performances – traditional cane stick dancing.

ayyala dancers
national day craft stalls at Yas Bay waterfront national day celebrations
  • NB, we were advised that fireworks would not take place this year at Yas Bay; but they did indeed go ahead on 2 December. We have again asked the organisers for clarity if there will be a display held on the evening of 3 December.

Be a real culture vulture at the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival – Al Wathba

National Day celebrations include all districts and exhibitions around the festival, fireworks shows, and local and international music.

  • The festival opens from 4:00 PM daily and stays open until midnight (1:00 AM on public holidays), with a fireworks display due to be held at 9:00 PM on the evenings of 2 and 3 December 2023. This will be accompanied by an innovative drone show.

Learn more about National Day celebrations at the Festival here

If you will be travelling to Dubai over the long weekend, please see this guide to Dubai National Day events in 2023.

Family Fun at Umm Al Emarat Park 2023

Celebrate with the whole family at Umm Al Emarat Park this National Day!

A Police Parade will kick off celebrations before enjoying the captivating rhythm of Ayallah dancers.

Enjoy a traditional pearl show with live maritime demonstrations and stroll the Park Market, which includes hands-on experiences for kids and cookie colouring workshops.

Henna artists will also be on hand, along with interactive games. And not to miss, the food, of course! Traditional Loqaimat and other mouthwatering treats will be a highlight of a National Day trip to Umm al Emarat Park.

  • Celebrations have been scheduled for 1 and 2 December, 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Umm Al Emarat Park National Day celebrations

Marsana Hudayriat Island

Celebrate National Day at this exciting waterfront venue. An immersive display of giant flags in honour of the UAE’s space exploration ambitions will be on display, along with Ayala dancer performances, henna and face painting. Enjoy local delicacies, including loqaimat, with your Emirati hosts serving traditional Arabic coffee and tea.

  • Saturday, 2 December, 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM
ayala dancers at Marsana Al Hudayriyat

Al Mugheirah Bay

If you’d like to explore beyond the city, this weekend is the perfect opportunity to explore further into the Western Region. Al Mugheirah Bay will have Ayala dancers, along with local delicacies and henna painting under a wonderful canopy of UAE flags.

  • Saturday, 2 December, 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM

A Spectacle at Qasr Al Watan (2022)

No official plans have yet been made, but it is likely that the usual Palace in Motion Sound and Light show at Qasr al Watan will be accompanied by patriotic images of the UAE flag and a rousing rendition of the national anthem as it was in 2021.

The Palace is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM over the National Day long weekend.

The Palace in Motion show usually commences at 6:45 PM; we await final confirmation of any specific 2023 National Day event.

Tickets to the Palace are 65 AED adults; 30 AED children

Learn more at qasralwatan.ae

Celebrate together at Qasr Al Hosn (2022)

There will be a full three days of celebrations at Qasr Al Hosn, including traditional performances and workshops as well as a variety of competitions. (TBC 2023)

New in 2023: Taste Adventure Awaits – a nightly local food festival taking place at Qasr Al Hosn from 9 November to 8 December 2023.

Al Fursan National Day Airshow – Abu Dhabi Corniche NOT CONFIRMED 2023

The annual National Day air show normally takes place on the Abu Dhabi Corniche on the 2nd of December between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm; however, please note that this event is yet to be confirmed from official sources for 2023.

In fact, it has not occurred for the past two years, much to the disappointment of the crowds who have gathered, so please keep an eye on official news channels before you go. We DO think there will be a fireworks display, though, so watch this space as we await the official Government announcement for 2023 (we still never received an official announcement).

National Day Fireworks in Abu Dhabi 2024

We still await official Government confirmation for UAE National Day Fireworks in Abu Dhabi for 2024.

In 2023, many venues announced that they would not be running fireworks, but they subsequently did!

These destinations had fireworks shows in the pastr; we are updating each of these for 2024 as we get confirmation:

  • Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Municipality Building 8:30 PM (2023 TBC)
  • Al Maryah Island 9:00 PM 2 & 3 December 2023
  • Yas Bay Waterfront cancelled 2023 [but did occur on 2 December 2023]
  • Emirates Palace Hotel 9.00 PM cancelled 2023
  • Bawabat Al Sharq Mall 9:00 PM (2023 TC)
  • Al Shahama (Wedding Hall) 8.30 PM (2023 TBC)
  • Mussafah (Emirates Driving Company) 8.30 PM (2023 TBC)
  • Mohamed Bin Zayed City (Mazyad Mall) 8.30 PM (2023 TBC)
  • Al Shamkhah (at the dock) 8.30 PM (2023 TBC)
  • Sheikh Zayed Festival, Al Wathha time TBC (2 & 3 December 2023)
  • Al Dhafra (City Mall, Madinat Zayed) 9.00 PM (2023 TBC)
  • Al Ain Jebel Hafit and Al Ain Municipality building 8:00 PM (2023 TBC)

Abu Dhabi Discounts for National Day

We can always expect an array of juicy discounts on offer over the National Day long weekend.

Yas Stay & Play Packages 2023

Book your hotel stay at any of the Yas Island hotels over National Day weekend, and not only will you receive theme park tickets for each day of your stay, but you will also get access to the Yas Bay fireworks and free entry to Yas Beach and Cyan Beach.

For more information, click here.

The Emirates Palace 2023

The Emirates Palace are offering special rates and staycation packages for the National Day weekend. The deal includes a complimentary National Day-themed breakfast at Vendôme for two, National Day brunch or dinner at Vendôme for two and a National Day-themed coffee at Episodes for two.

You’ll be in the perfect place to enjoy a variety of National Day activities as well as fireworks at the end of the day (we understand now cancelled by Government Mandate).

For more details click here.

Retail Sales

Here are a few National Day deals that stand out:

  • Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has a special promotion for bookings made on 20 November for flights 15 Jan – 25 October 2024

Other things to know about the National Day Holidays in Abu Dhabi

  • Schools, Government offices and most businesses will have at least Monday, 4 December off to celebrate this special occasion – visitors should be mindful of this if they need any sort of visa processing, etc.
  • If you have a car, public parking is free! (but be mindful that everywhere can be INCREDIBLY busy!) Take public transport if you can.
  • If you are travelling by private car, plan your trip carefully to avoid road closures, particularly in the hour or so before/after the fireworks are due to occur.
  • Want to get dressed up?  Go for it! Traditional dress in the colours of the UAE flag, locals and residents alike wear the UAE’s colours of red, green, white and black with pride; you should feel free to do the same.

More about December in Abu Dhabi!

Also in December – don’t miss the Mother of the Nation Festival (MOTN) taking place from 9 to 18 December 2022 on the Abu Dhabi Corniche – more details and ticket pricing can be found here.

Our complete guide to what’s going on in Abu Dhabi this December can be found here

Before you go… Important things to consider planning a trip to Abu Dhabi


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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

Cover image: Yas Bay festivities, including falconry displays, courtesy of Weber Shadwick/Miral

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