With the winter solstice on the news over the weekend, I had my thoughts on what to do and where to go on the "longest and coldest night of the year" in the UAE. Though it was written on the news that it may rain, I chose not to bury myself under the warm fuzzy blanket at home. This sun-drenched girl officially said goodbye to the hot and humid summer days and welcomed the winter chill in an Arabian Winter Wonderland!
'Tis the season to be jolly... and 'tis the season for the Souk Festive Market! The annual winter wonderland at Madinat Jumeirah is back. This time it's bigger, better and brighter! From December 17 to December 27, 2013, Souk Madinat's outdoor amphitheater turns into an enchanting Christmas village from 3pm to 12mn on weekdays, and 1pm to 12mn on weekends!
|entrance to the Arabian Winter Wonderland|
|Christmas in Dubai|
The star of the festive market is the dazzling eight metre tall Christmas Tree. Adorned with red, white and gold Christmas ornaments, and a bright star on top, it is the most eye-catching attraction around the village. A kiddie train, or a North Pole Train in a child's point of view, runs around the gigantic tree.
|the "star" of the Souk Festive Market|
|the North Pole train rockin' around the Christmas Tree|
Santa Claus came to town! He posed for a photo and even gave me a high five! The Christmas Elf, who is ironically taller than Santa, brought additional holiday cheer as he performed tricks for the kids and the kids at heart.
There are loads of fun activities for the children; from the classic winter games like snowball fight and ice skating, to the unique Rodeo Reindeer ride and Zorb water ball at Madinat Jumeirah's waterway.
|Who's up for a snowball fight?|
|Or would you rather glide at the ice rink?|
|How about a Rodeo Reindeer ride?|
|Don't forget the Zorb ball!|
The Souk Festive Market is not just for the kids. Grown-ups went shopping at the festival booths, grabbed seasonal treats like roasted chestnuts and gingerbread, and watched a cooking show!
|What to put in the Christmas stocking? You can find great gifts at Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales' booths.|
|Hungry? Have some warm pretzel, roasted chestnuts and more!|
|learn to whip up a new dessert at Lindt's cooking show|
On a Saturday and the winter solstice, I never thought that the crowd would be that much at Souk Madinat. We had to wait for an hour to get a table for two at The Noodle House! While waiting, we listened to Tim Hassall's acoustic versions of popular Christmas songs as we chilled-out beside a grizzly bear and Frosty the snowman.
|acoustic versions of Christmas carols filled the air|
|Tired? You can sit beside a harmless grizzly bear...|
|...and chill with Mr. Frosty in a corner!|
In a moment, I almost forgot I was in an Arab country, until I saw the wind catchers of the luxurious Arabian resort and Burj Al Arab looming behind Mina A'Salam! I felt the magic of Christmas at the Souk Festive Market. So, if you're feeling cold, lonely and homesick this Festive Season, this is the place to get some holiday cheer!
Souk Festive Market
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Jumeirah Beach Road