It all began on December 17 last year. Musicians crooned for thousands, glittering lights blinked on across the city, and fireworks lit the sky. The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) was officially here, and visitors couldn’t wait to get their hands on the best deals money could buy.
Some may have had second thoughts about going. After all, who wants to travel for a single pop-up? You might as well shop online, right?
Wrong—and here’s where DSF sets itself apart. This celebration, now in its 26th year, is a citywide party which recognises a buyer’s desire for quality at affordable prices, combined with world-class entertainment experiences. At DSF, you can’t just shop and leave—because you won’t want to!
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Whether you come with family, friends, or your partner, DSF hosts unforgettable experiences that will compel you to keep exploring. Today, we’ll tell you about one of our favourites: the DSF markets. These areas take advantage of pleasant January temperatures, share exciting slices of Emirati heritage, and offer a welcome break from shopping.
Here are our top 5 things to do in these areas:
Food & flair at Al Seef
This powerhouse district normally sells contemporary brands and handicrafts. But during DSF, the area has transformed into a gastronome’s paradise, with free tastings, specialised workshops, barista showdowns and delicious plates of all kinds.
This week is all about the cocoa bean, and you’ll have buskers, ballerinas, and bhangra around for live entertainment. Don’t forget to catch Dubai’s traditional dances—the liwa and ayallah—when you’re there!
IMAGINE at DSF Market on the Creek
A bazaar for eccentric and eco-friendly pieces, this stretch is popular with younger crowds during the day. But once the sun sets, everyone stops for a second look.
IMAGINE is a hypnotising light show that mixes lasers, water and fire to create a spectacle like no other. Walk along the creek and you’ll experience dynamic projections on curtains of water, fountains rising in front of Dubai’s skyline, and booming surround sound. Better keep your camera ready, ‘cause no other laser show will be able to match up!
Down the rabbit hole at Al Khawaneej
Little ones will adore Alice’s Wonderland here, which features an enchanted garden, themed workshops, live shows, games and art experiences. Enjoy an outdoor film, listen to masterful storytelling, or make a wish at the lake—it’s all a warm dose of nostalgia. Modesh, one of Dubai’s unofficial mascots, will brighten up the evening on January 30 from 4-9 pm.
Go skiing & say hi to penguins!
Unthinkable in the Middle East, but the Mall of Emirates—a major shopping centre during DSF—makes it happen. Ski Dubai offers gigantic ski slopes and a host of adventure activities like indoor skydiving, zorbing, and snowboarding, all inside the mall. End your day with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, and a chairlift ride back to where you began.
Dazzling lights at Al Hai
Located along Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, this is a brilliant series of artworks created by Emirati and UAE-based artists. Inspired by Downtown Dubai (home to global fashion brands, opera, the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa), each piece mimics elements in the neighbourhood using light, and invites viewers to stroll through, making for magical pictures.
The Dubai Shopping Festival will end on January 30, 2021. While these dazzling attractions can be distracting, we advise our customers to be mindful of Dubai’s COVID-19 restrictions.
With the second wave of the virus looming as a threat worldwide, being extra careful is important. Click here to know more about current policies for international arrivals in Dubai.