Festivals and Events in the UAE

UAE Festivals

If you are planning a visit to the UAE, why not take in one of the cultural festivals and event. Checkout our calendar for some of the exciting cultural festivals hosted each year in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi Festival

The Abu Dhabi Festival is the largest classical arts festival in the whole of the UAE. Organised by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, this event first took place in 2004. As well as presenting Abu Dhabi to the world as a destination of culture and global enlightenment, it secures Abu Dhabi as a leading centre for the arts in the Middle East.
The Abu Dhabi Festival takes places in late March/early April and showcases a range of performing arts, music, drama, films and literature. Many of the participants are from schools and universities in the UAE.

Dubai Shopping Festival

Nowhere is better equipped to host an international Shopping Festival than Dubai! This February event is a month-long highlight on the tourist calendar, attracting around 3 million visitors to Dubai.

As you would expect, the Dubai Shopping Festival is a splendidly OTT event incorporating daily raffles to win a car, massive discounts and a dazzling fireworks display.

Even if the Shopping Festival does not appeal, the simultaneous Dubai Summer Surprises event provides a series of entertainment to dazzle the world’s media and visitors to Dubai.

Dubai International Film Festival

Now firmly established on the international calendar, the Dubai International film Festival (DIFF) is the oldest film festival in the Gulf region. It presents new films from 57 countries which are particularly suited to the Arab, Asian and African markets. Films in both fiction and non-fiction categories compete for the Muhr Awards and a rich prize fund of around $575,000.

Held during mid-December, the aim of the event is “Bridging Cultures; Meeting Minds”. In past years the DIFF has featured 174 feature films, documentaries and shorts including many world premieres. The Rhythm and Reels concept includes live music performances after the day’s screenings.

Dubai Camel Racing Festival

Nothing epitomizes the UAE better than the Dubai Camel Racing Festival which is held each year at the Al Marmoum Camel Racetrack from mid-late February. This 12-day festival attracts a huge gathering of highly trained camels and their wealthy owner-Sheikhs, all competing for a share of the massive prize jackpot.

As well as watching the camel races, visitors can enjoy side shows and cultural entertainment at this sporting event.

UAE Awafi Festival

The springtime UAE Awafi Festival takes place in the Awafi area of Ras Al Khaimah. Set against the desert backdrop of red sand dunes, the event embraces the UAE’s cultural and ethnic heritage. Theatrical performances in the open-air and outdoor sports attract a lively crowd to this action-packed event.

The event focuses on traditional family entertainment with live music and 4×4 car and dune bike racing. Along with the exciting dune racing there is a heritage village, local arts and crafts stalls, a bazaar, children’s play area, organized games and a host of authentic food outlets. This free event takes place in December or January each year and is well worth visiting the UAE to see.

Future events include Expo 2020 in Dubai and bids are planned to host the 2024 Olympic Games.