As the cooler weather makes its way back for the autumn-winter season, Dubai’s outdoor venues come alive, offering something for everyone. Whether you prefer to stay on land or head out to sea, it’s all possible – because in Dubai, even the sky isn’t the limit.
Dubai is as well known for its stunning vistas as it is for its amazing food, shopping and outdoor adventures, and now that the weather has cooled down, why not take it all in from a different perspective? A hot air balloon ride gives you a bird’s-eye-view of the city’s beautiful landscape at a leisurely pace that allows you to truly enjoy the spectacular scenery, from the city’s skyscrapers to the desert dunes beyond – a trip everyone should take at least once in a lifetime. Many companies offer a take-home video for a souvenir so you can relive the experience in the years to come. Some even serve breakfast beforehand, which is always handy when you’re up at dawn to watch the sunrise.
A Day on the Water
The “Old Dubai” area that includes the neighbourhoods on the shores of Dubai Creek is arguably one of the most atmospheric in the city, and there’s no better time to enjoy this than when the weather cools down and you can take your time strolling through its winding streets. Begin your day at Creekside cafe down by the water, where you can munch on classic Emirati dishes with a modern twist (red velvet luqaymat, anyone?) while you watch the boats go by. Craving a little shopping? The souks in the area are a riot of colour and enticing bargains. Afterwards, hop onto a dhow for a trip down the Creek. Alternatively, if contemporary boating is more your thing, then why not fulfil another modern Dubai tradition and hire a yacht for the day? You could spend it enjoying a barbecue and sunshine with your friends while floating around Dubai Marina instead.
Dubai’s gorgeous winter weather is perfect for enjoying a picnic in one of the city’s many green spaces, such as Safa Park or Zabeel Park. Pack your own food hamper or let someone else take care of things for you, then lay out a blanket and while away the day enjoying nibbles and conversation. Alternatively, head to Ripe Market and sample goodies from one of its many food stands before browsing the stalls of locally- created, handmade brands and wares.
While the dazzling horse racing scene in Dubai is better known, camel racing is just as worthy a race experience that’s also closely tied to the local culture. Rise before dawn, head down to the camel race tracks, and join in the excitement as throngs of loyal fans cheer on their favourite racers – some of them even watching from cars that follow the action at speed. Then, when it’s all over, there’s the opportunity to take photos with and pet the camels in a designated area.
Dubai Miracle Garden
The creations in this garden are seemingly miraculous, using flora to construct awe-inspiring pieces of floral art formed into shapes ranging from a peacock to an Emirates airplane. Whether you’re walking under the canopy of rainbow umbrellas or admiring one of the jaw-dropping installations, this place is a riot of colour, and the best part is that it’s all made with living flowers, expertly cared for and beautifully bloomed. There are more than 100 million blooming flowers here, and the Airbus A380 piece has even broken a Guinness World Record.
Catching a film outdoors makes the experience that much more theatrical and memorable. With the winter weather come pleasantly cool evenings, when a variety of venues across the city host regular movie nights, giving you the chance to watch both new and classic films under the starry night sky. You can even enjoy delicious food from top restaurants as well as fresh popcorn and other movie-favourite snacks. The whole experience doesn’t just feel like more of an occasion, it also brings out a wonderfully unifying community feel. You’ll find outdoor cinemas at Wafi’s Pyramids, Reform Social & Grill, and the Steigenberger Hotel’s The Backyard.
In a city that loves adrenaline-fuelled activities as much as it does a relaxing spa day, the option to go skydiving has become one of Dubai’s most popular “must-do” activities among both residents and tourists. During the mild winter, Skydive Dubai’s campuses reopen to offer bold fun-seekers the chance to soar over the desert dunes or the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina, with entire experience recorded for them. Don’t worry – you’ll be accompanied by an experienced instructor, and they even offer courses for more dedicated “jumpers”. This is definitely one for the bucket list!
There’s no dearth of water parks in Dubai – and that’s a good thing, considering how much fun they can be, at almost any time of the year. During the cooler months, it’s a great way to spend the day, and there are so many to choose from that you’ll never get bored. Favourites include Wild Wadi and Aquaventure, which both offer a great range of rides, pools and fun for the whole family, while a more recent addition is Legoland Water Park. But if you’re looking for a slightly different and more physically demanding water- based experience, why not try Aqua Fun? Dubai’s first-ever water obstacle course is where you can run, jump and slide over 74 different obstacles, guaranteeing excitement and laughs for all ages.
Whether you’re into sports, music, theatre or comedy, there’s an event for everyone to enjoy. Music-lovers will be swaying to the soothing sounds of global pop superstar Ed Sheeran as he performs in Dubai Media City at the end of November. Shortly after, revel in the beats of Party in The Park and the WASLA Festival that celebrates local musical talent, while sports aficionados will delight in obstacle races ranging from the Desert Warrior Challenge and Spartan Race to Tough Mudder. Giggles are always on call at The Laughter Factory, while Dubai’s newest attraction, La Perle, will make jaws drop with its gravity-defying performances. Meanwhile, contemporary ballet comes to Dubai Opera, before December’s endless array of winter holiday festivals, street art events such as Sole DXB, and the World Future Sports Games hit town.
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