There are lots of cultural and national celebrations to look forward to in 2013, with Rio Carnivale, Burns Night and Australia Day imminent.
2013's celebrations listed for you
Rio Carnivale, January 17
The country's premiere Brazilian eatery will attempt to bring some of the glamour and spice of one of the world's biggest festivals. Chamas at InterContinental Abu Dhabi will have an all-Brazilian samba group performing while patrons gorge on an epic churrascaria buffet full of the meaty goodness Chamas is known for. Visit www.dining-intercontinental-ad.ae for details.
Burns Night, January 25
The life of the beloved Scottish poet Robert Burns will be celebrated with haggis and more at the Burns Supper at the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi. As well as the five-course meal on offer, the comic actors Mark Cox and Jane McCarry from Still Game are appearing as special guest speakers. Visit www.adscots.com for more info.
Australia Day, January 26
With a large Aussie expatriate community, Australia Day is always something to look forward to on the UAE entertainment calendar. Last year, the Aussie rock legends Hunters and Collectors came out of semi-retirement for a performance at Dubai's XL Beach Club. This year, Abu Dhabi's Le Meridien is promising a party showing "what's great about Australia". Apparently, that means "Aussie BBQ buffet with fresh seafood, prime cuts of Aussie meat and Aussie meat pie" (www.lemeridien.com). Meanwhile, in Dubai, the Australian Business Council Dubai is hosting a barbecue at Barasti Beach with a musical performance by the Boomeranging Beach Bunch (www.abcduae.com).
Chinese New Year, February 10
Based on the Chinese lunar calendar, the Year of the Water Snake is looming. While nothing has been announced yet, Abu Dhabi's Chinese eateries put on a feast last year with the Shang Palace serving an eight-course set menu. The Royal Orchid focused its attentions on dim sum, serving a wide variety of the popular treat as part of a set menu.
St Patrick's Day, March 17
The Irish cultural celebration is always good craic, courtesy of an almost annual performance by a rock legend. In what has to be one of the quirkiest musical talking points of the UAE, Bob Geldof often returns to Dubai to perform a rather intimate show at the Irish Village. While it has not been announced yet, Geldof is a hot tip to arrive if he can get all that humanitarian work out of the way first.
Filipino Independence Day, June 12
The UAE's passionate Filipino community doesn't mess around when it comes to the country's independence day celebrations. The event is used to mark festivals across various emirates. Last year, Abu Dhabi's Sheraton held a two-day festival full of local delicacies and live bands, while Dubai's Al Safa Stadium was the venue for a cultural bazaar with items flown in from the motherland.
Canada Day, July 1
A live funk band was called in last year to celebrate Canada Day in Dubai's JamBase. Revellers dressed up for the occasion by adhering to the red and white "or anything Canadian" dress code. In Abu Dhabi's Le Royal Meridien, Canadians flocked to PJ O'Reilly's to celebrate and for some local networking.
Bastille Day, July 14
That's the English term for the French National Day. France's already high reputation for culinary excellence is taken to new heights with exquisite meals offered in the UAE's French eateries. In previous years, Choices at Al Bustan Rotana hosted a Bastille Day Buffet, while Abu Dhabi's Le Beaujolais normally marks the day with its own range of French treats.
Thanksgiving, November 28
It may be celebrated mostly in the United States (as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, Liberia and Australia's Norfolk Island, on different dates), but the celebration often involves a lot of food and a big juicy turkey no matter where it's held. Many UAE establishments add turkey stations to their buffets during the festivities. Last year, Traiteur in Dubai's Hyatt Park had a themed buffet featuring a maple-glazed whole roast turkey with cranberry relish, while St Regis's American-themed 55th&5th The Grill had a six-course feast including a "slow-cooked turkey breast with lobster brioche stuffing".
Diwali, November 30
Marking the start of the Hindu calendar for many, Diwali has all the pomp and goodwill of a new year's celebration. Celebrated by Hindus, the event is part of the region's cultural fabric. With plenty of concerts in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai featuring Bollywood stars, Diwali is often celebrated with intimate parties at home, hence the roaring trade done by Indian sweet shops the week before.