Here's our guide to the best festive fairs, markets and events for children this yuletide season
Get into the spirit
Magpie shoppers will be in their element at the Abu Dhabi Mall Arts and Crafts Bazaar this month. This is your chance to stock up on all the festive goodies to take you through the Christmas season. Look out for handmade decorations and stylish stocking fillers. Santa will also be on hand to help give out the presents. Until January 2, 02 645 4858.
Keen to stock your cupboards with Christmas culinary delights? Then visit the Beach Rotana's huge gingerbread house, where a variety of yuletide produce, such as stollen, pudding and mince pies, will be on sale throughout December. There's no excuse for a bare larder come Christmas Day. Until December 27, 02 697 9100.
As the saying goes, "a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips", but who cares? It's Christmas. For this very reason, make time this month to drop by Bead Palace & Accessories in Dubai, where you can make and decorate a gingerbread house and take part in other arts and craft activities. This Christmas craft workshop runs daily from 2pm-5pm and costs Dh140, including snacks. Until December 31, 04 395 2771.
Everybody loves a handmade Christmas gift, so get creative at Café Céramique's Family Painting Workshop. The perfect spot for aspiring artists, you and your children can enjoy ceramic, face and hand painting, as well as a family meal, all for just Dh90. Friday, Dubai Festival City, 04 232 8616.
One man's trash is another man's treasure, so for Christmas shoppers on a budget, take a stroll through the Dubai Flea Market, where enterprising vendors sell a variety of goods. Entry fee is Dh5 and the market runs from 8am to 3pm. Saturday, Al Mamzar Park.
Teach your little ones the art of wheeler dealing (and maybe nab some bargain stocking fillers) this holiday season at the second-hand toy sale in the Organic Foods and Café in Dubai Mall. Children as young as five can reserve a space where they will be able to sell their unwanted (but well-cared-for) toys. To register for space, e-mail email@example.com. Friday, Dubai Mall.
Pack the family up and head over to the Poseidon Court at the Atlantis hotel. Little creative types (aged four to 12) can channel their inner artists by making Christmas gifts at the Kids Club (Dh95 per hour). And if the creative juices aren't flowing, they can join in with carol singing or enjoy a festive movie marathon. The older kids are also in luck. Club Rush (Dh85 per day) will be hosting parties and mocktail-making competitions for teens and 'tweens. This hip venue includes a gaming area, chill out lounge and a nightclub with guest DJs. Tomorrow until December 25, 04 426 1000.
For a taste of tradition, swing by the Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri. In the hotel lobby you can choose from a selection of festive foods and hampers, priced between Dh20 and Dh1,500. Father Christmas will also be present, welcoming guests prior to the lighting of the tree, which will be followed by Christmas numbers from the in-house choir. Today, 02 509 8888.
Ho, ho, ho! If you're looking for a surreal winter wonderland, you can't beat Ski Dubai. After all, where else are you going to find 22,500 square metres of real snow in the UAE? At our very own Lapland in the desert, Santa and Mrs Claus will be joined by Frostbite the polar bear to welcome you to the fun-filled snow park. And to really embrace the Christmas spirit, we suggest that you hit the slopes on Christmas Eve for Carols in the Snow Park, with the Dubai Choir. Until December 24, 04 409 4000.
Along with evening performances from carol singers and regular appearances from Santa, the market at the Souk Madinat is a good place for you to pick up everything from glittery Christmas gifts to twinkling tree decorations. It takes place from 5pm-10pm on weekdays and 4pm to 11pm at weekends, so prepare your shopping list and get yourself down there. Until December 24, 04 366 6730.
Santa has taken up his usual spot at Wafi, where this year's theme is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Along with the entertainment, which includes festive songs from musicians and schoolchildren in association with the Popular Music Institute, you can take advantage of chocolate specials in the restaurants. A tip for chocoholics - guests to Santa's Grotto (tickets cost Dh50) automatically enter a raffle to win a truly chocolatey holiday at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna. Until December 24, 04 324 4555.