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Festive nutcrackers will walk the Christmas parade and more - here's your guide Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Kids are home for the winter break and the nation’s biggest event is quite literally next door. Clearly, this is a festive day out in the making. With more and more families opting to stay within the country, Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up for a true winter wonderland experience.

Its Christmas offerings include a winter market that sells eggnog and gingerbread, a children’s carol choir, themed musical shows and Santa Claus himself.

For Dh95, visitors get unlimited access to the site for the entire month until December 31, 2021. Make sure to have your proof of vaccination or a PCR test ready for those 18 years and above.

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A 20-metre-high Christmas tree being installed inside Al Wasl Plaza Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Sorting out transport

Say you’re on board for the festivities at Expo – how do you get there? Your cheapest option is the free Expo Rider buses that run from 21 bus stops across the UAE. Here is a guide to help you track down the closest station to you.

When it comes to private car, Expo has three main parking lots dedicated to visitors. Parking also involves catching the right shuttle in the right district. Check out our breakdown on which district zone to park your car in.

The Dubai Metro is your safest bet if the little ones are coming along. Since the Expo 2020 Metro Station drops passengers off at the mouth of the venue, you’re in for a comparatively shorter walk to Al Wasl Plaza. Here is all you need to know about commuting to Expo via the metro.

Christmas attractions at Expo 2020

Now that you’ve made it, browse the list of sights and activities that await you:

1. Al Wasl Plaza

expo 2020 christmas parade
Al Wasl Plaza's Christmas-themed projection shows Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

You can’t not notice the world’s biggest 360-degree projection dome this season, with giant baubles hanging from its arches. Large nutcracker soldiers are going to lead you to the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai, where the structure will look a lot like a massive snow globe.

Inside, a 20-metre-tall Christmas tree, a Santa’s Grotto and a reindeer sleigh will make for the perfect start to your winter wonderland journey.

2. Al Wasl Christmas Shows

Return in the evening for a nightly live performance from December 20 to 29. A global cast of 70 will tell the story of Mrs Claus and the elves struggling to decide on what to get Santa for Christmas as they sing and dance under faux snowfall.

3. Expo winter market

Circling the Expo 2020 Water Feature is the site’s own winter market, selling hot chocolate, eggnog, roasted chestnuts and gingerbread. Grab a warm Christmas beverage to sip from for your next destination.

4. Christmas parade

expo 2020 christmas parade
Christmas parade on Ghaf Avenue Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Keep an eye out for an acrobatic Christmas parade as you leave the Al Wasl circle. The Ghaf Avenue will see sway pole performers dressed as festive trees, stilt walkers as silver bells and Expo mascots Rashid and Latifa in their best Christmas outfits.

Along the way knock at mysterious doorway installations in Ghaf Avenue to listen to carollers sing on the other side. There is plenty of photo opportunities, too, with several Christmas trees of various heights dotting the site.

5. The Kindermusik Christmas Choir

On December 17 at 2pm, children aged four to 14 from the Dubai Youth Choir will perform a one-off show. This will be held in Al Forsan Park’s Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, which is across the falcon-shaped UAE Pavilion.

expo 2020 christmas parade
Performers at Expo's Christmas parade Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

6. Letters to Santa mailbox

Right next to Al Forsan is Expo’s Sustainability District, where the Earth Plaza stage has a huge ‘Letters to Santa’ mailbox. Children can send their Christmas wish lists to Santa and even a collect a special stamp in their Expo passports.

Once Christmas wraps up, the mailbox will be used to donate gifts to those less fortunate.

7. Meeting Santa

Touching down from his official office in Lapland, Finland, Santa Claus will be carrying out his duties in Dubai this year. The real Santa tour the Expo grounds from December 17 to 22, visiting pavilions like Brazil, Germany, Australia, Estonia and Thailand, and greeting visitors from 11am to 8pm.

Click a picture with the jolly old man and tell him your last-minute Christmas wishes.

8. Holiday movie screenings

On Jubilee Stage, catch famous holiday films for a dose of Christmas nostalgia. ‘Home Alone’ screens on December 23, ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ on December 24 and ‘Elf’ on December 25.

9. Late Nights @ Expo

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Singer Lea Salonga Image Credit: Supplied

On December 25, Expo’s Christmas special Late Nights is bringing Filipina singer Lea Salonga, who is this voice of Jasmine in Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ and Fa Mulan in ‘Mulan’. Other magical performances on Jubilee Stage include British singer-songwriter and pianist Joe Stilgoe.

Holiday treats and delights

Various food outlets will have themed and discounted meals for the grabs. Opt for a warm Christmas meal in any of the following eateries:

  • Try the Christmas wrap at Veg’d in the Sustainability District
  • Try the December chocolate fudge cookies at Floozie Cookie in the Sustainability District
  • From December 12 to 23, avail 12 days of Christmas specials and discounts at Kojaki in the Opportunity District
  • XYST, Canvas by Coffee+Culture, Farm2Table and Garden on 1 Sports Lounge each have Christmas party menus
  • Viking Café is offering its own Christmas menu on Thursdays and Fridays
  • Alkebulan Dining Hall in Jubilee Park will have a themed brunch on Christmas Eve, December 24
  • Mudrá in the Sustainability District is cooking up a plant-based menu on Christmas Eve as well.

If you prefer not to walk from one district to another, you can ride a buggy, People Mover or an electric bike to get to your point of interest easily. We tell you how here.