DSF fireworks
Visitors enjoy a dazzling fireworks display in celebration of the 28th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), 2022. Photo of illustrative purpose only Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: The 29th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) — known as the world’s favourite retail festival — promises to showcase exciting new events and big sales/.

The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) returns this winter with 38 days of daily and unmatched events, experiences and deals from December 8, 2023 to January 14, 2024, with something for everyone, every day, in every corner of the city.

The DSF will offer unmissable promotions and retail deals from both home-grown and global brands, a line-up of out-of-this-world entertainment, pop-up markets, unique dining experiences, drone shows, art events and installations, and spectacular sporting events, plus unbeatable raffles and prizes — with the chance to win a luxury apartment, cars and cash — alongside Dubai-wide gastronomical experiences and foodie moments.

This year’s festival delivers a line-up including all-new events — from the cool new gastro hangout CanteenX, the Dubai Police Carnival at City Walk, and the Armani/Privé Haute Couture Fragrances L’Exposition at Dubai Opera Garden. Dubai Shopping Festival will also welcome giant inflatable duo Anooki to Dubai Lights, the citywide light art installation. Meet the wonderful and adorable Anookias they debut in two locations — Al Seef and d3. Some of the city’s favourite events and experiences also join the DSF calendar for the first time this year — including Sole DXB, the lifestyle and street culture festival, and the Emirates Classic Vehicle Show.

World's favourite retail festival

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) said: “Dubai Shopping Festival is the world’s favourite retail festival. As we unveil the line-up for the 29th edition, we invite everyone to come together and enjoy an exceptional range of culinary experiences, family experiences, art installations, unique retail offers citywide — and, of course, shopping deals — that makes DSF the most sought after global shopping destination.

“From attracting international visitors, to enhancing the quality of life for residents, to supporting local businesses, Dubai Shopping Festival plays a vital role in contributing to the city’s economy and vibrant cultural scene in addition to welcoming the world to everything that Dubai has to offer. With this exciting edition, we look forward to creating a mix of out of this world and wonder-filled memories for residents and visitors, and further establishing DSF as a world-class experience.

Drone shows and Dubai Lights

Dubai Lights will return with a fresh experience crafted to deliver awe inspiring moments for family and friends to enjoy together, painting the city in the glow of creative and artistic expressions in the form of five one-of-a-kind installations across the city from 8 December to 14 January.

Prepare for a world-class experience as the Dubai Shopping Festival unveils its most sensational DSF Drone Show yet, presented by Emarat Petroleum. Set to grace the night skies each evening from 10 December to 14 January, this breathtaking event promises a stunning 38-day display across Dubai’s skyline. Presented in collaboration with The Beach and Bluewaters, this year’s show boasts not just one, but two all-new displays each night, with two enchanting stories that take viewers on an enchanting journey. The skyline will be illuminated by a symphony of colours and shapes, a sight that will leave viewers awestruck, as 800 drones take flight.

A unique addition to this year’s festival is the introduction of the world famous inflatable duo, the Dubai Lights: Anooki, brought to Dubai for the first time as part of Dubai Lights. These larger-than-life characters will illuminate Al Seef and d3, providing an adorable never-seen-before larger than life experience. Visitors and residents can interact with the characters, capturing instagrammable moments with the Anooki illustrations, promising an enchanting memory during Dubai Lights 2024.

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Dubai Lights

For more amazing Dubai Lights sightings, keep an eye out for the Dubai Lights: Modesh Inflatable, as Dubai’s own Modesh and Dana bring a glow to City Centre Mirdif — the giant, inflatable and lovable friends will be hard to miss.

Dubai Lights: Neon Lighting on 40 Abras will also be a sight to behold this DSF, transforming the creek into a mesmerising canvas of colours. This stunning addition to Dubai’s skyline ensures a memorable experience for both residents and tourists. The historic Old Gold Souk will also transform into a neon wonderland during DSF. Visitors can stroll through the ancient marketplace adorned with vibrant neon signs, radiating uplifting messages, creating an inspirational and insta-worthy ambience as visitors and residents sail or walk along the creek in Dubai’s wonderful winter weather.

Dubai Lights: Amazon Wonder at West Beach in Palm Jumeirah will feature breathtaking walkable scenes that include life-size installations of Amazonian parrots, intricate floral artwork and more, all inspired by the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

Markets and must see experiences

As the cooler months return, Dubai bursts to life with an outstanding selection of outdoor markets and not-to-miss retail and foodie experiences. Among the highlights, the outdoor destination at Dubai Festival City Mall, The Bay by Social, invites visitors to experience a variety of food trucks, a market full of unique shopping finds, and family-friendly activities from 4pm to 10pm until 30 April.

This DSF will also see the return of the free-to-attend DSF Markets that will bring outdoor and pop-up community shopping experiences to iconic locations across the city, creating unrivalled opportunities to discover new brands, and pick up unique items. While the annual Etisalat MOTB, the original alternative shopping concept for Dubai and now a cornerstone of DSF, commemorates its 11th edition and will showcase home-grown F&B and retail vendors with unique pieces and on-trend finds, on-ground experiences alongside live entertainment by local and regional artists at its home in Dubai Design District (d3) from 5 to 14 January. Make sure to stop by the exclusive Fenty Beauty activation while you’re there.

Look forward to the first ever edition of CanteenX, a spin off from one of Dubai’s favourite cool and casual gastronomic experiences, the much-loved Etisalat Beach canteen. Head over to Mushrif Park between 15 and 31 December to check out this exclusive experience, fusing together food with entertainment, making it an ideal hangout spot for the whole family. What’s more, families can keep the kids busy with all the amazing activities set up just for them, including inflatables, trampolines and bungee experiences. Keep an eye out for the one of a kind outdoor cinema experience exclusively for the CanteenX community, showing retro English, Bollywood and Arabic movies from the parking area, where visitors can tune in from their cars.

Police carnival

The Dubai Police Carnival will take place from 4 to 8 January at City Walk, bringing many incredible performances and showcasing music through the ages, along with an impressive line-up of vehicles for visitors to view. Additionally, the Emirates Classic Vehicles Festival is a treat for automotive enthusiasts everywhere, as City Walk transform into a platform to showcase timeless vehicles down through the eras of automotive history, from 15 to 24 December.

Visitors to City Walk will also get to experience Music through the Ages through live singing and dance performances on the stage. The first set themed ‘Granly Decadence’ taking place through 15 to 17 December will feature artists Ryann Gibb, TOI and Hard Kandi, while the second set ‘Back in the Day’ will take place between 22 and 24 December, with artists Mbali, Chinua Hawk, He Knows She Knows, and Diana O’Sillivan & The Show Girls. Keep an eye out for more details on the themes and schedules for this exciting line up.

Retail experiences

The DSF would not be complete without incredible deals, discounts and promotions from some of the city’s best known and loved brands. There are also many ways to earn points with loyalty programmes and the exclusive deals they offer for members. What’s more, shoppers can stay tuned for DSF Sale Season to make the most of extra discounts and promotions.

Visit the Dubai Opera Garden from 8 to 14 January to experience the confidential world of Armani/Privé, with the exclusive Armani/Privé Haute Couture Fragrances L’Exposition.

Make-up enthusiasts can be sure to have an extra special time at Etisalat MOTB this year, with the all new Fenty Beauty Drive-in set up at the parking lot from 5 to 14 January. Drive by and get your shade matched, bag some of the best products and get an exclusive sneak peek on upcoming launches. You can also listen to your favourite tunes on the Fenty Style Juke Box and maybe even receive a few extra Fenty goodies.

Family fun, live events

From 8 December to 14 January, catch out-of-this-world acts and discover performances at some of the top shopping centres in the city, featuring a wide range of entertainment such as dance, music, acrobatics, beatboxing, drumming, theatre, aerial shows, water shows, and more unique talents, by home-grown and internationally beloved stars alike. Don’t miss out on these incredible showcases taking place at City Centre Deira City Centre Mirdif, Mall of the Emirates, Nakheel Mall, Khawaneej Walk and Last Exit, Al Seef, Ibn Battuta Mall, City Walk, Dubai Festival City Mall, Bluewaters, and Palm West Beach.

For those seeking diverse entertainment, the offerings are vast and citywide. On the opening weekend, the immersive and timeless theatrical masterpiece Slava’s SNOW SHOW at Dubai Opera will captivate children’s imaginations while taking adults on an enchanting journey into their own childhood.

You can also take a nostalgic journey back to the ‘90s with Rewind, Reloaded featuring Bollywood’s greatest playback singers at the Coca-Cola Arena, featuring legendary voices from Indian cinema like Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik. Little ones can gear up for an unforgettable kids show as YouTube sensation Blippi makes his way to the Coca-Cola Arena for The Wonderful World Tour.

Comedy enthusiasts are in for a treat with the wit of Russell Howard at the Dubai Opera and the uproarious humour of Michael McIntyre at the Coca-Cola Arena. For music aficionados, the Grammy-winning Tuareg band Tinariwen at the Dubai Opera offers a diverse musical experience.

The entertainment continues with Matteo Bocelli’s performance at the Dubai Opera, promising a captivating evening of Italian melodies. Beloved Iranian vocalist Ebrahim Hamedi, more widely known as Ebi, will also deliver an incredible show at the Dubai Opera. Not to be missed is the soulful performance by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, at the Coca-Cola Arena, that will surely be a delight to fans. Pakistani and Indian tunes will unite in the incredible Speed Music Fest featuring Ali Zafar and Jonita Gandhi at Coca-Cola Arena, while fans of Neha Kakkar can look forward to her show stopping performance.

New Year’s Eve events

As the year draws to a close, the Dubai Shopping Festival culminates in grand New Year’s Eve events at both the Dubai Opera and the Coca-Cola Arena. The Dubai Opera’s Gala promises a night filled with live music and cherished moments.

The festival extends beyond theatres and malls to make the most of the wonderful winter weather outdoors. Part of the DSF programming for the first time this year, the festival’s opening weekend features Sole DXB 2023 in the Dubai Design District. This lifestyle and street-culture festival will feature live performances, DJ sets, sports tournaments, talks, workshops, and headline act Busta Rhymes, promising a dynamic experience.

From 5 to 14 January, embark on a musical adventure with the diverse array of performances that Tunes DXB has to offer. Between 4pm to 11pm every day, visit locations across the city to be discover some of the Dubai’s up-and-coming artists, from social media personalities, to dancers, musicians, and beatboxers, with more than 50 artists busking daily at destinations city wide including Al Khawaneej Walk, Last Exit Al Khawaneej, Al Seef, Bluewaters, Boxpark, City Walk, Dubai Festival City Mall, DxBike, and Global Village.

Must visit spots

There are a wide variety of attractions and must-visit spots across that will also offer great deals and memorable experiences for everyone from water parks to theme parks, immersive attractions to animal experiences, indoor and outdoor play areas to cultural experiences and more, including AYA Universe, Deep Dive Dubai, LEGOLAND® Dubai, Motiongate™ Dubai Safari Park, Skydive Dubai, IMG Worlds of Adventure, Museum of the Future, Wild Wadi Waterpark, and Ski Dubai, to name just a few.

Raffles, gold and cash prizes

This DSF brings with it the chance to win incredible prizes — from cars to cash, from gold to a brand new luxury apartment. These include the chance to be an instant multimillionaire with the IDEALZ Dubai Shopping Festival Grand Prize of Dh2,000,000; the DSF Mega Raffle offering an unmissable opportunity to drive away with a brand-new Nissan Patrol V6 and incredible cash prizes, the chance to win a whopping 25 kilos of gold with a mega raffle by the Dubai Jewellery Group plus a chance to shop, spin, and win up to an incredible Dh1 Million with the Digital Raffle Promotion by Dubai Shopping Malls Group. There’s more to win — spend the minimum requirement when shopping at any of the ENOC outlets Zoom, Tasjeel or AutoPro to get raffle coupons to take home incredible prizes worth more than Dh100,000 daily.

Mega sporting events

This DSF, lace up your trainers and mark your calendars, as some of the world’s best sporting events come to the city.

Experience the 11th edition of the Dubai CrossFit Championship, an intense three-day competition at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium from 8 to 10 December, with over 70 athletes from 15+ countries, across 30 CrossFit games, vying for Dh150,000 in cash prizes.

Alternatively, rev up for the 2023 Gulf Historic Dubai GP Revival featuring Formula 1 and Le Mans categories at the Dubai Autodrome from 8 to 10 December. Alongside the races, there are family-friendly activities, a classic car show, workshops, live race viewings, and an international music festival.

Witness high-speed action on the water at Mina Rashid on 9 and 10 December during the 2023 SailGP’s Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix, presented by P & O Marinas. Alternatively, participate solo or in teams, in the first leg of the Giant Duathlon Series on 21 October at Dubai Parks & Resorts, with subsequent events on 10 December at Expo City Dubai. Finishers will receive a medal and a limited-edition T-shirt.

Join the Community Run series on 17 December with races spanning 2.5km, 5km, and 10km and get going on your fitness goals. Open to all ages and abilities, these races are followed by a vibrant market offering local brands and a delightful breakfast experience. Alternatively, take part in the Dubai Marathon on 7 January, offering distances from 4km fun run to a challenging 42km course.

Mark your calendars and catch the second largest 24-hour race grid in the world from 12 to 14 January at the Dubai Autodrome. International drivers will steer GT and touring cars, testing their skill and stamina on the 5.39km circuit.

Dubai Racing Carnival

Lastly, the Dubai Racing Carnival, which features Festive Friday on 22 December and a series of equestrian events. Enjoy thrilling races, live entertainment, and fine dining throughout the racing season.