Sheikh Zayed Festival
Fireworks, mesmerising drone shows, and an array of delightful surprises for Sheikh Zayed Festival visitors. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Brace yourself for an enchanting experience throughout the Sheikh Zayed Festival's celebrations. Expect grand events, dazzling fireworks, mesmerizing drone shows, captivating Emirates Fountain performances, and the International Civilisations Parade at Sheikh Zayed Festival.

The event promises an array of cultural, heritage, and entertainment festivities, including riveting competitions with dazzling prizes. Brace yourself for an enchanting experience throughout the celebrations!

WHAT: Sheikh Zayed Festival 52nd Union Day events
WHEN: December 1 to 3, 2023
TIMINGS: 4pm until 1am
WHERE: Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi

The Sheikh Zayed Festival set in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, has unveiled an exhilarating lineup to mark the 52nd Union Day of the United Arab Emirates, according to the Higher Organising Committee.

Sheikh Zayed Festival
Drone displays, forming wonderful artistic drawings, will illuminate the night sky.

What to expect

The festival grounds and pavilions will come alive with a dynamic array of celebrations, featuring:

  • The Union Parade,
  • Fireworks displays,
  • Drone Shows,
  • Emirates Fountain performances, abd
  • International Civilisations Parade.

Moreover, there is an assortment of cultural, heritage, and entertainment festivities. From riveting competitions to dazzling prizes, the 52nd Union Day celebrations promise to enchant visitors throughout the festival.

Under the theme “Hayakum,” the Sheikh Zayed Festival has meticulously planned a three-day celebration for December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd from 4pm until 1am.

Across various government entities, participant pavilions, and the festival grounds, an array of cultural and entertaining events will unfold. This festive ambiance is designed to bring together citizens, residents, and tourists from around the world, fostering a sense of unity in celebration of this significant national occasion.

The Union parade

The Union Parade, scheduled for December 3rd, embodies a national image expressing patriotism and a deep sense of belonging to the nation and its leadership.

It reflects the principles that underpin the UAE’s sustainable development and growth, as envisioned by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God rest his soul). The Union Parade stands as a genuine expression of the people’s love for the country and its wise leadership.

Sheikh Zayed Festival
The skies above the Sheikh Zayed Festival will be ablaze with dazzling displays celebrating the occasion.

Welcoming visitors

The festival’s pavilions, sections, and grounds will be adorned with special decorations to commemorate the Union Day. This includes lighting formations featuring various heritage designs and incorporating the number 52.

These decorations aim to create an atmosphere of happiness and joy, symbolizing pride in the country’s achievements, reverence for the UAE flag, and admiration for the wise leadership.

Special events

Aligned with the 52nd Union Day celebrations, visitors will have the opportunity to relish diverse performances. These include an Orchestra featuring unique musical compositions crafted for the occasion, performances by various UAE traditional bands showcasing traditional arts, and captivating roaming performances by the Abu Dhabi Police Musical Band. The latter will present traditional pieces that resonate with the UAE’s popular heritage, expressing profound sentiments of loyalty and belonging to the homeland.

Cultural celebrations

The “Heritage Village” will feature unique activities designed for visitors of diverse nationalities, providing insights into authentic Emirati heritage across its four environments: mountainous, agricultural, marine, and desert.

The village aims to showcase various aspects of popular heritage through handicrafts, crafts, and arts, emphasising traditional art’s connection to the present and its role in introducing generations to the profound human creativity and ancient heritage it represents for the people of the country.

The festival’s participating countries’ pavilions are set to host a myriad of activities and unique artistic performances by traditional and popular bands, all in celebration of the UAE’s 52nd Union Day.

Adding to the cultural richness, the International Civilizations Parade will showcase global diversity with the participation of international folklore bands. These bands will traverse all corners of the festival, contributing to the vibrant tapestry of celebrations.


Fireworks, drones show & Emirates Fountain shows

The skies above the Sheikh Zayed Festival will be ablaze with dazzling displays celebrating the Occasion. Drone displays, forming wonderful artistic drawings, will illuminate the night sky, accompanied by major fireworks that will erupt in new shapes and dazzling lights, adorning the skies over the Al Wathba area.

The Emirates Fountain, one of the largest water fountains in the region, will showcase spectacular shows featuring a fusion of lights, the vibrant colors of the UAE flag, music, and laser displays.

Competitions and draws

As a highlight of the festivities commemorating Union Day, visitors of all ages and nationalities at the Festival will have the chance to compete for valuable prizes in the “Most Beautiful Emirati Heritage Costume” competition.

This unique event is designed to showcase the beauty and diversity of Emirati heritage by featuring and presenting the most exquisite traditional costumes. Serving as a platform for expressing cultural identity and national pride, participants engage in a spirited competition, displaying their traditional costumes with elegance and creativity.

This competition offers participants the chance to showcase their artistic vision of traditional dress, expressing a profound understanding of Emirati heritage.

It serves as a celebratory occasion for the community to delve into and appreciate the beauty and diversity of traditional attire. Moreover, it aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural heritage, recognised as an integral part of the Emirati identity.

Majalis Abu Dhabi will offer Festival visitors various activities including craft workshops and a live drawing show. Additionally, there will be a photo exhibition portraying a distinctive journey from a glorified past.

People of all ages and nationalities will have the chance to win a cash prize of Dh25,000 by participating in the ‘Majalis Abu Dhabi Photography Award’ competition, held under the Emirati Heritage theme at the Sheikh Zayed Festival. The award, running until December 20th, 2023, aims to showcase the identity and aesthetic values of Emirati heritage.


The Fun Fair City offers a different festive atmosphere through various games that suit all age groups, in addition to artistic performances and heritage competitions that will be held at the Children’s Theater, which enhance a sense of belonging and loyalty to the homeland, during the celebrations.

The Children’s City will also present workshops including diverse and varied competitions, live performances, prizes and gifts for children. Children will also experience an exciting atmosphere by competing with new games, theatrical performances, talent shows, and many other surprises that visitors to the Festival will enjoy in celebration.

The Festival provides visitors with the opportunity to shop from all pavilions and sections that will offer discounts on the occasion. The Festival also provides new dining experiences in many local and international restaurants that meet the aspirations of all tastes in a family, cultural and entertaining atmosphere that brings together all family members to celebrate.

The Sheikh Zayed Festival receives visitors daily from 4:00 pm until 12:00 midnight on weekdays and until 1:00 am at weekends and official holidays, giving them the opportunity to spend valuable times with family and friends in the open air while enjoying a wide range of events, activities and various competitions that suit all age groups.