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Things to do in Dubai in January

Updated: October 1, 2023
 By Pri

This post covers the top 10 things to do in Dubai in January, including evening activities, free activities, and family-friendly activities, updated for 2024.

It includes free entertainment, after-dark activities, family-friendly things to do, concerts, festivals, and tours.

We also have a post on the January weather in Dubai.


With the temperatures dropping, December to March is the ideal time to visit Dubai!

Though it is the peak tourist season, it is the most enjoyable time to be in the city. The weather is pleasant and perfect for both sightseeing and taking part in outdoor activities.

Whether you are in Dubai for a vacation or just for a short layover, we have a list ready for you. Here are the top ten things you can do in Dubai in January.

1. Take a City Tour or the Old Dubai Walking Tour

Dubai has emerged as a thriving metropolitan city that has become the most popular tourist destination in the Middle East.

The megacity has earned the title of being the land of superlatives because of its affinity for having the best of everything.

From infrastructure to lifestyle, every day, the capital city of Emirate of Dubai sets a new example of excellence for the world.

Dubai’s humble beginning as a fishing village keeps the city grounded and stands in sharp contrast with the level of advancement it has achieved.

The best way to experience what the city has to offer is to go to a Dubai city tour or the Old Dubai Heritage and Soulks Walking Tours.

Who doesn’t love skyscrapers, high-rise buildings, and culture together? Our city tour is a blend of all, and we make sure to let you have the experience of both sides of Dubai.

One moment you could be among the clouds as you zip through Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and the next you could be sailing through the bustling waterways of Dubai in a traditional Abra ride.

There are flourishing spice and gold souks that you must visit to get a glimpse of the city’s past as well.

2. Enjoy the Fireworks

Dubai is a hot spot during New Year's Eve, and January 1st, New Year’s Day, is a national holiday in the United Arab Emirates.

With insane fireworks and the possibility to enjoy some of the grand New Year's celebrations for free in Dubai, it is no wonder that tourists start pouring in from the neighboring countries and the rest of the world.

The fireworks continue in the evening in different parts of the city like Palm Jumeirah, JBR Walk, Al Seef, and La Mer for a week after New Year’s Day.

While museums, government services, and other official establishments will be closed, most shops and restaurants will remain open.

Many eateries offer special New Year’s Day brunches. And with the city relatively quiet on this day it’s also a good time to enjoy relaxing on the beach.

3. Take Advantage of the Dubai Shopping Festival

Dubai is hailed as the 'Ultimate Shopping Destination'. It has almost 100 malls, and new ones open up each year.

This dream often comes with a price, however, and this is where the Dubai Shopping Festival comes in.

During the festival, shops offer discounts on their merchandise. There are also daily car raffles, and prize drawings are held.

Malls also tend to have longer hours, which ensures plenty of time to shop.

DSF is celebrated like any other festival in Dubai: with pomp and show. This means shopping isn't the only experience you'll find.

You'll find fireworks, film festivals, music shows, interesting events, and more!

The Dubai Shopping Festival runs from December 15, 2023, until January 29, 2024.

For even more shopping fun, visit the Madinat Jumeirah Festival Market a holiday bazaar which runs from December 15th, 2023 until January 7th, 2024.

4. Take a Dhow Cruise or a Yacht

Head on to a relaxing evening with fun and entertainment on a traditional Arabic boat.

Famous for its Tanura dancers and their colorful costumes, a Dhow Cruise cheers up everyone.

Dhow cruises usually include a three-course dinner buffet. It’s a magical experience drifting along the creek while watching colorful reflections out on the water of the beautifully lit-up skyline of Dubai.

If you would like a more private experience, then we would recommend you take a yacht from the Dubai Marina area.

Sail through the Dubai Marina to Bluewaters Island, and cruise over to the Dubai Eye.

See the famous Jumeirah Beach and the Palm, and pass the Atlantis on the breakfast and lunch tours. You can also opt for a yacht experience with breakfast.

You get a lot of opportunities to take Instagram-worthy photos or take a dip in the sea!

5. Experience Global Village

This is the 28th season for Global Village, a multicultural festival park and the region’s first family destination for culture, shopping, and entertainment. It combines the cultures of 90 countries in one place.

There’s something magical about Global Village. Part theme park, part market, Global Village features pavilions with displays from countries near and far.

The pavilions are designed in the image of iconic structures or local architecture, inviting all to meander from London’s Big Ben to Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Children and adults alike will delight in the bright lights and lively atmosphere. There are parades and all kinds of shows, from fire-breathing street performances to star-studded concerts.

There’s even more fun to be had with countless games and thrilling rides.

This celebration of diversity and creativity runs from October 18th, 2023 to April 28th, 2024.

Visit the Global Village website for more information.

6. Dubai Desert Classic

The Dubai Desert Classic is an annual European Tour golf tournament held on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.

When founded in 1989, it was the first European Tour event to be staged in the Arabian Peninsula but is now one of six.

Golfing legends such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, and Rory McIlroy have won this “Major of the Middle East”.

Guaranteed to be a showcase of the world’s finest golfing talents, this tournament is a must-attend for every golf fan.

Events run from January 18th-21st.

For more information, visit the Dubai Desert Classic website.

7. Enjoy a Musical night at the Dubai Opera

Though it only opened its doors in 2016, the Dubai Opera has quickly become one of the city’s most treasured cultural jewels.

The 1900-seat performing arts center has played host to operatic performances, ice shows, ballet dances, orchestral productions, illusionist acts, musicals, and more.

You can buy tickets in person at the Dubai Opera Box Office. The Box Office is located on the Opera Plaza on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Seating is divided into three main areas – Stalls, Royal Circle, and Grand Circle. Pay close attention to the seating designation as the pricing can vary significantly.

In January 2024, there are a few performances scheduled:

8. Visit the Miracle Garden and Butterfly Garden

If you want to be wowed, each of the following places are worth visiting. They're especially sure to enchant children.

Dubai Miracle Garden

This flower wonderland is located in the district of Dubailand.

The garden occupies over 72,000 square meters making it the world’s largest natural flower garden.

It features over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants! For more information on the park, visit the Miracle Garden website.

Dubai Butterfly Garden

Just next to the Miracle Garden is the Dubai Butterfly Garden.

This is the world’s largest and the region’s first indoor butterfly garden and sanctuary, found inside ten custom-built domes.

You'll find over 15,000 butterflies from 50 varieties.

Other attractions in the park include a floral clock, peacocks, flower castle and an aromatic garden.

For more information, visit the Dubai Butterfly Garden website.

9. Enjoy the evenings at the JBR Walk or La Mer

If you'd like to take an evening stroll, there are two areas you might find of interest.

La Mer

La Mer is hands down one of Dubai’s most Instagrammable spots, spanning over 1.24 million square meters on a white sand beachfront.

It combines commercial, residential, and leisure attractions in one area.

Fun can be had at places such as a water park or cinema, along with shopping, dining, and beach experiences.

Along with street art, there are water features, lots of greenery, elements made to look beach-worn, and a general contemporary and minimalistic design.

It's truly fun to walk along and take it all in.

JBR Walk

Shop dine and stroll by the sea along the chic waterfront strip known as The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).

Along this buzzing beachside boulevard, there are plenty of opportunities to satisfy your retail cravings with an array of fashion, home, and handicraft shops and boutiques.

The promenade gives some fascinating views of Bluewaters Island and Ain Dubai.

You can also check our self-guided tour of JBR on our website.

10. Visit the Museums With Your Family

If you're looking for some family-friendly places to visit with your kids, we can suggest a number of options for you.

Museum of Illusions

The Museum of Illusions in Al Seef houses 80 exhibits of all shapes and sizes.

The museum promises to tantalize visitors with a unique visual and sensory experience – and provide heaps of fun, of course.

Unlike other museums, you are encouraged to interact with the exhibits and take as many photos as you like.

Click here to purchase tickets or learn more.

Perfume Museum

One of the first museums to open in the Al Shindagha neighborhood is the Perfume House, paying homage to the history of all scented things in UAE.

Perfume House is built within the former house of an avid Perfumer, Sheikha Shaikha bint Saeed bin Maktoum.

Many of the items inside were part of her personal collection. She donated these items to the museum just a few weeks before she died.

There are also artifacts from other notable Emiratis, as well as those sourced from archaeological sites in Dubai.

All of this takes place in a location that is a mixture of both old-world and state-of-the-art.

Click here to purchase tickets or learn more.

Note: You might enjoy our 1001 Arabian Nights: Legends and Lore from the Trucial Coast tour as well.

Coins Museum

The Coins Museum Located in Bastakiya and built of coral, stone, plaster, and leaves of palm trees and teak wood, the two-story. 

The museum displays more than 470 rare coins belonging to different historical eras.

Special display cabinets and magnifying screens give visitors a better view of the coins, while electronic drop-down lists provide all the information required.

Admission to the museum is free. Click here for more information.

Pearl Museum

Before the discovery of oil, pearls were the biggest cash crop in the Gulf, whose warm, shallow waters produced some of the world’s finest.

You can see many of these exquisite natural wonders on display at the Emirates NBD Pearl Museum.

In addition to examples of magnificent jewelry, the museum also celebrates the lives of the divers and sailors by displaying the instruments and tools they used to harvest and ship the precious cargo.

Admission to the museum of free, but click here for more information.

About The Author


Pri is a true believer in the Rule of Three - she lives between Dubai, Bombay and Washington DC, speaks three languages and has 3 kids under 3. She graduated from Connecticut College and has a Masters Degree from New York University. Pri is a licensed Dubai tour guide, travel blogger, art aficionado, foodie and curious to check out all things new in her city. Pri has been part of the Free Tours By Foot team since 2015 and loves to make customized itineraries for her guests.
Updated: October 1st, 2023
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