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Expo 2020: The Ultimate Festive Wonderland

Expo 2020 Dubai will be transformed into a fabulous festive spectacle this month, with a Santa’s grotto, giant decorations, Christmas trees and a dedicated mailbox to the man in red – not to mention spectacular seasonal shows on Al Wasl dome and across the site. 

Al Wasl will present the biggest festive feeling of all, with the dome decorated to look like a snow globe and giant baubles hanging from its arches. There will also be a 20-metre-high Christmas tree, a Santa’s Grotto surrounded by jumping elves, and a sleigh with reindeer. Large nutcracker soldiers will point the way. 

More Christmas trees will adorn the site, ranging between eight and 14 metres high, while baubles as tall as 2.5 metres, gift and décor installations as big as 4.5 metres, gingerbread houses and gold reindeer will surprise visitors at every turn. Expo’s World Souk will also undergo a festive makeover, and Expo’s winter market will sell hot chocolate, eggnog, roasted chestnuts and gingerbread. 

One of the most exciting features will be a gigantic ‘Letters to Santa’ mailbox at Earth Plaza, where children can send their wish lists to the man in red and collect a special stamp for their Expo passports. After Christmas, the mailbox will be transformed into a ‘Give a Gift’ drop box, where visitors can donate gifts to those less fortunate. 

Tareq Gosheh, Chief Events and Entertainment Officer, said: “This is the biggest site-wide event we’ve done so far, and possibly the biggest, longest festive event that Dubai has ever done. We have so much going on, from the decorations to the shows, and the entertainers to Secret Santa. I invite everybody to come to Expo and celebrate with us. Come and say hello to Santa, and feel festive under the dry snow in the Al Wasl dome. We really have something for everyone.” 

Jaw-dropping decorations aside, Al Wasl will also play host to Expo’s spectacular seasonal entertainment. The Al Wasl Christmas Shows offer live performances each evening, with a cast of 70 of all ages from across the world. The story centres around Mrs Claus and the elves, struggling to decide what to get Santa for Christmas, with vibrant songs and dance, an appearance by the man himself, and even ‘dry’ snow falling from the sky. 

Richard Lindsay, Creative Director – Artists In Motion, said: “As there are many nationalities and cultures that will experience the Al Wasl Christmas shows, we wanted to make sure there was something that resonated with everyone, so we based the concepts on the magic and nostalgia of Christmas. We bring to life the magical icons of Christmas for the child in all of us. From dancing toys that come to life, to snowman fights and cheeky elves – all choregraphed to a soundtrack filled with nostalgia. It’s one giant present that keeps on giving.” 

End your Christmas Day in style with a special Late Nights @ Expo on 25 December. Taking place on the Jubilee Stage, it features British singer, songwriter and pianist Joe Stilgoe, Filipina singer Lea Salonga – the voice of Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan – and the sensational London Community Gospel Choir. 

For more seasonal sounds, catch the Jingle Bell Pop Show at The Stage in the Mobility District; or the Exposonix band with its own Christmas repertoire at Jubilee Stage, the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, and various districts over the period, while the stunning Flying Piano at the Opportunity Pavilion Plaza will also be feature festive tunes. 

For Christmas carols, The Kindermusik Christmas Choir, featuring children aged four-14, will perform a one-off show, or you can knock on one of the various doorway installations in Ghaf Avenue, opening up to reveal singing carollers on the other side. 

Ghaf Avenue is also the place to find the daily Christmas Parade, and Expo’s street entertainers will also be getting into the Christmas spirit, with sway pole performers dressed as Christmas trees, stiltwalkers dressed as silver bells, and even mascots Rashid and Latifa wrapped up in Christmas outfits. The Rudolf on the Go dancers will be popping up too, performing flips, somersaults and skilled acrobatics in their wacky reindeer costumes. 

Many International Participants are getting involved, with Christmas concerts and cultural shows presented by Hungary, India, Lebanon and Paraguay. The Finland Pavilion will even host Santa – here to meet children, and tour other pavilions, such as Brazil, Germany, Australia, Estonia, Thailand and more.

Expo’s various food outlets will also offer festive feasts and treats, including workshops at the Bread Ahead Bakery. Try the Christmas wrap at Veg’d, with turkSOY stuffing and cranberry, the December chocolate fudge cookies at Floozie, or the 12 days of Christmas specials and discounts from 12-23 December at Kojaki. Then XYST, Canvas by Coffee+Culture, Farm2Table and Garden on 1, Sports Lounge each have Christmas party menus, with the Viking Café offering its own Christmas menu on Thursdays and Fridays. Alkebulan Dining Hall will have a themed brunch on Christmas Eve, while Mudrá is cooking up a plant-based menu the same day. 

For December, the best way to enjoy all of the fun at Expo is to purchase a Festive Pass for AED95, valid throughout the month. More details of this and upcoming events are on the Expo app and website. 

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