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by Santorini Dave • Updated: December 28, 2018
When is the best time to visit Dubai?
- Best Time for Sightseeing: If you’re looking for the ideal combination of fewer crowds and pleasant weather, the best time for sightseeing in Dubai is between mid-November and early December, and again during the first half of March. While you’re likely to enjoy comfortable temperatures throughout the winter months, visiting from December through February is the peak of high season, when lines tend to be very long and the crowds are often thick, especially during January and early February due to the Dubai Shopping Festival. The worst time for sightseeing is in the summer, and particularly July and August, when the entire city practically goes into hibernation to avoid the unbearable heat. At that time, it’s far too hot to spend more than a few minutes outdoors.
- Best Time to Visit Burj Khalifa: Dubai’s most popular attraction provides the opportunity to experience “At The Top,” the highest viewing platform in the world. During the winter months, the lines can be very long, especially just before sunset, the most popular time to visit – if you have a good camera, you can capture the city during the day, at sunset, and at night, with the endless sparkling lights below. To avoid the biggest crowds and longest lines, visit Burj Khalifa during the summer months. If that’s not an option, your best bet is to purchase your ticket online, two to four weeks in advance. But keep in mind that during the high season, even with ticket in hand, you’ll have to wait in line for a while at the entrance, so it’s important to come at least an hour before sunset to catch it; for example, if sunset is at 7pm, purchase your ticket for the 5:30-6pm entrance slot. Once you’re there, you can stay as long as you’d like.
- Best Time for Shopping: Dubai is a shopper’s paradise, but even more so during the month of January when the Dubai Shopping Festival is held. You’ll enjoy significant discounts – as much as 75%, on just about every item imaginable, including electronics, jewelry, fashion and more. Even at the Outlet Mall, where retails already offer discounted items year-round, you’ll find additional markdowns during this shopping extravaganza. The next best time for shopping is during DSS, Dubai Summer Surprises, when a wide range of retailers offer special promotions and discounts for 45 days starting in mid-July.
- Best Time for Cheaper Hotel Rates: Accommodation rates are at their lowest during the summer, when temperatures are sizzling and it’s far too hot to enjoy the outdoors. To attract more visitors, many hotels offer excellent deals, including reduced rates and sometimes even free meals at their onsite restaurants. The most expensive time to go is between December and February, when rates peak and the Best Dubai Hotels and Best Dubai Hotels for Families are fully booked months in advance.
- Best Time for Enjoying the Beaches: While it’s possible to go to the beach year-round in Dubai, most people feel it’s too chilly to take a dip in the sea during the winter months. In the summer, the opposite is true, with the intense sun and scorching hot sand making it the worst time to go, particularly in July and August. If you’d like to enjoy swimming in the Arabian Sea and perhaps working on your tan, the best time to visit Dubai’s beaches is in April or May, when the sea temperature hovers around a very comfortable 25°C to 28°C.
Dubai Travel Seasons
- High Season (November through April): From late autumn through early spring, accommodation rates are at their highest and the crowds are at their peak, but you’ll enjoy beautiful weather that’s ideal for a variety of outdoor entertainment. During this time, the days bring lots of sunshine and bright blue skies, with slightly cooler evenings as a gentle wind, and only occasional rain, hits the city. The ideal conditions allow visitors to enjoy Dubai’s many outdoor activities, like picnics and lounging on the beach, embarking on desert safaris and strolling through the city.
- Shoulder Season (May, September and October): May is the start of the summer in Dubai and sees temperatures ranging from 23 to 36 degrees Celsius, so it will be hot, although not nearly hot as it will be during the peak of summer’s heat in July and August. With sea temperatures around 28°C, this is a perfect time for swimming and you’re less likely to have to battle the crowds to enjoy it. While accommodation rates won’t be significantly lower than high season, there are more bargains to be found. As autumn approaches, temperatures begin to cool. Although it’s generally too hot and sticky during the day in September, it’s often ideal for heading to the beach in the late afternoon. By October, people begin enjoying things like al fresco dining with more reasonable average temperatures hovering around 29°C.
- Low Season (June through August): Low season is summertime in Dubai. By June, temperatures begin to become rather unpleasant, with high levels of humidity, while July and August are downright scorching, verging on the unbearable level with temperatures that hit the high 40s at their peak. During this period, while you might find reduced rates and special deals, much of your time is likely to be spent rushing between air-conditioned buildings – the beach is a place only for the very brave, or those that don’t mind getting up in the wee hours of the morning. During the month of Ramadan, which usually takes place for 30 days during the summer, with the exact dates dependent on the year (between June 7 and July 6 in 2016, and from May 27 to June 25 in 2017), even if you aren’t fasting, eating, drinking and smoking in public is strictly banned during daylight hours and many cafés or restaurants close during the day. Unless you’re looking to experience a more traditional setting, you may want to avoid this period – even during the evening things are rather subdued, as this is not a time for revelry, though hotels may offer great discounts in order to attract more visitors.
Dubai Weather by Month
- Dubai Weather in January: Although January is the coldest month in Dubai, to many people, it will feel like a warm summer day at home, with temperatures averaging 19°C to 20°C, and sometimes as high as 23°C in the afternoon. While those coming from a similarly warm climate will find it too chilly for swimming at the beach, you’ll likely see many people from places like Russia or the United Kingdom enjoying a dip in the sea. Either way, bring your bathing suit as most hotel have heated pools. Summer clothing is generally appropriate year-round, though women should plan to dress more modestly in the city, and especially when going into a mosque, where shoulders and knees need to be covered. You may want a light sweater for the slightly chillier evenings, though you may not need it. Rain is rarely a concern in January, with the most precipitation coming down in the autumn months, though occasionally inclement weather can hit, especially during the second half of the month, but on average just 10mm falls over six days. Rather than an umbrella, you’ll most likely need sunglasses and sunscreen as the sun shines brightly for an average of eight hours a day. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in February: The temperature begins to gradually rise in February, with the high creeping up to 24°C, though temperatures of 30°C and even higher are not unheard of this month. While rainfall increases a bit to an average of 40mm over four days, it’s most likely to come toward the end of the month and is unlikely to put a damper on your plans. The sea temperature remains a pleasant 21°C, which again, may or may not be warm enough for a swim, depending on what you’re used to, but bring a bathing suit just in case – if you don’t use it at the beach, you’ll probably use it at your hotel swimming pool. When it comes to other clothing, pack as you would for January and you’ll be well-prepared. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Precipitation: 40mm.)
- Dubai Weather in March: With the arrival of spring in March, temperatures noticeably climb. Highs increase three degrees to 27°C this month, and the chance for rain lessens too, with just 10mm falling over six days. Now you’ll enjoy near-perfect beach weather, and with the sea temperature increasing a degree to 22°C, there’s a better chance you’ll find it comfortable enough for a swim. Unless you plan on dining at a swanky restaurant, you could spend your entire time in shorts and a t-shirt, or a bathing suit, though that should be saved for the beach or the pool. The most essential items to bring now become sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, to keep yourself protected from the searing sun that shines nine hours a day. Those days are getting longer now too, with sunset at the end of March about an hour later than it was on January 1, dipping below the horizon a little after 6:30pm. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Precipitation: 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in April: If it didn’t feel like summer already, it will now, and a very hot one at that. This month the temperature rises to an average high of 32°C, though temperatures as high as 40°C have been recorded in April. The month only sees an average of 10mm of rainfall over two days, which means precipitation is very unlikely. Dubai’s high temperatures and intense sun that shines 10 hours a day can quickly lead to a sunburn. Sunbathing for long periods is usually not advisable; instead, you’ll need to slather on high SPF sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat if you plan to be outside for long. The clear, bright skies bring glaring light, so strong UV-filtered sunglasses are a must, though you may want to pick up a pair while you’re in Dubai as even the designer brands are relatively cheap. With the sea temperature at a very comfortable 25°C, this is a great time for going swimming at the beach. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation: 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in May: May brings the start of the summer heat, with high temperatures at a sizzling 37°C, and occasionally exceeding 42°C. Lows range from 24°C to 27°C, so it will feel fairly warm in the evening too. The chance for rain this month is very slim – in fact, it’s fairly common not to see any clouds at all. The sun shines intensely for 11 hours, and stays up until just after 7pm by month’s end. When it comes to packing, think loose, long linens and cottons that will help protect the skin while allowing it to breathe, in addition to being respectful of the local culture and Muslim religion. It may be too hot now for some people to enjoy a day at the beach, but if you go, be sure to drink lots of water, apply plenty of sunscreen and stay cool by taking regular dips in the sea. (Average Max Temperature: 37°C. Average Precipitation: less than 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in June: Now in the heart of the hot season, June brings average temperatures around 33°C, with the mercury rising to 38°C, and sometimes as high as 43°C afternoon. Just like last month, precipitation is very rare in June, and as the sea temperature is even hotter, at an average of 31°C, you won’t get much relief there either. Expect to spend most of your time indoors – and keep in mind that as hotels and shopping malls are typically air-conditioned to the point of freezing, so you’ll actually need a light jacket to avoid a chill. Bring loose, long linens and cottons for those brief periods you will be outdoors. As the sun shines so intensely, for 12 hours a day, you’ll still need sunscreen to avoid a burn, even if you aren’t in it that long. If you plan to spend time at the pool, you’ll want some sandals or flip-flops to avoid burning your feet on the hot tiles. (Average Max Temperature: 38°C. Average Precipitation: less than 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in July: July is one of the two hottest months in Dubai, with the average high temperature at a sizzling 40°C, and again virtually nothing in the way of rain with just a 1% chance of precipitation this month. Even the sea feels hot now, hovering around 32°C. And, as the overnight low averages around 29°C, it’s quite warm after sunset as well, which is a little after 7pm throughout most of July. Pack as you would for June, with a sweater for the chilly, air-conditioned indoors; light, loose clothing along with sunglasses and sunscreen for those short periods you’ll be outside, as well as a bathing suit and sandals for the pool. (Average Max Temperature: 40°C. Average Precipitation: less than 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in August: August is similar to July, only it’s even hotter, with the average high now a whopping 41°C. The overnight low is even hot at 30°C. While spending time outdoors is downright unbearable, if you’re here during the summer, many of the hotels offer great deals, and some even throw in free meals at onsite restaurants. Going for a swim in the sea won’t help cool you off, as it’s around 33°C, and going to the beach is generally a bad idea, unless you visit in the middle of the night. While a visit in August doesn’t sound very pleasant, keep in mind that Dubai is prepared for the heat and moves everything indoors, so you’ll still find plenty to do. (Average Max Temperature: 41°C. Average Precipitation: less than 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in September: Dubai finally begins to cool down in September, if ever so slightly. It will still be hot, but the average high falls three degrees to 38°C, and lows are a more comfortable 27°C on average. There is still little chance for rainfall, as with July and August, it rains only 1% of the time. As September progresses, the day gets shorter, with sunset a little after 6pm by month’s end. Prepare for the heat by packing as you would for the previous two months, as it will still feel very hot and humid, particularly during the early part of September, making it uncomfortable to be outside for any length of time. During the second half of the month, people do begin to emerge from hibernation and venture outdoors a bit. (Average Max Temperature: 38°C. Average Precipitation: less than 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in October: While October is still hot, with average highs of 35°C, you may be able to enjoy al fresco dining in relative comfort, and a jaunt to the sea for a swim now feels enjoyable with the water temperature cooling a bit to 30°C. You’ll still want to pack as you would for the summer, with plenty of light, loose cotton or linen clothing, a bathing suit and full-on sun protection. This month, the sun shines for 10 hours a day, and there is still little to nothing when it comes to precipitation. (Average Max Temperature: 35°C. Average Precipitation: less than 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in November: November usually brings much-wanted relief from the heat, with temperatures averaging around 25°C, and the high falling to 31°C, four degrees lower than last month. At this time of year, you might even see some clouds finally creeping into the almost always bright blue skies, though rainfall is still rare, with just 10mm of precipitation coming down over one day in November. While the crowds, and accommodation rates, begin to increase, many feel that this is a wonderful time to be in Dubai. While you’ll still need all of your summer gear, along with a sweater for the air-conditioned indoors, you’ll be able to spend a lot more time outside than you would during the hot summer months, including pleasant afternoons at the beach. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: 10mm.)
- Dubai Weather in December: December also brings lovely weather. Temperatures continue to decrease, averaging a pleasant 21°C, with highs a comfortable 26°C. While rainfall increases to 20mm over four days, it’s still quite low, with most coming down at the end of the month. As low temperatures are in the upper teens, you will need a light sweater and/or long-sleeved shirts for cooler evenings. The weather offers the perfect setting for beaches and outdoor entertainment, but with sea temperatures now dipping to 23°C, the water may be too chilly for a dip for some. As December brings eight hours of sunshine, you won’t want to forget the sunglasses, even though it’s now the middle of winter. (Average Max Temperature: 26°C. Average Precipitation: 20mm.)
Dubai Special Events by Month
Dubai in January
- New Year’s Day – January 1st, New Year’s Day, is a national holiday in the United Arab Emirates. While museums, government services and other official establishments will be closed, most shops and restaurants are 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.
- Dubai Shopping Festival – This retail celebration held throughout the month of January, and sometimes into early February, is the largest shopping and entertainment festival in the Middle East. A shopper’s paradise, the extravaganza is famous around the world for its unbeatable deals, along with celebrity performances and lots of fun events, from live raffle drawings to fashion flash mobs and much more. Thousands of retailers in Dubai participate, with impressive bargains on just about everything, including jewelry, electronics, haute couture and handicrafts – and it’s all tax free.
- Dubai Marathon – Participants come from all corners of the globe to participate in this event that takes place in mid- to late-January. It includes a full marathon, 10k and a 3k “fun run.” It’s also renowned as a super-flat course that makes for incredibly fast times.
Dubai in February
- Omega Dubai Desert Classic – This professional golf tournament played in mid-February, has been on the European Tour Schedule since 1989. Played on the beautiful Emirates Golf Club course, it attracts some of the biggest names in the sport, including Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Stephen Gallacher.
- Valentine’s Day – February 14th is celebrated in Dubai as it is in many other places around the world. Restaurants offer dining options geared for romance, Valentine’s drink specials for two at bars and a host of romantic activities, like hot-air balloon rides and helicopter tours.
- Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships – This annual event held at Dubai Tennis Stadium over nearly two weeks in late February features top pros from around the world, like Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova, who have all played here in the past.
- Dubai Jazz Festival – This festival held at Dubai Media City in late February covers all genres of Jazz, including funk, rock, contemporary, blues, modern and fusion.
Dubai in March
- Dubai International Boat Show – This boat show held over five days in early March brings more than 430 of the finest super yachts and leisure craft from around the world. Live events, family entertainment and a host of activities are offered, including fishing and sailing trips, casting and winching competitions, jet-ski stunts, match racing and more.
- Art Dubai – This annual international celebration of art, design and culture that takes place over four days in mid-March, features galleries from around the world, along with various poetry and art events.
- Dubai World Cup – Known as the world’s richest horse race, this glamourous event made up of 11 competitive races is held at the Meydan Racecourse on a Saturday in late March, marking the finale of the Dubai International Racing Carnival.
- Al Marmoom Heritage Festival – This popular camel festival held during the second half of March attracts thousands of highly-trained camels from across the Middle East to compete to win their owners cash prizes and high-dollar items.
Dubai in April
- Beach Polo Cup – The Beach Polo Cup is a two-day event in early April that brings the chance to watch professional polo players from around the world compete in some of Dubai’s iconic beach spots.
- Children’s International Film Festival – This festival held over a week in late April and early May is designed to encourage young talent in filmmaking. It attracts local, regional and international families with the aim to promote children’s, pre-teens’ and teens’ films that are inspirational, meaningful and root children in the real world. Some of the most famous, award-winning filmmakers from across the globe screen their films at the festival.
- STEP – The largest tech and interactive gathering in the Middle East, STEP is generally held over the first weekend in April and attracts over 6,000 attendees. It offers opportunities for investors, startups, media professionals, entertainers and developers to network together in one place.
- The Middle East Film & Comic Con (MEFCC) – Held at the Dubai World Trade Center, the largest pop cultural festival in the region brings together artists, music, celebrities, art and exhibitors from around the world and is the only large-scale public event for fans of film and gaming entertainment, pop culture and comics available in the Middle East.
Dubai in May
- Al Gaffal Tradtional 60ft Dhow Race – This annual race that kicks off in early May starts at the small uninhabited island of Sur Bu Na’air, 50 nautical miles west of the United Arab Emirates coast, where the pearl fleets used to stop on their long journeys home after months at sea searching for pearls to meet their families and loved ones. It finishes at various locations, including The Burj Al Arab and Mina Seyahi. The race includes roughly 100 traditional third version traditional boats and typically draws 3,000 participants sailing the waters of the Gulf. The best way to experience it is to catch one of the Dubai RTA ferry rides that follow the racers at different points around the marina.
- Isra and Mi’raj – One of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar, Isra and Mi’ra marks the time the Prophet Mohammed travelled from Mecca to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem in one night. Observed on the 27th day of Rajab, the seventh month in the Islamic calendar, it falls on May 5 in 2016. Some shops will close early the evening before, and on the holiday, many will be closed. The celebration includes prayers during the night and in some places, you may see the lights stay on throughout the night as well.
- Dubai Tango Festival – Held in mid-May (May 18-21 in 2016), the four-day Dubai Tango festival brings tango lovers from around the world with live music and performances every night as well as Tango workshops and a gala dinner.
Dubai in June
- Ramadan – Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, and marks the month in which the Quran was revealed. It may fall anytime between April and August depending on the year, with 2016’s Ramadan observed between June 6 and July 5. It has a profound effect on daily life in Dubai, and it’s the one time of year when visitors can really get the sense of being in an essentially Muslim city, so you may want to consider this when making your plans. Muslims are required to fast between dawn and dusk, and as a tourist, you’ll be expected to publicly observe this as well, although you can eat and drink in the privacy of your hotel room, or in one of the carefully screened-off dining areas found in hotels throughout the city. Alcohol may be served discreetly in some places after dark, but never during the day. Eating, drinking, chewing gum, smoking, dancing, singing and swearing in public are all considerable offenses to local Muslims. Live music is strictly forbidden throughout the holy month, and the city’s nightclubs close for the duration.
- Ramadan Night Market – Held over ten days in late June and early July, the Ramadan Night Market is the biggest shopping fiesta during Ramadan. It features a wide range of brands and products from across the region, and some of the best deals from more than 300 outlets. Similar to traditional street markets, it’s an open-scheme bazaar with a festive atmosphere.
Dubai in July
- Dubai Summer Surprises – Running for 45 days starting in mid-July, DSS is one of Dubai’s summer calendar highlights and includes reduced hotel rates and big shopping discounts, designed to lure more visitors to the city during the peak of summer’s heat. As kids are out of school, it has an emphasis on family events like educational activities and children’s entertainment as well. Families will find everything from celebrity appearances and stage shows from international cartoon characters to endless fun at Modhesh World and activities at all of the malls throughout Dubai.
- Eid al Fitr – Eid al Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan each year. The festival ends the dawn to dusk fasting and is accompanied by a number of events that take place throughout Dubai. To top off the festivities, there is a spectacular display of fireworks at celebrations across the city.
Dubai in August
- South Indian International Movie Awards – This annual award show held over two nights in early August features the biggest names in south Indian entertainment.
Dubai in September
- GAMES Expo – An eight-day gaming event held in early September, the GAMES Expo offers the chance to buy games, gaming merchandise and watch some of the biggest game launches in the industry.
- Dubai Music Week – This five-day music fest held at the Dubai International Convention Centre in mid-September, is the Middle East premier international music festival. Concerts feature rock, pop, urban, Latin and Arabian artists, and the program also includes celebrity guest speakers and master classes.
- Dubai International Dance Festival – Held over eight-days in mid-September, this unique dance festival is a multi-arts event that attracts well-known dance companies, bands, youth orchestras, classical dance academics and music ensembles both regionally and from around the world.
Dubai in October
- Hijri New Year – This national holiday marks the beginning of the new Islamic year. The date is not affixed to a Gregorian calendar days as it depends upon the moon sighting. In 2016, it falls on Sunday, October 2. Workers throughout the country usually enjoy a day off, but there usually no celebrations or other festivities, though you’ll likely hear people wishing others a “Happy New Hijri Year.”
- Dubai Design Week – This six-day event in late October celebrates design and innovation regionally and internationally through more than 60 separate activities and projects. Studios, artists, individual designers, architects, educational institutions, retailers, trade professionals, authors and iconic brands all participate.
- Camel Racing – The camel racing season begins in October, with the races run normally between 7am and 9am on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the season. People from as far as Qatar and Saudi join local owners with stables full of camels competing for prize money, given out to the race’s top ten finishers.
- Halloween – While Halloween is not as popular in Dubai as it is in North America and many European countries, multiple restaurants and hotels across the city host parties and costume contests. You’ll also see shops loaded with Halloween costumes, decorations and treats.
Dubai in November
- Dubai Motor Festival – The Dubai Motor Festival, held for 10 days in early November, is a citywide celebration of automobiles, featuring the Dubai Grand Parade, the annual Dubai International Motor Show, Motor Village and Dubai International Rally.
- Dubai World Tour Championship/Race to Dubai – The Race to Dubai is part of the PGA European Tour and includes nearly 50 tournaments, culminating with the Dubai World Championship in late November.
Dubai in December
- National Day Festival – This annual celebration on December 2 commemorates the Emirates’ independence from Great Britain. Many of the city’s leading monuments are opened to the public and special events are held throughout the day.
- Dubai International Film Festival – One of the top international film festivals in the world brings thousands of actors, directors, producers, writers, industry experts and cinema-goers to watch some of the greatest films.
- Dubai Rugby Sevens – This three day annual rugby extravaganza in early December takes place at The Sevens stadium, featuring a variety of action, entertainment and activities for the whole family.
- Christmas – While Christmas isn’t a holiday celebrated in the UAE, it does offer events for those who do. The Dubai Winter Festival, held at the World Trade Centre, is the No. 1 celebration, a three-day event held in mid-December that features Santa Claus, a giant Christmas tree and a spectacular lighting ceremony. Marina Mall’s Christmas market is held over the Christmas holiday period, selling gifts and treats. There is also a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day mass at St Francis of Assisi Church.
- New Year’s Eve – New Year’s Eve parties are held throughout the city on December 31, and are some of the biggest festivities in the world. In downtown Dubai, there are fireworks as well as spectacular dance performances and choreographed musical performances. The fireworks over the Gulf’s skyline can also be enjoyed aboard the traditional Dhow Cruise which sails the waters of Dubai Marina.
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