March in Dubai is pretty evenly split between food and art, what with the Dubai Food Festival spilling over from late Feb and Art Dubai and all its accompanying arty events dominating the second half of the month. If food isn’t your thing (*gasp!*) and you don’t really fancy art much, don’t worry – there’s plenty to do in March apart from gorging yourself on food and feasting your eyes on art.
Here are just 20 of the funnest/most interesting/tastiest things you can take advantage of this March. And this is just the tip of the iceberg considering that we're leaving out St. Paddy’s, Mum’s Day and Easter!
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
March is Art Season in Dubai and it kicks off with one for the book worms: Emirates’ annual LitFest is the largest literary conference in the region and offers residents and overseas visitors the opportunity to meet famous authors, attend literary debates, listen to readings and participate in writing workshops for both adults and children. There’ll be a mix of Arab authors as well as famous international writers, including crime thriller heavyweights Ian Rankin and Ann Cleeves, which if you happen to be a crime fiction junkie should super exciting. Or if you're a fitness nut, look out for Joe Wicks a.k.a The Body Coach.
And reportedly language barriers shouldn’t present a problem at the various panels and workshops thanks to complimentary translation headsets.
Running from Tuesday, 1 March, to Saturday, 12 March; events will be held all over Dubai; to learn more about LitFest, check out the amazing programme they have lined up; and sign up for workshops and panels, visit emirateslitfest.com
The Dubai International Boat Show
Considering buying a yacht? Are you a fan of all things maritime? Or do you just fancy the opportunity to wear a captain’s hat for the day? Then you really shouldn’t miss DIBS 2016.
They’ll be showcasing 430 of the finest super yachts and high-end leisure crafts and products; and handing out fishing, sailing and diving tips. They're also putting on an exciting water stunts show and setting up beach activities where novices can try their hands at standup paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing. And, if you're anything like me, you happen to be a fan of Breton stripe tops, there’s also a marine fashion retail village to check out. Last year, this event drew over 28,000 visitors – so it's certain that this year’s boat show should be plenty good as well.
This 5-day fest kicks off on Tuesday, March 1 and runs till Saturday, March 5; Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Seyahi, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina; AED 60 gets you a day pass; check out boatshowdubai.com for more info.
This new initiative from Brand Dubai (because yes, the Dubai Government has a department dedicated to developing its brand as an awesome destination) is back for its second instalment in the form of a 3D art festival. Think optical illusions, holograms, and really intricate chalk drawings by 30 3D artists from around the world, transforming JBR into a fascinating open-air museum.
Dubai Canvas will be running from Tuesday, March 1 to Monday, March 14 all over JBR; admission is free (yay!) and be sure to check out @BrandDubai on Instagram
Because We Can – an epic Hip Hop club night
Don’t be surprised if I decide to feature this club night in, like, every monthly agenda.
Why? Because We Can... And because it's awesome!
Dubai has its fair share of chichi lounge/bars/nightclubs, but what this city is really barren of is old skool R’n’B/Hip Hop venues. The genre certainly needs a little TLC and that’s where DJ Janeen Beanz and the Because We Can club night steps in to fill the void. After a hugely successful debut night last month...get there early to guarantee entry.
10pm - 3am Friday, 4 March (and every first Friday of the month); Spirito, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City; free entry and 50% off selected drinks and bottles
The Dubai Food Festival 2016 continues well into March, primarily in the shape of the Etisalat Beach Canteen over in Kite Beach; Dubai’s first ever Restaurant Week; and some amazing food and bev workshops in various outlets all over the city (check out the full Food Festival itinerary here).
But one of the must-check-out Food Fest events this March is Street Nights, a two-day celebration of street culture (art, music, urban fashion by way of the Night Bazaar), and more importantly street food. This is where you can get a taste of Dubai’s newest food trucks and stalls. I suggest you go with a group of friends so that you can sample a bit of everything as efficiently as possible.
5-10PM on Friday, 4 March and Saturday, 5 March; Bay Avenue, Business Bay
Bounce After Dark – The Batman v Superman Edition
Dubai, being Dubai, is home to the largest indoor trampoline playground. And of course this bouncy venue also throws epic (and occasionally themed) parties on the regular because that’s how we roll in Dubai.
In anticipation of the Batman v Superman movie premiere, Bounce After Dark (that's the name of the party) is hosting one of its epic ragers. Now, We're not sure how they’ll tie in the superhero theme with the partying. Will staff be dressed up in costume? Are attendees meant to be dressed up as well? Do you have to pick sides? Why are these two guys fighting anyway?
Who even knows.
Party like a superhero on Thursday, 10 March, 8pm onwards; Bounce Middle East, Al Quoz; tickets start at AED 80 per hour, book ‘em here
Taste of Dubai
Another Dubai Food Festival highlight not to be missed: Taste of Dubai is a food, drink and music extravaganza that involves samples of the most popular dishes from some of the city’s top restaurants; demos from celebrity chefs, and cooking challenges.
Music-wise, the festival will be hosting disco legends Boney M., the band best known for [Ra-Ra-]Rasputin and Daddy Cool. If neither song rings a bell, then you really need to brush up on your 70s pop.
Thursday, 10 March to Saturday, 12 March; Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City; get your tickets at tasteofdubaifestival.com
Vibrance Spring Fling 2016
Whether you’re on the lookout for new styles or happen to be a fan of fashion from the South Asian sub-continent, you ought to check out this multi-designer event. It’s a chance to nab designs from some of the best niche local and international names, many of who dress some big Bollywood names. There’ll be sumptuous couture designs, prêt-a-porter apparel and plenty of fashion jewelry. Bonus: the exhibiting designers will actually be at the event, which is admittedly pretty cool.
Saturday, 12March, from 11am to 8pm; The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Trade Centre Area; check out their Facebook page
Food Truck Brunch/Jam
Brought to you by the same mind behind Street Nights, this street-food-based brunch is held on alternate Saturdays until 16 April
The two Food Truck Brunches this March will be on Saturday, 12 March and Saturday, 26 March
SIKKA Art Fair
Whether it comes from expats or locals, Lovin Dubai loves to celebrate a home grown initiative. Since the SIKKA Art Fair is all about supporting and showcasing Emirati and Dubai-based artistic talent, it certainly deserves a mention.
This art festival was originally focused on the visual arts but has now developed to cover performing arts, film, and music as well. Of all the art-based events going on this month, the strong community vibes fostered by this art fair makes it the chilliest (i.e. the least pretentious) of the lot.
Sunday, 13 March to Thursday, 24 March; Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (formerly known as the Bastakiya), Bur Dubai; admission is free; learn more about SIKKA here
The leading design fair in the region showcases collectible and limited edition furniture and design objects that you most likely can’t afford but are certainly worthy of drooling over. The designs come courtesy of leading international designers and galleries alongside up and coming designers from across the world.
DD will also be featuring film screenings, talks and workshops with titles like ‘Wearable Design’, ‘Treasures from Plastic Waste’ and ‘The Making Process’. Certainly a must-visit for collectors, design junkies and anyone who fantasises about being a custom furniture designer like Aidan from Sex and the City.
Monday, 14 March to Friday, 18 March; The Venue, Downtown Dubai; tickets are going for AED 50 – find out more at designdaysdubai.ae
March Madness @ CLAW
There aren’t many Americans in Dubai (the whole not having to pay taxes over here doesn’t work out that well for them), but for the handful of Americans that do live here, and those of us that love all things Americana, CLAW is really boon. Purportedly ‘home to all things American in Dubai’, CLAW certainly holds up its end of the bargain when it comes to U.S. sporting events; case in point: their insistence on staying open to show the Super Bowl live during the wee small hours of the morn whilst serving brekkie last month.
So while the rugby plays across TVs in sports bars all over Dubai, CLAW will be airing the NCAA men's college basketball knockout tournament, a.k.a. March Madness. There’ll be a friendly bracket going, with the winner making off with a free brunch for four, and while the games run there’ll be a special on wings and hops, which, as we all know, is the mandatory snack for every American sporting event.
The madness begins on Tuesday, 15 March, with a special Tailgate Party lined up for Friday, 25 March; Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai. For rezzies or more info call 04 4322300
Art Dubai 2016
Did we mention that March in Dubai is all about the art? Art Dubai is the flagship event of the Dubai Art Calendar: it’s the biggest, baddest art fair in the region. Now in its tenth year, the line-up of the works featured in dozens of galleries both from the UAE and around the world will be open to the general gawking public on Day 2 since Day 1 of the affair is by invitation only. The fair is generally divided into three segments: Modern, Contemporary and Marker, with the latter focusing on a particular theme or geography. This year’s Marker segment is all about the Philippines, which makes sense, since apparently Filipinos make up 21.3% of Dubai's population.
Art Dubai kicks off on Wednesday, March 16
The International Kite Fest
This just might be the funnest of the events up Dubai’s kandoora sleeve this month. It also falls on the family friendly spectrum of things, which makes a nice change from all the art-based events and/or booze-fuelled evenings that may (or may not) characterise your March. This extremely colourful visual feast will take place on the beach behind Sunset Mall (which is purportedly the real kite beach) and will feature a Sports Kite Flying Championship, Synchronised Kite Flying, Kite Surfing, Kite Buggying, Kite Boarding and Night Kite Flying.
Don’t miss out on Kite Fest, which runs from Thursday, 17 March to Saturday, 19 March; the action goes down in the bit of Jumeirah Beach behind the undersubscribed Sunset Mall; admission is free and you can learn more about the event right here
The Dubai Social Pet Park
Last month saw what I believe was the first ever ‘Puppy Brunch’ in Dubai. If you and your doggie missed out on the event, or you just fancy more canine exposure, the Dubai International Marine Park is holding a Social Pet Park event to bring pets and their guardians together with other pets and their guardians.
Anyway, K9 and other not-for-profit pet associations will be participating so there may be opportunities to adopt furry friend.
Also in attendance: the Guiness Book of World Records, which will be on the lookout for talented canines. As a cat lady I'm very much concerned about felines being left out of the competition.
This lovely event will take place on Friday, 18 March from 10AM – 7PM; Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Seyahi, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina; get your tickets for AED 90 right here
Pig out on Paella at Flooka
No joke, one of my favourite dishes ever is paella, especially if its cooked the proper way: right before your very eyes in a MASSIVE pan.
This March, one of Dubai’s best seafood restaurants (that incidentally boasts one of Dubai’s loveliest al fresco beachfront views) is putting all-you-can-eat seafood paella on the menu every Thursday. And, they’re doing it the proper way with a live cooking station manned by a dude with a massive spoon.
Flooka Dubai’s live paella cooking station gets going form 7pm onwards every Thursday. All-you-can-eat paella is priced AED 70 or AED 100 with two glasses of grape; Dubai Marine Beach Resort and Spa Jumeirah; call to book a table 04 346 1111 or visit flooka.com
Emirates Classic Car Festival
You know sometimes, we really wish that these event organisers would call their things something other than ‘fest’ or ‘festival’. Now that we've gotten that off our chest, here’s an awesome event that celebrates a different sort of design:
Stroll down the Boulevard to take in some of the finest, rarest and most exquisite classic cars and motorbikes. You don’t have to be a gear head or care about cars to appreciate how gorgeous these machines are. And if you yourself happen to be the proud owner of a nicely maintained classic car, you can register to be part of the show right here. That said, the model year cut-off is 1986, turning that saying about ‘trading up’ on its head, kind of.
The cars will be lined up for viewing pleasure from Thursday, 24 March to Sunday, 27 March; Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai; you can learn more about the car show here emiratesclassiccarfestival.com
Nicki Minaj live in Dubai
Whaaaaat! The multi-award-winning, super-bad-ass and highest-selling female rapper in the world is making her way back to Dubai (she was last here in 2012). Honestly, this is the one concert that we're dying to go to this year, and I can’t wait to see her switch up crazy wigs, flamboyant costumes and alter egos.
From 7pm to 2am, Friday, 25 March; The Venue @ Dubai Outlet Mall, Al Ain Road; buy your tickets ASAP right here
Dubai World Cup 2016 (ft. Janet Jackson)
The Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot have nothing on the Dubai World Cup. The culmination of Dubai’s horse racing season, this is one of the biggest social and sporting events in the whole region. And the combined prize purse of USD 30 million (which makes it the ‘richest’ equestrian event in the world) is nothing to sneeze at.
After all nine races come to a close, things wrap up with the magnificent Dubai World Cup show (we're guessing this involves nice horses prancing around but who knows) and a concert by Janet Jackson. Yes, Janet Jackson!
Saturday, 26th March; Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba; tickets for general admission are AED 25, but if you want to get fancy and sit in the First Class Lounge, land you and your buddies a hospitality suite, or book a place in something called the ‘Sky Bubble’, I imagine the price tags can get rather steep; learn more about the event here
March wraps up with a sartorial flourish with the kickoff of the spring session of Fashion Forward, which styles itself as 'the [emphasis added] definitive fashion platform for Dubai and the Middle East'. With catwalk shows aplenty, presentations by the top couture, ready-to-wear and accessories designers in the Middle East; and a series called the The d3 Fashion Talks, this is an expo event that takes fashion very seriously.
In fact FFWD, now in its 7th season, is what's called an industry-focused event, so amongst the attendees are proper designers, merchandisers, stylists and buyers, as well as members of the media and press industry. But that shouldn't deter fashion-lovers that would like to attend; you can get either a 1-day or a 3-day pass for a not-so-outrageous fee.
You can start hobnobbing with the fashionable lot when FFWD starts up on Thursday, 31 March (but it keeps going into early April); Hai, Dubai Design District (d3). Not a registered fashionista? You can register for a 3-day pass for AED 250; find out more about FFWD, including rates and programmes, at fashionforward.ae
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