Abu Dhabi is generally considered to be a more family-friendly destination than neighbouring Dubai, but that doesn’t mean that the city doesn’t have a full calendar of exciting events for expats to enjoy. 

Here are some of our favourite Abu Dhabi events for expats to look forward to.


Annual events in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Science Festival (January)

The largest event of its kind in the entire region, the annual Abu Dhabi Science Festival is an initiative to support the UAE science and tech sectors. The 10-day event draws more than 100,000 visitors and is a fun day out for the whole family, and includes exciting exhibits, workshops and entertaining shows.

airplane releasing multi-coloured smoke in the shape of UAE flag

Red Bull Air Race (February/March)

The Red Bull Air Race comes to Abu Dhabi every year for an exhilarating showcase of aerial acrobatics by some of the world’s most skilled pilots. High above the impressive Abu Dhabi skyline, single-seat planes race for bragging rights, as spectators look on from the specially built race village on the breakwater of the Corniche.

Abu Dhabi Festival (March)

Started in 2004 by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, the annual Abu Dhabi Festival is a month-long celebration of Arab arts and culture and has become one of the largest cultural events in the Arabian Gulf. Events take place at the Emirates Palace and include music, dance and literary shows from artists from all over the world.

The Mother of the Nation Festival (March/April)

This festival is held to celebrate and honour HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak with cultural events, beach dining, fireworks, musical shows and more. The celebration lasts a full 10 days during which the whole family can find something to enjoy, with many activities, attractions and performances taking place in and around the Corniche.

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr (April/May)

Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr, a three-day feast, which is one of the biggest celebrations in Abu Dhabi. During the evenings, and during Eid, expats should make the most of indulging in local cuisine and customs.

Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (September)

This is the region’s most renowned hunting and equestrian extravaganza, showcasing exciting displays of Emirati traditions and culture, including beauty contests for Arabian horses and falcons, camel auctions, and fishing and hunting displays.

Taste of Abu Dhabi (November)

This Abu Dhabi food festival takes place over three days and sees both local and international chefs come together across the city to demonstrate their culinary skills in a celebration of delicious food, from gourmet delicacies to street food delights. International celebrity chefs and live music acts add to the entertainment.

two rally cars racing in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (November)

Held at the impressive Yas Marina Circuit, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was founded in 2009 and has only grown in popularity. It’s undoubtedly the emirate’s biggest spectacle of the year and draws in thousands of petrol heads and fashionistas alike. After the race, the city buzzes with big concerts and other entertainment.

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