NEW YEAR’S EVE IN DUBAI 
We all know that Dubai is extra fancy. The world’s tallest skyscrapers, luxury hotels, extraordinary buildings, impressive shopping malls and artificial islands. It’s not a surprise that New Year’s Eve in Dubai is also spectacular. In fact, Dubai’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show is the most incredible in the world. In 2019, the record-breaking pyrotechnic show featured a total of 1371 kg of fireworks, and was watched by roughly one million people. Undoubtedly, Dubai is one of the best New Year’s Eve destinations around the world.
IS NEW YEAR’S EVE IN DUBAI A GOOD IDEA?
My visit in Dubai was nothing else than a coincidence. I wanted to go to Sri Lanka in January 2020 and it turned out that the cheapest flight to Colombo is from Warsaw with Emirates, via a layover in Dubai on New Year’s Eve. So Dubai was just a stopover before my final travel destination. Nevertheless, the idea of watching the pyrotechnic show at the Burj Khalifa seemed very exciting. New Year’s Eve in the most luxurious city in the world? Why not! It didn’t take me too long to make the decision, and book this flight.
The main Dubai’s New Year’s Eve pyrotechnic show is held at the footsteps of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. In 2019, this unforgettable performance lasted exactly 8 minutes, 43 seconds, and included 15,000 perfectly choreographed fireworks showcasing 48 pyrotechnic patterns. Impressive, right? Is New Year’s Eve in Dubai a good idea then? The answer is yes. I enjoyed it big time. The fireworks show was truly a breathtaking experience. I haven’t seen anything like that before. A shot video from that night below.
HOW TO PLAN NEW YEAR’S EVE IN DUBAI?
I arrived in Dubai at 9:40 pm on New Year’s Eve, which is only two hours before midnight. The journey from the airport to the Burj Khalifa is not too long. Metro will take you there in 30 minutes. So despite the late arrival, it was still feasible to get to the Burj Khalifa on time. I can’t say that there was no risk involved. If my flight was delayed, I would definitely miss out on the pyrotechnic show, the main attraction of the night. Luckily, it all went to plan. The plane from Warsaw took off on time and landed in Dubai ahead of schedule.
An 18-hour layover in Dubai may not seem ideal, but I gave it a go anyway, even twice, flying out of Warsaw to Colombo and going back too. Thanks to that I spent two days in Dubai and saw the city’s most famous tourist attractions. I also made it to Sri Lanka in one piece and visited many incredibly beautiful places as included in this 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary. It’s worth to say that if you’re connecting in Dubai between Emirates flights for less than 24 hours, your check-in luggage will not be available to collect.
Make sure to check if you are eligible for visa upon arrival, and how long can you stay in the United Arabic Emirates. For example, Polish citizens can easily get a 90-day visa upon arrival at Dubai airport, and it’s free of charge. No advance visa arrangements are required. Dubai airport is massive, but surprisingly, it was empty on New Year’s Eve. There was no line to passport control and the entire process went very smoothly. Just a friendly reminder! Your passport must be valid for no less than 6 months before boarding the plane.
The best way to get to the Burj Khalifa from the airport is to take the red metro line (towards UAE Exchange). It’s only 10 metro stops. As New Year’s Eve in Dubai is a huge venture, there are always some public transport service changes. I would recommend to check the online announcements regularly. In 2019, the adjusted traffic plans for New Year’s Eve were revealed only a week before the actual date. Good news is the changes are pretty much the same every year. So you will know what to expect (more or less).
One of the most significant changes in 2019 was the closure of Burj Khalifa metro station from 10:00 pm on New Year’s Eve to 6:00 am on the following day. In such case, get off the train one station earlier, at Financial Centre and take a 20-minute walk to the Burj Khalifa. Taxi ride from the airport to the Burj Khalifa is also an option, but it may take you even longer than a metro ride. The ticket fare for Dubai metro for an adult from the airport to the Burj Khalifa is AED 4,20. To compare, the taxi ride will cost you around AED 50.
The other important change was regarding the metro operating times. Most of the year, Dubai metro is not open 24 hours. On New Year’s Eve, it exceptionally runs all night long, which is great, but it wasn’t easy to get back to the hotel anyway. Shortly after the pyrotechnic show at the Burj Khalifa, thousands of people went to the nearest metro stations, and they were packed for quite a while. I remember waiting in the line for at least an hour before I entered the station and caught the train. A little bit of patience is needed.
Dirham (AED) is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. You can easily exchange your money in any exchange office at Dubai airport, and you shouldn’t have any issues with that. However, if you are flying to Dubai only for one night, it’s not a must to have cash on you. Credit cards are accepted in most places in the city so don’t stress too much about that. Of course, it’s always better to have some cash, just in case, but if you are in a rush, and don’t have time to exchange money at the airport, you should be fine anyway.
Accommodation in Dubai is quite expensive on New Year’s Eve. I paid EUR 100 for a night in a 3-star hotel that turned out to be a sleazy strip club with some upstairs rooms for hook-ups. Not to mention uninvited guests. Cockroaches. I’m not kidding. So if you, by any chance, booked a stay in Rush Inn Hotel in Deira, cancel it immediately. I definitely made a better choice on my way back from Sri Lanka. I stayed in a 4-star hotel that was cheaper than that dodgy place, and had zero cockroaches in the room. An absolute relief!
As Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates, I was quite shocked to see people celebrating New Year’s Eve on Dubai streets in a very similar way to, for instance, Europeans. It was loud, crowded and everyone seemed to be drunk (!), which was even more shocking. I didn’t experience any unpleasant or dangerous behaviour though. The last thing I want to add here is that I didn’t go to Dubai alone, but honestly speaking, I’m not sure if I would feel comfortable spending New Year’s Eve in Dubai on my own.
Dubai hosts one of the greatest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world. The most spectacular pyrotechnic show is held at the footsteps of the Burj Khalifa, at the Dubai Fountain to be exact. Eye-catching animations are displayed on the world’s tallest building at the same time too. To top it all off, there are some other places where you can watch the fireworks show on New Year’s Eve in Dubai. These are Burj Al Arab, Dubai Frame and Atlantis hotel. I’m not going to be surprised if there are even more places announced next year.
You don’t have to stand super close to the Burj Khalifa to watch the main pyrotechnic show. As I had a limited time to get there, I preferred finding a good spot a bit further from the building rather than getting stuck somewhere in the crowd, with poor visibility, and no chances to change my location. Finding a place where you can see the entire structure of the Burj Khalifa is key. However, if you wish to watch the full performance, the fireworks show and animations, make sure to get to the Dubai Fountain before midnight.
If you could celebrate New Year’s anywhere in the world, where would that be? Maybe New Year’s Eve in Dubai? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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