From January to December 2021, Dubai logged 7.28 million international overnight visitors, further cementing its place in the list of most preferred destinations for international tourists. The Global Destination Cities Index 2019 by MasterCard shows Dubai as the fourth top destination city globally and the top destination city for international overnight visitor spending.
It should not be surprising, really. Dubai has many things to offer tourists for a place less than half the size of Melbourne.
Dubai Festival City, also simply known as Festival City, is one of the places you should visit when you go to Dubai.
Why Festival City, you may ask.
There are many other destinations to visit in Dubai, and of course, you should see those, too. However, if you want the convenience of being close to the airport, and at the same time, having everything you need and could possibly want nearby, Festival City makes a good destination.
Read on to learn more about Festival City and the places and things worth checking out in this popular Dubai destination.
Getting to Dubai Festival City
Dubai Festival City is quite close to the Dubai International Airport. It takes only approximately 10 minutes by car from the airport to Festival City in ideal traffic conditions.
You can hire a car from a car rental agency at the airport. Follow the directions towards Garhoud and Al Rebat Street. Once you are on Al Rebat, look out for the exit to Al Badia Blvd.
For convenience, you can take a taxi from the airport.
Where to Stay
For maximum convenience, you can stay in Festival City. You can choose from four IHG hotels or rent a flat in the area.
1. InterContinental Dubai Festival City
InterContinental Dubai Festival City is a centrally located hotel and is the best choice for those who prefer everything close at hand.
It is a stone's throw away from the Festival City Mall and sits by the Dubai Creek close to Festival Bay and the record-breaking IMAGINE fountain show. In fact, InterContinental Dubai serves as the projection screen for the IMAGINE show, ‘A Child's Dream’.
2. InterContinental Residence Suites
InterContinental Residence Suites Dubai Festival City should be your choice if you want to stay in Festival City but would much rather be a little farther away from the hustle and bustle of the mall. This hotel is located in Marsa Plaza, a waterfront high-rise residential tower around 1 km away from the Festival City Mall.
This hotel is also the better choice if you want more space and are staying for more than a few days. It has studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom suite options. With its serviced apartments, you can enjoy the comforts of home enhanced by the InterContinental brand of thoughtful service.
3. Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City
The Crowne Plaza is another option if you want to be conveniently close to all the action at Festival City. This hotel is located close to InterContinental Dubai. It also sits by Dubai Creek, and is close to the mall.
4. Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City
The Holiday Inn hotel does not sit on the waterfront but still has direct access to the mall. It's a good choice if you wish to avoid the hectic vibe of the Creek-facing hotels but still prefer to be close to Dubai Festival City Mall.
If you plan to stay awhile in Dubai — perhaps you're staying for more than a month — you should consider renting an apartment unit instead.
You have two options in this case. If you want to be on the Creek, relatively close to the mall and all of its recreational activities, you can rent a unit in Marsa Plaza. This high-rise apartment building is located by the Creek. It actually houses the InterContinental Residence Suites Dubai Festival City.
Otherwise, you can choose a unit in Al Badia Residences. This apartment block is just a few kilometres away from the mall. However, it is located in the quiet part of Festival City, close to the Universal American School and residential amenities like the Al Areesh Club.
Al Areesh Club is a recreational sports club with a gym, multipurpose court, all-weather hard courts, racket sports amenities, and swimming pools. Al Areesh also has play areas for kids, beauty salons, a supermarket, a pharmacy, and a dental clinic.
What to Do
The following are the things you can do at Festival City.
1. Shop and Dine at Dubai Festival City Mall
Tourists come to Festival City mainly for the Dubai Festival City Mall, unquestionably one of the most impressive malls in Dubai. It is home to hundreds of shops and food outlets.
Going around the mall should occupy a good part of your day, and even so, you wouldn't have had a chance to visit every store and outlet in it. A visit to the IKEA Dubai Festival City store should take you at least an hour if you’re rushing and at least a couple of hours if you’re going to do some serious browsing.
2. Cruise Down the Creek
Dhows are traditional Arab sailboats, and you can sail on one of them at Dubai Festival City. Go to the Dubai Festival City Mall bay area to book your dhow boat ride.
It's best to go on a dhow ride just before sunset so you can be on a cruise on the Dubai Creek just as the sun sets on the famous Dubai city skyline. Watch in wonder as it gets dark and the skyline and the Dubai Creek get lit.
3. Watch IMAGINE
IMAGINE is a light, sound and water show that broke two Guinness Book of World Records in its first year of operations: the largest water screen projection and the largest permanent projection mapping.
Go to the Festival Bay area of the Festival City Mall before sundown to get a good vantage point. The show starts after the sun sets and plays at one-hour intervals until 11:00 pm.
4. Watch a Movie at Novo Cinemas
If movies are your favourite thing, visit Novo Cinemas at Festival City Mall for its comfortable reclining seats and superb IMAX screens.
Everything Within Reach
Dubai Festival City is a master-planned community, and it has everything you need to have an enjoyable visit.
At the centre of its amenities is one of the most iconic destinations in Dubai, the Dubai Festival City Mall and the many shops, restaurants, and recreational facilities it offers.
For convenience, stay at one of the Festival City hotels or one of the Festival City apartments for rent.