Bad House Party
This wonderfully weird alternative night is, quite frankly, the best in the city. Its roster of quirky, underground bands is unmatched and, without exception, it always delivers the kind epic performance that you’ll be talking about for months to come. It doesn’t matter if you have no clue who Black Honey or Astronautalis are, get yourself down to Casa Latina anyway. Chances are they will knock your socks off (or, in this case, one of the edgy animal masks that always seem to be circulating at this night out).
Free. First Thursday of the month, 9pm-2.45am. Casa Latina, Ibis Al Barsha (04 399 6699).
Live Vibes by Vibe Series
Leave your heels at home for these events that take place around the city. Brought to you by Vibe Series, the folk behind Night Vibes, the line-ups include uber-alternative acts such as funky musician-artist duo Masomenos and Sudanese hip-hop artist Toofless.
Check the Facebook page for latest events, www.facebook.com/vibeseries.
Alternative doesn’t have to mean being a fan of an unknown band your mates haven’t heard of. There’s no shame in wanting to sing along to Backstreet Boys occasionally. The best place for that? Indie. Each week is themed, so there’s a night for everyone.
Free. Fri 8pm-3am. INDIE, Gate Village 5, DIFC (055 455 6106).
Deep Like Thursdayz!
The guys behind Deep Like Thursdayz! are dedicated to giving a platform to DJs who have never played in the city before. The night attracts a huge crowd regularly, thanks to its eclectic line-ups as well as whimsical themes (the fictional Louie the Owl often makes an appearance, along with a whole host of other characters). If you love house music, you’ll be in your element here. But, crucially, this is a night that absolutely anyone can enjoy, and one that’s worth going to at least once, whether you’re a fan of the genre or not.
Dhs100. Thu 10pm-3am. The Backyard, Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay (050 936 9163).
Night Vibes by Vibe Series
We love Night Vibes for many reasons, and not least for its dancefloor (which is always busy), neon and fairy light-covered décor and rooftop bar location. It keeps things interesting with a constantly changing line-up of local, regional and international DJs, with its fingers firmly on the pulse of trends and up-and-coming talents in house music.
Prices vary. Fri 7.30pm-2.45am. Tamanya Terrace, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 366 9131).
Hardcore house fans will no doubt be familiar with this night. With the industrial underground vibe of Media One Hotel’s ON42, and DJ sets from some of the biggest names in the genre – think British DJ and producer Matt Tolfrey and American DJ and production duo Soul Clap – if house and techno music is your thing, you’re guaranteed an awesome night out.
Free. Fri 9pm-3am. ON42, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (056 921 8484).
WHITE Dubai really doesn’t hold back, combining its epic outdoor dancefloor with spectacular lights, huge hip-hop and R&B tunes provided by resident DJs Dany Neville and Devon Kosoko, and regular live appearances from the genres’ biggest stars, including Bow Wow, Krept & Konan, Ace Hood and Skepta. There are free drinks for ladies, too. Easily the biggest and best of the city’s urban nights.
Free. Sat 11pm-3am. WHITE Dubai, Meydan Racecourse Grandstand Rooftop, Nad Al Sheba (050 443 0933).
Hip Hop Chic
This is one of the city’s best mid-week parties, with killer music from DJs Brooklyn and Junior J, not to mention live appearances from some of the hottest artists in R&B and hip-hop, such as TY DOLLA $IGN and Omarion.
Free. Mon 10.30pm-3am. Cirque Le Soir, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (050 995 5400).
Cavalli, as always, takes things one step further at its urban night, with a package of unlimited sushi and bubbly for Dhs299 during its dinner show, followed by a huge after-party. It’s one to get seriously dressed up for.
Free. Wed 8.30pm-3am. Cavalli Club, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 9260).
The Music Room
Several things matter when it comes to a live music venue – sound quality, atmosphere and line-up of musicians being just three. The Music Room excels at it all, but it’s the roster of international acts that keeps us coming back. You can see everything from alternative rock to DJs to hip-hop acts from a diverse range of countries, and there’s always an enthusiastic crowd on the dancefloor cheering them on.
Open daily 6pm-3am. Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai (04 359 8888).
It might not seem immediately obvious as a live music venue, but INDIE’s set-up is surprisingly ideal, and the calibre of entertainment spot on. Saturday brunch has music from a talented, jazzy group who play a little bit of everything, while on Wednesdays, Clarita de Quiroz performs live. Other nights of the week, you can see live dancers and performers turning their hand to Michael Jackson tributes and more.
Open daily 5pm-2am. Gate Village 5, DIFC (055 455 6106).
Frequented by a fun-loving crowd, this jazz hangout shoots to the top of our list for its top-notch entertainment from local and regional musicians every night of the week. It’s a great place to discover new and up-and-coming artists who play all sorts from folksy jazz to swing and more. The delicious pizzas don’t hurt, either.
Open daily noon-midnight. Cluster A, JLT (04 441 6342).
Little Black Door
You expect a lounge bar to be something special, and Little Black Door ticks every box, and then some. It’s nothing overly flashy, but the décor is stunning and it feels more like you’re sitting in an old New York townhouse than a modern Dubai hotel. Exposed brick, gothic metalwork and beautiful light fixtures dominate, while the super-fancy bar snacks include foie gras hot dogs to go with your mixed beverage. One of the most atmospheric spots for a drink we’ve come across.
Open daily 7.30pm-3am. Conrad Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (055 623 1620).
This Beirut import has been open for some years now, but Iris Dubai remains as popular as ever. Its summery garden party vibe, twinkling city views and high-end bar food make this an
extra-impressive spot for wow-ing visitors or for date night. It regularly features live music, too, which goes down well with the laid-back crowd. Up-market and sophisticated, but completely unpretentious, you’re always in for a good night out here.
Open Sat-Thu 5pm-3am; Fri 1pm-3am. The Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay (056 951 1442).
Known perhaps primarily for its award-winning restaurant, the lounge bar at Zuma shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a destination in its own right. Sleek, minimal and stylish, with great music, an eclectic menu of mixed beverages and, obviously, fantastic bar bites. Everything a lounge bar should be.
Open Sat-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Fri noon-2am. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).
When it comes to wow-factor, this bar is hard to beat. Its spectacular panoramic views take centre stage, though the sleek and contemporary interiors don’t do a half bad job of matching up. It’s trendy and modern with a dramatic tree appearing to grow out of the middle, while the drinks menu is full of unique-sounding creations. Easily the most impressive outdoor bar in the city.
Open daily 7pm-3am. The H Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road.
Luna Sky Bar
Nestled among the rooftops of DIFC, Luna Sky Bar is an unexpectedly stunning place for a few al fresco drinks – it’s softly lit by lanterns with comfy seats to sink into, surrounded by whimsical white drapes and the soft, twinkling lights of the surrounding buildings. It feels like stumbling across a secret, and one that you hope will stay well-kept so you can bag the best seat next time you visit.
Open daily 5pm-3am. Four Seasons Hotel DIFC (04 506 0000).
Reform Social & Grill
There are few other places in Dubai where you can sit outside surrounded by greenery and water and feel like you’re having an authentic pub garden experience. The drinks menu covers everything from juniper-based beverages to British classics, and a good hops list including organic varieties. The setting itself is chilled out and picturesque, but lively enough – especially on big game nights. It has awesome pub grub, too.
Open daily 8am-midnight. The Lakes (04 454 2638).
The MAINE Oyster Bar & Grill
This bright, modern space at DoubleTree by Hilton in JBR is hands-down our favourite restaurant bar in the city. Its New England aesthetic with wrought iron and whitewashed exposed brick gives it a distinctly hipster vibe and the breezy outdoor terrace is an easy place to while away several hours over a good meal of fresh seafood, or a few beverages – whatever you fancy. With a menu of craft hops and an easy-going atmosphere, this is a tough one to beat.
Open Sat-Fri noon-1am. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR (04 457 6719).
We love everything about Miss Lily’s and its retro, neon-tinged, vinyl-record-tabled décor. It’s loud, fun, funky and, as far as we’re concerned, something that has been sorely needed in Dubai for quite some time. Yes, it is a restaurant, but we would happily head here for a night out, and chill out with a bottle classic Jamaican hops or a Caribbean beverage until closing.
Open daily 7pm-2am. Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 354 4074).
The Pisco Lounge (Coya)
Is a great restaurant really a great restaurant if it doesn’t have an amazing bar? Luckily, Coya – our Best Latin American restaurant award winner for two years running now – has both. The Pisco Lounge is easily the kind of place you’d go to for a night out, as well as a fancy evening meal. It’s a standalone venue in its own right, full of bright coppers and vibrant emerald greens, an excellent drinks menu and a DJ playing upbeat tracks that you can get up and dance to. Worth making a beeline for.
Open Sat-Tue 12.30pm-1.15am; Wed-Fri 12.30pm-2am. Coya, Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 316 9600).
If you’re in Downtown – or for that matter, anywhere else in the city – there’s nowhere better to be come kick-off. There are plenty of regular deals and an invariably enthusiastic crowd during games (many of which are local sports from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia). It’s a friendly bar – the kind you could easily, and happily, call your local – and the kitchen turns out excellent grilled meats. What could be better?
Open Sun-Wed 4pm-2am; Thu noon-2am; Fri-Sat 9am-2am. Manzil Downtown Dubai (04 428 5888).
Brunswick Sports Club
This venue is as industrial-hipster as you’d expect from a bar created by the team behind Tom&Serg. Easily Al Barsha’s coolest hangout, there are dozens of screens for sports along with an excellent soundtrack and simple, cool décor. You don’t need to be into sports to come here, but if you are, it’s a solid choice.
Open daily noon-2am. Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates (056 404 0685).
This incarnation of the Irish pub is a solid choice for a night out, with its weekly roster of live music from local bands. It attracts a spirited crowd of sports fans, too, when there’s a match on. It’s cheap, cheerful, loud and lively, and it remains one of our favourite pubs in the city.
Open daily noon-2am. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 37 80800).
This Madinat Jumeirah bar has kept things simple. Its décor is minimal and neutral, but rather than feeling boring or empty, it’s refined, sophisticated and cosy. As you’d expect of a grape bar, its beverage list is wide-ranging in terms of both variety and region, as well as price – plus, on any given day, there’ll be an excellent-value deal running. The daily happy hour means you can get bottles for Dhs100, and the gourmet bar bites of truffle Parmesan fries, fondues and cheeseboards don’t go amiss either. It’s all best enjoyed out on the terrace where you’ll find postcard-perfect Burj Al Arab views.
Open daily noon-1am. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 5845).
Much like The Agency, Oeno is sleek and simple with plenty of comfy bar stools to perch on. There are lots of good tasting deals, too – head down on a Wednesday to try 50 varieties of grape along with nibbles, cheeses and cold cuts for Dhs195. Though it’s usually a quiet, laid-back spot, certain days of the week have a buzzing party vibe. Visit on a Friday, for example, with the post-brunch crowd or on Tuesday for ladies’ night and you’ll find it packed. It’s an excellent all-rounder.
Open Sat-Wed 5pm-1.30am; Thu 5pm-2.30am; Fri noon-2.30am. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (04 511 7373).
Oscar’s Vine Society
Like a good grape, Oscar’s just seems to get better with age. It has a quiet rustic charm that, after years on the scene, is a little rough around the edges, but all the better for it. Choose from a menu of Old World and New World grape – staff have impeccable knowledge of them all – and snack on bites from cold cut platters to cheeses and pots of steaming mussels. With Édith Piaf playing in the background, French paintings on the walls and country cottage décor, you could well be sitting in Bordeaux rather than mere metres from thundering Sheikh Zayed Road. And we’ll take that any day of the week.
Open daily 6pm-1am. Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 331 1111).
The space previously occupied by Eden Beach Club has been utterly transformed. The canopy of flowers, huge dreamcatchers, white woods, beachfront day beds and low tables with loungey seats to recline on make you feel like you could be on a Greek island, though the dramatic skyline views place you firmly in Dubai. This Coachella-esque bar is the most special spot to have opened in years. You might find yourself asking, do I really have this right on my doorstep? Yes, you do. And you should go. Now.
Open Tue-Sat 10am-midnight; Sun 10am-6pm; beach open daily 10am-6pm. Rixos The Palm Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (054 449 6464).
Breeze Beach Grill
The bar has a Caribbean surfer vibe, with rustic woods, vibrant colours and hipster finishes to the décor (exposed hanging light bulbs and a retro tin-roofed raw bar). It reminds you that you do, in fact, live in a coastal city. We can definitely get on board with this.
Open Sun-Thu 11am-1am; Fri 9am-1am; Sat 9am-midnight. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah (04 568 3000).
The cavernous venue is bright and neon, with a cool, contemporary – yet also, somehow, very ’70s – disco vibe. If you still think you’re not a karaoke fan, that’s really of no matter here. The booths are there, but the main room is also the kind of place to make you want to hit the dancefloor and sing along to funky hits.
Open daily 4pm-3am. Grand Millennium Dubai, Barsha Heights (800 58259).
The Irish Village
Nowhere is more deserving of this award, and the reasons are almost too numerous to list. Its huge garden, cool, dimly lit, quintessentially pubby interiors, the friendly staff who remember all the regulars, the live bands, the deals, the great grub… The Irish Village ticks every box. It’s been around for 20 years, and little has opened since that even comes close to matching it.
Open Sat-Wed 11am-1am; Thu-Fri 11am-2am. Garhoud (04 282 4750).
It’s legendary for several reasons: its traditional Irish music for one, its mismatched furniture, barrel tables and Irish breakfast (served with a pint for Dhs55) to name a few more. Low prices, speedy service and a Friday night crowd that will get you up and dancing – this one’s a real gem.
Open daily 8am-2am. Saeed Tower One, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 2400).
Reform Social & Grill
Nothing feels more like a summery, countryside gastropub than Reform. The main bar area opens up to the terrace and garden, making it pleasant day or night. It’s friendly and relaxing, the food is top-notch, the drinks list is solid and the setting is second-to-none. You’ll want to make this your local, no matter where you live.
Open Sat-Wed 8am-11.30am, noon-midnight; Thu-Fri 8am-11.30am, noon-1am. The Lakes (04 454 2638).
Lock Stock & Barrel
This bar impressed us so much when it opened that we awarded it Best New Nightlife Venue at our 2016 Music & Nightlife Awards. One year on, and it hasn’t slipped an inch. We love its laid-back style, resident band and all-round good music. Hit the dancefloor, recline in a booth for dinner, chat at the bar or play pool. It’s rare to find a venue that’s so many things at once and excels at them all. This is the standard to beat.
Open Mon-Thu 4pm-3am, Fri-Sat 2pm-3am. Grand Millennium Dubai, Barsha Heights (04 514 9195).
Its interiors are cool, but not over the top, and it has a trendy industrial loft vibe without feeling too hipster. The drinks menu is unusual, but there are plenty of crowd-pleasing concoctions, and its themed nights cater to everyone, with events for retro hits, house music and more.
Open daily 5pm-2am. Gate Village 5, DIFC (055 455 6106).
Live bands, arcade games, neon lights, exposed brick walls. There’s no other word to describe Stereo Arcade. It’s just cool. Split into a bar and a club, it’s easy to switch from laid-back drinks to a game of Pac-Man to throwing shapes on the dancefloor. The music is spot on, too.
Open daily 6pm-3am. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR (052 618 2424).
Nowhere throws an all-day beach and pool party like Zero Gravity. Its improved changing facilities (featuring rain showers) have streamlined the process of getting you from sun lounger to dancefloor, so you can swim and chill out to awesome music in the day and emerge onto the beach for the headline acts refreshed. Its epic roster of international DJs is the best in the city, and it’s the most popular place to be on a Friday or Saturday, and it’s easy to see why.
Open Sun, Mon, Wed 10am-minight; Tue, Thu 10am-3am; Fri-Sat 8am-3am. Dubai Marina (04 399 0009).
The bar’s popularity hasn’t wavered in years. It’s an excellent venue to make an entire day of things. There’s a huge beach, a rooftop garden, a beach bar and plenty of watersports. For a party atmosphere on the beach, Barasti is up there with the best.
Open Sat-Wed 11am-1.30am; Thu-Fri 11am-3am. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina (04 318 1313).
Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE
Things get lively post-7pm, thanks to the brilliant resident DJs Jixo & Danz. Huge names from the house music world and beyond are regularly on the bill, bringing everything from mainstream anthems to chill-out tracks to Ghantoot’s shores.
Open Fri-Sat 1pm-11pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel And Resort, Ghantoot (056 113 3400).
The other clubs of Dubai are no match for this sprawling super-club. Spectacular light shows, 360° views and appearances from some of the most famous stars, well, ever, have set
the bar pretty high when it comes to clubbing. You can pack yourself in with the crowd and scream along to Rita Ora or Tinie Tempah in front of the stage, but there are also plenty of VIP areas. It’s exclusive, but not overly so, and the atmosphere on any given night is nothing short of electrifying.
Open Tue 10am-3pm; Thu-Sat 11pm-3am. Meydan Racecourse Grandstand Rooftop, Nad Al Sheba (050 443 0933).
Billionaire Mansion Dubai
As the name suggests, this is a pretty opulent nightclub. But the vibe is laid-back and prices affordable. It throws a great club night, too. There are stages where singers and performers entertain the crowds – including the likes of Haddaway and Timati – or you can relax for while in the adjacent terrace bar (Diamond Kalian) with its garden vibe and stunning Burj Khalifa views.
Open Tue-Sun 7pm-3am. Taj Dubai, Business Bay (04 510 3100).
Cirque Le Soir
Sometimes, the usual clubbing experience just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you need circus tricks, ball pits and people dressed up in freaky clown costumes. The guys at Cirque know how to throw an epic party. The music is on point, and the numerous performers really get a crowd amped up. If you want a guaranteed good night out, Cirque Le Soir needs to make your hit list.
Open Mon-Fri 10.30pm-3am. Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (050 995 5400).
Best Comedy Gig
Jason Manford by The Laughter Factory
Adam Hills by Done Events
The Laughter Factory ft. Tom Stade, Justin Moorhouse and Ian Coppinger
Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival by Chillout Productions
Sole DXB by BRAG Events
Wasla by Something Chill Events Management & Jk58
Madness, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium
Andrea Bocelli, Billionaire Mansion Dubai
Mariah Carey, Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival
Tiësto by Holografik Entertainment
Axwell ^ Ingrosso by Envie Events
David Guetta by Atlantis The Palm
Les Misérables at Dubai Opera
Coppélia at Dubai Opera
West Side Story at Dubai Opera
The Boxtones continue to go from strength to strength, and have enjoyed such incredible success in the past four years. With a larger-than-life stage presence, they’ve held their own supporting the likes of Pharrell Williams, The Who and Bryan Adams, and were even due to open for the legendary Sir Elton John.
Abri & Funk Radius
We still can’t get enough of the Hamdan Al Abri-fronted band who fuse reggae and soul with R&B and funk. They need little introduction, and we have yet to meet someone who hasn’t fallen in love with their unique, uplifting sound.
This indie band have been making waves with their emotive and heartfelt music. Few other acts in the city have enjoyed such astronomical success so quickly – their debut EP From the Beginning clinched the top spot on the regional iTunes chart last year, and they supported Lionel Richie. We can’t wait to see what they do next.
Ultimately an entertainer, Dany Neville is the biggest – and best – of Dubai’s home-grown DJs. From creating original music to hosting radio shows and DJing at some of the most popular club nights including at Toy Room and WHITE Dubai, he is a musical force to be reckoned with.
Jixo & Danz
No strangers to our Best DJ lists, Jixo & Danz have gone from enjoying an underground cult following to becoming some of the biggest names in the city.
We can’t get enough of Soulninja, and neither, it seems, can you. From Zero Gravity, to Mahiki, Ramusake and more, you’ll find this crowd-pleasing DJ at the decks across the city. A star that continues to rise.
Its let-the-good-times-roll atmosphere is the biggest draw. There are plenty of drinks stations and the clubby atmosphere gets louder as the day goes on. At the end, everyone flocks to the dancefloor to scream along to the world’s biggest hits.
Dhs259 (house beverages). Fri 1pm-4pm. Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Garhoud (04 217 0000).
If you haven’t heard of this raucous brunch, you’ve been living under a big pile of rocks for the past few years. It books up well in advance and provides copious amounts of inflatables, dancing and hilarity.
Dhs325 (house beverages), Dhs375 (premium package). Fri 1pm-4pm. XL Dubai, Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection (050 220 4638).
The food here can hold its own against most other brunches in the city, while staff wander around with trays of jelly short beverages. Entertainment comes in the form of funky dancers who get up on the bar to cheering.
Dhs290 (soft drinks), Dhs390 (house beverages), Dhs490 (premium beverages). Saturday 1pm-5pm. Above Gaucho, Gate Village 5, DIFC (055 455 6106).
Dennis McGettigan, CEO, Bonnington Hotel and McGettigan’s Irish Bars
We challenge you to find a soul in the city – or even the country – who hasn’t heard of McGettigan’s. The first branch opened in 2010 in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, though the company’s history stretches back to Dublin in the ’60s, where the very first McGettigan’s pub was founded. The brand has become one of the most famed and enduringly popular in the city, so much so that it has continued to expand to Singapore and New York. Dennis McGettigan’s vision as CEO of the group is to grow further still and open branches in London, Jakarta, Bahrain, Qatar and beyond. It’s a true Dubai institution, but McGettigan doesn’t rely on reputation alone. He continues to keep things fresh, launching events such as the Paddy’s Day Party at Media City, and jumping at opportunities to grab a slice of busy city spots such as Madinat Jumeirah. We couldn’t imagine Dubai without McGettigan’s. And neither do we want to.
Culled From Time Out Dubai