December is the most festive month of the year with Christmas and New Year. In Qatar, it is as festive, adding Qatar National Day to the mix. This year, however, COVID-19 has brought about change to how we celebrate the most important time of the year.
The festive month in Qatar begins with Qatar National Day on 18 December, followed by Christmas then New Year celebrations. This time of the year is special for all, but this year, COVID-19 health and safety measures are in effect.
Qatar National Day
Qatar National Day is celebrated on 18 December to commemorate Qatar’s unification in 1878. This is a highly anticipated day in Qatar as key landmarks in Doha like the Corniche, Souq Waqif, Katara Cultural Village and The Pearl-Qatar, as well as homes, businesses and hotels flourish with decorations in the colours of the Qatari flag.
Decorated with flags, lights and flower bouquets, the Doha Corniche is the most popular venue for the National Day celebrations, which begin at 7 am with a ceremonial parade in the presence of The Amir, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and other members of the royal family. The spectacular fireworks come out on National Day – not on New Year’s Eve. The annual National Day fireworks begin around 8 pm and last for 10 minutes. Fireworks also take place at Katara Cultural Village.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s National Parade will take place in compliance with the exceptional precautionary and preventive measures to ensure the health and safety of all members of society. The morning parade at Doha Corniche will not be open to the public. The Organising Committee for the Qatar National Day 2020 celebrations recently announced that attendance for the National Parade will be by special invitation only. The special invites will include families of the health sector and participating entities. After the morning parade, the Doha Corniche will be open to the public especially for the fireworks in the evening.
Another popular destination on National Day is Darb Al Saai village, which means the ‘Route of the Messenger’. Located in Al Sadd, Darb Al Saai is a massive temporary installation created specifically for National Day, designed as an old Qatari village. Open annually for just 10 days, the installation features tents with cultural activities including musical shows, henna, horse riding and falconry. In addition, visitors can walk through several stalls for food, drinks and shopping. Many of Qatar’s leading companies and organisations set up large tents with interactive presentations and activities for visitors at Darb Al Saai. Due to the pandemic, it will not take place this year.
However, for many hotels in Qatar are offering special menus for Qatar National Day as well as staycation and spa offers. Click on the link below to see where you can spend Qatar National Day!
And then comes Christmas
There are many reasons to feel festive with the majority of the hotels and restaurants getting into gear to ensure you have the best Christmas season. Hotels, restaurants, cafés and malls are decorated with Christmas decorations – lights, trees and more.
If you’re staying in Qatar through the festive season, take advantage of the many sumptuous dining options available. The range of choices on Christmas Eve and the day itself are boundless. There will be plenty of opportunities to get your fill of traditional dishes like turkey and all the trimmings. In addition, you will be able to enjoy everything from Middle Eastern specialities to Mediterranean, Indian, steaks and buffets all with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Various price options are available. Restaurants will be booked up fast so call ahead.
For those wishing to celebrate at home, turkeys and the trimmings are available to order from most hotels, as well as other specialities such as gingerbread houses, Yule logs and festive flower arrangements. You can also procure the services of an outside catering team – events can be held at your own home or you can hire a private entertainment space at a hotel.
Click on the link below to see where you can spend Christmas!
Goodbye 2020! Hello 2021!
Celebrate the arrival of 2021 at any one of the hotels or restaurants around town that offer something special dining packages for the occasion. There is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget.
Early booking is a must, especially for New Year’s Eve at hotels. If you really want to go all out, try one of the hotels’ VIP packages – for a fantastic New Year’s Eve, this will often include an extravagant dinner and overnight stay in a suite.
Click on the link below to see where you can spend New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day!
The day after the night before
If you need to recharge, or simply fancy another day out with friends and family to enjoy the first day of the year, unwind with a brunch (with or without bubbly).
Remember, celebrating the New Year is not about just one night, but a whole year of 365 new pages for you to fill. There are still plenty of things to do and see through the winter months. To know what’s happening around town, see the Events Calendar in the Discovering Qatar section.
Don’t forget to get your Marhaba Calendar 2021 to help you get better organised in the new year! Happy 2021!
Author: Ola Diab
This feature is an editorial from the ‘Hospitality’ section in Marhaba – Issue 79 (December 2020).
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