How – and where – to celebrate Christmas in Qatar
This week marks the beginning of the Christmas season for Qatar’s hundreds of thousands of Christian residents.
Although many plan to travel during the holidays, there’s lots going on in Doha to help those who are staying here get into the festive spirit.
Here’s our rundown of what’s been planned so far, which we will update as the season gets underway.
If you know of something we should be mentioning, please send details to [email protected]
Christmas tree lighting ceremonies
Many of Doha’s hotels are holding special events to mark the lighting of their Christmas trees.
The Marsa Malaz Kempinski on the Pearl-Qatar will hold its lighting ceremony at 6pm on Dec. 6 at it Grand Staircase. The hotel promises “joyful Christmas sounds, a surprise appearance by Santa, cookies and hot chocolate around a big Christmas tree.”
The Intercontinental Doha The City will hold its ceremony on Dec. 10 in the hotel’s lobby at 6pm. The organizers promise Christmas carols around the tree and complimentary festive mocktails.
The Grand Hyatt Doha will hold its tree lighting ceremony in its atrium on December 11th at 5:30 pm. Entertainment will be provided by the Doha Singers.
The Hilton Doha‘s tree ceremony is on Dec. 14 at 6pm in the Lobby Lounge. The hotel’s choir will sing festive songs, drinks and canapés will be offered to guests and Santa will pay a visit.
Spanish hotel Meliá Doha will hold its event in its main lobby on Dec. 17 at 6pm. Guests will be entertained by the hotel’s resident violinist and will also be able to visit the hotel’s Gingerbread House, where stollen and mince pies will be on sale.
The Sharq Village and Spa will light its tree on Dec. 20 at 5pm in the Lobby Lounge. Christmas cookies and hot chocolate will be offered, and Santa is also planning to make an appearance.
The Doha Singers, the Doha Community Orchestra, Wind Symphony and the Doha Youth Choir are getting together on Dec. 4 for a concert entitled “Season of Joy.”
There will be two performances at 3pm and 7:30pm, and you can book tickets here.
The venue of the event will be revealed only after you have bought tickets, for security reasons.
Meanwhile, the Doha Bach Choral Society and the Doha Baroque Ensemble will be performing Handel’s Messiah at the Doha English Speaking School (DESS) and the Anglican Center in the religious complex on Dec. 9 and 10, respectively. Tickets can be booked online here. You will need to bring your Qatar ID cards with you to both venues.
The annual West Bay Lagoon Festive Market will take place on Dec. 4, from 10am to 1pm, with unusual handmade gifts for sale.
Visitors should enter via the north gate. Entry is free, but attendees are invited to bring donations for cats and dogs in lieu of a fee.
Meanwhile, the Qatar Animal Welfare Society (QAWS) is holding a Festive Bazaar on Dec. 5 at the Doha Rugby Club. Entry for adults is QR10/person and kids under 12 years old are free.
There will be a craft fair, visits with Santa from 2pm to 4pm and kids’ activities. Visitors are invited to bring a gift for a rescue animal to place under the Christmas tree.
2nd Chance Rescue is also holding a Christmas Fair on Friday, Dec. 11 from 3 to 7pm at the Parkview Pet Center in Madinat Khalifa. Tickets for adults cost QR50/each and kids under 10 years old are QR25/each.
The market will feature handmade arts and crafts, a photo opportunity with Santa’s Grotto, bouncy castles, book sales and more. For more information, see the group’s event page here.
The Prophet Mohammed’s birthday is usually a dry day in Qatar, and this year falls on Dec. 24. As a result, it is expected that the Qatar Tourism Authority will order all hotels and bars to suspend sales of alcohol on this day. Please contact individual hotels to clarify their plans for Christmas Eve events.
QDC – Qatar’s only store selling alcohol for private consumption – is currently telling customers that it will open as normal on Dec. 24, but it has announced closures at the last minute in the past, so it is possible that these plans will change.
That said, here’s what planned currently:
The W Doha is holding special Christmas Eve meals in Market, Spice Market and La Spiga, with set menus on offer for around QR250 per person. Guests will be entertained by Doha Jazz. Book your table online here or call 4453 5000.
The Crossroads Kitchen at the Marriott Marquis City Center is offering a three-course Christmas Eve buffet with a dedicated children’s play area and a visit from Santa Claus. The meal is priced from QR245/person. Call 4419 5000 to book.
The Four Seasons Doha’s Il Teatro will hold a four-course dinner created by Italian Chef Marco Arlotti on Christmas Eve, priced at QR410/person including soft drinks. Call 4494 8888 to book.
The St. Regis Doha is offering special events across the hotel, in Gordon Ramsay (QR650 for a five-course set menu), Opal (QR295 for a four-course set menu), the Astor Grill (QR355 for a four-course set menu), JALC Doha (QR150 entrance fee with welcome drink) and a family brunch in Vine (QR320 with soft drinks.) Call 4446 0000 to book.
The Marsa Malaz Kempinski is offering Christmas Eve meals in several of its restaurants, including: a buffet in Sawa accompanied by a live band from 7pm to 11pm for QR295 per person; a Spanish Nochebuena Christmas meal at El Faro with Spanish entertainment, QR295 per person for a four-course set meal; and a four-course set dinner at Antica Pesa from 8pm to 12am for QR500 per person, which includes a gift.
It’s also holding family brunches in Sawa and Antica Pesa, priced at QR495 and Qr420, respectively. The Sawa brunch includes a visit from Santa. Call 4035 5555 to book.
The Christian churches at Doha’s religious complex, on the outskirts of the city near the Industrial Area, will be holding numerous services over the Christmas period.
In past years, thousands of worshippers have attended masses at midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. If you’re thinking of attending, leave lots of time, as parking is often tricky, and security has recently been stepped up at all of the churches.
The Anglican Center is home to many different Christian denominations, including the Anglican Church of the Epiphany. On Christmas Eve, the church will hold a Crib Service at 4pm in English in the Epiphany Sanctuary, as well as an 11pm midnight Eucharist at the Chapel of all Nations in English. There will also be an 11pm midnight Eucharist in Tamil in the Epiphany Sanctuary.
On Christmas Day, there is an 11am service in English in the Epiphany Sanctuary and two 7pm services, a Tamil service in the Epiphany Sanctuary and an Igbo service in Antioch Hall A. Please contact the church for details of advent services.
Details of exact timings of services are not yet available for the Catholic church Our Lady of the Rosary, but we will update with the information when it comes in.
Christmas lunch in style
Many expats choose to indulge in a Christmas lunch in five-star style. Here are some of the options around the city this year (note: some of these lunches are quickly becoming full and/or have long waiting lists).
The Doha Marriott‘s brunch will get a festive spin. An entertainment room featuring a bouncy castle and games will be set up for kids. The brunch will run from 12:30pm to 4pm and costs QR350 per person (with soft drinks) or QR 420 (with selected alcoholic drinks). Call 4429 8499 to book (those who book before Dec. 10 receive a 20 percent discount).
The Marsa Malaz Kempinski is offering a festive brunch buffet at its Sawa restaurant from 12:30pm to 4pm on Dec. 25. There will be a bouncy castle, face painting and a visit from Santa for the children. It costs QR495 per person with soft drinks, or QR595 per person with alcohol. To book, call 974 4035 5555.
The St. Regis is offering special lunches in four of its venues – Festive Brunch in Opal from 12pm to 4pm for QR495, or QR555 with selected alcoholic drinks; a sharing “family style” lunch in the Astor Grill from 12:30pm to 4pm for QR800 per table of four; a celebration brunch at Vine from 12:30pm to 4pm for QR555 with soft drinks or QR655 with selected alcoholic drinks; and a brunch at JALC Doha from 12:30pm to 4pm. Call 4446 0105 to book.
The Doha Hilton‘s Christmas Day Brunch in Mawasem is buffet-style, offering both holiday favorites and local specialties with a kids corner and a visit from Santa. It runs from 12.30pm – 4pm, and costs QR 250 (with soft drinks) or QR 350 with alcohol. Call 4423 3111 to book.
The Four Seasons Christmas Day Brunch offers an extensive selection of food including Christmas special dishes, oysters, caviar and salmon. A special area for kids is available during the brunch. The meal costs QR550 with soft drinks or QR680 with alcohol. Under 12s cost QR275, and under fives are free. Call 4494 8600 to book.
The W Doha has several options for the big day. There’s a “Jingle brunch” at Market from 12pm to 4pm for QR450 per person including alcohol, QR350 without; a South Asian Christmas Brunch at Spice Market from 12pm to 4pm for QR450 per person with alcohol, QR350 without; and an Italian Christmas lunch at La Spiga from 12pm to 4pm for QR275 per person for a set menu. You can book your table online here or call 4453 5000.
Take-away Christmas lunch
Many hotels and restaurants around Doha will take the pressure of cooking Christmas lunch off of you by offering a takeaway service. Here are some of the options available.
The Kempinski Residences & Suites, Doha is offering roast turkey with Chef Vinon’s signature stuffing and “traditional condiments” for QR1350 for a 6-7kg turkey serving 6-7 persons. Extra sides can be ordered for a further fee. Call 4405 3326 to book.
The Radisson Blu will prepare a turkey with enough trimmings for 7-8 persons for QR680, or a turkey by itself for QR600. Call 4428 1555 to order.
The Grand Hyatt Doha‘s Biscotti restaurant will make a takeaway turkey with gravy and all the trimmings – prices vary. Call 4448 1234 to book.
The Doha Marriott will cook a 7kg turkey with all the trimmings for QR1,100. For more information call 4429 8499.
The Four Seasons is offering a Christmas herb-roasted turkey, served with turkey gravy and cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, sausage and apple stuffing, glazed sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, priced at QR150 per kg. Turkey from 5-6kg up to 8-9kg are available to order. To book, call 4494 8600.
Meanwhile, British cafe JG Sandwich Cellar will make a roast turkey accompanied by seasonal vegetables for take away. To book, call 4435 7559.
The Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar is selling 5-6 kg slow-roasted turkey, onion and sage stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, rosemary potatoes and honey-glazed root vegetables for QR995, to serve 5-6 people. Extra sides are available for order priced from QR25. To order, call 974 4035 5555.
The W Doha‘s W Café will make turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce for QR800, with extra sides priced at QR30 each. To place an order call 4453 5385.
Meanwhile, the St Regis Doha is making roast turkey, roast potatoes, honey glazed carrots, roasted turnips and buche de noel (chocolate log) for QR990, to serve 6-8 people. Full advance payment is required. Call 4446 0105 or email [email protected]
The Marriott Marquis City Center has a turkey with trimmings priced at QR450 (4-5.5kg turkey) and QR 550 (5.5-7kg turkey). Extra sides are available priced at QR40 per 500g. Call 4419 6100 to book.
There are plenty of events being organized around town to entertain the little ones during the holidays.
The St Regis Doha’s Astor Grill is holding a Children’s Festive Cooking Class on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 11am to 1pm. The session costs QR150, and booking is essential – call 4446 0105.
The Sheraton is holding Gingerbread house classes on Dec. 22 and 23 from 3-5pm in the garden across from the kid’s pool. The classes are QR150 per person and include snacks and drinks. Call 974 4485 3000 to book.
The Ritz-Carlton Doha will offer a gingerbread house decorating session from 10am and 2pm on Dec 11, 12, 18 and 19. Sessions are QR200 per gingerbread house, and light refreshments will be served. Call 4484 8000 to book.
The Sharq Village and Spa will host a gingerbread house making class for children ages five and over on Dec. 21, 22 and 23 from 10am to noon and 2pm to 4pm. The sessions cost QR220 per child. To book, call 4425 6666.
The Marsa Malaz Kempinski is offering children the chance to meet Santa, have their picture taken and decorate gingerbread cookies with the hotel’s bakers, while parents indulge in an afternoon tea buffet.
Santa will visit on Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19, with sittings from 2pm-4pm and 4:30pm-6:30pm. The sessions costs QR165 per adult and QR82 per child ages 6 to 12 years old (children under six are free.) Call 4405 3325 to book.
Meanwhile, the Marriott Marquis City Center is organizing a Christmas cookie decorating class for children ages 5 to 10 years old on Dec. 12 and 19 from 4pm to 6pm. The session costs QR75/child inclusive of snacks.
Do you have anything to add? Drop us a line at [email protected] Happy holidays, all!