DO: Dubai shopping festival, 2 January-2 February

Of all the festivals to go to, one devoted to shopping might not set your pulse racing; but this is Dubai, so naturally the 32-day celebration of blatant capitalism in all its material glory comes with $27m worth of prize giveaways (including a fair bit of solid gold), heavy discounts on world-renowned brands and a fireworks display every day (natch). Taking place at one of the world's biggest and blingiest shopping centres, the Dubai Mall, it's drawn in about 47 million people since the first festival in 1996.

STAY: One&Only The Palm, rooms start from £344 a night

Yes, you might want to stay in a boutique hotel. But that's not really going to happen in Dubai, is it? The next best thing is the One&Only hotel in Dubai's huge Palm development. Rather unsurprisingly, it's a haven of fountains, pools, amazing views and four-poster beds, but the jewel in its crown is that it's close to Barasti (see below) if you've overdone it on the, er, sparkling water.

SUNBATHE: Barasti, Le Meridien Hotel, Jumeirah Beach

An expat favourite, Barasti is a sundowner institution. Every day there's something going on – whether it's '80s music or ladies night, where women drink for free. Come to sunbathe and watch the sun go down with a beer in hand, and the next thing you know the sun might be coming up. It's just one of those places. Fortunately, the morning after you can stuff yourself with the Barasti Big Breakfast – rated as the best breakfast in the emirate, if you fancy returning to the scene of the crime.