Play planner: 5 events you shouldn’t miss this month

Whether you want to tango ‘til almost dawn, go into a trance with DJ Armin van Buuren (aided by a late-night open bar), or race up the Emirates Towers in an early morning ‘vertical’ sprint, the UAE has something to offer you over the next few weeks. Check out Benchmark’s guide to going out — from arts and entertainment to sporting events — in April and May.

China Philharmonic Orchestra with Long Yu

When: May 9-10

Where: Abu Dhabi; Al Ain

The Abu Dhabi Classics season continues with two shows by the China Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO), in what’s billed as its first-ever set of performances in the Arab world. Led by star conductor Long Yu, the orchestra will play its first show – Mahler’s The Song of the Earth – at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi (May 9), and a second – Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 – in the UAE University Great Hall in Al Ain (May 10). The CPO is considered one of the best orchestras in Asia, as well as a major player on the international music scene.

Price: Dh30-Dh550

Portrait of a Nation

When: Until May 10

Where: Emirates Palace Gallery, Abu Dhabi

This ongoing exhibition, part of the Abu Dhabi Festival, attempts to capture the spirit of the UAE through some of the country’s leading contemporary artists. Portrait of a Nation “explores questions surrounding Emirati identity, heritage and nationhood”, according to theexhibition organiser. “While some artists engage with materials unique to the Emirati landscape, others explore the influence of technology, architecture and globalisation.” The show is open from noon to 8pm (Sunday-Thursday) and 10am to 10pm (Friday and Saturday).


Price: Free

Armin van Buuren Live in Dubai

When: May 20

Where: Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse

The superstar trance DJ Armin van Buuren is set to play in Dubai in late May,in what’s billed as one of the last big nights out before the hot summer season. The ‘Armin Only Embrace’ world tour will come to Dubai for one night only, with a set at the Meydan racecourse, which hasspectacular views towards the BurjKhalifa. The set will reflect Armin’s album ‘Embrace’, in which the Dutch DJ collaborates with internationally acclaimed artists. Tickets to this event give access to an open bar until closing time at 2am.


Price: Dh299+

Dubai Tango Festival

When: May 18-21

Where: Meydan Grandstand and Hotel

Given that it spans four days, with a 4am finish on each, attendees to this festival will be truly tangoed-out by the end of it. The eighth Dubai Tango Festival includes various events, performances, workshops and classes for dancers of various skill levels. The evenings will include milonga – the term for an event where the tango is danced – lasting into the small hours of the morning. There’s also a gala dinner on Friday 5th.


Price: Packages vary – check website

Picasso and Miró, Passion and Poetry

When: Until May 17

Where: BurjKhalifaAnnex, next to the Armani Hotel, Dubai

Two of the greatest painters of the modern age form the subject of this exhibition in Dubai. Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró were both born in Spain in the 19th Century, before moving to Paris, where they became lifelong friends.

This exhibition is billed as “a journey through the artistic lives and works of two of history’s most important cultural icons”. It includes works by the two artists – including drawings, lithographs and ceramics – borrowed from private collectors in Europe and America, according to local press reports. The exhibition, curated by Sergio Gaddi, is open from noon to 11pm daily.


Price: Dh125