Christmas & New Year in the tropics at JA Manafaru

Things to Do in Maldives

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festive season, JA Manafaru resort 2023

01 September, 2023

This festive season, JA Manafaru resort is a magical place to taste of Maldives with the launch of a new, upgraded events programme running from 23 rd December 2023 until 7 th January 2024. Inspired by the enchantment of the festive season and Queen’s iconic lyric ‘One dream, one goal, one golden glance of what should be’, the programme will instil ‘A Kind of Magic’ within every element of the guest experience.

The 16-day extravaganza of music, song and dance hosted by actress and theatre artist director Zoie Kennedy-O’Connor and composer husband Des O’Connor will welcome an exotic range of events. From a tantalising spread of culinary experiences and celebratory Galas to a five-day football camp and tennis championship, there are fun and thrills to be had for every guest. UK radio DJ Tom Green, famous for his mid-morning show on HITS radio will also headline performances throughout the festive programme.  

Situated in the Maldives’ northernmost atoll, JA Manafaru is the most remote private island in the Maldives, perfect for travellers seeking a secluded sun-soaked Christmas getaway. An idyllic paradise of barefoot luxury, fine dining and activities galore, the island features a collection of enticing restaurants, a tranquil spa and otherworldly encounters with the Indian Ocean’s captivating marine life.

Christmas Eve 

Dress to impress and celebrate the festive season with an evening of live music and mouth-watering dishes at the Christmas Eve Gala on 24th December. The dinner promises a spellbinding combination of regional specialties and comforting seasonal favourites, alongside stunning ocean views from the deck or terrace areas and melodic performances by the in-house band. The dinner will run from 6:30PM to 10:30PM at Kakuni restaurant.

New Year’s Eve

Starting the evening with a 6:30PM cocktail reception at Ocean Grill, guests are invited to enjoy a spread of sparkling champagne, canapés and magical performers against the spectacular backdrop of the year’s final sunset. The dinner will commence at 7:30PM with a feast of succulent seafood caught and delivered by local fisherman, alongside tender grills and tantalising desserts. Dinner will be complemented by an incredible lineup of performers directed by Zoie and Des. Guests can expect to close the evening with celebratory fireworks and a boogie out on the beach, led by the musical beats of DJ Tom Green.

Orthodox Christmas Events

Catering to all this festive season, JA Manafaru will host a repeat of the Gala dinner and vibrant beach party on 6th January for Orthodox Christmas. Ded Moroz will also make a special visit on 7th January to deliver presents to the island’s best behaved young guests.

Festive Feasting

The festive season is all about delicious food and indulgence, and guests will not be disappointed by the spread at JA Manafaru. The resort’s Christmas programme promises a range of rich and comforting festive favourites alongside the Executive Chef’s modern conjuring of regional specialties. Calendar highlights include a deliciously light Caviar Dinner at Teppanyaki restaurant, Lonu on 29th December (6:30PM), and the Chocolate Truffle Making Class on 3rd January (4:00-4:45PM), where guests can master the art of rolling the perfect truffle.

Foodies can also take a stroll through the vibrant sights and scents of the Orient, dining at the Asian Street Food night at Kakuni. Open to guests on the 30th December and 4th January, this event celebrates the range of diverse and colourful dishes served on street markets in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Japan.

Activities For the Whole Family

JA Manafaru’s festive programme will feature several events to keep young guests entertained whilst parents can enjoy some much-deserved rest and relaxation. Activities include Christmas Cookie Decorating, running on 23rdDecember and 5th December, and an all-hands-on deck activity on 23rd December (10:30AM) to decorate the Kid’s Club Christmas tree. On 29th December (6:00PM), JA Manafaru will also host the highly anticipated Enchanting Talent Show, where kids can showcase their talents on stage alongside the professionals. This event, hosted by Des and Zoie is the perfect event to bring the family together, proud parents will be treated to a delicious spread of cocktails and canapés whilst watching the show.

Those seeking a more unique experience can head to Yang Wei’s Abracadabra Class on 30th December, 3rd January and 6th January at Kakuni (12:00PM – 1:00PM). Step behind the curtain with an exclusive workshop led by internationally renowned magician Yang Wei. Young, budding magicians can join these sessions to watch his spell binding performances and learn how to master the fundamentals of magic tricks.

Dance to the Beat of the Maldivian Drum

The Maldives, and in-turn the culture at JA Manafaru’s Real Maldives is synonymous with music. Guests can immerse themselves in authentic Maldivian traditions with a lesson in BoduBeru, which translates to ‘Big Drum’ (10:30AM). Renowned for its energetic form of entertainment, guests are invited to dance, clap and test out the slow, rhythmic beating of drum in classes led by local experts. Young culture vultures can also delve into the Maldives’ rich history of folktale, gathering around the campfire to hear enchanting accounts of local legend (8:30PM – 9:30PM). Occurring on 26th December and 2nd January, these two events grant guests valuable immersion into the region’s traditions and cultural identity.

Get Sporty on the Sand

Sporting enthusiasts can take their pick from the array of activities on offer, from a five-day football camp, beach cricket on boxing day (26th December, 4:00PM – 5:00PM), and Badminton Tournament on the resort’s purpose-built court (2nd January, 5:30PM), to trying their hand at the Maldives’ national sport of Bashi (26th December, 3:30PM – 4:30PM). Traditionally played on a tennis court by Maldivian women, this unique sport entails serving a tennis ball over one’s head backwards, whilst another team tries to catch the ball on the other side of the net.

The resort’s inaugural Manafaru Cup Tennis Tournament will also take place on 28th December (5:30PM). Keen tennis fans can enter in pairs of mixed doubles to compete for the right to be named the first ever winners of the trophy.

For more information, visit

About JA Resorts & Hotels: A legacy UAE brand, JA Resorts & Hotels – pronounced as ‘J A’ was born in 1981 and has a widely recognised reputation for excellence, in the management and operation of award-winning resorts and hotels. Taking its name from the original Jebel Ali (JA) Beach hotel, JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio now features 9 distinct properties across the UAE and Indian Ocean, each dedicated to curating unique experiences and creating unforgettable memories. Tropical escapes include JA Manafaru, the idyllic luxury island resort in pristine, lagoon-ringed Haa Alifu Atoll, at the northern tip of the Maldives and JA Enchanted Island Resort, a luxurious hideaway of 13 exquisite villas and rooms on a private island, in the middle of the protected Saint Anne Marine Park.


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