Destination Abu Dhabi

Visitor's guide to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Danae Mercer, CNNUpdated 25th November 2016
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(CNN) — Abu Dhabi's glamor-filled three-day Grand Prix is coming up at the end of November.
Those who can make it should expect lavish parties, huge performers and massive price tags.
Not visiting the United Arab Emirates' capital during race weekend?
There's still plenty of race-related fun to be had.
Here's what you need to know.

The Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Take adrenaline, fast cars, glamorous people, 60,000 fans and big-name bands.
Mix it all together in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.
Throw in a free citywide entertainment festival and a string of mega yachts.
The result is the city's annual Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, running Friday to Sunday, November 25-27.
The Yas Marina Circuit.
The race is hosted in the futuristic, slickly modern Yas Marina Circuit.
Inaugurated in 2009, the circuit boasts the unique distinction of being the only motorsports venue in the world with covered and shaded grandstands.
Private yachts line the surrounding marina, lending everything an "outer space meets Monaco" vibe.
Friday and Saturday are used as practice and qualifying rounds, while Sunday is the 55-lap Grand Prix. Previous winners include Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Vettel's the current race record holder at 1:40.279.
Air-conditioned VIP suites have the best views (and the highest prices -- see below), while standing tickets come with the cheapest price tags (from $108).
There are the usual elements you'd expect from a race, including food and drink stalls, kid-friendly zones with games.
But the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix also features a few unique twists -- like boozy brunches, big bands and free entry to two theme parks.

Hear the music

Every night the Grand Prix hosts a massive concert.
Friday features electronic duo The Chemical Brothers. Saturday Lionel Richie performs his sing-along-friendly tunes.
On Sunday, Rihanna takes to the stage, making the show the only Middle East date on her "Anti World" tour.
Rihanna is performing at the festival.
Rihanna is performing at the festival.
Theo Wargo/MTV1617/Getty Images North America/Getty Images for MTV
An F1 ticket grants access to the concert on the same day. Buy a three-day ticket, see three concerts. There's no access to the shows without a race ticket.

Extra perks

That ticket also allows same-day access to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld.
Visitors can ride the world's fastest roller coaster (speeds of 240km/h) at Ferrari World or drive -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- one of the park's Ferraris.
They can then explore Yas Waterworld's 43 rides, which include a suspended roller coaster and plunging, twisty water tubes.


In the spirit to go big before going home?
The F1's Paddock Club tickets provide access to an air-conditioned suite with sleek furniture, big TVs and unlimited food and drink.
All this comes with views of the start/finish line and the chance to join Thursday's pit lane walk (from $4,601 for a two-day package).
The air-conditioned VIP suites have the best views.
Red Bull's racing package includes luxurious suites directly above the team's garages and HD video walls with live race feeds.
There's gourmet food, free-flowing champagne and endless Red Bull (from $6,085). There's also a chance to hob nob with drivers and senior execs.
For a more approachable price tag, there's brunching at the race.
This all-you-can-eat several-hour affair features fancy food and boozy drink in unlimited quantities. The lavish meal happens 10 meters from the track and allows race access ($292).
With hundreds of yachts booking into the Yas Marina during the race weekend, one of the most decadent ways to watch the excitement is from the water.
Celeb favorite Amber Lounge offers daytime yacht tickets that come with Bacardi cocktails and bottomless champagne (from $4,950 per two people).
When the sun sets, visitors can dance to private performances by Jay Sean at Amber Lounge's glitzy after party (from $825).
The particularly flush can book Methuselah Tables. These come with the option to sit beside a celebrity, a six-liter Methusaleh bottle of champagne and unlimited bottle service, all for $23,600 a head.


Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, a five-star luxury hotel built beside the racetrack, is a great place to crash if you've got the cash.
This contemporary venue offers special race weekend packages that include a pit lane walk on Thursday, access to the race all weekend and access to the concerts.
All this comes with a minimum three-night stay.
While exact prices vary, guests can expect to pay easily upwards of $4,870 for the weekend. Hand over $32,671 and they'll get a suite with a wraparound balcony -- perfect for sipping bubbly while watching the race.
Viceroy Hotel Abu Dhabi
So cool: The pool at Yas Viceroy.
Courtesy Viceroy Hotel Group
There are several other high-end hotels on Yas Island, including a creekside Crowne Plaza and a Radisson Blu along the Yas Links Golf Club.
For something cheaper, Abu Dhabi city is a 30-minute taxi ride away.
Taxis in the capital are metered, affordable and clean.


For those not staying at Yas Viceroy, several of the hotel's restaurants offer great trackside views and elaborate cuisine.
Two-Michelin starred chef Antonio Mellino whips up refined Italian dishes at Amici.
Or there's Atayeb for rich Middle Eastern food.
Visitors can embrace the atmosphere of the F1 with a bite to eat along Yas Island's marina waterfront.
Favorites include Iris, a chic restaurant and bar that's been known to attract celebrities; Cipriani, an opulent Italian venue that books up quickly; and Diablito, a great rooftop stop for tapas, 360-degree views of Yas Island and a party vibe.
Amici 2
Amici serves Italian food by a two Michelin-starred chef.
Courtesy Viceroy Hotel Group
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi, a slick and chic Cantonese restaurant, is around 30 minutes' drive from the race. That shouldn't put anyone off.
This elegant venue is a favorite VIP haunt during the F1 weekend, when celebs and the glitterati crowd in to feast on lobster stir-fried with truffle sauce.


Yasalam, Abu Dhabi's free entertainment festival, provides heaps of art, music and F1-friendly events from November 24 to 27.
The F1 FanZone has race simulations, food and games. Or there's the Heritage Plaza for interactive displays of Emirati culture.
The popular Beats on the Beach music festival showcases local and international talent. Previous performers have included Jason Derulo, Fatboy Slim and Assi El Hellani.
Concerts run all weekend on Lagoon Beach, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Unlike the main race concerts, these gigs are completely free.

No Grand Prix? No problem

Tickets for the Grand Prix are likely to sell fast. But anyone unable to make the annual race shouldn't worry.
Yas Marina Circuit, the venue where the Grand Prix is held, has regular events throughout the year.
Visitors can test drive race cars at the marina.
Adrenaline junkies can learn (some of) the skills of a racecar driver while sat behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, Jaguar or Chevrolet with Yas Racing School (from $176). There's also a passenger option.
The truly passionate can book a private coaching to hone advanced racing techniques (from $408), then go all "Fast and the Furious" at the regular Yas Drift Nights and Yas Track Days.
Not everything at the track is about cars.
For a dose of fitness, joining the 5,000 healthy types who workout at Yas Marina every week is an option.
It's also possible to walk, jog, race in the annual marathon or chalk-filled Color Run, and do crossfit or yoga.
Even better, a lot of it's free. The Yas Marina Circuit website has exact timings.
Circuits at the circuit
Ultimately, the F1 brings an epic buzz to Dubai's often calmer next-door neighbor. For anyone who wants to see the capital in all its glory, November's a great time to go.
But there's a lot of engine-revving adventure to be had all year round.