Skydive Dubai’s Winter Festival runs from December 27 to January 2 at the Desert Campus. Sporting a new format it promises to be even bigger and better than previous years.
The winter months can be tough on skydivers, especially those based in cooler climates. As the season slows to a halt, the ominous signs of winter set in around the drop zone. The door on the climb to altitude is opened less frequently, and the shorty summer suits begin to gather dust in the wardrobe. Protective clothing in the guise of t-shirts, gloves, scarves and that second pair of socks, start making their way back into the gear bags. The die-hards still hit the DZ every weekend, but leisurely fun jumpers appear less and less as the temperature at altitude plummets further and further below zero. Those in the know have been preparing for this for months. Instead of straining their necks looking for a possible gap in the clouds, they will be heading for the airport this December.
Fast becoming the unmissable boogie of the winter season, and after its unprecedented success last year at Skydive Dubai’s Desert Campus, the Dubai Winter Festival returns with a brand new format that includes a new Advanced Freefly Skills camp. Winterfest attracts skydivers from around the globe, and caters to everyone; from those with a shiny new A-licence to head-down carvers, XRW enthusiasts and wingsuit rodeo heroes. The boogie will run from December 27th to January 2nd, ringing in the New Year with a line-up that would make even the most seasoned pro’s fist pump their way through the exit door. So after increasing that wing loading over the festive season, isn’t it time to swap the grey skies for some sun and sand? You might still need that woolly hat if the air-conditioning gets a bit chilly indoors, but the temperature, ranging in the mid-20’s outside, means that shorty-suit doesn’t need to be retired for the season just yet.
“I don’t care what level you’re at. As long as you have a licence you can come out and play with us. We’re going to have small groups … and maybe try to build that up and get some 8-ways, and maybe even some 30-ways.” , said Eliana Rodriguez, co-coach with Skydive Dubai Assar Dubai skydiving team.
Load organisers are available for all skill levels and include some of the most well-known names in the skydiving world. For the free flyers, MKTM return to Winterfest this year to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the sky and the tunnel. They are joined by Azure Freefly’s Brad Merrit, Flight-1 instructor Pablo Hernandez, and Skydive Dubai ninjas Jim Harris and Anas Bekkali to name but a few. MKTM’s fearless leader Mike Wittenburg remarked during last year’s boogie, “The desert has a nice drop zone vibe … and everyone is pretty much guaranteed to have a skill level that they can jump with organisers.”
For belly flyers, Eliana Rodriguez, Elena Christova and Craig Girard of Assar Dubai are back to boogie. Laszlo Csizmadia, Jane Oakley, and Regan Tetlow are also amongst the formation skydiving organisers ready to hone and perfect skills of all levels.
The wingsuiters will be led by top athletes Julian Boulle, Micah Couch, and Darren Burke. In an interview last year, Burke commented on his Winter Festival experiences; “The people I’m jumping with, that’s what makes the boogie. I’m just thankful to be here. It’s a pretty cool place.”
This year the Winter Festival will also host a new Advanced Freefly Skills Camp, a dedicated 5-day event within the boogie incorporating dynamic, sequential, and angle flying. The aim is to progress skills in smaller groups, eventually combining these teams into larger formations. The camp runs for the first 5 days of the Winter Festival, December 27-31, and costs 3000 AED. Included are 30 organised jumps, dedicated load organiser, in-depth briefs and debriefs, and registration for the entire boogie, so you can keep on jumping! The Advanced Skills camp is for those who can already demonstrate safe and consistent approaches in head-up and head-down orientations, and can fly angles competently on their back and belly.
And what about the free stuff you ask? As always the daily raffle will have plenty of surprises, and cash prizes will be awarded for creative videographers entering the Winterfest film competitions. All Winterfest participants will avail of discounted jump tickets and receive the ‘coveted’ Dubai Winterfest t-shirt. Don’t forget the daily videos that is created from you jump videos.
There is even free on-site accommodation for pre-registrants, so not a moment is missed. Bring your own camping gear and immerse yourself in the festival vibe, or reserve a bed in the Bedouin tent and chill out under the moon and stars. Get in quick and secure your spot! The onsite hotel right next to operations building offers that bit more luxury. They can be contacted directly at [email protected] or by calling +971 50 8842 883. The Sleep Inn Hotel located in Silicon Oasis also provides easy access to the DZ and downtown Dubai, and don’t forget to mention Skydive Dubai to claim your discount.
Registration costs 300 AED for the entire week, 100 AED for the weekend only (January 1-2), and is included in the fee for the Advanced Freefly Camp. All fees are payable on arrival.
What are you waiting for? Pack that licence and a pair of flip-flops, and come to the sun for the Dubai Winter Festival!
Register for the Dubai Winter Festival by filling in the online registration form, follow the Dubai Winter Festival Facebook event page for updates, and tag one and all on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at #skydivedubai.
So in the words of 70’s disco idols Baccara, “Yes Sir, I can Boogie!”
Skydive Dubai article written by our staff writer Seán Hahessy.