Sunny summer days, loads of free things to do and a lively cultural scene that doesn’t go on holidays makes Canberra a cool place to be during the warmer months.
The city is brimming with a packed events calendar that will help you make the most out of your summer. From colourful firework displays, international exhibits and live performances, you’ll find the capital city fascinating in the summertime.
Here’s our can’t-miss checklist of stuff to see, events to attend and things to do in Canberra this summer!
Round up your New Year’s squad and head to Contentious Character in the gorgeous hills of Wamboin, just a 30-minute drive from Pavilion on Northbourne.
Sit back and picnic on the lawn while admiring the sunset amongst the picturesque vineyard and listen to the Guitar Cases Band serenade the night with some outlaw country blues. Come nightfall, you can expect some dancing tunes in anticipation of the New Year’s Eve countdown.
Catering to foodies and families alike, antipasto platters of artisanal cheeses and cured meats will be served up from 5 pm to midnight, alongside wood-fired oven pizzas and hearty pasta dishes. As purveyors of fine wine and great food, guests will be able to sip on Contentious Character’s infamous selection of wines. For those who’s tipple doesn’t come from the vine, the outdoor bar will also be stocked with beers and sangrias.
And as the cherry on top of the perfect New Year’s Eve picnic, they also offer transport shuttle services for a safe and happy send off to 2019!
Located at Lambert Vineyards, 810 Norton Rd, Wamboin NSW
When: 31 December 2018
Cost: between $30 for kids, $95 for adults and $220 for family packages. More info here.
Australia Day is the epitome of Aussie summer and it's no secret that the country’s capital has some of the best Australia Day Celebrations. With a plethora of family-friendly entertainment, barbecues, live musical performances and a dazzling fireworks display, Canberra is the place to be!
This year’s Australia Day falls on a long weekend, and there’s no better venue than the Regatta Point’s waterside location. You can expect a day fun day out in the sun, filled with music, food, and great company. For foodies, the marketplace boasts a lineup of food trucks featuring local favourites and international delights to keep you satiated all day long.
If you’re looking for the best picnic spot or a more family-friendly area, the Patrick White Lawns, in front of the National Library of Australia, will be adorned with face painting booths, a jumping castle, and a giant slide for the kids and the kids at heart.
And as with every year, families and friends old and new gather together to watch the colourful pyrotechnic display that is Australia Day Fireworks Spectacular in celebration of national pride, cultural diversity and everything that makes Australia great.
Located at Regatta Point, Regatta Place and Patrick White Lawn, Parkes ACT
When: 26 January 2019, from
Cost: Free to attend
The Openair Cinemas is quickly becoming a favourite Aussie past time, and it’s back in Canberra this summer! It’s a great way to spend a summer afternoon outdoors while chilling out under the stars with friends and a good movie.
From blockbuster features, new releases, family flicks and more, there’s something to suit any movie lovers’ taste. Pack your favourite movie snacks and
Or for the full experience, you can upgrade to their comfy loungers and grab a bite from Salt Meats Cheese who are dishing up wood-fired pizzas, truffle pasta, cheesy arancini, and charcuterie boards to share. And for a cheeky
Located at the Patrick White Lawns by the National Library.
Cost: Tickets from $14. More info here.
A mesmerising and awe-inspiring collection Pre-Raphaelite paintings never before seen in Australia has landed at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
Love and Desire feature 40 of the Tate’s most famous and best-loved works, with highlights such as John Everett Millais’ Ophelia 1851–52 and John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott 1888. This Canberra-only event is the first time that Ophelia and The Lady of Shalott will have left the Tate and are seen together on Australian soil, making it the most significant exhibition of 19th-century art to be seen in this country.
The artists drew inspiration from the great love stories both tragic and romantic, religious icons, and turmoil and poetry. Both hypnotising yet familiar, the collection inspires an emotional connection and deep contemplation from the audience. It explores The Victorian era in times of social uncertainty, exploration and scientific discovery.
In celebration of this momentous exhibit, we’re offering a Love and Desire accommodation package so you can experience the breathtaking beauty of the collection this summer. Our accommodation package includes one night’s stay, 2 tickets to the Love & Desire exhibition, free parking and wifi. Book your Love & Desire package here.
Located at The National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT
Exhibition until 28 April 2019. Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm
Cost: from $25, more info here.
Across the lake, you’ll find the National Museum of Australia, which currently features rare treasures from the collection of the British Museum. The Rome: City and Empire exhibition tell the stories of ancient Rome and explore themes of everyday life, war, glory and death through more than 200 historically beautiful objects.
Encapsulating the ingenuity, tragedy and allure of a human civilisation gone by, this exclusive collection has been specifically curated for the National Museum of Australia by the British Museum. It’s only available until the 3rd of February 2019, so don’t miss out and be sure to book your tickets this summer!
Located at National Museum of Australia, Lawson Cres, Acton, ACT
Exhibition available until 03 February 2019. Open daily from 9
Cost: From $12 to $24. Family passes from $60. More info here.
All eyes might be on Sydney every year, but the Capital doesn’t fall behind when it comes to New Year’s Eve celebrations. Welcome 2019 with a night full of great tunes, delicious food truck bites, and a spectacular fireworks display in Canberra’s City’s New Year’s Eve celebration.
Locals and travellers alike flock the Civic Square to get the best views of the New Year’s Eve fireworks display. With something for everyone, New Year’s in the City will feature family entertainment, delicious local food offerings, and popup performers to keep you entertained in anticipation of the world-class NYE fireworks displays.
Australian producer and musician Paces, who has worked with the likes of Tkay Maidza, Guy Sebastian, Canberran indie pop band SAFIA, will be helping the crowd countdown the final seconds of 2018. While a slew of live music kicks off from 6 pm, from the likes of the Soul Sistas, Monica Moore Duo, Zackerbilks and The Po Boys, so you can dance the night away in style.
Located at Civic Square, 180 London Circuit, ACT
When: 31 December 2018, from 6 pm to midnight
Looking for a new hobby this summer? Or perhaps you’re a night owl in search of fun things to do? Either way, Photography AfterDARK is an exciting and unique photography workshop for aspiring photographers and beginners alike. This unique incentive by the Australian National Botanic Garden lets you rediscover the amazing diversity of flora and fauna through your camera lens at night.
Guided by professional photographer Irene Lorbergs from the Canberra School of Photography, you’ll learn about image concepts, composition, painting with light, long exposures, capturing different subjects, and pro-tips on how to develop your photography skills.
It’s an awesome way to enjoy the cool summer night time breeze outdoors while learning new skills or honing a hobby over the summer.
Located at Crosbie Morrison Amphitheatre, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross Street, Acton ACT
Cost: $120 per class. Tickets and more info here.
For a hint of culture and a touch of creativity, visit the National Gallery of Australia’s many talks and workshops this summer. Here you’ll be inspired by the National Art Collection, learn about local and international artists, and get a compelling insight into the country’s rich arts and cultural heritage.
Covering topics from design, architecture, history and literature, the NGA’s line up of talks and workshops has something to amuse anyone, art enthusiast or not. Currently, the gallery features an Art for Lunch: The Pre-Raphaelites talk on their highlight exhibit, Love and Desire.
NGA also feature the Create Space, a program specially designed to encourage budding mini artists to explore some of the best-loved works in the national collection. If you’re short on time, they also host free guided tours of the gallery’s highlights every day.
Located at Parkes Place, Parkes, ACT
Cost: Free tours and talks. Special exhibition tours times vary and tickets may be required. Visit the NGA's website to view the full calendar of events.
Get a glimpse of how Australian coins are made at the multi tourism award winning Royal Australian Mint! With free entry all year round, you’ll get insight into the history of the Australian coin currency, see robot’s make tomorrow’s coins, and mint a coin for keeps.
To make the most out of your visit,
The Mint also hosts summer activities for kids, including a ‘Make your own Treasure Chest’ workshop, Mini-Minties, and Floor Talks on Chern’ee Sutton’s works - a contemporary Indigenous artist who designed the Indigenous markings Indigenous story for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Mascot Borobi.
If you’re feeling peckish, you can also grab a quick bite @ The Mint Cafe located in the main foyer. To see what’s on or for detailed tour times, click here.
Located at Royal Australian Mint, Denison Street, Deakin, ACT
Open Mon and Fri from 8.30 am to 5 pm, and Sat and Sun from 10 am to 4 pm
Cost: Entry is free!