Australian city spotlight: what's on in Canberra?

Although it’s one of Australia’s smallest capital cities, Canberra is home to more than just Parliament or the country’s top politicians. The nation’s capital boasts a full calendar of festivals, exhibitions and events. We take a look at what’s happening in Canberra this autumn.

Arts and culture

Canberra Comedy Festival: Featuring international, national and local acts, the Canberra Comedy Festival returns in March for its biggest year yet. The six-day program features more than 60 shows, including the two-hour Opening Night Gala and late-night shows at the Festival Club. Tickets start at AUD$20.

When: 15 to 20 March 2016
Where: Various locations

Enlighten: The annual Enlighten festival sees many of the city’s national attractions — including Parliament House, Questacon, the National Gallery of Australia, and the National Zoo and Aquarium — open their doors after dark for a series of exclusive events and experiences. The festival features exhibitions, films, architectural projections, live music and performances, comedy and dining experiences. Enlighten will also host the Canberra Night Noodle Markets.

When: 4 to 12 March 2016
Where: Various locations

Groovin The Moo: Australia’s largest regional music festival, Groovin The Moo, stops in Canberra in late April, featuring close to 30 Australian and international artists, including Alison Wonderland, Boy & Bear, Danny Brown, DZ Deathrays, MS MR, MUTEMATH, ODESZA, Ratatat, The Rubens, SAFIA, Twenty One Pilots and Vic Mensa. Tickets start from AUD$110.

When: 24 April 2016
Where: University of Canberra

Lights! Canberra! Action!: Perfect for aspiring filmmakers and general film enthusiasts, the Lights! Canberra! Action! film festival is an open-entry competition where entrants are given 10 days to produce a seven-minute short film. Participating filmmakers are provided a list of items that they must include in their film, with all entries relating to the theme of ‘Chance’ in 2016. The top 12 films will be shown at a free outdoor screening, with viewers invited to bring their own chairs, beanbags, blankets and snacks to settle in for the night.

When: 11 March 2016
Where: Senate Rose Gardens


Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival: With more than 80 varieties of beer and cider available to taste, as well as live entertainment and gourmet food offerings, the Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival has plenty to offer beer lovers and non-beer lovers alike. Visitors have the chance to participate in beer and food matching sessions, meet with local brewers, hear from guest speakers and win a range of prizes. Tickets are AUD$15.

When: 19 March 2016
Where: Mercure Canberra

Canberra Food and Wine Expo: Held over three days, the Canberra Food and Wine Expo brings together a variety of gourmet exhibitors — showcasing everything from food, cheese, wine and cocktails to homeware and kitchenware. The event features celebrity cooking demonstrations; free tastings and samples; wine, cheese and whisky appreciation classes; and private dining experiences. Tickets start at AUD$22. 

When: 19 to 21 February 2016
Where: National Convention Centre

Sport and leisure

Australian Running Festival: For those looking for a challenge, or a way to raise money for charity, the Australian Running Festival offers something for all ages and fitness levels. Runners can choose from five- and 10-kilometre courses, the half marathon (21 kilometres), the Canberra Marathon (42 kilometres) and the Ultra marathon (50 kilometres). Entry fees start at AUD$38.

When: 9 to 10 April 2016
Where: Old Parliament House lawns

Black Opal Stakes: Canberra’s biggest race day, the Black Opal Stakes, returns for its 44th year in 2016. In addition to the main Group 3 race, the day also features the Canberra Cup and plenty of entertainment off the track. Visitors can participate in the Myer Fashions on the Field competition, enjoy live music and entertainment throughout the day, and sample a range of food and drink options at Food Alley. Tickets start at AUD$15.

When: 6 March 2016
Where: Thoroughbred Park

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