Question: what’s on in Brisbane? Answer: a lot.
From January to December, Brisbane’s event calendar is packed with a diverse range of events and festivals that fully embrace this beautiful city’s outdoor lifestyle and climate. From food to sport, to arts to science, each year Brisbane’s event line-up feels like it only gets bigger and better – but that’s because it actually does.
South Bank transforms into a free foodie mecca for two days in July during Regional Flavours. Join the crowds to sip, taste and savour Queensland on a plate, watch demonstrations by celebrity chefs and kick back in the sunshine with wine in hand. Some of the region’s best fresh local produce and products will be on display.
Some of the country’s most incredible farmland is just a 90-minute drive from Brisbane City. Scenic Rim Eat Local Week connects us with the people who grow and produce the food we eat, holding a variety of farm tours, cooking classes, producer dinners, pop-up cafes and activities each June. The highlight of it all is the Winter Harvest Festival, a glorious day in Aratula that brings together local producers selling food, wine, baked treats, flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables. Oh, and there’s a tractor-pulling competition – it’s definitely worth seeing.
First held in 1876 and attracting 17,000 visitors, the Royal Queensland Show – best known as the Ekka – is a 140-year-old powerhouse of events that now sees more than 400,000 people through the gates over its 10-day run. Test your bravery on the more daring rides, go up against your mates on the dodgem cars, see the city sights from the comfort of a Ferris wheel, play with baby animals and work your way through as many iconic strawberry sundaes as you possibly can.
Every single weekend, Eat Street Northshore is a mecca for anyone who loves food. Plenty of food crazes were born here, and it’s not hard to see why. Be tempted by cuisine from all around the world, but just promise you won’t leave without trying a handmade cronut (croissant x doughnut) cone filled with soft serve.
If it seems like there’s sport happening every weekend, that’s because there is. Brisbane is home to the Queensland Firebirds, and the Super Netball season runs from February to June, hosting up to 10,000 fans to cheer the women to victory at their home games.
All codes of football are well represented – the Brisbane Roar’s A-League season runs from October to April, with a couple of exciting visiting international team fixtures thrown in there for good measure. In rugby union the Queensland Reds’ season runs from February to July and Suncorp Stadium plays host to a number of Qantas Wallabies matches over the course of the year. Brisbane is also host to the Global Rugby Tens, the fast-paced 10-a-side tournament held over two days in February.
Rugby league is something of a religion in Queensland, and Suncorp Stadium sees its fair share of international league games – including the Rugby League World Cup grand final. State of Origin ramps up state rivalries during May-July, and the Brisbane Broncos see a consistently strong fan turnout at their home games where the atmosphere is always electric. If you have to pick a single match to attend though, it’s hard to go past a classic Broncos vs Cowboys game - you won’t be able to look away.
At the Gabba, the Brisbane Lions play in the national AFL competition from March-August. Here, you’re guaranteed to see spectacular marks and surely impossible goals, especially from the women’s team who made the inaugural AFL Women’s Grand Final. In summer, cricket descends on the country, and Brisbane is home to the strong Brisbane Heat – the crowd is always huge and heavily involved in this fast-pace game. The Gabba is also known to host Ashes tests, One Day Internationals and the Australian-first Day/Night test.
Prior to Spring Carnival mania descending on the country, Brisbane hosts the Winter Racing Carnival. Don your best frock and fascinator or suit up for one of seven Group One races run during the carnival, including the classic Stradbroke Handicap.
Brisbane is proudly home to amazing museums. QAGOMA, Queensland Museum and the Museum of Brisbane host world-class exhibitions in addition to permanent collection displays, plus they run incredible cultural programs that only enhance the experience. Across the way at QPAC, music, theatre, dance and comedy dazzle audiences nightly with some of the most outstanding acts to visit Australia in recent years performing here.
Science ignites Brisbane when the World Science Festival Brisbane pops, rocks and sizzles into the city. From art and theatre to thought-leadership talks and hands-on activities, the festival explores the intersection of science and art across five days. World Science Festival Brisbane is the Southern Hemisphere sister to its New York counterpart, which has been running since 2008.
Brisbane Festival transforms the city over three dazzling weeks every September. With its thrilling program of theatre, music, dance, circus and opera, it all comes to a close with a bang on the final night during the renowned firework spectacle that is Sunsuper Riverfire.
BIGSOUND is a new music festival and industry conference that showcases Australian music and upcoming artists across multiple days held in September. One wristband offers access to all participating venues. In July, the Queensland Music Festival celebrates musical excellence and features a variety of local and international artists from across many genres.
Some of the city’s most architecturally interesting buildings throw open their doors in October during Brisbane Open House. Go behind the scenes of design studios, places of worship, heritage spaces, medical labs and emergency facilities and discover their history.
The Asia Pacific Screen Awards in November celebrate the cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the vast Asia Pacific region, recognising and celebrating the best films of the region and the people who contributed to making them. On the cinema front, Brisbane welcomes a number of film festivals throughout the year, including the Brisbane International Film Festival, the Queensland Film Festival and many international film festivals – French, Italian, Latin American, Spanish, Scandinavian, Greek, Turkish … we could go on.
Wonderland - Image: Studio Impressions
At Brisbane Powerhouse, the Queensland Cabaret Festival hosts an exciting program of local and international performers in June and Wonderland showcases burlesque, circus, cabaret, music, comedy, poetry, theatre and variety shows from both international and Australian artists in November. Laugh, cry, gasp and play at MELT, held in late January as Brisbane celebrates Queer Month and the city’s vibrant LGBTI community. The World Press Photo Exhibition is on display during July, presenting some of the world’s most compelling, controversial and intimate moments captured by award-winning photojournalists. Brisbane collectively laughs its way through four weeks of the Brisbane Comedy Festival, which has grown so much in recent years that it’s expanded into two venues. The line-up is always stellar, welcoming local, national and international comedy legends that never fail to invoke roars of laughter from the audience.
Still not convinced? Check out every mammoth event in Brisbane that’s worth penciling into your calendar. Our friends at Visit Brisbane also do a monthly events wrap and a weekly what’s on to keep you in the loop.