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What’s on in Canberra this summer

What’s on in Canberra this summer

This summer the Canberra events calendar is brimming with cultural experiences, festivals, Christmas events and good old family fun. Here are our top picks of things to see and do in the capital throughout the season.

Christmas Extravaganza

Get festive for a good cause this December at the Canberra Miniature Railway Christmas Extravaganza. Held over six nights from 14–15 and 20–23 December, the event will raise funds for Red Nose Australia with festivities including lighting displays, unlimited train rides, a giant inflatable slide and jumping castle, live entertainment, plus the chance to meet Santa Claus in his grotto. There will be Christmas market stalls with arts, crafts, and gifts plus a variety of food and drink available. Picnics are welcome.

Sunset Cinema

Watch the latest blockbuster films or old family favourites outdoors this summer at Sunset Cinema. Bring your friends, family and a picnic rug for a great night out under the stars on the Eucalypt Lawn at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. With free parking and free popcorn refills, plus a range of food trucks and drinks onsite, you’re guaranteed to have a great night out. Until 12 January.

Beat the heat at Lake Burley Griffin

There’s no better way to cool down on a hot summer’s day than by heading down to Lake Burley Griffin. This season the city’s lakeside is offering a range of fun-filled activities for all ages.

  • Canberra’s famous paddle boats are returning to Lake Burley Griffin this summer since ceasing operations in 2015. The 17 brightly coloured boats are available for hire from Regatta Point Jetty all season except for Christmas Day.​
  • Stand Up Paddle Canberra is the city’s only internationally accredited stand up paddle school and is offering individual and group lessons all summer long. Head down to the shores of Molonglo Reach with your friends and family and experience the lake in a unique way.​
  • GoBoat Canberra offers a range of eight-seater electric-motor boats for hire. These eco-friendly, Danish-designed boats have built-in picnic tables so they are the perfect summer’s day outing.​
  • Make your way to Black Mountain Peninsula and experience Canberra Aqua Park, a giant obstacle course on the lake. The young and young at heart will have tonnes of fun on inflatable slides, ladders, and a giant jumping pillow. Open all summer until the end of March 2020.​

Spread Christmas cheer at the Old Bus Depot Markets

The Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston has been a Sunday tradition since 1994, but this December it will host Christmas-themed markets over two entire weekends. On 14–15 December, the Christmas Kids Weekend will have a jumping castle, elf show, entertainment, delicious food and a variety of arts, crafts, clothing, jewellery, and specialty items. On 21–22 December, enjoy a festive day out and do your Christmas shopping at the Super Christmas Weekend, full of stalls with holiday-themed items and great gift ideas.

New Year’s Eve

If you’re staying in the capital for New Year’s Eve then why not head to Civic Square to ring in 2020. Starting at 6pm, you’ll find entertainment for all ages, including live music, performers, food and drink, plus two fireworks displays – the first at 9pm then again at midnight. The festivities run until 12:45am. Stage performances will commence from 6:30pm.


  • Manuka Oval will play host to a variety of men’s and women’s cricket games this summer. From the Big Bash League, Women’s Twenty 20 International and the ICC Women’s Twenty 20 World Cup, why not head to a game and support your local sporting heroes. Games run from late December through to late February.​
  • Head to the MIT Narrabundah Ballpark, the home of the Canberra Cavalry baseball team, and watch them play against the Sydney Blue Sox, Brisbane Bandits, Adelaide Giants, and Auckland Tuatara throughout December and January.

Australia Day

Celebrate Australia Day 2020 in style at Regatta Point on Sunday 26 January. Enjoy a live music soundtrack from 5pm and a spectacular firework display on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge at 9pm. A variety of food and drink options will be available, or pack a picnic and relax on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

National Multicultural Festival

The National Multicultural Festival has become one of the biggest events on Canberra’s calendar, and in 2020 it will celebrate its 24th year in the capital. Running from 21–23 February, the three-day festival will bring exotic costumed dancers, marching cultural bands, magnificent floats, and delicious cuisine to the nation’s capital in honour of the country’s rich cultural diversity. An event not to be missed.

Enlighten Festival

Bid farewell to summer with the Enlighten Festival, a celebration of all things culture and creativity in the capital. From 28 February, the city will be transformed into a vibrant arts precinct with free performances and exclusive events starting with architectural projections at Enlighten Illuminations. The 17-day festival will offer Canberrans so much to see and explore, including hot air balloons at sunrise, music at Symphony in the Park, Hit104.7 Skyfire at Lake Burley Griffin, and a showcase of the capital’s talented filmmakers at Lights! Canberra! Action!

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