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Two young kids on bikes and a couple lean against a red car bonnet overlooking the view of Black Mountain Tower at the National Arboretum Canberra

Annual leave hacks to capitalise on your 2024 public holidays

Updated 18 Mar 2024

How to make the most out of your 2024 public holidays

Ever wondered how your colleague, who has the same amount of annual leave as you, always seems to be on holiday? They might be capitalising on public holidays. Turn your public holidays into proper getaways with these annual leave hacks, complete with what great events to attend while you’re enjoying your leave.

National Public Holidays

Among the six national holidays throughout the year, Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter are especially great for turning a few days of annual leave into full weeks off. Add a day or two of leave to your public holidays to enjoy an extra-long weekend in Canberra. Victorians get a public holiday to enjoy the capital’s Enlighten Festival in autumn, while those in NSW and Queensland have plenty of time to explore Floriade in spring.

Mum and son holding hand in outside area of National Museum of Australia

End of summer break

20 - 28 January
Book four days of leave and get nine consecutive days off. 

Celebrate the end of summer in style with a tipple or a meal at one of Canberra’s best drinks-with-a-view venues, to truly take in the vistas of this beautiful capital city. Head to the National Gallery of Australia to explore the timeless art of Emily Kam Kngwarray (until 28 April 2024). A senior Anmatyerre woman, Kngwarray devoted her final years to painting, creating works that encapsulate the experience and authority she gained throughout an extraordinary life. 

Across the Australia Day public holiday (26 Jan), you can enjoy the exciting, new, and one-of-a-kind event, FLIGHT: Drone SkyShow and Night Market. This free community event will take place over three nights (25 - 27 Jan) and bring together a SkyShow consisting of 600 drones, night markets, food and drink vendors, and roving live performers to the National Triangle.

Learn about First Nations’ culture and history, dating back more than 65,000 years, at the National Museum of Australia’s Talking Blak to History gallery. To be inspired by original, handcrafted arts and crafts by local Aboriginal artists, head to Burrunju Art Gallery and Aboriginal Dreamings Gallery.

people dancing to live music

Take a week off during Easter

28 March – 7 April
Book five days of leave and get 11 consecutive days off. 

Take the kids to Canberra this Easter. Conveniently covering the first ten days of school hols in NSW and Victoria, this leave hack also coincides with the National Folk Festival (28 Mar – 1 Apr), four days of music, folk dance, and community. With multiple stages, workshops, dance spaces, markets, food stalls, and even on-site camping, this festival has your long weekend visit sorted.

And before you head home, those ambitious athletes in your group can kick off April with a sweat at the Canberra Times Marathon Festival (5-7 Apr), with runs for all levels around the scenic National Triangle.

A young child and an older man placing a poppy into the wall of names of fallen soldiers.

Make Anzac Day into a long weekend

25 – 28 April
Book one day of leave to get four consecutive days off.

With the Anzac Day public holiday (25 Apr) falling on a Thursday this year you’ll need to take the Friday off to enjoy four uninterrupted days away from emails and meetings. Spend your Anzac Day paying your respects to those who have served, at the Australian War Memorial  Anzac Day Dawn Service or by attending a daily Last Post Ceremony.

Don't miss the pre-game Anzac Day commemorations, before settling in for a Thursday night blockbuster, as the GWS Giants take on the Brisbane Lions (25 April) in what will shape up to be a critical clash at Manuka Oval. Get your rugby on as the ACT Brumbies face the Hurricanes in round 10 of the Super Rugby Pacific competition at GIO Stadium (27 Apr). And keep your cheers going as the Canberra Raiders go up against the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks (28 Apr).

Illuminations projected on the National Library as part of the Enlighten Festival 2021.

Victorian 2024 public holidays

8 – 11 March
Book one day of leave to get four consecutive days off.

Labour day (11 Mar) coincides with Enlighten Festival (1-17 Mar) and Enlighten Illuminations (1-11 Mar), where Canberra’s galleries and museums will host an array of events during the day and become canvases for digital art at night. Wake up to surreal scenes as dozens of hot air balloons float across the capital each morning during the Canberra Balloon Spectacular (9-17 Mar). Grab breakfast from a local food truck or take to the lake to watch the balloons inflate and float into the sky.

 

2 – 5 November
Book one day of annual leave for four consecutive days off.

Take Monday off to enjoy a four-day weekend that runs into Melbourne Cup Day (5 Nov). November in Canberra means celebrating talented creatives at the Craft + Design Canberra Festival (1-10 Nov), where regeneration-themed events will imagine a sustainable future at various venues across Canberra.

Continue the celebration with the SpringOUT festival (2-30 Nov) which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024, filling the streets with pride flags, love, and joy, alongside the LGBTQIA+ community.

Flower beds with pink tulips and purple pansies at Floriade Festival 2014 with the Ferris wheel in the background. | © Jo Bakas

NSW 2024 public holidays

10 - 12 June
Long weekend, no leave required

Mark the King’s Birthday (10 Jun) with festivities fit for royalty over this three-day weekend. Join talented dogs on a truffle hunt before enjoying a three-course meal and a fancy nights’ stay at Beltana Farm. Take the little ones skiing, without breaking the bank, at Corin Forest, where snowmen making competitions, snowball fights, toboggan rides, hot chocolates, and woodfired pizzas await you.

 

5 - 7 August
Long weekend, no leave required

See money being made on the NSW Bank Holiday (5 Aug) at the Royal Australian Mint. Watch impressive robots make perfectly pressed coins and learn the story behind early coin designs. Wrap up your long-weekend with a tour of the local cool-climate wine region that boasts more than 140 vineyards and 40 wineries within 35 minutes’ drive of the city.

Deep dive into creative histories with the Gauguin’s World: Tona Iho, Tona Ao exhibition (29 Jun—7 Oct) at the National Gallery of Australia and the National Photographic Portrait Prize and Darling Portrait Prize (22 Jun — 13 Oct) at the National Portrait Gallery.

 

30 September - 2 October
Long weekend, no leave required

Mark Labour Day (2 Oct) with a day of leisurely walks, picnics, and live music at Canberra’s annual celebration of spring: Floriade (14 Sep – 13 Oct). Showcasing floral designs featuring more than one million blooms, this annual festival is better every year, and popular for its Instagram-worthy scenes, food trucks, market stalls, and horticulture workshops.

The National Arboretum and its surrounds at sunset with a few hot air balloons dotted on the skyline.

Queensland 2024 public holidays

4 – 6 May
Long weekend, no leave required

Enjoy a long Labour Day (6 May) weekend in Canberra with absolutely no stress or work. Relax with a day of pampering at Jindii Eco Spa then enjoy a stroll down the buzzing eat-streets of Braddon. Have a feed at Lazy Su or a nightcap at award-winning Volstead Repeal, and don’t forget to top off the evening with a scoop from Gelato Messina.

Connect with nature as you walk through forests of endangered trees and soak up the views of rolling hills at the National Arboretum Canberra. Or take in the sights from the Mount Ainslie Lookout, for one of the best vantage points of the capital city.

 

14 - 18 August
Take two days of annual leave, enjoy five days off consecutively.

On the Royal Queensland Show Day (14 Aug) head to the National Portrait Gallery to see famous faces including royals, politicians, tv personalities, and athletes.  This public holiday is only offered to those in the Brisbane region so head to Capital Brewing Co, Australia’s first carbon-neutral brewery, and raise a glass of craft beer to your regional mates who are working today. Why not spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the adjacent Dairy Road precinct, where you can find a gin distillery, art gallery, and bouldering gym?

 

5 – 7 October
Long weekend, no leave required

Make the most of the Kings Birthday (7 Oct) at Floriade (16 Sep – 15 Oct), where more than one million blooms show off in Australia’s biggest celebration of spring. Indulge in of your long weekend with a visit to the Canberra District wine region, where you’ll find more the 40 wineries within a 35 minute drive of the city. This cool climate wine region is famed for their riesling and shiraz, but take the time to ask for recommendations at the cellar door you’re visiting – you might just find a new favourite.

The 12 days of Christmas and New Year's

21 December 2024 – 1 January 2025
Book six days of leave and get 12 consecutive days off.

The silly season is a holiday for most, but Canberra’s iconic museums and galleries are still busy with exhibitions, tours, and talks. Open every day of the year, excluding Christmas Day, these cultural attractions offer free entry to many exhibits and are pumping cool air all summer making it a great, cheap summer activity.

Or take your summer delight outside with a movie screening under the stars at Sunset Cinema (Nov – Feb) at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. During your visit, why not explore the myriad of markets and foodie festivals, including everything from weekly farmers markets to speciality wine festivals?

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