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Dimly lit, cosy bar interior with seated patrons

Best live music bars in Canberra

Updated 21 Mar 2024

Where to go for brews and tunes

Canberra is home to a strong live music scene, hosted in in venues that welcome music fans of all tastes. From underground jazz and cocktails to sour beers and up-and-coming musos - whatever your style, find your perfect music spot in Canberra with these recommendations.

Gang Gang Cafe, Image: Joseph Stevens

Gang Gang Cafe

Food, drinks, and music really says it all for Gang Gang. This café serves as a community hub in the Inner North suburb of Downer has undergone a transformation that welcomes tourists and locals alike. Head here for food and coffee early in the week, and open late for gigs, food, and tunes Wednesday through the weekends, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

Stop into Gang Gang for a bevvy, a hang, and an inside look into the local music scene.

 

King O’Malley’s

King O’Malley’s Irish Pub was named after a colourful politician and former insurance salesman. The irony? This same man advocated for an alcohol ban across Canberra in the early 1900s.

Head on into this unpretentious drinking hole for a pint of lager and pub grub, and some authentic Irish charm.

 

Smith's Alternative

The grungy jewel in Canberra’s artistic crown, Smith’s Alternative is the beating heart of the city’s cultural scene.

From live music to poetry readings, book launches and anything experimental, here is a place that accepts all with open arms. Frankly, there is nothing else quite like it.

people dancing to live music

Transit Bar

The freshly revamped Transit Bar has gained more than just a new look in its move to Canberra City, in the former home of a family café. It now boasts a new food menu, bigger live music space, and not one, not two, but three pool tables.

 

PJs in the City

 

PJs in the City has long been a place to relax and unwind, either outside in their beer garden or inside in The Olde Bailey Room or the Harp Bar.

Head on down for a cheeky pint or a meal or settle in for some sport. On Friday afternoons PJs welcomes the weekend with Friday Night Grooves and live tunes, every week.

Beer on shelves
Brew Nation

Blackbird

A local favourite, find Blackbird‘s nondescript door in the Sydney Building and descend down the wood-panelled stairs to find this dimly-lit hideaway.

With photos of jazz legends adorning the walls, a ‘70s vibe, and plenty of cosy corners to tuck yourself into, Blackbird is made for intimate drinks with live-music-lovers.

 

Molly

If jazz is your scene, then a dignified cocktail at Molly is the place for you. Hidden behind an unassuming door lies a cosy spot that will take you back in time with expertly mixed drinks, live jazz, and a cool, nostalgic vibe.

She’s a tricky lady to find but guided by GPS coordinates, you’ll soon find yourself in a perfect oasis of fresh music and even fresher drinks.

 

Brew Nation

With 70+ beers on tap and in tins, as well as a curated range of spirits and wines, the chances are Brew Nation will have the perfect drink for you.

This inner-city bar is the most specialised craft beer supplier in Canberra and boasts a handy building connection to all the food offerings of Verity Lane Market.

Group of friends with beer at bar
Sideway

Sideway

 

Sideway is an intimate music bar tucked upstairs in the Sydney Building that prides itself on exciting wines, seasonal cocktails, local froths, and a warm hi-fi sound system.

The vibe is hip and the music is current—this, in other words, is where the cool kids go for late night of frivolity. Comedy acts and open mic nights are a regular, so clear your calendar for a night at Sideway.

 

Assembly 

With such a diverse range of offerings—breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, wine, a tinny bar, live sports—it’s no surprise Lonsdale Street superpub Assembly also boasts live music, hosting everyone from international names to local acoustic heroes across any given week.

 

The Jetty

The Jetty beer garden serves up groovy tunes, great beer, and good times. Located right on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, enjoy a sunset over the water as you enjoy a delicious meal and take on the weekend with an epic view of the capital city.

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