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Young couple dances in the coloured lights of a live music performance at Smith's Alternative.

2023 events not to miss

Updated 5 Oct 2023

What's on in Canberra

Canberra is putting on a show in 2023 with blockbuster exhibitions, festivals, weekend markets, and sport all year long.

All your favourite events are returning this year including Enlighten Festival in autumn, the truffle festivities in winter, Floriade in spring, Summernats in summer, plus live music and celebrations all year long.

Dad and son sitting in vintage silver car

January events

See everything from supped up streetcars to the finals of the National Burnout Master at Summernats (5 - 8 January), a unique celebration of the modified car community. Don’t miss performances by Shannon Noll, Brooke Evers, and the Stafford Brothers.

Reflect on our nation’s past on Australia Day (26 January), welcome new Australians, and celebrate amazing community members at events across Canberra. Learn about First Nations’ culture and history, dating more than 65,000 years ago, at the National Museum of Australia’s  Talking Blak History  gallery.

Cheer on Australia's best batters and bowlers during the summer of cricket in Canberra.  See Australia take on Pakistan when the women's T20 comes to Canberra (29 January). 

Man cooking paella on a large open pan

February festivals

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2023 the National Multicultural Festival (17 - 19 February) brings together more than 170 unique nationalities from the Canberra community. Beloved by locals for the food stalls offering flavours from around the world, the festival stages will be filled with cultural performances so you can enjoy dinner and a show.

At the National Gallery of Australia, take time to explore with wonder, the modern works of one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists working with painting and printmaking, Cressida Campbell (until 19 February 2023). Directly inspired by her surroundings, for over 40 years the Gadigal/Sydney-based artist has transformed commonplace experiences from her life into magnificent masterpieces. 


Boat moving across lake with hot air balloons above

March festivals and performances

Canberra’s galleries and museums will become canvases for digital art during the Enlighten Illuminations (3 - 13 March). Feast on tasty treats, enjoy live music, and exclusive experiences as you explore the National Triangle, transformed by thoughtprovoking architectural projections and artistic installations

Wake up to surreal scenes as dozens of hot air balloons float across the capital each morning during the Canberra Balloon Spectacular (11 – 19 March, weather dependent). Grab breakfast from a local food truck or take to the lake to watch the balloons inflate and float into the sky.

The Enlighten Illuminations and Canberra Balloon Spectacular are both part of Enlighten Festival (3 - 19 March). This year, in addition to the Festival's popular programming, the second weekend of the festival (10 - 12 March) will celebrate LGBTIQ+ pride. Explore the full program of celebrations.

Step into the world of Wine Machine (25 March), a full-bodied day of wine, food and live music, showcasing spectacular musical accompaniments borne from Australian soil.

Spend an evening laughing at the Canberra Comedy Festival (16 - 26 March). Stephan K Amos, Nazeem Hussain, Rove McManus, Clare Hooper, Mark Watson, Guy Montgomery, Jordan Gray,  Sparrow-Folk, and many more will be performing - not that we're name dropping.

April events

For four-days of music, folk dance, and community head to the National Folk Festival (6 - 10 April). With mulitple stages, workshops, dance spaces, markets, food stalls, and even on-site camping, this festival has your long weekend sorted. Be warned, locals say once you’ve gone to the festival just once, you’ll come back year after year.

2023 will mark the 40th Canberra and Region Heritage Festival (11 - 30 April). Exploring the theme sharing stories, this festival features more than 200 events that highlights the region's history from food and dance through the ages, to First Nations walking tours and bike orienteering.

Visit the Australian War Memorial to pay your respects to those who have served at the Anzac Day Dawn Service (25 April) or daily Last Post Ceremony.

A view of Parliament House through a canopy of trees and bush.

May performances

Music lovers flock to the Canberra International Music Festival (27 April - 7 May). Featuring performances in iconic Canberra locations, choose between hearing Debussy in a heritage fitters' workshop, Yuin women of Djilama Yilaga on top of Australian Parliament House, and Radiohead at a gastronomic food hall.

Trees in the National Arboretum Canberra in handmade knitted wraps to celebrate 'Warm Trees' during winter months. | © Kara Rosenlund

June, July, and August activities

Sample the delights of the Canberra region’s truffle growers from mid-June through August. The prized black Perigord truffle is on the menu at restaurants, cafes and wineries across the capital thanks to the region’s cool climate growing conditions. Enjoy a paddock to plate experience or join a truffle hunt.

Follow the incredible real-life journey of 7,000 air passengers who became grounded in Gander, Newfoundland in Canada in the wake of the September 11 tragedy at Come From Away (8 June - 2 July). This Tony and Olivier award-winning musical is playing at the Canberra Theatre Centre.

Just six kilometres from the city centre, the National Arboretum Canberra is a living collection of endangered and rare species. Popular for its spectacular views and cafes, each July the Arboretum lovingly wraps trees in colourful scarves to keep them warm during winter. With an impressive 94 forests and 20 kilometres of multi-purpose trails, stroll or cycle through the trails that crisscross the Arboretum.

August brings the Canberra Writers Festival. Bringing the best of words, ideas, and debate (and the truth behind one of our favourite Netflix shows) to literary lovers, the Canberra Writers Festival  typically features more than 150 writers and 70 events.

A family amongst the tulip flowers during Floriade.

September and October events

Australia’s biggest celebration of spring, Floriade (16 September - 15 October), returns to Commonwealth Park. Featuring more than one million blooms, this flower festival is also renowned for its marketplace, food stalls, live music, and workshops. Entry is free.

When the sun goes down, NightFest (28 September - 1 October) takes over Commonwealth Park transforming floral displays with artistic illuminations. Filled with entertainers, musicians, fantastic food, and instaworthy light installations, NightFest is a must-attend event each spring.

Discover a world within our city as Canberra's embassies and high commissions open their doors to the public for Windows to the World (21 - 22 October). See  exhibits of traditional clothing, music and dance performances and taste traditonal foods. 

November and December

Celebrate peace, goodwill, and the sister city relationship between Canberra and Nara at the Canberra Nara Candle Festival (4 November). This popular festival features thousands of shimmering candles, delicious street food, and cultural performances.

Commemorate Remembrance Day (11 November) at the Australian War Memorial by paying your respects during the National Ceremony or placing a poppy on the Roll of Honour.

Few things speak summertime tradition more than an outdoor movie. Bask in balmy weather at the Sunset Cinema (November - February) nestled in the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Set amongst iconic scenery, make sure to gather your friends, family, drinks, and snacks to make a night of it.

Haig park village market at Braddon

All year long

Be sure to check out the programs at the Canberra Theatre Centre, The Street Theatre, and music venues around Canberra. Why not discover  markets and foodie festivals including weekly Farmers Markets to speciality wine festivals?

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