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A curated guide to Canberra after-dark

Updated 4 Dec 2023

Look no further for the best recommendations to experience Canberra after-dark

Canberra shines in the daylight with its rich cultural attractions and breathtaking natural landscapes, but the locals know the magic just begins when the sun sets. Whether you're a passionate foodie in search of the best bars and restaurants, a music-enthusiast craving good gigs, or a lover of world-class shows and performances, Canberra's nightlife beckons with a promise of unforgettable experiences.

Let us be your guide to an unforgettable Friday and Saturday night in the capital city.

Patrons and bar staff smiling around a bar countertop
Smiths Alternative

Friday

Kick off your night atop the Rex Hotel at The Howling Moon as the sun dips below the horizon. The sophisticated ambience makes it an excellent spot to unwind and soak in the city's evening allure. 

Next, embark on a culinary adventure at Verity Lane, a vibrant food hall boasting a diverse range of vendors offering delectable dishes from paella to bao buns. After savouring delightful flavours, head to Bar Rochford for a quick sip and experience the local bar scene.

Love live music? Canberra's nightlife comes alive with electrifying gigs and performances at popular pubs and bars such as Sideway, Transit Bar, and Smiths Alternative. Immerse yourself in the city's music scene and let the rhythms guide your night.

If you're feeling peckish, tuck away to Kita, an intimate after-hours café with Indonesian influence. Or if a nightcap is on the cards, explore 11e Cave, a tiny underground bar situated in an old bank vault under Onzieme.

Outdoor deck with people sitting at bar tables

Verity Lane Market

Interior of cosy bar

11e Cave

Barman lighting a cocktail on the bar

Bar Rochford

Wide view of room with bar, tables and chairs, no people

Brew Nation

Room with tables and chairs and natural light from sun

Dear Prudence

Patrons and staff gathered around a bar countertop

Sideway

Band onstage at Smith's Alternative in front of an audience

Smith's Alternative

A selection of over 100 wines on a wall.

Amici Wine Bar & Deli

Person making a cocktail at a bar countertop
Dimly lit, cosy bar interior with seated patrons
Pew Pew Studio

Saturday

Kickstart your Saturday night at the restaurants renowned for their contemporary Asian cuisine and vibrant atmospheres. Whether you're exploring Lazy Su's eclectic menu or indulging in Akiba's extensive sake selection, your taste buds will thank you for an unforgettable culinary experience.

Before enjoying a night of entertainment, head to Such and Such for pre-show drinks. Created by the acclaimed creators of Pilot, this bar offers a selection of fine wines and perfectly paired snacks, setting the mood for the evening.

As the night unfolds, venture to the Canberra Theatre Centre, where world-class productions and diverse performances await. Alternatively, The Street Theatre offers a more intimate and alternative experience with contemporary and experimental shows. If you prefer a classical musical experience, be sure to check out the upcoming events at the ANU School of Music.

Unravel the secrets of Canberra's hidden bars, if you can find them. Get down low to find High Jinks, locate Molly Bar using coordinates, spot Alcove hidden in plain sight or follow the jazz tunes up above a popular Chinese restaurant to find Blue Eyes

Hiramasa Kingfish

Monster Kitchen & Bar

The Playhouse interior

Canberra Theatre Centre

Capital Jazz Project audience before the show

The Street Theatre

Black Rice Pudding w/ coconut cream, poached apple, lychee sorbet & butterscotch

Lazy Su

Interior of a well-lit bar with a variety of drinks on display on a shelf

Alcove

High Jinks Bar

High Jinks

Bartender making flaming cocktails

Molly

A packed calendar of after-dark events 

Hit the ground running as you experience the thrill of Canberra's iconic annual festivals and events all year round. Experience the city like never before, with each season offering a unique tapestry of after-dark wonders. 

Embrace the winter wonderland of Canberra with festivals such as Winter in the City and Christmas in July taking the stage as the cityscape becomes adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Mark your calendar for Floriade's NightFest, an extraordinary after-dark twist on Australia's largest celebration of spring. During Summer, enjoy balmy evenings with outdoor cinemas, or experience the vibrant and diverse cultures of the world during the National Multicultural Festival, where food stalls and performances keep the festivities alive well into the night. Step into a world of enchantment during autumn as the city comes alive with the Enlighten Festival. The nights are filled with mesmerising displays, creating a magical ambience that is sure to leave you in awe.

people walking through gardens lit up by fairy lights
A few kids playing amongst the light sculptures at Enlighten Festival.

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Aerial of some food dishes on a black table at Temporada | © Ashley St George

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Man in a hat and grey jacket sips red wine while looking at the Brindabella Hills.

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