The Canberra region is probably most famous for its springtime Floriade festival but in my humble opinion, autumn is the season that things in Canberra really heat up. As the nights get chilly, the avenues of trees around the capital start to turn red, gold, and orange. The fog starts to creep in and add some mystery to the mornings but it's the evenings where the magic and energy of autumn in Canberra begins with the Enlighten Festival. The autumn months feature a series of events celebrating the season, the city, the harvest and much more. And whether you're a Canberra local or a visitor wanting to experience the 'rea'l Canberra, here is a list of some events to spice up your autumn plans:
Enlighten Canberra Festival
If you want to light up your autumn social life, the Enlighten Canberra Festival is the place to be. Over two weeks in March, the festival sees some of Canberra's most well-known architecture in coloured in vivid light art displays. With both moving and still images projected onto our national icons, this is a wonderful way to see the city with a whole new perspective. As well as the lights, the festival includes music, art installations and, of course, the gastronomic delights of the Night Noodle Market. The best bit? Enlighten is entirely free (other than any food you want to buy) so there's no excuse not to check it out if you're in town.
The National Library by dusk at the Enlighten Canberra Festival
After wandering among the bright lights of Enlighten, the pace changes up considerably. It's that time Canberrans set the early morning alarm and collectively hold our breath hoping for light winds and clear skies. Why? Because just as the Enlighten lights dim and fade, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular is ready to take centre stage. For a few glorious days each autumn, a flotilla (fleet, flock?) of hot air balloons take the to skies over Canberra. If the weather is just right, the balloons will float over the lake, dipping low to the water, taking paddleboarders for a tow and skimming over the iconic buildings of Canberra.
Autumn is harvest time in the Canberra region's wineries and there are some beautiful places to check out the changing leaves of Canberra's autumn vineyards. Canberra Wine Week provides plenty of excuses to head to a winery where you can crush grapes beneath your feet (gooey!), take a behind the scenes tour to see how your favourite wine is made or just sit back, sip some wine and listen to tunes with musical performances scheduled throughout the week.
Because wine and food are besties, Canberra Good Food Month keeps Wine Week company on the Autumn calendar. Good Food Month features a series of fine dining events across the city as well as the Night Noodle Market at Enlighten. Most Good Food Month events are ticketed so get in early if your taste buds are craving something.
For music lovers, the National Folk Festival will liven things up in April. With a chilled vibe and a great musical line-up, the Folk Festival has established itself as a firm favourite in the Canberra autumn. The festival is family-friendly and has a vibrant mix of activities alongside the music including circus performances, food, drinks and market stalls.
Bungendore Harvest Festival
The first weekend in April is Harvest Festival time in Bungendore. The weekend hosts a range of events including farm tours, markets, restaurant events featuring the spoils of the harvest, kids activities and lots more. The Bungendore Harvest Festival is designed so you can join in whether you have just a few hours or want to make a weekend of it so pencil it in for some country fun.
Collector Pumpkin Festival
Pumpkins for sale at the Collector Pumpkin Festival
A true country festival celebrating the humble pumpkin, this quirky event has grown almost as fast as its prize-winning pumpkins. With giant pumpkins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin scone and more, if you like pumpkins, you'll like this festival. The Collector Pumpkin Festival is a good old fashioned country fair and includes pumpkin rolling, wheelbarrow races and a scarecrow building competition. You'll also find free activities including a giant hay bale maze, pony rides, a rescue dog demonstration, working sheep dogs, cow milking, pumpkin-themed board games, a farm animal petting paddock, a rock climbing wall and mechanical bull ride. Buildings around town will also showcase craft, quilts and the like so you can take a walk and explore the historic town too. Be warned, this event has become huge and traffic and parking are difficult around the festival so plan ahead to make sure you don't miss out.