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Events & Festivals in Canberra 2016

Home > Canberra > Community Events | Concerts | Festivals | Food and Wine | Free | Lists
by Sue W (subscribe)
Lover of exploring, family, food and fun!
Published December 18th 2015
Your comprehensive January to December list
Canberra loves festivals - it's a fact. Canberrans turn out in their thousands to events and festivals around the Capital and because of this, more are being planned each year. The main ones are listed below, however new ones are added each year so check local advertising for updates. Let the festivities begin!

SUMMERNATS 29 (7th - 10th January) is a great way to kick off the new year with street machines, fireworks, burnout competitions, The Hoodoo Gurus, You Am I, Seth Sentry and cars, cars, cars! Held at the EPIC, this 3 day event will get your motor running for the new year. See website here.
AUSTRALIA CELEBRATES LIVE (25th January) is a concert held on the lawns of Parliament House the night before Australia Day. The free celebrations begins with the Australian of the Year Awards, followed by the Australia Celebrates Live concert with top Australian performers. See website here.
The following day on Australia Day, head on over to Stage 88 at Commonwealth Park for breakfast and live entertainment.

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Australia Celebrates Live Concert. Source: Celebrate Australia Day Facebook

MULTICULTURAL FESTIVAL (12th - 14th February) in the Civic literally takes over the entire central city with multicultural food stalls, stages with live cultural music, entertainment, exotic smells and the Black Sorrows performing live. Thousands of people descend on the city for this popular event. See website here.
THE ActewAGL CANBERRA SHOW (26th - 28th February) is held at the EPIC for children big and small. The country comes to the city for this family friendly event with animal judging, horse shows, pig racing, petting zoos, rides, sideshow alley, motorbike stunts, fireworks and more! See website here.

ENLIGHTEN FESTIVAL (4th -12th March) is a highlight of the event calendar where our national landmarks are lit up in architectural projections. See Parliament House, the National Library, Old Parliament House and other iconic buildings lit up with projections by night. There are daily events, tours, entertainment and markets to enjoy throughout the festival. The Night Noodle Market will be a foodie highlight for the 2nd year. See website here.

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The National Library during Enlighten 2015. Source: Enlighten Facebook

CANBERRA BALLOON SPECTACULAR (12th - 20th March) is held on the lawns outside Old Parliament House. At 6:15am each morning, dozens of balloons from around the world inflate and then take off over Canberra together in a spectacular sight. The most popular balloons are the cartoon characters or unusual shapes - what will be up in the skies this year? See website here.
CANBERRA DAY (14th March) is a public holiday and a popular way to spend the day is to enjoy the family friendly entertainment and free concert on the Patrick White Lawns. Top national acts and bands feature at this concert each year. See website here.
SKYFIRE (19th March) is an annual fireworks show set to music held over Lake Burley Griffin. The event is organised by radio station 104.7 and each year the fireworks get bigger and better. As well as the fireworks there is a host of live entertainment to enjoy. See website here.
NATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL (24th - 28th March) is an award winning event with live music day and night, markets, entertainment and everything related to the folk lifestyle. See website here.

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Skyfire 2015. Source: Radio 104.7 Facebook. Photo by Nomad Photography.

ANZAC DAY at The Australian War Memorial (April 25th) is a solemn event with The National Ceremony which includes the National Anthem, the Commemorative Address, the laying of wreaths, the reading of hymns, the sounding of the Last Post and observance of one minute's silence. See website here.

SKATE IN THE CITY (June/July) is a month long event in the Civic with an ice skating rink set up to create a winter wonderland. There is ice skating, cultural days, dress up nights and a kids snow box. See website here.
CANBERRA TRUFFLE FESTIVAL (21st June - 16th August) is an eight week celebration of the local Black Perigord Truffle harvest. The Canberra region and surrounds is famous for its Black Truffles (with similar climate to France) and this festival allows visitors to visit truffle farms, enjoy degustation dinners and learn more about truffles at various venues around the city and over the border. See website here.
WORLD CURRY FESTIVAL IN THE CITY (July) will be held in the Civic for the 2nd year with a variety of food stalls selling curries from around the world. The smells alone will attract the crowds, so get in early to enjoy the variety of offer. See website here.

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World Curry Festival. Source: World Curry Festival in the City Facebook

FIRESIDE FESTIVAL (1st - 31st August) is a celebration of winter with dinner events to enjoy local wines and a selection of fine foods from regional venues across the Hall, Murrumbateman, Bungendore, Lake George and Canberra region. As well as degustation dinner events there will be trail riding, cooking master classes and a range of winter activities to enjoy. See website here.

FLORIADE (17th September - 16th October) is a month long celebration of Spring at Commonwealth Park. This free event has floral displays that take all year to prepare, markets, food, cooking demonstrations and more. Also see the floral displays by night at Nighfest, before watching a comedy act or attending a show. See website here.
TULIP TOPS FESTIVAL is another floral spectacular held over the border in NSW at the same time as Floriade. It is held on a private property in Sutton and has an entry fee to go in, however the gardens will surprise and delight. See website here.

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Tulip Tops Garden Festival from 2015

NARA FESTIVAL is a popular festival held at Canberra Nara Peace Park and Lennox Gardens on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. The festival celebrates the 23rd year of the Sister City relationship shared between Canberra and Nara, Japan. With Japanese food stalls, cultural displays, music, lighting of candles and more, this event is attended by thousands and enjoyed by all. See website here.

REMEMBRANCE DAY (11th November) at the Australian War Memorial includes a formal wreathlaying and will be attended by many high-level dignitaries for the National Ceremony. See website here.

CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY is a month long Christmas extravaganza with world record Christmas lights attempts, a walk through Christmas lights tunnel, night markets, camel rides, Santa and more. See website here.
NEW YEARS EVE IN THE CITY is a huge event held in two locations across the city. Garema Place has a dance party until the wee hours with live DJ, whilst Civic Square has the family concert before the 9pm and midnight fireworks. See website here.

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Christmas in the City 2015. Source: Christmas in the City Facebook from 2015

Although these are the major Events and Festivals held across the capital in 2016, there are of course other ones that are equally as entertaining for the community. There is also the Lantern Festival (February), Canberra Harvest Festival (March), Canberra Comedy Festival (March), Jane Austen Festival (April), The Living Green Festival (October), Oktoberfest at the EPIC (October), Outdoor Concerts (eg. Groovin' The Moo, Voices in the Forest), Outdoor Cinemas (eg. Ben and Jerrys Outdoor Cinema), Movie Festivals (eg. Lights!Camera!Action!), Charity walks around the Lake, Expos (eg. Big Boys Toys Expo, Quilt and Craft Fair at the EPIC), Melbourne Cup at Thoroughbred Park (November)...the list goes on.

Although other states in Australia may think that Canberra is the "boring Capital", Canberrans know differently. There are so many events and festivals across the year that the city comes to life almost every weekend in every month.
Let's just keep that secret to ourselves though, shall we can keep all the fun to ourselves!

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Finish off 2016 at New Years Eve in the City. Source: ACT Events
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