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Top 5 Events and Festivals in Canberra

Home > Canberra > Community Events | Family | Festivals | Lists
by Sue W (subscribe)
New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published January 26th 2018
Clear the calendar - you don't want to miss these
If you plan to visit to Canberra from interstate or overseas, you may be surprised by the amount of events, festivals and foodie celebrations there are around Australia's Capital City. When most people think of Canberra, they think of politics and Parliament House, but Canberra is so much more. There is a real community beat to the city and this is felt at all the events and festivals that are held throughout the year. Each weekend there is something to do, see, eat, play or visit around the Capital - it is a good excuse for the city to get together and have some fun! These are just 5 of the most popular events and festivals to choose from, however check back with Canberra Weekendnotes for what's on this weekend. Clear the calendar - you don't want to miss these!

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Celebrate our multicultural community at the National Multicultural Festival. Image: original photos from the National Multicultural Festival Facebook

1. FEBRUARY - The National Multicultural Festival

This popular festival is held at the start of February each year, with an average of 280,000 people attending over the 3 days. The entire centre of the city is blocked off and over 400 food stalls line City Walk and Garema Place, with delicious food smells from all across the globe combining in the sky. You can smell the festival, before you see it!

As well as the smell, prepare your senses for the sights and sounds of the cultural performances on the three stages around the festival, with loud African beats, harmonic Filipino singing, Indian belly dancing, Nordic Folk Dancing and so much more! The party continues day and night with street parades through the crowds, impromptu performances and international beats which will get people up and dancing. If you have young children, there is a Children's Sanctuary to escape the noise for some quiet time amongst the fun. See here for details.

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Celebrate cultures from all around the world. Image: National Multicultural Festival Facebook

2. MARCH - Canberra Balloon Spectacular

Do you like to get up early and enjoy the best part of the day? Then get up nice and early at the beginning of March to witness the beauty of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. This 9 day event begins at 6am on the grass in front of Old Parliament House and then watch as a mass of hot air balloons start to get fired up at 6:15am, before the 6:30am lift off. More than 40 hot air balloons then ascend over the Parliamentary Triangle in a spectacular, scenic display. After they leave, stay for a hot breakfast and coffee to kick start your day.

Alternatively, many people also enjoy the views from Lake Burley Griffin or the National Arboretum, however you can see the hot air balloons from all over the city. If you have kids, they will enjoy all the different characters which take to the skies. See here for details.

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Experience the beauty of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. Image: Original photos from Events ACT Facebook

3. MARCH - Enlighten Festival

The Enlighten Festival is held across 2 weeks in March and is jam-packed with artistic entertainment, performances and displays! Firstly, after it gets dark, take a walk around the Parliamentary Triangle and experience the artistic light projections reflected onto the outside of Parliament House, the National Library, National Art Gallery and other national buildings. There are also events held every day and evening in the Parliamentary Triangle such as circus acts, roving performers, pop-up sculptures, dance parties and much more. Expected the unexpected at Enlighten!

A highlight of the festival is also the Night Noodle Markets which draws in the crowds. See here for details.

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Get swept up in the magic of Enlighten! Image: Original photos from Enlighten Facebook (Photo credit for centre photo: Instagram @davonogo

4. JUNE TO AUGUST - The Truffle Festival

The Truffle Festival is held over the winter months, as it is the perfect time for truffle-sniffing dogs to sniff out the prized Black Truffle in farms around the region. Canberra has a unique weather system over the winter months, which is exactly the same at the famous truffle growing regions in France.

Around the region you can book in to experience a Truffle Hunt and watch the truffle dogs as they set off to find the pungent-smelling "black gold". Usually after the hunt there is an opportunity to taste a truffle, or even sit down for a fine dining meal featuring the expensive, prized ingredient. As well as this, all around the city there are restaurants and venues using the black truffle for degustation events, tastings and even to make truffle-infused beer! This festival is celebrating 10 years in 2018 - and it's still going strong. See here for details.

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Experience this unique festival, in Canberra's truffle-growing district. Image: Original photos from the Truffle Festival Facebook


Floriade is the biggest festival of the year, attracting around 400,000 people for the month-long festival. People from all around the country come to Canberra to visit the spectacular flower festival, which is held in the grounds of Commonwealth Park on Lake Burley Griffin. Walk around and admire the masses of tulips and variety of flowering plants and herbs, which are planted in attractive designs on raised flower beds. The best views of the designs are from up the top of the Ferris wheel - if you aren't scared of heights!

As well as the floral display, there is also live music, international food stalls, cooking demonstrations, markets, jumping castles, workshops, displays, roving performers and much more. Although there is a full program each day, they also open in the evening for Night Fest, with lighting displays, comedy acts and entertainment around the parkland. This is one you don't want to miss! See here for details.

These events and festivals throughout the year highlight the vibrancy, colour and sense of community of this unique city. Canberra may be small in size, but we are big on events. So what are you waiting for? Come and celebrate with us!

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Be amazed by the variety and colour at Floriade!

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Why? Get out and about in the Canberra community
When: Throughout the year
Where: All over Canberra
Cost: See individual website for times and details
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