30 things to do this summer in Brisbane

We don't mean to brag, but we're giving this summer a 10 out of 10. If you don't make it to Australia's subtropical capital this season you'll miss out on the biggest blockbuster of summer events yet, great weather and even better vibes.

Cool down with splash in one of Brisbane's natural waterholes, celebrate 10 years with GOMA or take the family on a mini island escape. Read on to discover our 30 best summer ideas, and share your photos with us using #brisbaneanyday.

1. GOMA turns 10 | 3 December 2016 - 17 April 2017

Artwork: Olafur Eliasson - The cubic structural evolution project. Photograph: Natasha Harth

Help the people of Brisbane celebrate one of Australia's favourite galleries reaching a milestone 10 years. The Gallery of Modern Art is marking the occasion with an epic summer of events. All exhibitions are free – our pick of them is Sugar Spin, a showcase of contemporary large scale works from the collection including the giant metal slide that drops from the third floor. Yes!

2. Brisbane International | 1-8 January

Spanish powerhouse/perennial wedgie plucker Rafael Nadal has stepped up to appear at the tournament for the first time. Ranked fifth in the world, Nadal is a modern master of the game and is an undisputed genius on clay. You’d be mad to miss him, so catch him in action.

3. Christmas in Brisbane | 25 November - 24 December

Each year the streets of the inner-city come alive with Brisbane's four-week program of free festive fun. Kicking off with the official Lighting of the Christmas Tree on Friday 25 November, from there the rolling series of events includes the unmissable Christmas Parade and Pantomime, City Hall projections, fireworks, dive-in Christmas cinema, Christmas markets and much more. Adding to the program this year, Roma Street Parkland will have an enchanted garden and there will be fun happening right up to Christmas Eve.

4. Tick off all 63 items on Brisbane's ultimate food bucket list

Looking for a food challenge to last you the summer? Try eating your way through all of the city's iconic dishes. Venues around town can't take these items off the menu without public uproar – and for good reason.

5. Do your Christmas shopping in The City

Whether it is last-minute gift shopping or an indulgent day out, Queen Street Mall is the destination for gift buying at Christmas. Check out big international brands UniqloH&MForever 21 and Zara, shop luxury boutiques on Edward St and inside QueensPlaza, and hunt out boutique finds inside the Brisbane Arcadeand Showroom. Find parking deals from $5 here.

6. Brisbane Global Tens | 11-12 February

Listen up. The second biggest gathering of elite rugby players behind only the Rugby World Cup, the Brisbane Global Tens will be two days of rugby heaven from 11-12 February. Israel Dagg, Berrick Barnes, Jerome Kaino, Damien McKenzie – the list goes on. Here's 10 reasons you need to get to the event.

7. Plan your camping adventure near Brisbane 

Now is the time to plan your camping adventure in Brisbane. Surrounded by stunning displays of natural beauty, the Greater Brisbane region is home to national parks, beaches and lakes worth pitching a tent at. Read our top 10 camping picks here.

8. Cirque du Soleil KOOZA | 24 November - 18 December 2016

The blue-and-yellow big top is coming back to Brisbane with an all-new production, KOOZA, this summer. Cirque du Soleil's latest production combines thrilling acrobatic performance with the art of clowning in a journey of self discovery through a comic kingdom of eccentric characters, electrifying thrills and out-of-the-box surprises.

9.  Woodford Folk Festival | 27 December 2016 - 1 January 2017

Held annually over six days and six nights, the music festival will celebrate its 30th year with more than 2000 performers featuring in 1536 scheduled shows. Expect to see everything from comedy debates and live art, to street theatre and circus or yoga and meditation, plus of course music genres ranging from folk, rock and pop to blues, roots and soul.

10. Check out the new bars you'll be drinking at this summer

Tomcat is opening in a secret location, Chignon is joining favourite Brooklyn Standard down Eagle Lane, Newstead Brewing is opening in Milton and two other mammoth beer halls (Beer Deluxe and Munich Brauhaus) will keep your thirst in check this summer. 

11. Pick a sport and check it out live: summer sports guide

Like Ben Cutting charging down the pitch to axe a full toss for six, another Brisbane summer is storming in fast and that means more live sport than you can poke a stick at. Check out our guide to what’s on, nab your tickets early and get ready – Brisbane’s summer of sport is going to be a ripper.

12. Don't sweat it – keep cool with ice-cream, gelato or frosé 

No way frosé! What is it, you ask? Why it's the drink of summer – frozen rosé. Delicious and alcoholic, Alfred & Constance has it on tap for your enjoyment. If you prefer your icy treats sans alcohol, read our guide to the best ice-cream and gelato spots around the city.

13. Do something left of field and try one of these 28 things you didn't know you could do in Brisbane

Think you’ve ticked it all off your list? Think again. We’re pretty confident we could bet that you haven’t done everything on this list – helicopter pub crawls, night kayaking on an island, buying ALL the cheese, visiting the drive-ins, trying hip hop yoga ...

14. Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival | 23 November - 4 December

Experience cinema at its best in Brisbane this November and December with the third annual Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival (BAPFF) program featuring a massive 80 features and documentaries.

15. Take a day trip out to the regions

Venture onto your doorstep to discover a world alive with natural beauty, quality organic foods and rural gems. From the islands offshore to the serenity of the hinterland – explore new places within an hour of Brisbane.

16. Chase waterfalls, lakes and waterholes 

Explore cascading waterfalls, expansive lakes and trickling waterholes near Brisbane. It's the ultimate fun day out.

17. Matilda | 2 December 2016 - 29 January 2-17

The multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the genius of Roald Dahl, is here this summer. With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

18. Keep the kids entertained with these 40 family ideas

Looking for ideas to entertain the kids for an hour or a weekend or the whole school holidays? We've got you covered with things to do on hot days, rainy days, quiet days or adventure days with children.

19. Take a mini break on an island 

Escape the city and head for one of the islands where wide golden sandy beaches and refreshing aquatic waters to swim in come standard. Read more about Moreton Island here, and North Stradbroke Island here.

20. Hadron Collider | 9 December 2016 - 25 April 2017

Step inside the world's greatest experiment – the renowned Large Hadron Collider Exhibition from London's Science Museum is coming to Brisbane this summer. Celebrating the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the award-winning exhibit recreates the work of 10,000 people from across the globe.

21. Take drinking sky high at Brisbane's best rooftop bars

Soak up the sunshine and raise your glasses to drinking sky high at our picks of the best rooftop bars in Brisbane.

22. Go for a scenic drive – we’ve found 23 for you

Take the road less travelled and explore the hidden pockets of nature and history surrounding Brisbane on one of the many scenic drives in the region.

23. Explore local parks and connect with wildlife

Plan a barbecue, relax by the river or entertain the kids at one of Brisbane’s best local parks. Whether you’ve got children to entertain or are a child at heart yourself, discover Brisbane’s wide range of wildlife parks, zoos and animal farms.

24. Explore Brisbane's art galleries

Uncover Brisbane's burgeoning art scene in one of our many thriving innovative spaces throughout the city, local precincts and the Brisbane Region.

25. Dive into the city at 100% Brisbane | Until 2018

The Museum of Brisbane has pulled back the layers of our city, going beneath the surface of high rises and the jacaranda trees to discover the very real heart of Brisbane’s story. You. Me. And everyone in between. In a landmark exhibition, people from all walks of life, beliefs and backgrounds have been found. No two of us are the same, but when we connect we form a city, a community. Together we are Brisbane.

26. Eating local: Brisbane's paddock to plate experience

If you love to experience a city via your plate – Brisbane is the place to unfold your napkin. Brisbane's restaurants, bars and cafes go above and beyond to ensure where possible that its dishes and drinks come from within the local region.

27. The Sleeping Beauty by Australian Ballet | 24 February - 4 March 2017

Be swept into a world of fairies and bluebirds, nymphs and roses - an enchanting fairytale ballet with opulent sets and costumes by Gabriela Tylesova. Following a critically acclaimed world premiere and sell-out seasons, David McAllister’s spectacular production of The Sleeping Beauty will premiere in Brisbane in 2017.

28. Keep visitors entertained or play tourist in your own town

With an influx of friends and family visiting over summer, be the best host you can be with this handy guide to entertaining new visitors or to get ones who have overstayed their welcome out of the house. No one in town? You don't need an excuse to play tourist in Brisbane  get out and about exploring the city's best.

29. Hike through our national parks

From heritage-listed rainforests to sand islands and bushland – discover a new national park to horse-ride, fish, bushwalk or cycle around Brisbane this summer.

30. Taste Brisbane’s best Japanese food

Konichiwa! Brisbane has fantastic Japanese cuisine, so whether you’re craving sushi or sashimi, a bento box or ramen – drool over our top Japanese eateries here.

Published on Visit Brisbane - Published 13 September 2016
Quick Facts 
Population Approx 1.9 million
Area 1326.8 km2
Time Zone GMT +10
Languages English (official)
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Electricity 220 – 240v 50Hz
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