A special occasion calls for a special venue. The good news is that there’s no shortage of great places in which to hold your next event in Canberra. Whether you’re planning a wedding, milestone birthday, engagement party or corporate dinner, chances are there’s a function venue in Canberra to suit your needs and budget.
In this article, we’ll show you what to look for in a function venue and list some of Canberra’s best. Let’s get started.
What makes a great function venue?
From decorations to catering and seating arrangements, there’s a lot to consider when planning an event. Getting the basics right, and enlisting professional help at the start (such as your venue’s events manager), can help ensure your special day is a success.
But what should you look for when choosing a function venue in Canberra? We recommend keeping the following points in mind:
- Location. Location will set the tone for your event, so choose carefully. Do you need a formal space for a corporate function, or a relaxed space with a cosy, intimate atmosphere? In addition to aesthetics, consider practical requirements such as accessibility, parking and amenities. It’s all about making your guests’ experience as memorable as possible.
- Food and drinks. It’s no secret that delicious food and quality drinks make for happier guests. Many venues will have in-house chefs and catering staff, while others engage external caterers for events. Either way, they shouldn’t mind if you sample the menu beforehand – though it may cost extra. Read reviews to confirm the quality of the catering, and double-check that the venue can cater to people with dietary requirements.
- Experience and reliability. With practice comes perfection. An experienced and reliable staff – from the manager to the caterers – will help your event run smoothly. From planning to handling problems on the day, an experienced team will be able to put your mind at ease, allowing you to relax and enjoy your special occasion.
- A customised approach. Look for a function venue that is willing to customise your event to suit your needs and your vision. You shouldn’t feel pressured into adopting a cookie-cutter approach if that’s not your style.
The best function venues in Canberra
Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and maintained a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.
The National Portrait Gallery is a dramatic and culturally rich venue for special functions and events. An elegant building flooded with natural light, the Gallery is like no other in the capital, with guests coming face-to-face with famous, infamous and sometimes forgotten icons of Australian history.
With multiple flexible event spaces, the Gallery caters to all styles of events – breakfasts, seminars, conferences, workshops, meetings, cocktail receptions, gala and conference dinners, as well as wedding ceremonies and receptions. Gorgeous, adaptable spaces can be combined to create vibrant, memorable events.
The impressive Gordon Darling Hall features a soaring ceiling, an abundance of natural light and beautiful drop-down pendant lights. When booking the Gordon Darling Hall for an evening event, the Tim Fairfax Forecourt, Western Courtyard and Terrace Rooms are all included. Evening events at the National Portrait Gallery can start with a private gallery viewing, adding an exclusive, special touch.
The Terrace Room opens onto a North facing, outdoor-heated terrace with iconic views of Lake Burley Griffin, the High Court and Reconciliation Place. Terrace Room One, on the western side of the main Terrace Room, is perfect for a breakfast, lunch, conference or planning day. Terrace Room Two, on the eastern side is just as suitable.
The National Portrait Gallery also has the lovely Liangis Theatre for conferences, film screenings or keynote addresses. This lecture theatre features a small foyer space ideal for catering and registration.
Events are supported with facilities including audio-visual, in-house sound, projectors and wireless internet.
The Fresh Collective are the in-house caterers that operate at the National Portrait Gallery. The Fresh Collective has a reputation for crafting exceptional event experiences with premium food and beverage in venues throughout Australia. With a team of dedicated chefs and knowledgeable wait staff, Fresh delivers a range of event experiences to suit any brief ranging from intimate dinners, corporate conferences, weddings, cocktail events and grand banquet feasts.
Alistair Nitz wrote on Google, “Out of all the national institutions located in Canberra, this is my favourite.”
The team of dedicated, professional meeting and event planners at Rydges Canberra help clients organise functions, with care and precision.
Function venues are available for small meetings through to large gatherings of 200 guests. Rydges Canberra has quality executive boardrooms and break-out rooms, with function spaces purpose-built.
Support services include a comprehensive range of audio and visual equipment, and complimentary high-speed Wi-fi or a dedicated conference line. Innovative conference solutions cover every need.
Rydges Canberra understands that great functions are supported by great food. Specialised catering menus, designed by the Executive Chef and his team, suit any need or budget.
The Conference and Events Team provides support and prompt communications, ensuring queries are addressed in detail.
Venue and event guests can take advantage of overnight accommodation. Spacious rooms are equipped with a work desk, lounge area, and free Wi-fi. Guests sleep on Rydges’ Dream Beds and have complimentary access to the health club, complete with a fitness centre, spa, sauna and indoor heated pool.
Enquire online using the instant quote form or call the Conference and Events Team to discuss function needs. A 360 tour of venue spaces is online. Plenty of parking is onsite and the hotel is an easy walking distance to the Parliamentary Triangle.
On Google, Jeni Skunk wrote, “Needed to attend a conference in Canberra … Rydges Canberra was the only hotel with disabled room booking … The service at the hotel is excellent. And I'd love to go back there.”
Since first opening its doors in 1972, the Canberra Southern Cross Club has grown to become a mainstay in the local recreational scene. Now, boasting five unique venues throughout the region, the Canberra Southern Cross Club is also a name synonymous with events.
With a multitude of glorious spaces across it's prestigious locations - Woden, Tuggeranong and the picturesque Yacht Club - the club makes an excellent choice for your next event. Boasting a range of versatile function rooms the club caters well to groups of any size. From intimate gatherings all the way through to large gala dinners of 1,000 guests, they offer unforgettable settings both indoor and out.
When it comes to the main event, Canberra Southern Cross Club’s award-winning chefs offer extensive dining and beverage options, all customisable to suit individual tastes. Be it roaming canapes, seated three course delights, or grazing share plates, their culinary expertise is sure to impress. Moreover, their carefully considered beverage packages pay a nod to classic cocktails whilst highlight the region’s best wineries and premium breweries.
All venues are conveniently located in close to public transport and offer free on-site parking, making attending a breeze. And should help be needed, their dedicated events team will gladly assist in creating a memorable experience for all guests.
For a seamless soiree run by consummate industry professionals, look no further than Canberra Southern Cross Club.
Brooke Hall shared her event experience on Google, "We just had our wedding at this location and it was absolutely beyond our expectations and so beautiful.... Thank you again for making our day so perfect".
Located in Green Square, Kingston, The Durham Castle Arms is a flexible venue for private functions of all styles. This relaxed but fun, British-style tavern has different seating zones that can be configured to functions of many sizes.
“The Durham”—as it is fondly called—is a Canberra institution that welcomes locals and visitors alike. The menu focuses on inexpensive pub grub and great beer on tap. Function menus are available and well-trained staff are on hand to assist.
Regular special events include themed trivia and local live music.
The Durham is also home to the Ale Mary Brewing Company, founded in 2023. This microbrewery specialises in small-batch, hand-crafted beers made with quality ingredients and a passion for the art of brewing.
Members get discounts, special offers and VIP invitations to exclusive Durham events and functions.
Tony Kennedy wrote on Google, “A great pub in the heart of Kingston. Good selection of beer on tap, well-priced arrangement of food.”
The Dickson Taphouse is a great functions venue for events of all types. With two function spaces to choose from, The Dickson Taphouse offers clients flexibility. The team works alongside clients to tailor events for any time of year, whether a work function, a significate milestone celebration or a gathering of family or friends.
The Lounge Room, which seats up to 50 guests, is cosy and relaxing. Enjoy drinks from the bar and food made fresh in-house by the chefs at The Dickson Taphouse. The second functions space is The Dining Room, which accommodates up to 30 seated. This private function area is perfect for intimate gatherings and, once again, delicious cuisine is on offer. Hire is free for both function spaces.
A special functions menu is available at The Dickson Taphouse with a wide range of tasty canapes, cheeses and desserts. Drinks packages include selected beers, wines, ciders and sparkling, light and soft drinks.
The Dickson Taphouse is a classic corner pub conveniently located in the dining precinct of Dickson, in the middle of Woolley Street, with plenty of parking in the area and easy access by way of public transport or taxi services. For functions, an online enquiry option is available. More information, including on minimum spend, is available through the website.
David Melrose wrote on Google, “Great selection of beer. Good food. Lovely staff.”
The Alby is a stylish venue with flexible spaces for functions of all styles and sizes. At The Alby, spanning almost 1,000 square metres, everyone celebrates the good things in life.
The Ground Floor encompasses a bar, mix of low and high-top tables, and a Chef’s Table. The central fireplace allows areas to be split for smaller groups or those wanting a semi-private space. At the Chef’s Table, guests gather around one large table for a shared dining experience. The Bar and Dining area is available day and night and for sit-down dining or cocktail-style functions. It accommodates up to 200 guests (110 seated).
Another unique area is The Alby’s Beer Garden, a welcoming, relaxing location for sunny afternoons and warm nights. This undercover, open-air space – out the front of the upstairs bar – features low nesting tables. It accommodates 150 guests (80 under cover).
For a whole lot of fun and a truly different experience, book the Games Basement, complete with its own bar. Play Duckpin bowling, pinball or pool. This is an ideal space for sports fans and the young at heart. The Games Basement, with high-top tables only, fits up to 160 guests.
The Alby offers canape packages and platter packages. Silver and gold beverage packages are also available. The experienced Events Specialist makes each event memorable.
On Google, Merrilyn Cuschieri wrote, “This was a new experience for us. We had a work Christmas party. The Alby has fantastic customer service and great food … loads of fun.”
Functions at King O’Malley’s, in the heart of the city, take place in unique, warm spaces surrounded by Canberra artefacts and conversation starters. Each venue space has its own identity and style, and functions are backed by friendly staff experienced in making events and get-togethers memorable.
King O’Malley’s accommodates functions for groups from eight to 150.
The Snug Room is a quiet, private room for around 25 people, nestled among solid timber bookshelves filled with an impressive range of historic tomes and fascinating antiquities. It’s a perfect space for more intimate functions.
For groups of up to 45 guests, The Castle Room can easily be sectioned off for near-private use for up to 24 people wanting a meal or cocktail function. The room can be opened with bi-fold doors to the next largest venue space, The Guinness Room.
Also known as the Arcade, The Guinness Room is away from the central busy area of the pub. It suits sit-down functions for larger groups of up to 90 people. Bi-fold doors can be opened to the Castle Room.
A special functions menu covers snack platters and large pizza slabs. The kitchen is expert at serving large crowds so guests can kick back and enjoy.
On Google, Margaret Theakston wrote, “Perfect venue in The Castle Room for our son's 18th birthday dinner. Food was lovely. All made very easy by the accommodating and helpful staff … Had access to the room to decorate before the guests arrived (and no charge for using the room).”
Ainslie + Gorman offer heritage-listed facilities for arts activities, conferences, weddings, lectures, meetings, performances and other special functions. As an arts organisation, creativity shines through with the organisation of events at both the Ainslie Arts Centre and the Gorman Arts Centre.
Over 10 unique inside spaces are available for hire. Ainslie + Gorman can accommodate over 150 people.
Venue examples include the Gorman Main Hall, overlooking a courtyard on each side with magnificent Hawthorn trees. The Ainslie Main Hall is a large performance venue. The Ralph Wilson Theatre suits screenings, performances and lectures. Other venues include the Function Room, C Block Theatre, E Block Seminar Room and F Block Gallery. Ainslie + Gorman can also accommodate events in stunning private internal courtyards and smaller forecourts.
Kate Mitchell wrote on Google, “My husband and I got married at Ainslie + Gorman in the courtyard under the Hawthorne tree last month and it was absolutely beautiful.”
While many think Thoroughbred Park is solely for racing functions and events, this special spot is so much more. Thoroughbred Park is perfect for a wide range of private functions, from Christmas parties, weddings, training days, conferences, special events, trade shows, and corporate dinners of all sizes and styles.
With the tranquillity of a park setting, views of the Brindabella and Majura mountain ranges, and only five minutes from the city, Thoroughbred Park offers versatile, light-filled function rooms and free parking.
Thoroughbred Park has multiple spaces available. The Winning Post Bar, ideal for cocktail functions or buffet-style events, can handle up to 800 guests. The Black Opal Room and Silks Room – with floor-to-ceiling windows – fit up to 250 guests. The Rich Reward room has capacity for up to 150 and marquee spaces are available for race days and non-race days. For large events, the Exhibition Pavilion handles up to 2,000 and is ideal for trade shows. Private rooms and lounge areas are great for small groups.
Menu and function packages are available, including canapes, entrees, mains, desserts and buffet options. Food and beverage packages are tailored by Thoroughbred Park’s in-house chef.
On Google, Benny Gee wrote, “Awesome facilities, friendly staff and good service.”
The National Library is an iconic fixture of the Canberra skyline and our history. With stunning architecture reminiscent of a Greek pantheon, marbled interiors, kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows and stunning views across Lake Burley Griffin, the National Library is not just a great place for research but a beautiful venue for events and functions.
The National Library is home to a theatre, a conference room, and the stunning main foyer that can all be hired out for events and functions. The theatre and the Ferguson Room are perfect for lectures and presentation-style events, while the Main Foyer, with its marble floors and giant windows, can be fantastic for award ceremonies, catered events, or even weddings.
On Google, 'Local Guide' Ermi Isais writes, "This is a beautiful, pristine and cultural building. The library's cafe is decorated with stained glass windows which makes it an artistic atmosphere. Outdoors the back terrace overlooks the river, manicured gardens and a well kept garden".
The Pavilion On Northbourne Hotel is a unique functions venue for clients wanting to entertain, enlighten or educate, with spaces for up to 250 guests. The dedicated functions team assists with planning conferences and special events of all sizes and types. Flexible packages, catering and special inclusions provide value-for-money. Free secure parking and WiFi available.
Stephen Clarke wrote on Google, “This hotel was perfect for our winter wedding, with a climate controlled indoor space …”
Or, if you’re planning a child’s birthday, our article on the best kids’ birthday party venues in Canberra may be helpful for you.
Your experience with function venues in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the function venues listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I provide the venue with my own decor for my function?
Absolutely, but within reason. Venue managers should have no trouble with you bringing your own table decorations, such as flowers or candles, and some smaller things like balloons. However, if you want to bring some big decorations or reorganise the space, communicate with your venue manager and see what he or she can do for you.
What info do venue managers need ahead of the function?
The most important information is how many people will be attending your event. After that, it depends on whether your venue is providing food and drinks as well - and if so, you will need to talk to them about any dietary requirements that need to be accommodated.
Can I organise entertainment for my function?
Usually, yes. This will take some coordination between the venue and your entertainment - live bands, for example, will require space and easy access to power. As long as you give all parties enough notice, this should be fine.
What extra service can venues provide for my function?
Besides just the space for your event, venues can provide catering and decoration. Most venues will have event packages from which you can choose, to help make the logistics of putting on your function that much easier.
Can I make special menu requests of the venue's caterers?
Absolutely! Any caterer will want to know - with plenty of notice - about dietary requirements and allergies. If you want them to make specific dishes, or perhaps you're thinking of providing your own dessert, just make sure you give them plenty of notice to see whether they are capable of making those kinds of changes.