Nine things to do around Canberra this Canberra Day long weekend

Zoe Pleasants 8 March 2018

Photo: Events ACT.

Celebrate Canberra’s birthday by going to one of the many festivals happening around town this long weekend. For the early birds, there’s nothing better than a hot breakfast and hot air balloons at the Balloon Spectacular, for the connoisseurs of good food, wine and books Festival Muse is hard to beat; for the night owls the Enlighten Festival continues to light up the Parliamentary Triangle; and for something different, the Lights! Canberra! Action film-making festival is screening this Friday. Finish your weekend with a party in Commonwealth Park on Monday afternoon featuring a great line-up of live music. Women’s AFL is returning to Manuka Oval this Saturday, and Canberra Symphony Orchestra is putting on a free concert this Sunday night fit for a Queen.

All weekend

Canberra Balloon Spectacular

Where: Lawns of Old Parliament House
When: From 6:15 am, 10–18 March
The Balloon Spectacular takes off this weekend with an amazing collection of balloons including Kermi the frog—in its first visit to Canberra—and Jewel the hummingbird, which was here last year but only got off the ground once! Of course, balloon take-offs are weather dependent so check Facebook, the internet, and local radio stations from 6:15 am each morning for an update. As well as (or instead of) the balloons you can enjoy a hot breakfast, coffee and live music on weekends. This weekend, Will Campbell will be playing on Saturday morning, Matilda Rose on Sunday morning and The Advocates on Monday morning.

Festival Muse

Where: Muse, East Hotel, Kingston
When: Friday–Monday, various sessions
Muse Bookshop in Kingston is again bringing together writers, thinkers, activists and artists for a festival that celebrates curiosity, conversation, creativity, coffee and canapés. Festival Muse, in its second year, comprises of eight events including an opening party with Zoya Patel, Michael Brissenden, Roland Peelman, Jacob White and Elizabeth Lee from 6 pm Friday; lunch with Jack Heath, 1 pm Saturday; dinner with the Helm family on Saturday evening; and a Q&A discussion with Clementine Ford at the Street Theatre, 4:30 pm Sunday. Check out the program of events and book tickets here.

Photo: Fabian Harding.

Enlighten Festival

Where: Parliamentary Triangle
When: Friday 5 pm–12am, Saturday 4 pm–12 am, Sunday 4–11 pm, Monday 5–11 pm
The Enlighten Festival continues this weekend with stunning architectural projections, inflatable art, the Night Noodle Markets, live music, roving performers and cultural institutions open late. The lights get switched on at 8 pm. This weekend Betty Alto, Nick Hill and Exhibitionist are playing on Friday night, and Teischa, Electric Fields and Hot Potato Band on Saturday night.

Another Day in Paradise

Where: Tuggeranong Arts Centre
When: 10 am– 5 pm until 29 April
A major exhibition of the work of artist Myuran Sukumaran opened at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre last weekend and will be showing until 29 April. Curated by Ben Quilty and Michael Dagostino, Another Day in Paradise presents works painted by Myuran during his incarceration at Bali’s Kerobokan jail and on Nusa Kambangan Island. These works are being shown alongside works by artists Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Megan Cope, Jagath Dheerasekara, Khaled Sabsabi, and Matthew Sleeth, which respond to the death penalty and other human rights issues. Given the ethical and moral complexity of Myuran’s story, the Tuggeranong Arts Centre is presenting a program of events to accompany this exhibition. The Human Condition will include film screenings, panel discussions, conversations performances and poetry readings. Entry to the exhibition and accompanying events are free.


Where: QL2 Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre
When: Friday & Saturday 8–9:30 pm, Sunday 5–6:30 pm
To celebrate 2o years of amazing work, Liz Lea, the ACT Artist of the Year, has developed a one-woman dance show about how time passes. Red is fearless, fierce and powerful. Red is fraught and broken, but it is still running. Created in collaboration with Brian Lucas, Vicki van Hout, Martin del Amo, Virginia Ferris, Karen Norris, Nino Tamburri and Alexander Hunter, this show is an interdisciplinary performance combining body, movement, words and film. It will be accompanied by a costume exhibition showing 20 costumes from Liz’s 20 years as a dancer. Tickets are $25 and $20 for concession, book here.


Lights! Canberra! Action

Where: Senate Rose Garden, Old Parliament House
When: 7–10:15 pm
Lights! Canberra! Action! is a film-making festival where film-makers are given ten days to shoot, edit and produce a seven-minute film based on a given theme and are required to include ten specified items. This year’s theme is strange, beautiful and unexpected. Judges will choose twelve finalist and these films will be screened on Friday night with the winner announced at the end of the event. Bring a chair or picnic rug, blanket and movie snacks, the screening is free.


AFL Women’s Competition—GWS Giants v Western Bulldogs

Where: Manuka Oval
When: Match starts 7:10 pm
Women’s AFL returns to Manuka Oval this weekend with a Round 6 clash between Greater Western Sydney Giants and the in-form Western Bulldogs. It is absolutely free to get into the game—so just show up!

Symphony in the Park

Where: Stage 88, Commonwealth Park
When: 5–9:30 pm
The Canberra Symphony Orchestra wants to rock you this Sunday night! It is teaming up with conductor George Ellis and the Killer Queen Experience to give you two hours of hits from Queen. Bring a picnic rug and blankets, food and drink stalls will be open from 5 pm and the concert starts at 7:30 pm.


Canberra Day

Where: Stage 88, Commonwealth Park
When: 2–7 pm
Canberra is turning 105 and is celebrating with a party in Commonwealth Park. There will be amusement park rides, food stalls, plenty of activities for the kids and live music. Brisbane pop outfit, Sheppard is headlining, with Lah Lah’s Big Live Band, Lucy Sugerman, Ali Barter and Nicole Millar also playing. The rides will cost $5–6, or you can purchase unlimited rides for $25.

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