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The Best Nightclubs in Canberra

25

Planning a night out in Australia’s capital? Great news – Canberra is home to a ton of fabulous venues.

Whether you’re looking to hit the dance floor and boogie the night away, rock out to live music, or sip an innovative cocktail or two, there’s a nightclub or bar for you.

Below is a list of eight of our top picks. Have a read and get ready for a night to remember.

What Makes a Great Nightclub or Bar?

Here’s what we look for in a fantastic nightclub:

  • Good vibes. Nightclubs and bars are for having a good time. Everyone should be happy, chatty, excited, and most importantly, safe.
  • An exciting drinks menu. Standard drinks are fine in some situations but if you like to try the latest and greatest, look for a venue with an exciting drinks menu.
  • Excellent tunes. From live jazz to 90s pop classics, the best nightclubs and bars in Canberra deliver killer tunes all night long.
  • A vibrant calendar of events. Look for regularly organised parties, performances, DJs, and more.
  • Tasty treats. It’s not all about the drinks! If you’re feeling peckish, look for a venue that serves up a fun menu of tasty treats.

What else do you look for in a great nightclub or bar?

Canberra’s Best Nightclubs and Bars

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 19 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 maintain a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.

Here’s a handful of fantastic bars and nightclubs in Canberra. All promise an excellent night out.

Mooseheads Pub and Nightclub

Mooseheads Pub and Nightclub is enormous – spread across four floors, you will surely find a party atmosphere that ticks all your boxes. The Basement, Nightclub, Top Level, and Pub all have their own bar deliver a top quality service and delicious drinks. So whether you are out for a good dance, a good feed and drink or two, or a catch-up, give Mooseheads a try.

Mr Wolf

This sleek, hip nightclub is home to a talented group of resident DJs, each adding their own personality to the night. Complete with a stellar bar, Mr Wolf is a must-try.

Cube

Cube is so much more than a nightclub. As Canberra’s premier gay venue, it’s a home-away-from-home. Complete with ARIA accredited DJs, this vivacious club brings together people from all walks of life with one goal in mind: to have an incredible time. Cube’s décor includes beds, two-way mirrors, mosaics, and more.

Hippo Co

Situated in the heart of Canberra, Hippo Co is a cool, low-lit bar featuring an extensive whiskey and cocktail menu and exposed brick, industrial chic décor. Drop in on a Wednesday for live jazz.

Treehouse

Treehouse is a bar, nightclub, and restaurant positioned in Canberra’s city centre. With live music and a lively calendar of events, Treehouse is the perfect venue for a dance, drink, or chilled night out.

Polit Bar

Hang out with the friendly Canberra locals at Polit Bar. This Canberra staple offers a tasty selection of pizzas and bar nibbles, plus a popular range of favourite drinks. With a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, Polit Bar is the perfect place to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

The Basement Canberra

For more than three decades, The Basement has been one of Canberra’s premier live music venues. Located in Belconnen, this institution brings a wide variety of musical styles and local, national, and international artists to Canberra residents. With a focus on creativity and self-expression, you can enjoy top-quality performances with your favourite drink in hand.

Knightsbridge Penthouse

Looking for a late-night lounge or disco-driven adventure? Explore the classic drinks menu, quirky weekend parties, and relaxed atmosphere of Knightsbridge Penthouse. The team behind ‘Knightly’ are connoisseurs of funk and hip-hop, so this bar is ideal for a good old-fashioned boogie.

Your Favourite Nightclub or Bar in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

What’s your go-to venue in Canberra? Where do you head for a night out with friends, or a quiet drink with your partner? Share your top picks for late-night venues in the comments area below.


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25 Responses to The Best Nightclubs in Canberra
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canberrascout canberrascout 4:04 pm 06 Nov 19

The Basement “Baso,” as the locals call it, is newly discovered for me. Great for live music. Sound in there is really good. They have 5 dollar beers for those omn a budget. Shame the fare to get there can be high for others on the other side of town. https://www.thebasementcanberra.com.au/

Toby Rey Toby Rey 11:47 am 24 Apr 18

I spent 6 years in Canberra to do my Masters degree at ANU. I have fond memories of the cheap 2 dollar a drink days and 5 dollar a jug days from the mid to late 2000s. I can assure you that those days are over (college students may correct me being an ex Johns resident for almost 10 years)

ICBM, Moose, Academy, UNI Bar and North Bar were my favourites while other places like Meche and Cube were popular with my friends. Today ICBM “Icies” is gone, academy has announced it is shutting down (the only real house and trance – nightclub in my opinion) North Bar has shut down and so has Meche. There has been a few openings since in and around Garema place but the Sydney building is now scarily quiet bar for Mooseheads.

fps_grandma fps_grandma 1:58 am 12 Feb 15

Holden Caulfield said :

fps_grandma said :

Then we don’t need large supermarkets like Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Costco or numerous dealerships from different manufacturers and instead we can just embrace local humble corner grocery stores with wooden walls and still use paper bags and only have Ford and Holden dealerships.
You’re surely happy with the latter?

If you think my username relates to a car it’s no surprise you missed the point.

Not at all it’s mere coincidence as the latter options merely emphasise lack of variety.
My point is why question variety if it doesn’t suit you especially if the topic in question may not apply to you?
Did you go to Academy, Meche or ICBM recently?

Evilomlap Evilomlap 5:37 pm 11 Feb 15

Holden Caulfield said :

fps_grandma said :

Then we don’t need large supermarkets like Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Costco or numerous dealerships from different manufacturers and instead we can just embrace local humble corner grocery stores with wooden walls and still use paper bags and only have Ford and Holden dealerships.
You’re surely happy with the latter?

If you think my username relates to a car it’s no surprise you missed the point.

LOL this just made my day. Cheers mate.

Grimm Grimm 2:42 pm 11 Feb 15

Ben_Dover said :

At least you didn’t mention that Nirvana once played here, or Iron Maiden.

What, don’t mention that things more entertaining than watching a guy check his email happened?

Would be nice if there was still a decent live music scene in Canberra, and big names still turned up.

missjb missjb 12:49 pm 11 Feb 15

Ben_Dover said :

farnarkler said :

Ben you’ve misunderstood me. I mean house party as in a party at someone’s house.

LOL!! 🙂 Yes, I know, I was having a giraffe.

Come on folks, name one Canberra “nightclub” which would hold it’s own anywhere else? name one “biog name” DJ who has played Canberra in the last 12 months?

Nope, thought not.

In the last 12 months I’ve seen Timmy Trumpet, SAFIA, Havana Brown, Will Sparks, Joel Fletcher & Tiger Lilly….. All at Academy, mind you. It might be nice to have different options on where to go – but the big names are defintely coming.

Funky1 Funky1 12:37 pm 11 Feb 15

Ben_Dover said :

Ezy said :

Oh sorry – my mistake, I thought you asked for big name DJs. Instead you are after those guys who hide behind macs and tweak nobs with finger flair to disguise the fact that they really aren’t doing much at all apart from increasing the treble here, reducing bass there. But these shows do come with all the lazers to try and take everyones attention away from what nonsense is going on behind that mac.

De gustibus non est disputandum, no? It matetrs not whetehr you like or admire what the current “big names” in the DJ culture do or do not do, or produce or personify. The fact of the matter is that they do not come to Canberra, which is the point being made.

Ezy said :

Hey, have you ever noticed that guy from Foo Fighters looks like the drummer from Nirvana? Crazy huh!

Nah, he looks a lot older than that guy.

Wasn’t Will Sparks (currently one of the biggest Aussie DJs) here a month or two ago?

And Guetta, Tiesto, Afrojax, et al have been to Canberra a number of times (mostly as part of music festivals mind you) but we aren’t totally forgotten.

Oh and what ever happened to that fresh young Nirvana group? They had so much promise!!

Ben_Dover Ben_Dover 11:07 am 11 Feb 15

Ezy said :

Oh sorry – my mistake, I thought you asked for big name DJs. Instead you are after those guys who hide behind macs and tweak nobs with finger flair to disguise the fact that they really aren’t doing much at all apart from increasing the treble here, reducing bass there. But these shows do come with all the lazers to try and take everyones attention away from what nonsense is going on behind that mac.

De gustibus non est disputandum, no? It matetrs not whetehr you like or admire what the current “big names” in the DJ culture do or do not do, or produce or personify. The fact of the matter is that they do not come to Canberra, which is the point being made.

Ezy said :

Hey, have you ever noticed that guy from Foo Fighters looks like the drummer from Nirvana? Crazy huh!

Nah, he looks a lot older than that guy.

Ezy Ezy 10:47 am 11 Feb 15

Ben_Dover said :

Ezy said :

Coming up in March… DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist!

Oh wow, a fine example of what I was saying, thanks for that!

DJ Shadow was big in 2004, (you know, 11 years ago,) since then, not so much.

At least you didn’t mention that Nirvana once played here, or Iron Maiden.

Ben_Dover said :

Ezy said :

Coming up in March… DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist!

Oh wow, a fine example of what I was saying, thanks for that!

DJ Shadow was big in 2004, (you know, 11 years ago,) since then, not so much.

At least you didn’t mention that Nirvana once played here, or Iron Maiden.

Oh sorry – my mistake, I thought you asked for big name DJs. Instead you are after those guys who hide behind macs and tweak nobs with finger flair to disguise the fact that they really aren’t doing much at all apart from increasing the treble here, reducing bass there. But these shows do come with all the lazers to try and take everyones attention away from what nonsense is going on behind that mac.

Hey, have you ever noticed that guy from Foo Fighters looks like the drummer from Nirvana? Crazy huh!

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 10:28 am 11 Feb 15

fps_grandma said :

Then we don’t need large supermarkets like Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Costco or numerous dealerships from different manufacturers and instead we can just embrace local humble corner grocery stores with wooden walls and still use paper bags and only have Ford and Holden dealerships.
You’re surely happy with the latter?

If you think my username relates to a car it’s no surprise you missed the point.

Ben_Dover Ben_Dover 9:59 am 11 Feb 15

Ezy said :

Coming up in March… DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist!

Oh wow, a fine example of what I was saying, thanks for that!

DJ Shadow was big in 2004, (you know, 11 years ago,) since then, not so much.

At least you didn’t mention that Nirvana once played here, or Iron Maiden.

Ezy Ezy 9:03 am 11 Feb 15

Ben_Dover said :

farnarkler said :

Ben you’ve misunderstood me. I mean house party as in a party at someone’s house.

LOL!! 🙂 Yes, I know, I was having a giraffe.

Come on folks, name one Canberra “nightclub” which would hold it’s own anywhere else? name one “biog name” DJ who has played Canberra in the last 12 months?

Nope, thought not.

Coming up in March… DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist!

Ben_Dover Ben_Dover 8:47 am 11 Feb 15

farnarkler said :

Ben you’ve misunderstood me. I mean house party as in a party at someone’s house.

LOL!! 🙂 Yes, I know, I was having a giraffe.

Come on folks, name one Canberra “nightclub” which would hold it’s own anywhere else? name one “biog name” DJ who has played Canberra in the last 12 months?

Nope, thought not.

fps_grandma fps_grandma 11:20 pm 10 Feb 15

Bennop said :

Can’t wait for this one to start (opens popcorn).

Mind you, if lack of nightclubs is a good enough reason to want to/leave Canberra, then you must be a pretty shallow person anyways.

*ducks*

Then you must be equally judgemental? Isn’t this why the world is full of segregation and hatred?
If the corn in your theoretical popcorn was cheap because it was harvested by poorly treated farmers wouldn’t you be the shallow one?

Evilomlap said :

I think the last thing Canberra needs is more nightclubs. But then again I don’t go to nightclubs anymore so I don’t really care either way. I think the problem with Canberra restaurants and bars given our population is that when a new one pops up, it’s the place to be until the novelty wears off, then it either establishes itself or stagnates until another one takes its place. The problem I’ve found personally with ‘things to do’ like the ones you have mentioned Floriade, Enlighten etc is that year after year they are basically the same so once I have been once I’m rarely inclined to go again.

An issue I have always had with Canberra’s night life is this – nothing but the nightclubs and 24 hour servos stays open after around 10pm. In cities like Melbourne or Sydney, which are far larger and have worse crime rates, I’ve never felt unsafe walking around the inner city even after midnight. That’s because there are still normal people walking around having coffee, late dinners, seeing movies, whatever. I have often felt unsafe walking around Canberra’s inner city late at night because seemingly the only people left walking around at that time are the morons who are too drunk to get into the nightclubs. Walking a date to her car in Melbourne we had a relaxing stroll and nice chat, as oblivious to other people as they were to us. Walking a date to her car in Canberra I have had to shield her from abuse, cop abuse myself from the steroid brigade who measure masculinity by bicep circumference, steer her around puddles of vomit and shake my head at the huge difference between Garema place during the day, and what it becomes after dark.

Canberra has a lot of diversity and a lot of things to do, until about 10pm, then your options become far more limited.

If nightclubs are not your thing why continue commenting about it?
First you talk about the worse crime rates in Melbourne then you immediately worry about the testosterone-overloaded neanderthals roaming Civic who are up to no good which isn’t a problem in Melbourne now?

JimboJones said :

Clubs are for singles. Once you’ve got a partner, night clubs are the most unappealing thing known to man. I agree that Canberra nightlife for the under 24’s is pretty poor but suits me just fine. I’m happy to go to a bar with mates. The presence of nightclubs usually results in late night fights and vomit on the streets the following morning. They also seem to make areas a lot shittier don’t you think? Think of areas in Sydney/Melbourne where the good clubs are – They’re usually a dump. Would you want to live in an apartment that was next to or very close to a popular night club? I’m no prude but I definitely wouldn’t. Most people would agree. In short, Canberra nightlife is crap for clubbers, its great for bar-hoppers though. I fall in to the latter group and think the lack of clubs is one of Canberra’s selling points.

What if you’re a straight or gay single person or couple who just wants to have fun at the Cube?

If fights outside nightclubs are a problem then perhaps you may consider living at one of the numerous outback towns instead such as Lightning Ridge which has bars rather than nightclubs?
Surely visting Queanbeyan in the evening won’t be an issue?

Holden Caulfield said :

I agree that Canberra doesn’t have a lot of choices when it comes to nightlife. But the reason for that is clear and mentioned by the OP; we’re a small city!

Canberra will never be able to match Melbourne and Sydney in this regard, so why complain about this all the time?

For the blow-ins who come and go as soon as they can, there must be something that attracted them to Canberra in the first place.

To answer the question posed in the title; no Canberra doesn’t lack nightlife venues. It may lack a variety of quality venues, but that can be explained by the simple fact we don’t have the population to support a huge number of options.

Rather than bemoan that a city of less than half a million cannot compete with cities with five or six times that population why not embrace the good things about Canberra and enjoy life?

It’s kind of boring to whinge about how Canberra sucks all the time. Much more boring than Canberra is alleged to be, that’s for sure!

Then we don’t need large supermarkets like Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Costco or numerous dealerships from different manufacturers and instead we can just embrace local humble corner grocery stores with wooden walls and still use paper bags and only have Ford and Holden dealerships.
You’re surely happy with the latter?

Ryoma said :

I think the problem here comes down to expectations and the way people deal with change.

I came here some years ago as a graduate, but also as someone already in a relationship. Therefore, I wasn’t looking to go out clubbing as a way to meet people, but more as something to do occasionally.
By contrast, some of the other (yes, admittedly younger) graduates would head back to other places on every long weekend – and this was particularly true of those from Sydney. I really enjoy going to Sydney myself. It’s a great city, and, as noted, it’s a big city, with a lot more diversity on all sorts of measures. The same goes for Melbourne, many of our other capital cities, and more overseas.

However, if you are able to go out each weekend, and head for a different club, etc, then for a long time, you don’t need to face up to the idea that you are responsible for your own choices in life; and this includes learning more about who you are when left to your own devices.

In essence, moving here means taking the good with the bad. For those people who were forever headed somewhere else, not surprisingly, Canberra remained/s a clique-y, isolating place. It was hard to make friends, etc, etc, perhaps because it required the commitment to stay here and to get past the awkward stage. Putting down roots takes time, effort, a willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone, and maybe also to get involved. It’s a shift that moves from “the world is here to entertain me” to “how do I work with what we’ve got, and maybe work with others to do something cool”?

And don’t get me wrong – some people are already able to do that, and if they still decide that Canberra is not their scene, then that’s by all means fair enough. But expecting Canberra to be able to offer the same scale of things as Sydney or other much bigger cities do, across the board, is somewhere between unrealistic at best and wildly deluded at worst.

While adding hundreds of venues of the same type is indeed excessive the problem is that venues of a particular type which in this case is nightclubs are being subtracted away i.e. Meche and ICBM.

girl_about_town said :

Its unclear if you are commenting on nightlife in regards to nightclubs or things to do once the sun goes down. The nightclub scene was strong in Canberra in the 1990s and early 2000s but times and trends change. On most nights of the week there is live music at a number of different places in Canberra, theatre, workshops, trivia nights, fundraisers, movies and fantastic resturants.
Potentially a change in attitude may be the solution to the problem? Ever ventured to Transit Bar, ANU for gig, Smiths, Edgars Inn for the footy on a friday night, Kremlin bar for some yummy vodka cocktails, PJ Oriellys in Tuggers for Guinness and a game of pool, Suburban in Dickson for a meal and some people watching, Comedy Gig at the Irish Club in Weston/City Pub…………………………I could go on

You can be married to one and only one person in your lifetime or be married to multiple partners at the same or different time either with or without any of their partners’ permission.
Everyone has different attitudes in life.

farnarkler farnarkler 6:42 pm 06 Feb 15

Ben you’ve misunderstood me. I mean house party as in a party at someone’s house.

girl_about_town girl_about_town 2:34 pm 06 Feb 15

Its unclear if you are commenting on nightlife in regards to nightclubs or things to do once the sun goes down. The nightclub scene was strong in Canberra in the 1990s and early 2000s but times and trends change. On most nights of the week there is live music at a number of different places in Canberra, theatre, workshops, trivia nights, fundraisers, movies and fantastic resturants.
Potentially a change in attitude may be the solution to the problem? Ever ventured to Transit Bar, ANU for gig, Smiths, Edgars Inn for the footy on a friday night, Kremlin bar for some yummy vodka cocktails, PJ Oriellys in Tuggers for Guinness and a game of pool, Suburban in Dickson for a meal and some people watching, Comedy Gig at the Irish Club in Weston/City Pub…………………………I could go on

Ben_Dover Ben_Dover 11:48 am 06 Feb 15

farnarkler said :

You would be surprised how big the 30s-40s house party scene is here.

House is so 1990’s though, I still enjoy a bit of uplifting house, even in my 50’s.

You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of true clubs in Canberra, and on the fingers of one foot the decent ones.

In the city in the UK I used to go clubbing, which is smaller than Canberra, there were a dozen clubs, each with their own specialty, with one catering to the “over 30 yr old” clubbing scene exclusively. Clubs would compete to get big name DJ’s in, when was the last time a major new DJ played Canberra?

farnarkler farnarkler 9:33 pm 05 Feb 15

If you’re over 35 then Canberra does lack decent venues. There are a lot of generation x people in Canberra who I think would like a nice place to party without having to put up with youngsters. You would be surprised how big the 30s-40s house party scene is here.

tooltime tooltime 7:51 pm 05 Feb 15

Bravo Ryoma, bravo…

Ryoma Ryoma 3:25 pm 05 Feb 15

I think the problem here comes down to expectations and the way people deal with change.

I came here some years ago as a graduate, but also as someone already in a relationship. Therefore, I wasn’t looking to go out clubbing as a way to meet people, but more as something to do occasionally.
By contrast, some of the other (yes, admittedly younger) graduates would head back to other places on every long weekend – and this was particularly true of those from Sydney. I really enjoy going to Sydney myself. It’s a great city, and, as noted, it’s a big city, with a lot more diversity on all sorts of measures. The same goes for Melbourne, many of our other capital cities, and more overseas.

However, if you are able to go out each weekend, and head for a different club, etc, then for a long time, you don’t need to face up to the idea that you are responsible for your own choices in life; and this includes learning more about who you are when left to your own devices.

In essence, moving here means taking the good with the bad. For those people who were forever headed somewhere else, not surprisingly, Canberra remained/s a clique-y, isolating place. It was hard to make friends, etc, etc, perhaps because it required the commitment to stay here and to get past the awkward stage. Putting down roots takes time, effort, a willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone, and maybe also to get involved. It’s a shift that moves from “the world is here to entertain me” to “how do I work with what we’ve got, and maybe work with others to do something cool”?

And don’t get me wrong – some people are already able to do that, and if they still decide that Canberra is not their scene, then that’s by all means fair enough. But expecting Canberra to be able to offer the same scale of things as Sydney or other much bigger cities do, across the board, is somewhere between unrealistic at best and wildly deluded at worst.

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