9 March 2023

Things to do in Canberra this week (10 - 16 March)

| Travis Radford
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Horses racing

Canberra Racing Carnival will host five continuous days of racing events this March. Photo: File.

The Enlighten Festival will soon have some competition, with the Canberra Comedy Festival coming to town on 16 March (if you can’t wait until then, Welsh comedian Rob Brydon is performing in Canberra on Saturday, 11 March).

But before then, Enlighten is keeping pace in its second weekend with bumper-to-bumper Pride-themed celebrations, flowing into a Canberra Day party with a headlining performance by SAFIA.

Canberra Racing Carnival and a new Culture Cruise are also worthy contenders for eyeballs.

Throw into the mix a new portraiture installation, a chance to buy a treasure for a good cause, an exclusive dinner at Parliament and a show paying homage to a classic Australian car and Region readers have a scheduling challenge on their hands.

Thursday to Monday

Three women standing in front of a wall of roses with a Thoroughbred Park sign hanging above their heads

The 50th Anniversary of John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes Day will be among the 2023 racing carnival’s events. Photo: Liv Cameron.

Canberra Racing Carnival 2023

When: Thursday 9 March to Monday 13 March, various times
Where: Canberra, various locations
Cost: Various prices; book here.

Full of fashion and racing, the carnival’s headline Sunday event is the 50th anniversary of John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes Race Day. Monday is family day, featuring Hartley Hall Markets, Kids Fashions on the Field and more.

READ ALSO Saddle up for five days of festivities as Canberra Racing Carnival marks milestone


Portrait23: Identity banner.

Portrait23: Identity is showing at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 March to 18 June 2023. Image: National Portrait Gallery.

Portrait23: Identity

When: Friday 10 March to Sunday 18 June 2023, 10 am to 5 pm, daily tours from 11:15 am to 11:45 am
Where: National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Cost: Free; book tours here.

A major exhibition of new work from 23 contemporary Australian artists and collectives promises to challenge the boundaries of portraiture. The theme is identity, with deeply personal installations, videos and animations from artists about who they are and what it means to represent themselves, their communities, histories and contemporary society.

Parliament House in Canberra

The exclusive dinner will be hosted in the Members and Guests Dining Room at Parliament House. Photo: James Coleman.

Parliament House Degustation Dinner

When: Friday 10 March, from 6 pm
Where: Parliament House, Parliament Drive, Canberra
Cost: $179.50 to $230.50; book here.

Enjoy an exclusive dining experience at a venue rarely open to the public, Parliament’s Members and Guests Dining Room. The evening will begin on the terrace with a glass of sparkling wine and views of Enlighten. Parliament House executive chef David Learmonth will then prepare a six-course meal showcasing Australian producers, ending with his signature dessert.

All weekend

ACT Seasonal Antiques and Collectables Fair banner image showing event details and pictures old old fob watches and jewellery

ACT Seasonal Antiques and Collectable Fair. Image: Threesides Marketing.

ACT Seasonal Antiques and Collectable Fair

When: Friday 10 March 6 pm to 9 pm (welcome cocktail party), Saturday 11 March 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday 12 March 10 am to 4 pm.
Where: Albert Hall, 100 Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla
Cost: Adults $10, concession $8, children (under 14 years) free; book here.

Canberrans are invited to buy a treasure for a good cause this weekend. The Rotary Club of Murrumbidgee’s quarterly fair will feature a blend of art, jewellery, pottery, furniture, linen, glassware and books from 30 local and interstate dealers. There will also be a food stall on-site. Money raised will go to The Early Morning Centre, Australian Rotary Health and MyHome in Canberra.

Torana Nationals 2023

When: Friday 10 to Sunday 12 March, various times
Where: Main event at Viking Park, 4 Amsinck Street, Wanniassa
Cost: Free for spectators, $60 to enter; book here.

This model car show is all about the Holden Torana. Spectators and owners are invited to connect over their shared interest in the classic car. The main event will run from 9 am to 2 pm on Sunday and is open to spectators. Paid entrants are invited to a meet and greet on Friday, and a cruise and social dinner gathering on Saturday. The event will support the Canberra Hospital Foundation in honour of club stalwart Paul Harrison, who lost his long battle with cancer in 2021.

Parliament House lit up for Enlighten

This year’s Enlighten Festival will feature a dedicated Pride weekend. Photo: File.

Pride Weekend @ Enlighten Festival

When: Friday 10 March to Sunday 12 March, various times
Where: Various locations; see full program here
Cost: Free.

Enlighten Festival will celebrate LGBTIQA+ pride and diversity in its second weekend. Highlights include Lights! Canberra! Action! on Friday, a pride-themed short film festival; Saturday’s FreshOut Fair Day, with performing artists, market stalls and a showcase of local food and wine; and Sunday’s performance by the Canberra Symphony Orchestra with the award-winning band, Electric Fields. Iconic Canberra buildings will also be lit up with pride-themed illuminations over the weekend.


A woman in a dress standing in the doorway of a boat, looking out towards the open water

The cruise on Lake Burley Griffin will run for one day only. Photo: Gupi De Zavalia.

Culture Cruise

When: Saturday 11 March, Saturday 18 March, Saturday 25 March, 10:30 am – 3:00 pm
Where: National Museum Wharf, Lawson Crescent, Acton
Cost: $201.30 to $209; book here.

Award-winning dance company Australian Dance Party is presenting a new way to experience Canberra’s cultural offering. Guests will spend a half day walking and cruising around Canberra, taking in visual art, architecture, live dance, music, theatrical tour guides and local food and wine. Stop-overs include The National Portrait Gallery and The National Museum of Australia.

Rob Brydon holding a microphone on stage

Comedian Rob Brydon returns to Australia after his 2019 sold-out tour. Photo: Canberra Theatre Centre.

Rob Brydon – A Night of Songs and Laughter

When: Saturday 11 March, from 8 pm
Where: Canberra Theatre, Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra
Cost: $81.80 to $102.30; book here.

Rob Brydon will be accompanied by an eight-piece band in his new show featuring songs and music from Tom Waits to Tom Jones and Guys and Dolls to Elvis. “I’m so excited to be heading back to Australia and getting back on stage with this new show. Touring with this incredible band of musicians is such a delight,” Rob said. Audiences can also expect his gallery of voices and comedy.


Photograph of three members of SAFIA on blue background.

Canberra’s own world-conquering electro heroes SAFIA will be headlining the Canberra Day celebrations. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra Day @ Enlighten Festival

When: Monday 13 March, performances from 12 pm to 7 pm
Where: Commonwealth Park, Commonwealth Avenue, Canberra
Cost: Free; no booking required.

Celebrate the city’s birthday with a day of fun with the family, ending with a headlining performance by SAFIA at 7 pm. Other performances by local artists include RMC rock band, Rob Aspinall, Archie, Lucy Sugerman, Sam Sly and Muesli. Also, expect a showcase of local multicultural community activities, roving entertainment from Clockwork Circus and food and drink.

READ ALSO Riotact Gig Guide (8 – 14 March)


Canberra Comedy Festival graphic featuring clouds and trees in the background

Canberra Comedy Festival will include 15 locally produced acts. Image: Canberra Comedy Festival.

Canberra Comedy Festival

When: Thursday 16 March to Sunday 26 March, various times
Where: Canberra, various locations; see full program here
Cost: Various prices; book here.

The Canberra Comedy Festival returns this year to bring together comedians from Canberra, Australia and around the world. The opening night program on Thursday will include Trevor Dickinson, Class Clowns, Jeffrey Charles and Suma Iyer and Chris Marlton. Other acts featuring later in the month include Wil Anderson, Geraldine Hickey, Stephen K Amos, Josie Long and Chris Ryan.

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