28 December 2023

Things to do in Canberra this week (29 December - 4 January)

| Claire Sams
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waitress holding a tray of drinks

New Year’s is this week, so have a cocktail or mocktail to celebrate making it to the end of another year! Photos: Zen Photography.

Whether this year was good or bad for you, this is your chance to welcome in 2024 with a night of fun. Dance the last few hours of 2023 away to tunes from the 1990s and early 2000s at a party in Belconnen, see Leyla Bar transformed into a place of mystery during a Masquerade Party, visit a winery for food and drink in stunning surrounds, or party above the rest in the QT Lounge. But if you’re after an earlier bedtime, you can catch the annual fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin at the family-friendly time of 9 pm.

This coming week will also give you chances to check out the Mabo v Queensland (No. 2): 30th Anniversary and Focus: Australian Government Photographers exhibitions – both of which are on into 2024. Meanwhile, a storytime at the National Portrait Gallery offers a chance for kids to learn about the world around them, and tennis fans will flock to Lyneham for the Workday Canberra International 2024.

Multiple days

The Mabo v Queensland (No. 2)

Take a look at an exhibition on a major court case in Australia’s history. Photo: National Library of Australia.

Mabo v Queensland (No. 2): 30th Anniversary

When: Daily until 30 April 2024, 9 am to 5 pm
Where: National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Canberra
Cost: Free entry.

The Mabo v Queensland (No. 2) decision was handed down in the High Court of Australia on 3 June 1992. The decision was no ordinary court ruling – it recognised rights of Indigenous Australians to their traditional lands. The National Library has opened its doors to some of collection of documents and other materials a relating to the Mabo decision and Eddie Koiki Mabo – its lead applicant – chosen by Gail Mabo, Eddie’s daughter.

Indigenous people are advised that this display contains material that may be culturally sensitive, including depictions of people who have passed away.

A woman showing a book to two small children

Looking for something to keep the kids occupied during summer? This is one to check out. Photo: National Portrait Gallery Facebook.

Summer Story Time – Father Sky Mother Earth

When: 4 January and 17 January, 10:30 am to 12 pm (both dates) or 1:30 pm to 3 pm (17 January only)
Where: National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Cost: Tickets cost $7 per child and can be purchased via the Portrait Gallery website.

Father Sky Mother Earth was published in 1981, but a new generation will have a chance to hear poet and author’s Oodgeroo Noonuccal iconic story. Following the reading, they will be able to show off their creativity with some activities inspired by the story. All materials will be provided, and the session is intended for children aged four to 10 years.

A poster for the event

Come along for a boogie to 90s and early 00s music. Photo: The Basement Canberra Oxtix.

NO SCRUBS: 90s + Early 00s NYE Party

When: 31 December, doors open at 7 pm
Where: The Basement, 2 Cohen Street, Belconnen
Cost: Second release tickets cost $24.90 and are available via Oztix.

We might be about to finish 2023, but that’s no reason to forget the songs that topped the charts in the 1990s and 2000s! In fact, this New Year’s Eve party will be putting them front and centre as you to dance the night away, with the playlist to include Backstreet Boys, Destiny’s Child, t.A.T.u, blink-182, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Jennifer Lopez and lots more.

A poster for the event

The Australian Open isn’t the only tennis event fans can head along to this summer – Canberra has a competition of its very own. Photo: Tennis ACT Facebook.

Workday Canberra International 2024

When: 31 December 2023 to 6 January 2024, various times
Where: Canberra Tennis Centre, 1 Riggall Place, Lyneham
Cost: Tickets vary in price and are available via Eventbrite.

A combined ATP Challenger 125 and WTA 125 tournament is coming to Canberra, with the women’s draw featuring six of the world’s Top 100 players and the men’s draw headlined by a former World Number Seven – alongside plenty of up-and-coming players – there will be no shortage of players to watch. The 130 players will go head-to-head the an increased US$320,000 prize pool – who do you think will come out on top?

Leyla Bar NYE 2023

Welcome 2024 in with style at this party. Photo: Leyla Bar.

NYE Masquerade Party at Leyla Bar

When: 31 December, 7:30 pm to 12:30 pm
Where: Leyla Bar, Burbury Hotel (rooftop), 1 Burbury Close, Barton
Cost: Tickets cost $200 per person (and booking fee) and are available via Eventbrite.

It’s not often a party tells you to hide your face, but that’s a masquerade party for you. In this one, take the elevator at Burbury Hotel to rooftop bar with views across Canberra and celebrate the arrival of 2024 in style. The ticket cost covers a five-hour food and drink package, a complimentary mask and an ice luge. There will also be prizes for best dressed (so put some thought into your party gear) and a DJ playing until midnight.


A flyer for the event

Just outside Canberra, food, wine, music and a barbecue awaits! Photo: Contentious Character Winery Facebook.

Contentious NYE 2023

When: 31 December, 5:30 pm to 12 am (Garden Party BBQ) or 6:30 pm to 12 am (degustation)
Where: Contentious Character Winery, 810 Norton Road, Wamboin
Cost: Tickets cost from $45 to $205 per person and can be purchased via the winery’s website.

This year, Contentious Character Winery will have two different parties on during the same night. A Garden Party BBQ will start at 5:30 pm, with attendees to receive a glass of rosé or a mocktail on their arrival. The barbecue will operate from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm and the bar open between 5:30 pm and midnight. The winery will only accept cashless payment for food and drinks. For things looking for something more formal, a sit-down four-course degustation with alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks will start an hour later. Which option will you choose?

Woman in front of wall of photos

Emily Catt is the curator of the exhibition – and she had to choose 200 images from a collection of millions. Photo: National Archives of Australia.

Focus: Australian Government Photographers

When: open daily until 10 June 2024 (closed Christmas Day), 9 am to 5 pm (Monday to Friday) or 10 am to 4 pm (Saturday to Sunday)
Where: National Archives of Australia, Kings Avenue, Parkes
Cost: Free entry.

Between 1939 and 1997, dozens of photographers set out across the country to capture Australia on film. But they weren’t normal photographers – they were public servants working for the Department of Information, the Australian News and Information Bureau and the Australian Information Service. Curator Emily Catt has chosen 200 of their photographs to explore what Australia was like at the time, as well as to highlight the people who were behind the camera.


QT Canberra NYE party.

Head up to Level 15 and party with a view out over Canberra. Photo: QT Canberra

Sky High New Year’s Eve in the QT Lounge

When: 31 December, 8:30 pm to 12:30 am
Where: QT Lounge, Level 15, QT Canberra, 1 London Circuit, Canberra
Cost: Tickets cost $234.26 and are available via Eventbrite.

This 18+ event will give you the chance to welcome in 2024 with style and glamour in the QT Lounge. On arrival, toast to the future with a welcome glass of champagne before tucking into a four-hour beverage and canapés menu from executive chef Michael Box. Once you’ve eaten and drunk your fill, move to the dancefloor and have a boogie!

People looking at fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin

The fireworks in 2022 were fun – do you think this year’s will be better? Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

New Year’s fireworks at Lake Burley Griffin

When: 31 December, from 9 pm
Where: Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra
Cost: Free entry.

Is it even New Year’s Eve without fireworks? The midnight fireworks have been cancelled, but there will be extended fireworks show with a synchronised soundtrack. The public can sit and watch the show at the premium viewing sites at Rond Terrace, Regatta Point and Commonwealth Place. These sites will come with music from local DJs Boom Box 2U from 6 pm, as well as food and drink vendors from 5:30 pm.

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What sort of low rent ‘city’ doesn’t have midnight fireworks? Oh that’s right…

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