Summer in the capital is all about outdoor concerts, open-air cinema, night tours of blockbuster exhibitions and sport: cricket and tennis. If none of those appeal, the Thredbo Blues Festival runs from Friday till the early hours of Monday too.
Celestial Empire: Life in China, 1644-1911
Where: Exhibition Gallery, Ground Floor, National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Canberra; When: 10am-5pm daily (and till 8pm Thursdays) until May 22, 2016; Tickets: Free but timed in hourly slots, so bookings are recommended
The National Library’s summer blockbuster study of 300 years of Chinese culture and tradition opened its doors on January 2 and continues for the next four months. A joint event with the National Library of China, it offers a glimpse at the world of China’s last imperial dynasty through maps, books and prints. Visitors will see exquisite objects from the National Library of China and drawings and plans for Beijing’s iconic palaces from the Yangshi Lei Archives, listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2007.
Thredbo Blues Festival
Where: Thredbo Alpine Hotel and other venues in the mountain resort; When: 6pm Friday till 2am Monday; Tickets: From $50 for an evening ticket to $150 for a weekend pass. Under-18s are half price and children under 14 are free
OK, so it’s not in Canberra, but plenty of us will be heading up there for it. The Thredbo Blues Festival is into its 22nd year, and features 25 top Australian blues acts including Andy Just and the Third Degree, Russell Morris, Gail Page and the Fiona Boyes Band in its 2016 line-up. In a new direction, there will also be a cabaret, The Pearl Show – The Janis Joplin Story, featuring Liza Ohlback. If you like your blues with a view and plenty of good food and wine, Thredbo is calling.
The Canberra ATP Challenger
Where: Canberra Tennis Centre, Riggall Place, Lyneham; When: From 11am on Friday and 1pm Saturday; Tickets: Free, seating is under cover and on a first come, first served basis.
International men’s tennis comes to Canberra in the lead-up to the Australian Open. See top class players here as part of the Pro Tour compete for the $US75,000 in prize money and world rankings. Head out on Friday to catch the singles semi-final and doubles final and on Saturday for the singles final.
Make your own summer tile
Where: Canberra Glassworks, 11 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston; When: 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 12.00pm until Sunday 24 January (excluding Monday 18 January)
The Glassworks curators are encouraging you to make art in the heat of summer. They ask, what does summer mean to you? And if you could make a tile that represented that, what would it look like? In just twenty minutes, guided by a professional artist, you’ll answer those questions. Walk away with your own piece of art; all materials included in the price. Bookings are essential.
ANZAC Parade Twilight Walking Tours
Where: Meeting at the Australian War Memorial, Parade Ground – at the base of the stairs in front of the Stone of Remembrance; When: Friday and Saturday evenings until 30 January from 6pm.
Discover the significance and symbolism of the ANZAC Parade Memorials on a volunteer-led walking tour. Make sure you register so you don’t miss out on your spot.
Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinema Canberra
Where: Patrick White Lawns, Parkes Place West (in front of the National Library of Australia), Parkes; When: various dates, from 5:30pm; Tickets: From $19 online and $24 at the gate ($15/$20 concessions)
With music by day and movies by night, you won’t want to miss the Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinema setting up beside Lake Burley Griffin for a limited time. Music is performed by local emerging artists and bands, while the blockbusters of 2015 light up the screen from dusk. Best of all, every Sunday is the Sundae Session where everyone scores a free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Catch Spectre on Friday, Frozen Sing-a-Long on Saturday or, at the first Sundae Session, the final instalment of The Hunger Games, Mockingjay (Part 2).
2016 Summer Sounds Concert Series
Where: Eucalypt Lawn, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross Street, Acton; When: 5.30pm-7.30pm Saturday and Sunday for the next four weeks; Tickets: $5 for adults, children under 12 free
As the gardens transform under the twilight sky, enjoy the dusk with music, gourmet food and a cool glass of wine. This weekend, the Botanic Gardens welcome Amber Nichols (The Voice) and Micky Sulit on Saturday and Lulu Swing a Manouche with Monica Moore on Sunday. The Summer Sounds Concert Series runs over the next four summer weekends, with the Justine Clarke gig on February 6 likely to be hugely popular.
Delicious afterDARK Tour
Where: Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross St, Canberra City; When: Friday 7pm (15 & 29 Jan, 12 Feb, 4 & 11 Mar)
The ‘adults only’ evenings combine three things Canberra is well-known for: its food, its wine and its bush-scape. After indulging in delicious food complemented with fine wine, let one of the Botanic Garden rangers lead you through the contrasts of the cool rainforest and the stark red centre. This evening is not suitable for those under 18 years, and bookings are essential as it is a ticketed event.
Once Upon a Time in China screening
Where: Theatre, Lower Ground, National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Canberra; When: 2pm-4.30pm; Tickets: Free
This Hong Kong martial arts film stars deconstructs the life of Qing dynasty folk hero Wong Fei Hung (1847-1924). It’s the first of three Once Upon A Time films featuring Jet Li as an acrobatic, proud, but romantically innocent incarnation of the great master. Set in late 19th century Canton, the film depicts the stance taken by its hero against the plundering of China by English, French and American forces.
Fridays in summer at the Portrait Gallery
Where: King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra, ACT 2600; When: 5pm-8pm Fridays all summer; Tickets: Free, no bookings required though exhibition tickets are $10 ($8 for concessions/friends)
The National Portrait Gallery will be open until 8pm every Friday until 26 February. There will have special tours through their spooky summer exhibition, Sideshow Alley: infamy, the macabre and the portrait and a variety of performances throughout the summer. This week, take the Sex, murder and mayhem tour from 6.30 – 7pm (you will need an exhibition ticket), check out Arrhythmia, a collaborative work by local artist Hannah Quinlivan in which art, sound and the human body combine (6pm-7pm) and chill as Hope Street perform from 5pm-6pm and from 6.30-7.15pm.
Supper Club and Encounters night tour at the National Museum
Where: National Museum of Australia, Acton ACT; When: 6.30pm; Tickets: $105 per person from eventbrite.com.au
Enjoy a two-course dinner of shared plates matched with local wines and an after-hours tour of the Encounters exhibition at the National Museum this Saturday or on February 12, February 19 or March 5. Encounters features rare, early Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum plus new objects from the Indigenous communities represented in the exhibition.
Australian Youth Orchestra concerts
Where: Llewellyn Hall, ANU School of Music, Childers Street, Acton; When: 4.30pm and 8pm; Tickets: Free
The nation’s best young musicians are in town for the Australian Youth Orchestra’s National Music Camp this week, and their orchestral concerts are both on Saturday. Together with artists-in-residence James Crabb and Genevieve Lacey, they will perform works by Adams, Vine and Beethoven at 4.30pm and CPE Bach, Walton, Kats Chernin, Stravinsky and Schoenberg at 8pm.
Sunday Film Screening Series
Where: Australian War Memorial, Treloar Street, Campbell; When: 1.30pm (17, 24, and 31 January, 7 and 14 February)
As in past summer holidays, the Australian War Memorial is hosting Sunday film sessions. In 2016, the films will explore the roles and experiences of women during wartime. For some films, it will be a rare opportunity to see them on the big screen. This Sunday kicks off the season with the true story of four Indigenous women who worked as performers during the Vietnam War — The Sapphires won 12 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts awards after it was released in 2012. Get in early; this event is not ticketed.
Paint it Up
Where: The Pancake Parlour, 122 Alinga Street, Canberra City; When: 7pm-9pm; Tickets: $68.92
Ever dreamt of being a painter, but didn’t know where to start? Come along to Paint it Up, where you will be guided through the creation of your own masterpiece. No need to bring anything, all materials are included in the ticket price. Would you like pancakes with that? Sorted.
Under-18 Women’s National Cricket Championships
Where: Sunday at 10am and 2.15pm; When: Kingston Oval, ANU North Oval, Canberra Grammar School, Stirling Oval
Check out the future stars of women’s cricket as teams from around the country vie for the national under-18s title on an oval near you. The ACT/NSW Country team plays Victoria on Sunday morning and South Australia on Sunday afternoon, with both matches at Kingston Oval. The competition runs until January 19, when the finals will be held at Kippax and Harrison.
Then book your ticket to see the Australian women’s cricket team take on India in a one-day international at Manuka Oval from 2.20pm on February 2.
Oh, and that other national cricket team, the one with the blokes in it, they’re in town for a likely sellout match at Manuka this Wednesday.
Are you going to something that we haven’t mentioned? Make sure you let us know about it in the comments.