30 things to do this summer in Brisbane

We don't mean to brag, but we're giving this summer a 10 out of 10. If you don't make it to Australia's subtropical capital this season, you'll miss out on the biggest blockbuster of summer events yet, great weather and even better vibes.

Cool down with a splash in one of Brisbane's natural waterholes, celebrate 10 years with GOMA or take the family on a mini island escape. Read on to discover our 30 best summer ideas, and share your photos with us using #brisbaneanyday.

1. GOMA turns 10 | 3 December 2016 - 17 April 2017


Artwork: Olafur Eliasson - The cubic structural evolution project. Photograph: Natasha Harth

Help the people of Brisbane celebrate one of Australia's favourite galleries reaching a milestone 10 years. The Gallery of Modern Art is marking the occasion with an epic summer of events. All exhibitions are free – our pick of them is Sugar Spin, a showcase of contemporary large-scale works from the collection including the giant metal slide that drops from the third floor. Yes!

2. American Idiot: The Musical | 23 February - 5 March

Making its Australian premiere in Brisbane, the award-winning American Idiot: The Musical will be showing at QPAC's Playhouse. Telling the story of three boyhood friends searching for meaning in a post 9/11 world, this blockbuster show features the music of Green Day and will showcase an all-Australian cast. 

3. GOMA Summer Festival | 18 - 22 January

GOMA

As part of the GOMA Turns 10 Celebrations, the GOMA Summer Festival will be celebrating with five full days of workshops, talks, performances, films and tours. The William Jolly Bridge is set to be lit up nightly with work by Brisbane's very own Sandra Selig. Don't miss out on the spectacular final performance of Nick Cave's Brisbane Heard. 

4. Tick off all 63 items on Brisbane's ultimate food bucket list

Looking for a food challenge to last you the summer? Try eating your way through all of the city's iconic dishes. Venues around town can't take these items off the menu without public uproar – and for good reason.

5. Shopping in the City

Shopping on Queen Street Mall

Brisbane City is home to more than 1000 stores, with Queen Street Mall host to about 700. Yes, that does sound daunting but fear not, as we have your comprehensive guide to shopping Queen Street Mall. Check out big international brands UniqloH&M, Forever 21 and Zara, shop luxury boutiques on Edward St and inside QueensPlaza, and hunt out boutique finds inside the Brisbane Arcade and Showroom. Find parking deals from $5 here.

6. Brisbane Global Rugby Tens | 11-12 February

Queensland Reds

Listen up. The second-biggest gathering of elite rugby players behind only the Rugby World Cup, the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens will be two days of rugby heaven from 11-12 February. Israel Dagg, Berrick Barnes, Jerome Kaino, Damien McKenzie – the list goes on. Here's 10 reasons you need to get to the event.

7. Plan your camping adventure near Brisbane 

Now is the time to plan your camping adventure in Brisbane. Surrounded by stunning displays of natural beauty, the Greater Brisbane region is home to national parks, beaches and lakes worth pitching a tent at. Read our top 10 camping picks here.

8. Supercell: Festival of Contemporary Dance Brisbane | 20-25 February

Supercell

Supercell's exhilarating program of local and international artists, performances, workshops and conversations will be held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. The festival invites everyone - from professional dancers to the dance enthusiast - to participate in the event.

9.  MELT 2017 | 25 January - 5 February

Bursting with pride, humanity, humour and rebellion, Melt 2017 will explode at Brisbane Powerhouse in an unbridled celebration. The queer arts and culture festival line-up includes an exciting and eclectic mix of actora, rock star singers, dancers, photographers, illustrators, comedians and circus artists from across the globe.

10. Check out the new bars you'll be drinking at this summer

Tomcat is opening in a secret location, Chignon is joining favourite Brooklyn Standard down Eagle Lane, Newstead Brewing is opening in Milton and two other mammoth beer halls (Beer Deluxe and Munich Brauhaus) will keep your thirst in check this summer. 

11. Pick a sport and check it out live: summer sports guide

Like Ben Cutting charging down the pitch to axe a full toss for six, another Brisbane summer has stormed in fast and that means more live sport than you can poke a stick at. Check out our guide to what’s on, nab your tickets early and get ready – Brisbane’s summer of sport is going to be a ripper.

12. Don't sweat it – keep cool with ice-cream, gelato or frosé 

Alfred & Constance

No way frosé! What is it, you ask? Why it's the drink of summer – frozen rosé. Delicious and alcoholic, Alfred & Constance has it on tap for your enjoyment, so does Darling & Co. If you prefer your icy treats sans alcohol, read our guide to the best ice-cream and gelato spots around the city.

13. Do something left of field and try one of these 28 things you didn't know you could do in Brisbane

Island Gondola Bribie Island

Think you’ve ticked it all off your list? Think again. We’re pretty confident we could bet that you haven’t done everything on this list – helicopter pub crawls, night kayaking on an island, buying ALL the cheese, visiting the drive-ins, trying hip hop yoga ...

14. The Queensland Firebirds are ready to go | 18 and 25 February 2017

Queensland Firebirds

The Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds are back with a bang this summer. Following the Firebirds’ back-to-back premiership win in 2016, more games will be taken to the 10,000 capacity Brisbane Entertainment Centre. The move will allow more supporters than ever before to experience the thrill of the Firebirds nest, ensuring your night at the netball will be brighter, louder and more exciting than ever in 2017. The season kicks off in February running through to May. 

15. Take a day trip out to the regions

Venture onto your doorstep to discover a world alive with natural beauty, quality organic foods and rural gems. From the islands offshore to the serenity of the hinterland – explore new places within an hour of Brisbane.

16. Chase waterfalls, lakes and waterholes 

Family have fun at Brown Lake

Explore cascading waterfalls, expansive lakes and trickling waterholes near Brisbane. It's the ultimate fun day out.

17. Matilda | 2 December 2016 - 12 February 2017

The multi-award-winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the genius of Roald Dahl, is here this summer. With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

18. Keep the kids entertained with these 40 family ideas

TreeTop Challenge

Looking for ideas to entertain the kids for an hour or a weekend or the whole school holidays? We've got you covered with things to do on hot days, rainy days, quiet days or adventure days with children.

19. Take a mini break on an island 

Escape the city and head for one of the islands where wide, golden sandy beaches and refreshing aquatic waters to swim in come standard. Read more about Moreton Island, and North Stradbroke Island.

20. Hadron Collider | 9 December 2016 - 25 April 2017

Step inside the world's greatest experiment – the renowned Large Hadron Collider Exhibition from London's Science Museum is coming to Brisbane this summer. Celebrating the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the award-winning exhibit recreates the work of 10,000 people from across the globe.

21. Take drinking sky-high at Brisbane's best rooftop bars

Next Hotel

Soak up the sunshine and raise your glasses to drinking sky-high at our picks of the best rooftop bars in Brisbane.

22. Go for a scenic drive – we’ve found 23 for you

Take the road less travelled and explore the hidden pockets of nature and history surrounding Brisbane on one of the many scenic drives in the region.

23. Explore local parks and connect with wildlife

Calamvale District Park

Plan a barbecue, relax by the river or entertain the kids at one of Brisbane’s best local parks. Whether you’ve got children to entertain or are a child at heart yourself, discover Brisbane’s wide range of wildlife parks, zoos and animal farms.

24. Explore Brisbane's art galleries

Uncover Brisbane's burgeoning art scene in one of our many thriving innovative spaces throughout the city, local precincts and the Brisbane Region.

25. Dive into the city at 100% Brisbane | Until 2018

The Museum of Brisbane has pulled back the layers of our city, going beneath the surface of high rises and the jacaranda trees to discover the very real heart of Brisbane’s story. You. Me. And everyone in between. In a landmark exhibition, people from all walks of life, beliefs and backgrounds have been found. No two of us are the same, but when we connect we form a city, a community. Together we are Brisbane.

26. Eating local: Brisbane's paddock-to-plate experience

Pethers head chef Obie Faulkner

If you love to experience a city via your plate – Brisbane is the place to unfold your napkin. Brisbane's restaurants, bars and cafes go above and beyond to ensure where possible that its dishes and drinks come from within the local region.

27. The Sleeping Beauty by Australian Ballet | 24 February - 4 March 2017

Be swept into a world of fairies and bluebirds, nymphs and roses - an enchanting fairytale ballet with opulent sets and costumes by Gabriela Tylesova. Following a critically acclaimed world premiere and sell-out seasons, David McAllister’s spectacular production of The Sleeping Beauty will premiere in Brisbane in 2017.

28. Keep visitors entertained or play tourist in your own town

With an influx of friends and family visiting over summer, be the best host you can be with this handy guide to entertaining new visitors or to get ones who have overstayed their welcome out of the house. No one in town? You don't need an excuse to play tourist in Brisbane get out and about exploring the city's best.

29. Hike through our national parks

Bushwalkers

From heritage-listed rainforests to sand islands and bushland – discover a new national park to horse-ride, fish, bushwalk or cycle around Brisbane this summer.

30. Brisbane Comedy Festival | 26 February - 28 March

The line-up for this year's Brisbane Comedy Festival is so good that side-splitting laughter will be the order of the day every day for 30 days. Among the 66 comedians performing, artists such as Stephen K Amos, Rove, Paul Foot, Tom Gleeson and Hannah Gadsby will be taking over The Powerhouse and spilling into Brisbane City Hall for the 2017 festival.

Don’t forget to share your summer moments with us using #brisbaneanyday

Sign up to the Visit Brisbane eNews for more great ideas.