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, get lost in a world of dots 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. Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow | 4 November 2017 -  February 2018

If you don't know her name, you know her work – spots, dots and vibrant repetition are the trademarks of leading contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. This summer an exhibition of work (co-curated with the National Gallery of Singapore) will span seven decades of Kusama's career, taking the audience on a wild and wonderful journey through significant moments with more than 70 works. best of all, it's free.

2. Get to the Gabba| December - January

The Big Bash League only gets bigger and better each year. Cheer on the men and women's Brisbane Heat teams as they take on their southern counterparts at the Gabba and aim to take out the trophy at the end of the season. The crowds are huge, the atmosphere is electric and the cricket is incredibly entertaining.

3.Mamma Mia: The Musical | 26 December 2017 - 4 February 2018

Hitting the Lyric Theatre at QPAC just after Christmas, this global phenomenon will celebrate love, laughter and friendship on stage in Brisbane. Set on a Greek island paradise and inspired by the storytelling magic of ABBA’s classic songs, writer Catherine Johnson’s heart-warming tale tells us of a young bride-to-be, on the eve of her wedding, who wants to discover the identity of her father.

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 | 9 & 10 February

Queensland Reds

Listen up. Rugby fans and over 300 star players will descend on Brisbane for two days of rugby heaven for the Brisbane Global Tens. Featuring all Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby clubs, as well as four elite teams from Pau, Fiji, Samoa and Japan, rugby fans will be treated to a host of activities leading up to and during 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. Woodford Folk Festival | 27 December 2017 - 1 January 2018

In its 32nd year, Woodford Folk Festival will host more than 2000 local, national and international performers over six days and nights. With over 35 performance venues within the village, festival-goers will be inundated with things to do, with the program featuring concerts, dances, street theatre, circus performances and cabarets.

9. 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. 

10.  Brisbane International | 31 December 2017 - 7 January 2018

Brisbane International

A highlight on Brisbane’s summer events calendar, tennis fans will this year have the opportunity to see superstars Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and defending champions Grigor Dimitrov and Karolina Pliskova. Enjoy the matches courtside at Pat Rafter Arena, or chill out on a bean bag in front of the big screen outside in Tennis Central with a wine or beer in hand.

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. 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.

14. 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 ...

15. Mao's Last Dancer The Exhibition: A Portrait of Li Cunxin | 1 December 2017 - 30 April 2018

Born into bitter poverty during the height of Mao’s Communist China, Li Cunxin grew up in a world few of us can imagine. Through the chance of fate, at age 11 he was selected to attend Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy — a rare opportunity to escape his humble, rural existence. Today Li and his wife and children live in Brisbane, where he is artistic director of the Queensland Ballet. This world-first exhibition is an opportunity for audiences to intimately discover both his moving personal narrative and his remarkable artistic achievements.

16. Jump to the left, step to the right at Rocky Horror | from 17 January

Craig McLachlan will return to the stage in his award-winning role at the scandalous Frank N Furter in QPAC's Concert Hall from 17 January. Follow Brad and Janet on their unforgettable night of adventure and sing along when the classics play. Costumes are optional, but highly recommended.

17. Aladdin | 28 February - 3 June 2018

Breathtaking sets, mind-blowing special effects, over 300 lavish costumes and a fabulous cast bring the magic of Disney’s Aladdin to life on stage. You'll be dazzled by the production when this Disney classic hits the stage this February. The performance of You've never had a friend like me will blow you away.

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. Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum | until 28 January 2018

An exclusive exhibition featuring more than 110 original artefacts such as pieces of the Colosseum and authentic weapons and armour preserved in the ashes of Pompeii.

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. See Australia destroy England yet again | 19 January

Img: Getty Images

One Day Internationals don’t get much better than Australia versus England, and fans will have their chance to see the action and be a part of the fun when the two teams face off in the second Gillette One Day International at the Gabba in Brisbane.

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


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. FOMO Festival | 6 January

Created for Brisbane by Brisbanites, FOMO Festival once more returns to Riverstage with an epic lineup of national and international artists. Post Malone, RL Grime, Kaytranada and Zhu are just some of the names performing at this one-day-only event.

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

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