30 things to do this winter in Brisbane

The closest Brisbane gets to freezing point is the ice in our drinks – so raise ‘em high and celebrate crisp, clear days of winter sunshine, our all-seasons event line-up and the joys of wearing a jacket for those three weeks it is possible.

In the depths of winter, Brisbane’s overnight temperature might dip below 10 degrees, so pack your walking shoes as being outdoors is always on the agenda.

Read on to discover 30 ideas for things you can do, places to visit and where to eat in Brisbane this winter.

1. Go on a hike somewhere within 30km of the city

Sunrise at Mt Coot-tha

Finally the weather is cooler so you won’t work up too much of a serious sweat while trekking these paths. Put your walking shoes on and hit the road – you’ll be surprised by how many bush walking and hiking trails fall within a 30-minute drive of the city.

2. Taste the Sunshine State at Regional Flavours presented by The Courier Mail

Regional Flavours River Quay

Putting the best Queensland has to offer on a plate, Regional Flavours is a free food and wine festival held in South Bank each year. Over two days from 21-22 July you can taste, sip, listen and learn about the food we eat, meet the makers and celebrity chefs, and sample treats.

3. Explore the country’s hottest art

As the weather cools, Australia’s largest modern art gallery turns red hot. Patricia Piccinini’s weird and wonderful creatures fill the gallery until 5 August, giving you all winter to explore and reflect on the deeper meaning. And from 13 July the outside of GOMA will come alive with a permanent light installation by artist James Turrell to celebrate the 10th birthday of the gallery.

4. Live it up with live jazz, blues and soul music

Press Club

Forget the cover band playing Wonderwall at your local pub, pass on the soundscape artist at the nearest gallery space, and don’t bother with underground indie band – it’s time to get your groove on and put those jazz hands to good use.

5. Go whale watching from June to October

Whale

Get up close and personal with majestic humpback whales as they pass by the South East Queensland coast to the warm, tropical waters of Queensland. Brisbane Whale Watching and Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruises offer tours in Moreton Bay Marine Park and guarantee a sighting.

6. Go on a hunt for local produce in the Scenic Rim 

Scenic Rim Eat Local Week is back until July 8. From long table lunches, to country markets, to hands-on classes and producer meetings – this is a chance to get back in touch with the food you eat and the people who make it. Between events, follow this self-guided producer trail through the Scenic Rim area. The fruitful region is filled with lakes, mountains, rich soil and large plains. Stacks of food producers are harvesting and growing everything from pecans and beetroot, to sheep cheese, free-range eggs and olive oil. Don’t miss the signature event – the Winter Harvest Festival – on Saturday 7 July.

7. Chase cosy fireplaces

Mate, what’s better than kicking back when the temps drop beside a log fire with a glass of shiraz and your favourite people? There’s a few options. Make a weekend of it with a romantic stay on Tamborine Mountain at Pethers or gather some friends and set up camp at Lake Moogerah Caravan Park. There are plenty of fire pits and the lakeside location is pure bliss.

10. Find a cosy winter bar to hide in

Greaser

‘Tis the season to layer on your winter woollies (a.k.a that one light jacket you own) and seek refuge from the elements in a dimly lit and enclosed watering hole or basement hideaway. Make the time to sneak off and put away a couple of heavy reds or shots of whisky in these bars.

8. Explore our convict past

What was life like as a convict in 1824? Unrelentingly harsh. The Museum of Brisbane’s newest exhibition, Life In Irons, explores the Moreton Bay penal colony with vivid insights into daily life until 28 October. Original documents, personal accounts, historical objects and contemporary art retell the stories of the 3000 men and women imprisoned here, and the changed lives of the Aboriginal peoples.

While at the museum, be sure to also check out Bristopia - a playful exhibition that invites you to contribute your voice to the Brisbane future conversation.

11. Support your favourite sporting teams 

State of Origin

Winter is when footy fever takes over Brisbane. Get your fix of rugby league, union and AFL with a heap of games from local and international favourites. State of Origin will be turning mate against mate with Game III at Suncorp Stadium on 11 July. 

The hottest tickets for rugby fans are to the historic match between the Wallabies and Ireland in Brisbane on June 9. The Wallabies haven't lost a game to the Irish on home soil since 1979 and are determined to keep it that way.

12. Discover the foodie offering at Fish Lane

Brisbane’s coolest laneway just keeps getting better. Drop in to La Lune Wine Bar, or pop by the ever-adventurous Gauge for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Julius Pizzeria for quick, high-quality Italian cuisine, Maker for incredible bespoke cocktails, Saccharomyces Beer Cafe for arcade games and craft beer, Hello Please for Vietnamese bites and Wandering Cooks for its weekly food truck event. Discover Brisbane's other laneways here.

9. Watch Brisbane ice over

Team USA and Team Canada return to Brisbane for the Ice Hockey Classic on 7 July. Hockey stars, veterans and emerging talent will take to the ice at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre for one night of North American sporting prowess. 

If hockey isn’t your thing, maybe playing in fresh snow is. Snow4Kids Festival is back at South Bank Piazza for two weeks of frosty fun. Slide down Toboggan Hill, make a snowman and master throwing snowballs in this winter wonderland from 30 June to 15 July.

13. Oodles of noodle markets

The ever-popular Night Noodle Markets return to South Bank this July for a nightly mid-winter food feast. The sights, smells and sounds of more than 20 Asian food stalls including Hoy Pinoy, Black Star Pastry, Poklol, Bao Brothers and much more will warm the city from 25 July to 5 August. The event is part of the Brisbane Times Good Food Month

14. All aboard the Seadeck

Seadeck

Back for another season, board the gorgeous Seadeck boat to join the party everyone’s talking about. This luxe European vessel holds more than 400 people, making for a huge atmosphere onboard. Cruise up and down the Brisbane River with a champagne in hand and DJ on the decks and watch the sun sets behind the CBD until July 1. 

18. Dive into a warming bowl of cocoa

Bitter or sweet, classic cocoa or fancy coverture – resisting the urge to drink hot chocolate in the cooler months is tough, especially if it has been spiked. Rather than waste calories on disappointing warm cacao, we’ve tested and tasted our way through to present the best in this list.

15. Shop 'til you drop

Wintergarden

Queen Street Mall is the heart of shopping in Queensland. Stroll down the open-air mall dropping into big-name brands Zara, H&M and Uniqlo; luxury brands Paspaley, Louis Vuitton and Chanel; and shopping centres QueensPlaza, The Myer Centre and Wintergarden to find boutique stores. Read our complete guide to the mall here, and find a $5 parking deal here

16. Place those bets at the Brisbane Racing Carnival

Annnnnnndddd they’re off! The Channel Seven Brisbane Racing Carnival is back again to make racing history once more. Feel the thrill at Doomben Racecourse with seven heart-stopping Group 1 races, get among the ritzy glamour of Fashions on the Field, and rub shoulders with Australia’s glitterati. Ladies’ Oaks Day is 26 May and Stradbroke Day is 9 June.

17. Because you’re beautiful

Don’t miss the chance to catch Beautiful: The Carole King Musical live on stage at QPAC from 13 July to 19 August. Featuring hit songs from one of the great songwriting eras, including Natural Woman, I Feel The Earth Move, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, You’ve Got A Friend, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, and Locomotion, Beautiful tells the inspirational true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise from teenage songwriter to global superstar. 

19. Embrace a spot of history 

Abbey Museum

Looking for a knight you won't forget? The weekend of 14-16 July will see Abbey Medieval Festival present a carnival of performers, craftsmen and jousting. Don't miss the annual medieval spectacular – dressing up is encouraged.

20. Pick-your-own berries

The Berry Patch at Chambers Flat will let you pick your own strawberries each season starting around June and finishing in November each year. Check its Facebook page to find out more.

21. Watch this smash-hit book come to life on stage

The winner of five Tony Awards and seven Olivier Awards, including Best Play, Best Director and Best Design, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is coming to Brisbane. Based on Mark Haddon’s internationally best-selling novel, this smash hit will follow the life of 15-year-old Christopher Boone at QPAC from 12-24 June.

22. Escape to Brisbane's backyard

Spicers Hidden Vale

Relax by a log fire in a heritage homestead with a glass of red and your favourite person. Lead a llama around 85 acres of bushland. Walk along a seemingly endless island beach and dive into the refreshing ocean. You can do all this and more with a weekend away at an iconic stay not too far from Brisbane.

23. Lick a strawberry sundae at the Ekka

Enjoying a delicious Strawberry ice-cream

Strawberry sundaes debuted at the Royal Queensland Show in 1950 and have been a firm favourite since. Annually, Brisbane eats through 10 tonnes of strawberries, 1800 litres of cream and 18,000 litres of ice-cream at the Ekka. Tick off this city must-do, drink tins of XXXX with cowboys, get tickets for an amusement ride, buy up big in showbag alley and watch prized stock parade around the arena from 10-19 August.

24. Start training for a race

The Bridge to Brisbane on 28 August has a reinvigorated course that covers 10km, and the big Brisbane Marathon Festival on 5 August has it all with a full 42.2km marathon, 21.1km half marathon, and a 10km, 5km and 2.2km kids run.

25. Eat along the street

Eat Street Northshore is a feast in every sense – the sights, smells, tastes and sounds come to life in this container food village every Friday and Saturday night from 4-10pm, and Sunday from 11am-7pm.

26. Drink in an igloo at Customs House

The terrace at Customs House has been taken over with a pop-up Absolute vodka igloo bar. Sit on fur rugs inside the geometric dome and sip specially made cocktails with heart-warming food. Cheers to the view!

27. Spot fish and turtles without getting wet

Australian Sunset Safaris

Winter is here. Yes, 24 degree days, endless sunshine and short shorts for days. Some would call it an English summer! Head over to Moreton Island with Australian Sunset Safaris. They have a fleet of clear kayaks that allow you paddle over the old Tangalooma Wrecks, spotting fish, turtles and marine life below without getting wet. Go one better and stay overnight – paddling out again by night.  

28. Let’s go fly a kite!

Redcliffe KiteFest

Yes, the colour and fun of Redcliffe KiteFest is back on the bay this August. Head to Pelican Park in Clontarf on 25-26 August for a weekend of family fun, kite flying, music, roving performers and more.

29. Turn the heat up on your food

Image credit: @benjaminroach
Image credit: @benjaminroach

Winter weather makes us think of hot curries, spicy soups and mouth-blazing sauce. Hardcore heat seekers, you’re in luck – we’ve done the research to give you our list of the spiciest dishes in Brisbane that will get you hot under the collar and reaching for tissues. Go one better and attend the first Briz Chilli Fest on 10 June.

30. Watch the Ipswich SuperSprint

Nicknamed "The Paperclip" due to its six-turn design and lack of elevation, Queensland Raceway is a thrilling track to watch V8 supercars sprint around the course. Grab your tickets now to take a seat trackside at the Ipswich V8 SuperSprint competition from 20-22 July.