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
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
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. Get ready for Margaret Olley, A Generous Life (15 June - 13 October) which examines the legacy and influence of much-loved Australian artist or check out Quilty (29 June to 13 October), the first survey exhibition in a decade of one of Australia's most acclaimed contemporary artists. With permanent exhibitions such as the International Art Collection, the Indigenous Australian Art Collection and the Australian Art Collection you can fill your entire winter calendar here. GOMA also takes art outdoors with sculptures Tow Row and The World Turns as well as permanent light installation Night Life 2018 by artist James Turrell commissioned to celebrate the 10th birthday of the gallery.
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.
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.
Scenic Rim Eat Local Week is back until July 7. 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 6 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.
‘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.
Can you believe? It’s Melt Festival time! Bursting with pride, humour and rebellion, MELT Festival is an invitation to dive into Brisbane’s wonderfully diverse queer communities. Revel in a week-long festival of naughty cabaret, dance parties, pageants, art, theatre, sequins, wigs and more. Not sure what to see? Check out our top picks.
10. Support your favourite sporting teams
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 1 at Suncorp Stadium on 05 June.
The hottest tickets for rugby fans are to the match between the Qantas Wallabies vs Argentina in Brisbane on July 27. See if the Wallabies can secure a vital home game in the battle for The Rugby Championship.
11. 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.
12. Experience Quandamooka Coast
Take part in the Quandamooka Festival running all winter long throughout the coastal region of East Brisbane. With over 55 events including whale watching, Kunjiels (corroborees), bush tucker dining experiences and more, there is something to suit everyone. Embrace the the perspective and culture of the Quandamooka people and learn about the sand, seas, lakes creeks, catchments and creatures found across the region.
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, just to name a few will warm the city from 24 July to 4 August. The event is part of the Brisbane Times Good Food Month.
14. Movies under the stars
Enjoy mid-week Rom Coms & Nom Noms at the City’s FREE pop-up cinema, plus pop-up bar! The inner-city green space of Post Office Square will be host to a line-up of popular romantic comedies for the month of June.
15. 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.
16. Shop 'til you drop
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.
17. 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. Witness history in the making with the Group 1 TAB Doomben 10,000 Day on the 11 May. At Eagle Farm Raceway it's pinkies up at the Carnival High Tea on the 31 May or be apart of the glitz and glamour of TAB Stradbroke Day on June 9.
18. Discover BAD is actually good
Brisbane Art Design (BAD) exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane is more than good. Running from the 10 May - 11 August it showcases some of the Brisbane best and brightest talent in art and design. Locally and globally renowned experience interactive artworks, sculptures, paintings, street art as part of the Brisbane Street Art Festival and much, much more.
19. Embrace a spot of history
Looking for a knight you won't forget? The weekend of 13-14 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.
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 the Facebook page to find out more.
Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet will be returning to Brisbane with their grandiose epic performance of Spartacus and the three-act ballet Jewels, inspired by the beauty and artistry of the gem stone. From the 26 June you can enjoy this outstanding choreography and storytelling by some of the worlds best ballet dancers.
22. Escape to Brisbane's backyard
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
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 9-18 August. For more epic Ekka adventures check out this guide.
24. Start training for a race
The Bridge to Brisbane on 25 August has a reinvigorated course that covers 10km, and the big McDonald's Brisbane Marathon Festival on 2 June has it all with a full 42.2km marathon, 21.1km half marathon, and a 10km, 5km and 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 a Veuve Clicquot Chalet 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
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!
Yes, the colour and fun of Redcliffe KiteFest is back on the bay this August. Head to Pelican Park in Clontarf on 15 - 16 June for a weekend of family fun, kite flying, music, roving performers and more.
29. Turn the heat up on your food
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 9 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 Supercars Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint competition from 26-28 July.