Things to do this Summer in Brisbane City - Visit Brisbane

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Things to do this Summer in Brisbane City

New foodie laneway, endless Christmas events, Brisbane’s music history making noise, adventures on and by the water, latin dance nights and park picnics – there’s a lot happening in Brisbane City this summer that you don’t want to miss.

Plan a date night with your beloved, shoot this article to a bestie and plan a catch up, or venture on a summer solo date with yourself.

'Tis the season to be jolly

From a Christmas story animation projected on City Hall, through to a nightly Christmas parade with Santa himself – Brisbane City is brimming with festive spirit and there are so many ways to get involved. The Lord Mayor's Christmas Carols is at the Riverstage on December 7, The Brisbane City Christmas Parade is marching down the mall from 13-22 December, the Gold Lotto City Hall Lights will project from 6-24 December, and the Lighting of St Stephen's Cathedral projections will appear nightly from 11-24 December. Find out more about these events and more on our Christmas homepage.

Take me to the river(side beer taps)

We’ve got a few favourite spots to crack bottles and chink glasses with mates and colleagues by the river. Howard Smith Wharves finally opened last summer, and since then has added even more bars and diners to the line up. Drop into craft brewery Felons Brewing Co for beers on the lawns, the chic over-water seafood bar Mr Percival's for oysters and a spritz, or head to Fiume for rooftop cocktails by the infinity pool atop the Art Series Fantauzzo hotel. And the views back to the city? Priceless. 

Party on the street with Latin Friday Nights

You know you want to check out the place that was pumping Despacito long before we even knew it existed. Every Friday night, Latin beats and dancing feet take over Reddacliff Place where a passionate crowd of visitors and locals shake their hips with frankly astonishing style and grace. If it’s your first time, you won’t want to miss the 8pm dance lesson. The DJ plays fun, fresh and modern Latin music that the young at heart will love.

Listen to Brisbane at High Rotation

Celebrate Brisbane's music scene and identity with the Museum of Brisbane's latest exhibition. With highlights from the past 30 years, discover the Brisbane bands and musicians that shot to national and international fame. Bop down memory lane with this backstage pass to discover the city's music history with film clips, photographs, instruments, autographs, souvenirs and more.

Plan a Christmas feast with friends

Christmas means many things to many people, but here’s the truth: Christmas is about food. From cinnamon-sprinkled drinks with colleagues, to festive feasts with friends – Christmas is the time to gather around the table to reconnect, share and – most importantly – eat. We've written a guide to help you plan the ultimate feast.

Eat your way through the Brisbane City Markets

Jan Power Farmer Markets, Image Jared Vethaak

Every Wednesday and Thursday the country comes to the city when one of Brisbane’s best farmers’ markets pops up. You’ll find pasta, cheese, jam, meat and seafood for dinner, not to mention the unmissable food stalls. Fresh juices, tasty falafel and unbeatable lamb and mushrooms are just the start. On Wednesday find the market in Brisbane Square from 8am-6pm, and on Thursdays find it in Cathedral Square from 8am-2.30pm.

Treat yo’self to a staycation at Westin or W Hotel

Brisbane City recently explored with new five-star hotels and it seems unfair to let the tourists have all the fun. Why not book yourself a night or two at the Westin, the W or The Fantauzzo? Relax in luxury in the city centre and take the chance to explore city corners you might not be so familiar with. Alternatively, just make the most of air-conditioned bliss, combined with Brisbane’s first swim-up bar at the Westin or taste-test long-awaited Sydney eatery Three Blue Duck's at The W Brisbane.

Let’s get, botanical, botanical

The Gardens Club

The Brisbane City Botanic Gardens is our oldest park. It was originally planted by convicts in 1825 with food crops to feed the prison colony. But most importantly it’s a beautiful, relaxed spot to take the kids, a loved one or mates for a picnic right in the city’s heart. Ancient trees, rainforest glades and exotic species are everywhere amid the Gardens Point greenery. The enclave runs the length of Alice St, right next to Queensland University of Technology and includes The Gardens Club restaurant, the much-loved Riverstage and a rotunda for smaller events. Don’t forget the Riverside Gardens Markets held each Sunday from 8am-3pm.

Hot fun in the summertime

A huge summer of gigs is coming to the river city as Aussie favourites, huge international acts and hilarious comedians get sweaty on stage. Paul Kelly, Ziggy Alberts, Fatboy Slim, and Billy Idol will all hit the Riverstage between now and the end of January. If you’re after something a little more intimate, Brooklyn Standard has live and often raucous music six nights a week while Doo-Bop Jazz Bar is on Edward St and the Brisbane Jazz Club is a short ferry ride across the river.

Raising the bar

There must be some connection between hot days (and just as hot nights) of summer and a growing desire for a nice, cool drink. In the City we’re truly spoilt for choice with a slew of new and old venues perfect for a cooling cocktail, craft beer or icy wine. For opulent cocktails drop into The Boom Boom Room beneath Donna Chang, slip down Burnett Lane for Alba Deli or Death & Taxes, catch it on the big screen at Fat Angel Sports Bar & Grill near Brooklyn Standard, or try Rico for drinks by the water at Eagle Street Pier.

Tee off the festive fun

Sink balls, drink beers and compete against mates or colleagues at the new Holey Moley. Let your competitive side loose and putt your way to victory at Australia's craziest and most unique mini golf course. The themed putt putt just opened nine holes and a karaoke room inside the Wintergarden centre.

Dive into pan-Asian flavours

Dim sum, ramen, pho, sushi, Moreton Bay Bug-stuffed dumplings. Honestly, if you’re still reading and not rushing out the door right now you have more self control than us. The CBD is home to some frankly incredible examples of cooking from all over Asia. The newest spots to open in the City are Jumbo Thai for (surprise) Thai food, Yoko for a modern Japanese izakaya, Brisbane Phoenix for yum cha and the FudoDori laneway, which is home to most noodles than you can poke a stick at. Then there's favourites like Donna Chang, the city’s upscale Chinese diner, and pan-Asian favourite Madame Wu. Eagle Street Pier mainstay Sake is not to be missed for absolute Japanese indulgence while older, simpler favourites like Taro’s Ramen and Izakaya Kotobuki will fill you up for less than $30.

Light up your life

Fairy lights in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens

Brisbane is filled with fairies, don’t you know? From beer to botanic gardens and a whole bunch of places in between, enchanting fairy lights are spreading over the city seemingly night by night. Bar OTTO and Stock Exchange Hotel are both decked out with the pretty illumination and the magical garden next to the Goodwill Bridge isn’t too be missed. Take a snap and share it with #brisbanecity.

Christmas shop along Queen Street Mall

Queen Street Mall is Brisbane's unmissable open-air shopping mall. Along the pedestrian street find more than 700 stores. Head to QueensPlaza to shop high end and luxury designers such as Chanel, Dior, Scanlan & Theodore, Aje, Camilla and Sass & Bide. Discover what else is along the mall with this comprehensive guide or use our Christmas gift guide to find something perfect for your loved ones.

Take kids to the theatre

Keep the little ones out of mischief these school holidays by taking them to a show at the QUT Theatre. Based on the best-selling novel by David Walliams, The Midnight Gang will hit the stage from December 12-21. On stage from 13-22 December is another live show for kids – Room on the Broom, a play based on the award-winning picture book by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler.

Dig deep into Brisbane’s most interesting secrets

Brisbane Greeters explore St John's Cathedral

The city is always full of surprises. We bet the folks who work on Adelaide Street every day don’t know the stories behind the brass frogs high up on the light poles or the possums in the trees. You’d never noticed either of them, had you? Book a free walking greet with a Brisbane Greeter and have them show you and your family the CBD in a whole new light. You can book a general greet, or request a special topic – like street art, architecture or war history – to suit your interests.

See the stars of Hollywood and the Milky Way at the same time

Moonlight Cinema

Don’t get us wrong, we love going to the movies. But on a perfect summer’s night, sometimes you just want to make the most of being in the outside world. That’s where Moonlight Cinema comes in: Different classic and new release movies every night from 14 December right through to the end of March, out in the open in Roma Street Parklands. Enough said.

Cool off at the Spring Hill Baths 

Obviously Brisbane is the best city in Australia, but in the middle of summer, it can get a little… hot (yes, we’ll admit it). That’s probably why the Spring Hill Baths have been around since 1886. The heritage-listed complex was Brisbane’s first in-ground swimming pool and has been helping residents and visitors cool off ever since. Plus, because it’s more than 130 years old, it looks a cute as a button.

Carols in the Reservoir

Spring Hill Reservoir Brisbane Open House 2016

This December, night time is the right time to rock the night away in the city’s most famous former water tanks. Six metres underground, 150 years old and reverberating with the sounds of all your favourite carols. Festive cheer will fill the The Spring Hill Reservoir every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon before Christmas. 

Hunt for vintage threads

Suitcase Rummage

What better time for a wardrobe refresh than the start of a new year? Fortunately, the city centre seems to breed new and interesting ways to hunt down pieces you won’t find anywhere else, often for a bargain price. Twice a month, the Suitcase Rummage sells vintage, clothing, bric-a-brac, artwork, books, jewellery, shoes, records, handmade goods and more in Brisbane Square. SWOP fast fashion for classics at the store of the same name, or journey as far back as the 1930s with the range on offer at Arkive Vintage.

Family (or friends) film time

Elizabeth Picture Theatre

Whether it’s a family classic or brand new blockbuster, you can find a great excuse to snack on popcorn in air-conditioned comfort this summer at Event Cinemas Brisbane City Myer Centre or The Elizabeth Picture Theatre. Catch the new Star Wars flick, check out the latest Frozen II movie or cuddle up to your loved one to watch a classic on the big screen. There are even a couple of titles screening in Hindi and Punjabi. 

Great music, live and free

Check out Australia’s largest free live music program, City Sounds, presenting local and touring bands and artists around the CBD. You’ll find alternative, folk, jazz, electro and everything in between. Check out Queen Street Mall, Post Office Square, Reddacliff Place or our website for the latest. 

Go bowling (or basically any other activity) upstairs in the Wintergarden

So you can’t decide between bowling, laser tag, an escape room and karaoke for your next night out. We’ve all been there, right? Well, luckily for the indecisive among us Strike Wintergarden has all four options, as well as pool tables. Entertainment, sorted.

It’s Cat catching time

CityCat ferry

This is one of our favourite tips for visitors, but that doesn’t mean us locals shouldn’t get to indulge occasionally too – especially with the new double decker CityCat now cruising the river. It’s a great way to see the city from a new angle, and check out the dozens of parks scattered along the riverbanks. Or just while away a few hours relaxing with the wind in your hair as you cruise out from the CBD and back.

Walk on water

Eagle St Pier, Brisbane

If exploring the river by foot is more your style, then we have just the elevated pedestrian platform for you. The Brisbane Riverwalk connects the CBD to New Farm, and makes for an epic view of our fair city and its eponymous waterway. With the redevelopment of Howard Smith Wharves now open, there’s never been a better time to stroll on down that direction.

Ride the old lift up City Hall’s clock tower

Museum of Brisbane

Believe it or not, Brisbane City Hall was our tallest building until 1960. It’s been far outstripped by now but still offers a killer view of King George Square and the rest of the CBD. Free tours up the old city hall clock tower run every 15 minutes during opening hours. 

Roam the parkland

Roma Street Parklands

It’s easy to spend all week in the CBD and forget about the massive green space just waiting for you above Roma Street station. Barbecues, picnics and playgrounds abound in Roma Street Parkland. You can even indulge in a drink or two before 8pm, so long as you’re indulging in a picnic.

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