Things to do this Summer in Brisbane City

New bars, new craft brews and new markets, Brisbane’s fashion history on show, adventures on and by the water, latin dance nights and park picnics with jazz – 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.

Take me to the river(side beer taps)

We’ve got a new favourite spot to crack bottles and chink glasses with mates and colleagues by the river. Howard Smith Wharves is finally opening up with new craft brewery Felons Brewing Co taking the lead, and the incredibly chic octagonal, over-water bar with amazing seafood Mr Percival's following closely behind. 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.

Easton Pearson Exhibition and workshops

Easton Pearson Exhibition and workshops

Celebrate summer with all things Aussie fashion. National icons Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson themselves worked with the Museum of Brisbane to stitch together this incredible microscopic look at their bold designs. The much-loved pair highlighted the brand’s greatest innovations, complete with fascinating details about techniques, collaborations and the ups and downs of the fashion design process. Unmissable.

Eat your way through the Brisbane City Markets

Jan Power Farmer Markets, Image Jared Vethaak

Every Wednesday the country comes to the city when one of Brisbane’s best farmers’ markets pops up in Brisbane Square from 8am-6pm. 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.

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

With all these fancy new hotels popping up around Brisbane, it seems unfair to let the tourists have all the fun. Why not book yourself a night or two at the Westin or the W? Relax in five-star luxury in the city centre and take the chance to explore city corners 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, originally planted by convicts in 1825 with food crops to feed the prison colony. But more 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, John Butler Trio, Lana Del Rey and The Prodigy will all hit the Riverstage between now and the end of February. 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. This summer, we’re truly spoilt for choice with a slew of new venues popping up pretty much everywhere. We’re already mentioned the ultra hot Felons Brewing Co and Mr Percival’s at the new Howard Smith Wharves, but there’s also opulent cocktails at The Boom Boom Room beneath Donna Chang, or big screens and brews at Fat Angel Sports Bar & Grill near Brooklyn Standard.

Dive into pan-Asian flavours

Madame Wu

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. Donna Chang is the city’s hot new upscale Chinese diner, giving pan-Asian favourite Madame Wu some company at the higher end of the market. 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.

Shop the new along Queen Street Mall

QueensPlaza has revealed a new look for its top level with luxury store Dior, and high end designers Scanlan & Theodore, Aje, Camilla and Sass & Bide all opening brand new stores. Across the mall, Brisbane’s first COS has taken over two floors with 474 metres of retail space filled with the Scandinavian brand’s high street modern classics. We hear Saint Laurent will be open mid 2019 too...

Relive your childhood, live

Keep the little ones out of mischief these school holidays with the hilarious sequel to kids’ favourite The Gruffalo. Catch the show live on stage at the Gardens Theatre QUT, showing from January 3-13.

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 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. Keep an eye out for the in-pool screening of movie classic Pulp Fiction.

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 this summer at Event Cinemas Brisbane City Myer Centre or The Elizabeth Picture Theatre. Find out why everyone is raving about A Star is Born, check out the latest exploration of the Harry Potter Universe or cuddle up to your loved one to watch J.Lo. 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 in the guise of Christian Patey, Daddy Loops, Fishlane and heaps more. 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. Just catch a CityCat, anywhere. 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 and you can even indulge in a drink or two before 8pm, so long as you’re indulging in a picnic.

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