If you’re planning to study in Canberra, you’ll join a large and vibrant student community; approximately 25 per cent of the population is made up of students – most of whom are on a student budget!
Fortunately, Australia’s capital offers a fun environment for all, including those who don’t have much cash to spare. As you settle into your new home, be sure to check out these free activities in Canberra for a little leisure and entertainment.
Cultural and historical national attractions
Canberra is home to an incredible selection of national attractions, many of which are completely free to visit. The Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia all offer free general admission. Here, you can learn about Australia’s military service and those who have served the nation, discover fascinating artworks, and explore the rich stories of Australia, respectively. A visit to any of these establishments is the perfect way to broaden your horizons without breaking the bank.
There are heaps of free festival shows and events held throughout the year. In April, check out the AusIndia Fair, which celebrates the diversity of Indian arts and culture. Later in the year, make sure to visit the Floriade festival to see incredible flowers, markets, music and more!
Find your inner artist
Canberra has an awesome arts and culture scene – and enjoying it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Smith’s Alternative, a cosy cafė-bar in Civic, is home to old yet comfortable couches and lots of great events. Each Monday evening, a team of local poets puts on a free show, while another free poetry event, BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT!, is held every third Wednesday of the month. If you have a piece to share, sign up for the open mic at the start of each show! Both events are guaranteed to offer up laughter, tears and awesome poetry.
If performance is your passion, it’s worth keeping track of the productions put on by your education provider and local community centres. For instance, the University of Canberra features a Dramatic Arts Club where you can audition for performances or get involved in scriptwriting.
Alternatively, if you’re happy to sit back and watch, theatre productions on campus are generally the cheapest options. Even though they’re amateur performers, they know how to put on a fantastic show!
Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centres create a dynamic environment that provides a space for creatives to collaborate, teach and share. The centres offer a regular rotation of events for all ages and abilities. You can check out their program for a range of free events, such as spoken word workshops, art workshops and more.
Entertainment at your institution and beyond
As a student, you have plenty of affordable and free activities at your fingertips. As an example, the Australian National University (ANU) frequently hosts talks featuring amazing speakers from multiple fields (and many of these events offer free snacks afterwards!). Be inspired by authors, academics and political thinkers whilst engaging with other like-minded individuals.
If you’re feeling energetic, your education provider’s sports facilities will often run free Come and Try Days. These events give you the chance to test out a new sport or fitness program in a friendly environment.
Trivia is also a popular option if you want to test your competitive spirit, win prizes and impress new friends! You can book a table and enjoy free weekly trivia nights at many local pubs across Canberra.
To stay updated on the best free activities in Canberra, sign up for email newsletters from your education provider and local venues. That way, you’ll have fun and affordable ideas delivered directly to your inbox. You can also follow the social media accounts of student associations and local venues to connect with your community, find free activities and events, and settle into your new home.
The great outdoors
Are you on the hunt for some peace and quiet? Are you keen to challenge yourself and take your fitness to the next level? Do you want a beautiful outdoor setting for a picnic with friends? No matter what you’re looking for, Canberra’s great outdoors have you covered!
Black Mountain, Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie are all home to breathtaking summit views. You don’t even need hiking boots – just put on comfortable shoes and start making your way to the summit. Red Hill is another great spot, located in South Canberra. The hill is named for its orange soil and offers incredible views of Telstra Tower, Parliament House and Woden.
Another way to get your blood pumping for free is with a walk or bike ride around Lake Burley Griffin. The beautiful lake acts as the centrepiece of Canberra, offering a sense of tranquillity amid the bustling city atmosphere.