Canberra may seem like a serious business district on the surface – but don’t be fooled. At night it comes alive with the sounds of local and international musicians playing at the abundance of venues and festivals.
As an international student living in Canberra, not only is attending live performances a fun night out, it’s a wonderful way to support the city’s local music and arts scene and an opportunity to meet like-minded people in the crowd.
If you’re looking for something fun to do in Canberra this weekend, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the city’s best music venues and festivals.
Music Venues in Canberra
Transit Bar – Buzzing bar serving one of the most diverse selections of music both live and on turntables from Blues to Drum’n’Bass. Regular Karaoke night means you can sing your heart out on the Transit stage.
sideway – One of the trendiest hotspots in Canberra, sideway is an intimate bar showcasing local sounds, exciting wines, seasonal cocktails, local beers, and a custom sound system.
Smiths Alternative – Cafe, bar, performing arts venue and art gallery, as well as a seedbed for revolutionary thought hosting local and touring music, theatre, cabaret and burlesque.
Cube – Canberra’s premier LGBTIQ nightclub featuring regular drag shows, guest DJs and event nights. Not just a night club Cube regulars are proud of the strong community that they have created.
Hippo Co – One of the most luxurious and often decadent bars hosting the best Jazz musicians from Australia and around the world.
Mooseheads Pub and Nightclub – The dance floor is never empty and the atmosphere is always fun with a mix of Dance, RnB and chart-topping sounds playing.
Music Festivals in Canberra
National Multicultural Festival – Eat, drink and dance your way around the world. Celebrate differences and share traditions with live music, comedy, performance art, food and wine stalls, street parties and more.
Enlighten – Free entertainment over 10 days including talented street artists and international musical acts – all set against a backdrop of stunning architectural projections that shine a light on some of Australia’s most iconic attractions.
Queanbeyan Multicultural Festival – Vibrant, diverse and energetic’ wonderfully describe one of the most loved events on the local calendar. International performers wow the crowds, while the delicious street food will bring delight to any hungry tummy.
Canberra International Music Festival – One of Australia’s finest art music programs including Chamber, Classical, Jazz, Contemporary and World music.
National Folk Festival – Over 200 acts representing diverse styles such as acoustic, blues, roots, bluegrass, world, Celtic, traditional, gypsy and country in a program including music, dance, spoken word, film, circus and traditional crafts.
Groovin’ the Moo – Canberra hosts Groovin’ the Moo with two outdoor stages, a big top tent, bands and performers from across the world, and honest country hospitality.
Granite Town – Not officially in the ACT but worth the road trip, this ‘Funky Little Festival’ features a diverse spread of musical talent for your listening, grooving and moving pleasure. Don’t miss the magical night of Riverlights – a glowing display of community-built, giant, illuminated floating sculptures.
Dragon Dreaming – Another one just outside of Canberra, this 3-day lakeside Psytrance and Electronic music festival are well worth travelling the 100 km just for the experience alone.
Spilt Milk – The best in artisan street food and drink, cutting-edge music and experimental art and culture. Spilt Milk is a summer’s day event, taking place within the tree-lined landscape of the iconic Commonwealth Park.