Like most major cities across the globe, Brisbane hosts a variety of annual events that appeal to an international crowd. Just as Tokyo, New York, and Sydney are famed for their New Year’s Eve celebrations, Pamplona is home to the Running of the Bulls, Rio is the birthplace of Carnival, and New Orleans is a Mardi Gras hotspot, Brisbane has its own yearly celebrations that highlight the culture and rich historical heritage present in this thriving Australian metropolis. And if you’re planning an excursion to this eastern city, you might want to set the dates of your trip to coincide with one of the many annual events that occur at different times throughout the year. Here are just a few you should consider adding to your travel itinerary.
Thanks to the large Greek community centred in the southern part of the city, Brisbane plays host to an annual cultural smorgasbord that includes a weekend-long celebration of all things Greek. Participants can sample traditional foods like grilled haloumi, souvlaki, honey puffs, and other classics, and the entertainment options include music, dancing, singing, fireworks, and plenty of activities for family members of all ages. So if you happen to be planning a trip to Brisbane around the middle of May, check the dates for this festival and wander on down to Musgrave Park and The Greek Club for a taste of the flavours of Greece in Australia.
Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival
May and June may signal the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere, but in Brisbane this time of year is marked by temperate winter weather that tends to hover in the 15-20C range. In short, it’s the perfect time to head to the race track, and that’s exactly what savvy locals do during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival. Those in the know often dress to the nines, as fashion plates are on full display (and plenty of well-known personages attend the events). But if you’re simply looking to place a few bets and enjoy the excitement of day at the races, don’t stand on ceremony; just head to the tracks at Eagle Farm and Doomben.
The Royal Queensland Exhibition, or EKKA, could most easily be described to foreigners as a sort of county fair, but that would be like comparing Britain’s crown jewels to a two-bit ring from a Cracker Jack box. It’s like a county fair on steroids. The exhibition is a 10-day affair that takes place at the expansive RNA Showground in Bowen Hills and it features no less than 10,000 animals and 23,000 competitive entries. But visitors will get more than a lungful of livestock when they attend this event; food and entertainment are also provided in abundance thanks to myriad vendors and a slew of carnival rides. You’ll have to visit in August to take advantage of this major event.
September is a busy month in Brisbane thanks to the 3-week long River Festival that begins and ends in a riot of music and lights. The festival kicks off with a laser show that illuminates the city’s central waterway (the Brisbane River), and then there are days upon days of artistic offerings for residents and visitors to explore, including both visual and performing arts. Whether dance, theatre, music, or art installations are more your speed, the many events embodied by this festival will give you innumerable options for entertainment. And it all culminates in Riverfire, a choreographed fireworks display set to music that turns the Brisbane waterway into a seeming river of fire.
Brisbane International Film Festival
It’s starting to seem like every major city (and some fairly minor ones) presents an international film festival. But don’t let that deter you from partaking of the eleven days of cinematic bliss that make up one of the largest film festivals Australia has to offer. As annual events in the city of Brisbane go, this November celebration is one of the most popular.