Once dubbed “Brisvegas” for its love of glitz, Queensland’s capital has great galleries, a buzzing food scene, boutique hotels and a jam-packed calendar of events. Long held as the gateway to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, the city is within easy reach of beaches, islands and national parks. Whether you base yourself in the CBD, laid-back South Bank across the river or trendy Fortitude Valley, there’s plenty to occupy adventurers and pleasure-seekers alike.

As the capital of Australia’s Sunshine State, Brisbane comes into its own during the summer months. Make like the locals and head outdoors – explore fresh-produce markets, meet the wildlife at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or chill out with a craft beer at Felons Brewing Co on Howard Smith Wharves overlooking the city skyline. It can get muggy with daytime temps hovering around 29°C, so packing your cossie is a must. Afternoon storms are also common, offering a reprieve from the humidity.

Winter in Brisbane means mild weather and blue skies – in fact, the city boasts an average of 261 sunny days a year. With highs of 22°C during the day and lows of around 10 in the evening, it’s an ideal time to explore the riverside on foot, see what’s on at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) or stroll James Street, the city’s coolest shopping and foodie hub.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Can Only Do in Brisbane

What’s on in Summer

The Gabba, Brisbane, QLD

Cool off at Streets Beach (a man-made lagoon and stretch of sand on the South Bank), nearby islands or waterfalls and freshwater rock pools within driving distance. Drink in the atmosphere at one of the city’s many alfresco restaurants (Howard Smith Wharves has plenty of crowd-pleasing options) or sip a sundowner at a trendy rooftop bar like Maya or Iris.

Sports fans are well catered for thanks to The Australian PGA and WPGA Championship golf tournaments and the first test of the Ashes at The Gabba, Brisbane’s famous cricket ground.

What’s on in Autumn

Brisbane Street Art, QLD

There’s plenty of vibrant graffiti to spot year-round, but May sees the arrival of the Brisbane Street Art Festival, one of the biggest in Australia. Watch massive murals being painted, pick up some new skills during a masterclass or join an artist-led cycling tour.

Also in May, the Brisbane Writers Festival is a mix of live and digital, free and ticketed events over five days. Expect author panels, First Nations storytelling, spoken word showcases, documentary screenings and more. In need of a good laugh? Brisbane Comedy Festival brings together stand-up, improv and sketch shows, with guests like Dave Hughes and Anne Edmonds.

What’s on in Winter

The Quandamooka Festival, Brisbane, QLD

July is a major month for foodies, with the James Street Food & Wine Trail, four days of culinary events, and the Scenic Rim Winter Harvest Festival, about an hours’ drive from the CBD. Taste plenty of fresh fruit and veg, try a local shiraz and cheer on the much-loved tractor-pulling competition.

Football fans already know what this season brings – rugby league’s State of Origin. Catch the second match of the series at the city’s Suncorp Stadium on June 21.

Ekka – aka The Royal Brisbane Show – kicks off in August with produce and animal exhibitions, competitions and rides for the kids. Don’t skip a nostalgic strawberry sundae, proceeds of which go towards The Common Good, a medical-research initiative of the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation.

Held around Redlands and Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) – a short ferry ride from Brisbane City – the Quandamooka Festival celebrates the continuing culture of the Nughi, Nunukul and Goenpul clans. Events include kunjiel (corroborees), music, art exhibitions, weaving workshops and bush-tucker dining. Can’t make the festival? Join an Indigenous-operated Quandamooka Coast whale-watching tour between June and September to spot yalingbila (whales), buangan (dolphins) and bunbiya (turtles).

What’s on in Spring

Brisbane Festival, QLD

The city’s largest cultural event, Brisbane Festival delivers three weeks of art, dance, music, theatre and more in September every year. Past highlights include world-premiere stage shows (the adaptation of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe was a hit in 2021), neighbourhood live music known as Street Serenades and Sunsuper Riverfire, a huge pyrotechnic show on closing night.

Billing itself as “Australia’s biggest authentic annual German celebration,” Oktoberfest transforms Brisbane Showgrounds into a mini Bavaria every October. Don your lederhosen or dirndl, pick up a pretzel and get set to sample the traditionally brewed beer.

Cinephiles will love the Brisbane International Film Festival in late October. Screening across the city’s cinemas, each program is packed with over 100 cinematic releases from up-and-comers, local legends and international heavy hitters.

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SEE ALSO: 15 of the Best Restaurants in Brisbane to Discover

Image credits: Tourism & Events Queensland

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