This Week in The Can is your essential guide to what’s happening in Canberra. From…
It’s here! Our first long weekend of the year—and we are excited.
That’s right—this Monday 14 March there’s a public holiday to celebrate Canberra Day and that means this weekend is the biggest of March.
Whether you’re celebrating the public holiday by attending the Canberra Day festivities across Commonwealth Park and the city or have no plans so far, here’s what’s happening around town this long weekend.
Rise above it all at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular
Take to the lawns of the Parliamentary Triangle, the water on a GoBoat or the tops of our mountains to see hot air balloons rise each morning (weather permitting, of course) over the city from 12 March.
The 5 am alarm clock may not be welcomed at the time, but watching these lift-off in the misty morning is a truly one-a-year experience. Of course, you can also book a flight to see Canberra from a truly fresh perspective.
12-20 March | Launch zone: Patrick White Lawns, National Triangle | enlightencanberra.com/program/canberra-balloon-spectacular
Symphony in the Park
Live classical music in the great outdoors—completely free?
You don’t even have to book a ticket for this concert—just grab a picnic blanket or some camping chairs and head to Stage 88 on Sunday 13 March to be serenaded by the Canberra Symphony Orchestra for Symphony in the Park. Don’t mind if we do.
Sunday 13 March from 6.30–9.30 pm | Stage 88 | enlightencanberra.com/program/symphony-in-the-park
Celebrate our city on Canberra Day
Taking place on Monday 14 March from 11 am, Canberra Day will see multicultural food, entertainment, stalls and workshops bring Commonwealth Park to life.
And with a jam-packed program running until 8 pm, there’s plenty to see and do to celebrate the birthday of our beloved capital. Read all about it here.
Monday 14 March | Various locations | enlightencanberra.com/program/canberra-day
The National Sheep Dog Trial Championships
The National Sheep Dog Trial Championships serve as an enduring link between the Bush Capital and rural Australia. Competitors come from all over the country to support this sport, rich in Australian rural heritage.
For 150 years, stockmen and women have been lining up to prove that their dog is the best in the district. These impromptu local events have become the sheepdog trials of today. Part of our rick pastoral heritage of competition at Agricultural shows and field days.
The sheep dog trials, commencing on Monday 14 March (and entry to the day is free!), will be a riveting spectator experience with every trial a mini-drama arising from dog-sheep-human encounters.
Each dog starts with a perfect score (100) and 15 minutes to motivate three sheep to navigate a set of obstacles before they are enclosed in a pen at the finish. Points are deducted when sheep stray too far from the path, refuse obstacles, or fail to be penned in time. Every handler has their own approach – instructions to the dog can be many or few and are delivered using gestures, whistles, shouts or gentle words.
On finals day the top 20 scoring dogs run, with the the highest scoring moving on to compete for the coveted Duke of Gloucester Sash.
Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers Federation will be presenting the Duke of Gloucester Sash to the 2022 National Sheepdog Trial Open Champion on Sunday 20 March.
14–20 March | Hall Showground, Hall | Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite
It’s been a rough few years for Transit Bar, but all bad things must come to an end.
Transit Returns marks the comeback of Canberra’s longstanding live music institution. After too long between drinks, Transit is finally back open in a new venue, and its time to christen our laneway in the only way we know how… a punk rock show with special guests Dune Rats.
Brissy Rock legends Dune Rats are no strangers to a good time, but they’ve been unfairly starved of many a gig and are frothing the chance to crank up their amps and play a few riffs, they serve as the perfect headline to Transit’s first outdoor laneway party.
Joining Dune Rats is a stacked bill of Canberra’s finest bands. Sputnik Sweetheart, Parklands, Slow Dial and Slagatha Christie round out a huge lineup of live music to be played on the famous ‘soul defender’ in the heart of Canberra City.
Taking place in the laneway behind Transit Bar, entry opposite King O’Malleys on City Walk. There will be bevs flowing, food slingin’ and guaranteed loud rock shows to be had.
This is an 18+ event supported by the ACT Government’s Amp It Up grant program.
Sunday 13 March from 3 pm | Transit Laneway City | Tickets via Moshtix
Lights! Canberra! Action!
Kick off the Canberra Long Weekend with Lights! Canberra! Action! @Enlighten Festival on Friday 11 March. Located in the open-air surrounds of the Senate Rose Garden, this short film festival shines the spotlight on local filmmaking talent.
With 10 days to film and feature 10 items from around Canberra, see an array of up-and-coming local film-makers share their perspective and interpretation of this year’s theme—Reflection.
Purposefully broad, and derived in response to the events of the last 2 years, REFLECTION aims to inspire storytelling from a range of perspectives.
Bring a chair or picnic blanket, grab feed or a BentSpoke craft beer and sit back to watch this year’s top 12 finalist films under the starts.
There will be live music from 7 pm, films screen from 8 pm followed by the awards, the event ends approx. 10 pm. This is a licensed event and BYO is not permitted. If you’re thirsty for a brew, check out the BentSpoke Beer Tent. available at the event.
Friday 11 March from 7 pm | Senate Rose Gardens, Parkes | Free event | enlightencanberra.com/program/lights-canberra-action
The Forage@Enlighten Festival
Street food feast-ival The Forage is back!
The Canberra Day long weekend (11-14 March) sees the arrival of an exciting new food precinct The Forage@Enlighten Festival offering an enticing lakeside zone for all things local and regional food and beverage.
This well-loved Canberra food experience returns in a new home for this autumn experience that will quickly become a Festival must-do.
With more than 25 local businesses offering a wide range of food and drink options, you’ll have plenty to choose from to tantalise the taste buds. Grab yourself a smorgasbord of a feast and relax by the lake with family and friends.
No tickets required.
12–14 March | Parkes Place | enlightencanberra.com/program/the-forage
Sculpture@Shaw is a biennial exhibition of sculptures by local and internationally renowned artists set at Shaw Wines.
Sculpture@Shaw is brought to you by Shaw Wines and BelcoArts. An exhibition of sculptures by local and internationally renowned artists set in the rolling paddocks at Shaw Wines in Murrumbateman, NSW.
The event will run over two weeks from 5 March to 20 March 2022. The stunning location of Shaw Wines in springtime ensures a beautiful backdrop for a diverse range of sculptures.
There will also be an exhibition of small-scale works on display around the terrace of the Shaw Wines Cellar Door. This adds another dimension for visitors to enjoy.
During the weekends there will be helicopter joyrides. This family friendly event is a great day out for everyone. The event is also dog-friendly where visitors can wander through the paddock with their pets on a leash.
This is a COVID safe event. Children under 18 free.
5 March – 20 March | Shaw Wines, 34 Isabel Drive, Murrumbateman | Eventbrite
From Shakespeare to Winehouse, Darwin to Dickens, the Beatles, Brontë sisters and Beckham, the National Portrait Gallery, London holds the world’s most extensive collection of portraits. While they undergo the largest renovation of their building in 125 years, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra is thrilled to show over 80 London treasures for an exclusive exhibition in 2022.
Start planning now to visit famous faces from the sixteenth century to today. Think Mandela, Malala, Churchill, Diana, Bowie, Sheeran, Westwood and more! And iconic artists like Warhol, Hockney, Emin, van Dyck, Rubens and Freud. There’ll be fame, power, love, loss, innovation and the downright inspirational – it’s going to be incredible.
This really is a rare, once-in-a-generation opportunity – showing exclusively at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra – so keep calm and grab your ticket!
12 March – 17 July | National Portrait Gallery | portrait.gov.au/exhibitions/shakespeare-to-winehouse-2022
Van Gogh Alive
As Van Gogh Alive comes to Canberra make no mistake—this is no ordinary art exhibition. Forget tiptoeing through silent galleries to look at the iconic work of Vincent Van Gogh.
From Saturday 5 March you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the life and works of the Post-Impressionist painter thanks to the spectacular multi-sensory experience. Read more here.
From 5 March onwards | Park Place Lawns | vangoghalive.com.au
Let the National Library entertain you when On Stage: Spotlight on Our Performing Arts opens in autumn. There’s no business like show business, and this exhibition brings Australia’s performing arts history into the limelight.
The Australian stage has seen it all, from theatre, opera and dance to musicals, magic and hip hop, featuring household names like Sir Robert Helpmann, Dame Nellie Melba, Peter Allen, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Tim Minchin and the Hilltop Hoods.
On Stage also provides a backstage pass to the action behind the scenes, showcasing perspectives on stage direction, costume design, scripts, contracts and musical scores used by performers.
Presented together for the first time and drawing exclusively from the collections of the National Library, the exhibition features items that have never before been on display. Other highlights include the earliest surviving Australian printed document, selections from the JC Williamson theatre archives, and other contemporary live music and theatre posters.
Whether you prefer to take a front row seat, tread the boards, or stagedive into the moshpit, there is something for every fan to see. Join the Library during your visit, and receive a special souvenir Library Card featuring a portrait of Sir Robert Helpmann.
Until 7 August | National Library of Australia | Entry is free, no booking required | nla.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/on-stage
Enlighten Festival 2022
Enlighten Festival, Canberra’s vibrant, jam-packed celebration of light, colour and food is back for 2022. Taking place from Friday 4 to Sunday 20 March, the city will come alive with a massive program of diverse and exciting events—including some new attractions, all under the banner of @Enlighten Festival.
While the classic festivities we know and love will still be going ahead, Canberra After Dark, Van Gogh Alive and Surface Festival are just some of the new attractions that will infuse the city with food, art, and culture.
Kicking off Canberra’s autumn festival of culture and creativity, this year Enlighten’s opening weekend includes a brand-new experience. Running from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 March Canberra’s new urban street art event Surface Festival will see street art, graffiti, portraits, stencils, Indigenous art, geometric and abstract art transform 30 walls and structures.
But wait—there’s more. Some of the capital’s major attractions will also present exclusive ticketed events during the festival, giving access to areas normally closed to the public, all a part of the Canberra After Dark @ Enlighten Festival program.
For film lovers, Friday 11 March will see the weekend kick off with Lights! Canberra! Action! @Enlighten Festival Shining a spotlight on local film-making talent, the short film festival is located in the open-air surrounds of the Senate Rose Garden where you can enjoy the creations of up-and-coming local filmmakers with a craft beer in hand.
On Saturday 12 March turn your gaze skywards as the Canberra Balloon Spectacular @Enlighten Festival lifts off and fills the skies. A spectacle of colour, over 25 balloons from around Australia and overseas will come together to make this a morning to remember. From Saturday 5 March you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the life and works of Van Gogh thanks to a spectacular multi-sensory experience, Van Gogh Alive, which will run for the duration of Enlighten.
Taking place on Sunday 13 March, Symphony in the Park @ Enlighten Festival will see The Canberra Symphony Orchestra take to the stage and perform with special guest, multi-award ARIA winning singer-songwriter Lior. Bring a picnic or enjoy the food and drinks available while enjoying a free autumn evening event featuring modern and classical performers.
As always, entry to Enlighten will remain free but COVID restrictions may apply.
Until 20 March | Various locations across The Parliamentary Triangle and Canberra City | enlightencanberra.com/program/illuminations
The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022
Imagine this: soon you’ll be in France enjoying canapes and champagne.
Yes—really. And the best part is, you won’t even need your passport. Kicking off on Wednesday 2 March, the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival is back to bring Canberra French escapism in the form of fantastique films.
With a variety of 42 carefully selected films showing at the Palace Electric, until Wednesday 6 April film fans can treat themselves to award-winning cinema that thrills, chills, and inspires.
On Thursday 10 March, the Australian premiere of Lost Illusions will open this year’s festival, transporting audiences to an extravagant foray into the gilded yet treacherous lives of France’s 19th-century aristocracy.
Full of scandal, love, and revenge, it’s the perfect film to escape Canberra…and with the addition of French canapés and wine before the film you’ll soon be saying ‘je veux plus!’
Until 6 April | Palace Electric Cinema | affrenchfilmfestival.org
Ruthless! The Musical
A hysterical comedy that puts the show in showbiz, much-loved musical Ruthless! will come to The Q for a three-week run—plenty of time to squeeze in a show around your other March commitments.
Expect song, dance, tantrums (just on stage, hopefully) and laughs.
Until 12 March | The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre | 6285 6290 | theq.net.au/whats-on/subscriptions/ruthless
Australian Dance Party’s LESS
Australian Dance Party is celebrating Dairy Road’s LESS Pavilion with a new performance. Taking place across various dates from 4–12 March, LESS will be “a performance that has been created from the place, it is an incredible and sort of odd sculpture that reminds us of the power of our imagination and our connection with the built and natural environment.”
We can’t wait to see what the creative minds behind Canberra’s own dance company Australian Dance Party have come up with this time.
Until 12 March | LESS Pavilion, Dairy Road, Fyshwick | events.humanitix.com/less
Feature image credit: Matt Witcombe.