From Christmas markets to outdoor cinemas: What’s on in Brisbane this weekend

Hello December, hello summer, hello Christmas countdown! It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year – and this weekend is stacked with goodness.

From the Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols (including a special satellite-viewing event) to riverside music festivals, outdoor cinemas and all of the best Christmas markets happening around town. Take a peek of this handy guide to what’s on.

Dec 01, 2023, updated Dec 01, 2023

From the Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols (including a special satellite-viewing event) to riverside music festivals, outdoor cinemas and all of the best Christmas markets, it’s happening all around town. Take a peek of this handy guide to what’s on.

Christmas in Brisbane
The time has come to put up the Christmas tree, press play on Mariah and lean into the season! To fuel the festive feels, Christmas in Brisbane is back from December 1 with a magical program of fun, free and very merry events across Brisbane City for everyone to enjoy. Head to King George Square on Friday evening to kick-start the season at the Lord Mayor’s Lighting of the Christmas Tree presented by The Lott by Golden Casket – there will also be live musical performances of classic Christmas tunes that’ll have the crowds rockin’ around that 22-metre Christmas tree. Lucky ticket holders to the now sold-out Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols will be in for a treat on Saturday night as Brisbane’s best vocalists and entertainers light up Riverstage in a joyous musical celebration. If you missed out on tickets, don’t fret! For the first time ever, the iconic carols event will be streamed live from Riverstage to Victoria Park, for free! Head on down from 3:00 pm for a mosey through the Christmas markets, and enjoy some Rudolph-approved fun with the kids and live jazz performances before settling in for the satellite streaming event.

Planning to sleigh your Christmas shopping list this weekend? While you’re at it, enjoy pop-up performances and roaming entertainment at Christmas on Queen, and snap jolly pics with your family and friends in front of festive-themed backdrops at the Wintergarden Christmas Pop-up. The vibes will be high at Uptown with the return of their Christmas windows, a cherished tradition that has come to life again this year thanks to a dazzling collaboration with local designer and artist, Rachel Burke. For those with little people in tow looking for a fun and free school-holiday activity, embark on a festive scavenger hunt to uncover a number of tiny Christmas-themed doors sprinkled throughout The City. Happy hunting!

Live Music
The sizzling-hot summer edition of mini music festival Seasonal Fruit is taking over Felons Barrel Hall this Sunday, with US rockers Allah-Las and Indonesian funk-rock three-piece Ali, joining the likes of Bananagun, Flood Lights, Lunar Dirt, Nice Biscuit, Pachyman and Sylvie from 3:00 pm. The now-sold-out Good Things Festival is bringing big names like Fall Out Boy and Limp Bizkit to Brisbane Showgrounds this Sunday, while over at The Tivoli on Saturday, Methyl Ethel fans will be treated to a glittering back catalogue and brand new, never-before-heard songs. Australian music icon Kate Ceberano is bringing an orchestral tour of her 30th album, My Life is A Symphony, to QPAC’s Concert Hall this Saturday for a very special one-night-only showcase of the musical powerhouse’s incredible vocals, stirring anthems and soulful ballads. And if opera is more your style, Opera Australia’s The Ring Cycle (aka the pinnacle of opera) commences at QPAC this Friday, marking the beginning of the 15-hour-long operatic masterpiece. The spectacular event is being performed over four nights this December – you can learn more about the marathon music event and book tickets here.

Christmas markets
On Friday night, the West End Christmas Twilight Market is taking over Davies Park with 180-plus stalls, food trucks, live-music stages and plenty of family-friendly fun. On Saturday, you can meet the makers at the Christmas Market Day at artisan on King Street in Bowen Hills, and shop one-of-a-kind gifts at the State Library of Queensland’s Make and Design Pop-Up Market. Keep the afternoon free to check out the Clayschool Christmas Market at West Village on Saturday – kicking off at 4:00 pm, this twilight clay and pottery show will showcase works of students from Clayschool Brisbane, offering festive shoppers the perfect opportunity to get their Christmas gifting done and dusted. There’s also the Nundah Christmas Twilight Markets kicking off at 4:00 pm, and over by the bayside, the annual Jingle All The Bay will fill the Sandgate Town Centre with market stalls, delicious food trucks, live entertainment and plenty of festive fun.

Buy directly from the makers and get all your goodies sorted at the Art & Makers Market at Studio Maverik in Milton on Sunday from midday, then head on town to Portside Wharf from 3:00 pm on Sunday for a holly-jolly evening of merry markets, Christmas carols and festive feasting at The Market Folk’s annual Portside Wharf Christmas Market. Meander through the treasure trove of unique gifts, and enjoy live entertainment and a visit from Santa, before snapping a festive pic in front of the Christmas photo wall.

You can check out all of the upcoming Christmas markets happening in Brisbane right here.

Festivals, outdoor events and foodie fun
From this Saturday, you can journey through The Enchanted Garden at Roma Street Parkland and be dazzled by one of Brisbane’s most magical lighting displays. Illuminating the lush precinct across November and December, The Enchanted Garden features a 30 to 40-minute sensory journey of twinkling lights, intricate holograms, striking lasers, projections and mesmerising special effects. Moonlight Cinema has also returned to Roma Street Parkland for another blockbuster summer of outdoor flicks. Running through until the end of February, the pop-up cinema – which features food stations, bean-bag seating and a fancy Gold Grass area – will screen a stellar line-up of blockbuster films, festive favourites and family-friendly classics.

Action-packed annual cultural festival Wynnum Fringe wraps up its three-week program in spectacular fashion this weekend. Check out events like the Adults-Only Magic Show, the knee-slapping Comedy Gala and venture into the Spiegeltent for Circus – The Show, before the festival wraps up on Sunday with Rock The Bay headlined by Darryl Braithwaite and Marcia Hines.

Foodie folk can spend Saturday with top Sydney chef Danielle Alvarez at the launch of her latest cookbook Recipes for a Lifetime of Beautiful Cooking at Scrumptious Reads in Red Hill. The intimate in-conversation event, which is free to attend, also includes a live cooking demonstration from the famed chef and home cook.

Live shows, theatre and dance
Queensland Ballet’s The Nutcracker returns to QPAC from this Friday, and will dazzle audiences with Christmas magic until December 20. Over at Brisbane Powerhouse, dynamic comedy duo and best pals Joel Creasy and Rhys Nicholson host their yuletide spectacular Rhys & Joel’s Family Christmas, with the self-proclaimed ‘drunk aunties’ promising an evening of pure, unadulterated hilarity. Adults-only Christmas comedy A Very Naughty Christmas kicks of its limited season at La Boite this Thursday (running until December 13) inviting audiences to indulge in some ‘elf care’ with laughs, a splash of nudity and reimagined Christmas carols that will get you into festive spirit like never before.

Writer and director Leah Purcell’s latest work Is That You, Ruthie? premieres at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre this Saturday. The deeply moving play, which runs until Saturday December 16, explores the enduring connection of a mother and daughter (Ruthie) and delves into the aftermath of a government removal policy that separated them.

Must-see exhibitions
The stories at shaped your childhood will come to life at QAGOMA’s latest exhibition Fairy Tales, which officially opens this weekend. Exclusive to Brisbane, the exhibition brings together artists, film makers and designers to explore centuries-old folk stories and fairy tales through immersive installations, stunning costumes, contemporary artworks and captivating cinema. This enchanting world of opulent carriages, breathtaking gowns, twisted woodlands and magical mirrors is on display until April 2024.

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Museum of Brisbane’s latest exhibition Rearranged: Art of the Flower will be in full bloom from this Saturday November 25, with visitors invited to stroll through the lush collection of paintings, textiles, sculptures, ceramics and new media, all displayed in a space reminiscent of a quintessential Queenslander house. Guess what? Tickets are free! Head to the Museum of Brisbane website to learn more.

It’s the final weekend to check out Northshore’s free outdoor art exhibition, Sculpture By The River, which showcases head-turning works of some of Queensland’s most renowned sculptors on the Hamilton riverfront. The public is welcome from 10:00 am daily to check out the display of works from local and Queensland artists on both the riverfront walkway and in the Northshore Shed until this Sunday December 3.

There are just two weeks left to check out The Workshops Rail Museum’s latest exhibition, Reception This Way, which will take you on a journey down memory lane to rediscover the quintessential Australian experience of staying at a motel. From family holidays and long road trips in the sweltering summer heat, to continental breakfasts and mid-century mod cons, this exhibition has it all! The must-see exhibition was developed by National Archives of Australia in collaboration with comedian Tim Ross, and is being proudly hosted by The Workshops Rail Museum until December 12.

Venture to QAGOMA to get your eyes on sis, an incredible display that showcases three decades of art-making from a sisterhood of Pacific artists, featuring everything from large sculptural installations and compelling video to the most intricate weaving creations. While you’re there, check out Queensland Art Gallery’s newest exhibition, Living Patterns, which focuses on the way audiences perceive and react to artistic elements such as colour, shape and form. Spotlighting contemporary Australian artists like Scott Redford, Jemima Wyman, Kamilaroi artist Reko Rennie and many more, this one is a must-see.

The State Library of Queensland is uncovering the role Aboriginal people played in establishing our pastoral industry in its latest collection, Working Country. Peruse the halls of First Nations community space – kuril dhagun – and you will be transported to a time of colonial invasion where, amid upheaval and devastation, working Country became a means of survival. You can wander through this free exhibition until January 2024.

Local Markets
If you’re eager to stroll through some stalls and stock up on some fresh fruit and veg over the weekend, be sure to check out these markets happening – along with the brand-new Northshore Produce Markets, there’s the Saturday Fresh Market, Riverside Markets, Kelvin Grove Village Market, Jan Powers Farmers Markets, Davies Park Market, Carseldine Markets, Nundah Farmers Markets and the Redcliffe Markets. For delicious dinner time eats, Eat Street Northshore is open for your snacking pleasure on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Events may be subject to be postponed or cancelled at the last minute. We do our best to remove cancelled events but be sure to check the organiser’s own event page for the most current updates.

Want more? Head to our comprehensive Event Guide for all of the fun around town where you can search by category, date, location and more!

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