Why Canberra is the place to be this autumn

If there was ever a time to make the journey to Canberra, it’s now. This autumn, Australia’s capital city is set to shine as the annual Enlighten Festival and ever-so-popular Night Noodle Markets make their return with an impressive line-up of food and entertainment.

Along with all the festivities, Canberra will be launching three new visitor experiences at the National Museum of Australia in April, including exclusive tours and dining experiences.

Here’s a guide to everything that’s happening:

Enlighten Festival

Canberra Enlighten Festival. Image: Visit Canberra

This year the annual Enlighten Festival, presented by Singapore Airlines, will be running from 28 February until 15 March. During the 17-day extravaganza, Canberra will transform into a hive of activity with a range of free and ticketed events encouraging both locals and tourists alike to ‘eat, see and explore’ what the city has to offer. And some of the events on the program are very enticing – we’ve highlighted the top ones.

Enlighten Illuminations | 28 February – 9 March

Witness Canberra shine in spectacular fashion as the Parliamentary Triangle and city precinct light up after dark. The large-scale illuminations will be projected on some of the capital’s most loved buildings including the National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Australian Parliament House, Questacon and more. Each night from 6 pm, roving artists, live bands and enchanting performances throughout the Enlighten precinct which will light up from 8 pm to 11 pm each night of the festival.

Canberra Enlighten Festival. Image: Visit Canberra

Canberra Balloon Spectacular | 7-15 March

Over nine days, Canberra’s skyline will become littered with over 30 hot air balloons floating across the city. If you’re not lucky enough to be riding in the balloons, this mesmerising view will be best appreciated from the lawns of Old Parliament House or by Lake Burley Griffin.

Canberra Enlighten Festival. Image: Visit Canberra

Lights! Canberra! Action! | 6 March

The 17th annual Lights! Canberra! Action! Will shine a spotlight on Canberra’s talented filmmakers, who have been tasked with creating seven-minute short films in 10 days. This year the theme is ‘planted’ and films must incorporate 10 dictated items. On the night, the top 12 finalists will be showcased in the Senate Rose Gardens at the Museum of Australian Democracy. So bring a picnic and something comfy to sit in and settle in for movie night.

Canberra Enlighten Festival. Image: Visit Canberra

Symphony in the Park | 8 March

Symphony in the Park is set to be a delightful afternoon at the iconic Commonwealth Park with the sound of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra setting the mood. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy a bite to eat from the food stalls as you listen to new melodies while the sun goes down. 

Canberra Enlighten Festival. Image: Visit Canberra

See the full Enlighten Festival 2020 program and ticket information here.

Canberra Night Noodle Markets

The Canberra Times Night Noodle Markets is back for another year and it’s boasting an exciting feast of new and signature Asian flavours from Australia-wide favourites. 

Taking over Reconciliation Place from 28 February to 9 March, the 11-night event will feature twenty-five hawker-style food stalls, live music and lion dancing entertainment. On the menu are some Canberra locals including Korbq, Donburi Station and Superbao. As well as crowd-favourites like Hoy Pinoy, Gelato Messina and Flying Noodles.

Meanwhile, the stores bringing fresh flavours to the markets include Demochi Donuts, Grill & Spice, The Pham Sisters, Chinese Dim Sum King and Raijin Noodles & Dumplings. Those with dietary requirements will find plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available as well. 

Canberra Night Noodle Markets

National Museum of Australia’s three new experiences

Known for its distinctive architecture and stunning lake-side location, the National Museum, is already a premium tourism destination in Canberra. Now, under the wing of Cultural Attractions of Australia – an experience program launched by Tourism Australia – it is about to get even better with the launch of three new visitor experiences.

In, Above and Behind the Scenes:
Admire the National Museum’s dramatic architecture from a private hot air balloon and explore the iconic collection up-close with a tour of the museum before opening hours. The experience includes champagne breakfast on the deck at the gorgeous lakeside café and private transfers. Priced at $2,135 per person with a minimum of two people per booking.

Out to the Shed:
Enjoy an exclusive tour of the  Museum’s “off display” collection, in a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum’s purpose-built storage facilities. Includes lunch in the Museum’s beautiful café and private transfers. Priced at $349 per person (minimum two people per booking).

Big Histories:
Learn about the Museum’s most iconic features on an exclusive, expert-led tour, including Phar-lap’s heart, Holden prototype, the Enterprise paddle steamer and Australia’s dinosaurs. Plus, enjoy an Australia grazing platter and local beer or wine on the café deck. Priced at $125 (minimum two people per booking).

National Museum of Australia in Canberra

All three experiences will be available to book through the Cultural Attractions of Australia and National Museum of Australia webpage for travel from 1 April 2020.

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