Guide to Brisbane's culture

The sub-tropical city of Brisbane may be relaxed, but its cultural agenda is action-packed with something for every interest. From world-renowned galleries and museums, to historic architecture and big festivals, Brisbane has a scene worth delving into. Guide to Brisbane's culture
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Guide to Brisbane's culture

The sub-tropical city of Brisbane may be relaxed, but its cultural agenda is action-packed with something for every interest. From world-renowned galleries and museums, to historic architecture and big festivals, Brisbane has a scene worth delving into.


By Stephanie Williams

Brisbane is a city with some serious cultural credentials. There is the sprawling Queensland Cultural Centre on South Bank, which hosts every manner of artistic endeavour and a growing number of world-class exhibitions. But this treasure trove of galleries, museums, theatres and art spaces is just the start. Other Brisbane hot spots include eclectic New Farm, Fortitude Valley and the city centre, with its public art and heritage buildings. Spend time wandering through the precincts, stopping to enjoy Brisbane’s thriving cafe culture along the way, too.

HOW TO GET THERE

Brisbane Airport is the third busiest in Australia with links to most Australian capital cities as well as international ports. From the airport it takes approximately 25 minutes by car to reach the city centre. You can drive to Brisbane: from Sydney it takes about 12 hours and from the Gold Coast, about one hour. Cruise liners also dock regularly in Brisbane.
 

DON’T MISS

  • Catch a performance or workshop during the Brisbane Festival
  • Visit one of Australia's most celebrated art and cultural precincts
  • Check in to one of the city's excellent design hotels

Brisbane highlights

TOP THINGS TO DO IN BRISBANE

Visit the Queensland Cultural Centre
You can satisfy almost everyone's appetite for culture beneath the architect designed roof of the Queensland Cultural Centre on South Bank. Start in the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art, collectively known as QAGOMA, which houses more than 10,000 Australian and international artworks and is the largest of its kind in Australia. A look back at the work of American photographer Cindy Sherman and the paintings and photographs of film director David Lynch are just two of the many fascinating international exhibitions to have toured here. See the skeleton of a Queensland dinosaur in the Queensland Museum and, downstairs, the Queensland Sciencentre offers interactive science fun. Dress up for a ballet, opera, concert or musical presentation in the Queensland Performing Arts Centre or get lost in the stacks at the State Library of Queensland.

Tour the pretty and gritty inner city
In New Farm, the Brisbane Powerhouse is Queensland’s home of contemporary culture and the venue for theatre, comedy, dance, art, markets and restaurants. All this is housed in a magnificent 1920s power station reborn as an arts centre on the Brisbane River. Have lunch in the riverfront restaurant, browse the exhibitions and enjoy the festival calendar. Walk along the floating walkway from here to neighbouring Fortitude Valley which is a hub for nightlife. The once gritty Valley has been gentrified but retains a diverse artistic community with bohemian flair. Catch arthouse movies, visit theatres exposing new works and see musicians perform in venues steeped in local rock'n'roll history.

Absorb Australian history and culture
In Brisbane's central business district, listen to an orchestra play beneath the dome of heritage-listed Customs House. Catch everything from cabaret to comedy in the old Treasury Building, built in the style of an Italian palazzo using Australian sandstone, or watch community concerts in the historic Brisbane City Hall. Other heritage landmarks include St John's Anglican Cathedral and Old Parliament House, which overlooks the lush Botanic Gardens. The Queensland University of Technology also has its own cultural precinct, embracing the Roundhouse Theatre, where the city's adventurous La Boite Theatre Companyperforms.

Enjoy a local event or festival
Brisbane plays host to a calendar of festivals every year. The excitement ramps up during the Brisbane Festival, which runs from mid-September to early October and attracts an audience of a million people across the program of theatre, music, dance, circus, opera and major public events such as Riverfire, an enormous display of fireworks over Brisbane River. In January, the neighbourhood of Fortitude Valley hosts St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, featuring both new and seasoned Australian and international musicians. Ring in the new year at the Woodford Folk Festival, a six-day festival held on a 200 hectare (500 acre) parkland on the Sunshine Coast hinterland just over an hour north of Brisbane, featuring more than 2000 local and international performers.

Sleep amid art and design
Brisbane is home to several luxury art- and design-led hotels. Try The Johnson, a hotel inspired by the work of Australian abstract artist Michael Johnson. The luxury boutique hotel features many original works by Johnson, an art library as well as a 50 metre (164 foot) pool and sundeck. Tryp Hotel takes street art and puts it front and centre as Brisbane’s only street art hotel, featuring the striking work of artists Magee, Numskull, Rone and Beastman. The Emporium Hotel is one of Australia's most awarded luxury boutique hotels and has a rooftop lap pool.

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