Seven Arty Excursions Around Canberra to Keep Those Back-to-School Blues at Bay

The time has come to grasp the reins of tertiary education with renewed vigour, as our long summers of freedom are steadily reduced to intangible dream-like memories. In an effort to fight those back-to-school blues, I have compiled a series of exciting events happening in our nation’s capital to keep you going as semester one gets cracking. Whether you are new or returning, Canberra has a little cultural something to offer everyone.

National Multicultural Festival

First up we have the National Multicultural Festival, an iconic event that returning Canberrans will no doubt find familiar. This three-day festival is happening from 16 to 18 of February, right in the heart of Civic. Providing the perfect excuse to get outside and breathe some fresh air, you’ll be able to munch on delicious street food and enjoy performances as you recover from the continual hangover that is O-Week.

Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits

If your natural habitat is an art gallery, or if you just want to escape that pesky hole in the ozone layer and hide away somewhere perfectly air conditioned, this next attraction may be for you. The National Portrait Gallery and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia have curated an exciting exhibit entitled Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits. Featuring portraits from 100 years of Australian films, visitors can spot their all-time fave Aussie actors adorning the walls, all while absorbing some history from the early years of our film industry. Running Monday through Sunday until 4 March.

Comedy Open Mic

This next attraction is for the comically inclined among us. Smith’s Alternative host a Comedy Open Mic night on the first Sunday of every month. Pencil in 7pm on 4 March to turn up and enjoy some hilarious content at this friendly venue. If you are feeling bold and brave, you can even sign up on the night to try your hand at some stand up yourself. Success not guaranteed.

Enlighten Canberra

Tipped to be bigger and better than ever, the Enlighten Festival is back with a bang in 2018. Running from 2-18 March, onlookers have two weeks to bathe in the glory of this year’s light installations. Take a wander around the Parliamentary triangle and stop by the Night noodle markets in Reconciliation Place (2-11 March) for both dinner and a stunning show. Not one to be left out of the spotlight, our very own ANU will feature in the festival, with campus buildings lighting up on 8-10 and 15-16 March.

Lights! Canberra! Action!

Another groovy event right around the corner is the Lights! Canberra! Action! Film Festival, reappearing for its 15th year on the scene. Filmmakers have one week to create and submit a seven-minute piece. This year’s theme is ‘strange, beautiful and unexpected’, guaranteeing some exciting viewing. Screening is occurring at 10 pm, 9 March in the Senate Rose Gardens. This is a free event (some music for your jaded, student ears) and viewers are encouraged to bring a favourite beanbag or picnic blanket for a night under the stars (and screen). BYO snacks*.

Art, Not Apart

The Art, Not Apart festival is set to take Canberra by storm in a one day only event on 17 March. Through a series of exhibitions and installations, this festival aims to bring our attention to the liminal spaces that exist between genres, concepts, and within society itself. Providing lesser-known artists with a lively arena to showcase their work, activities and artworks will be located around the New Acton precinct from 1 until 7 pm.  This short and sweet, fun-sized festival seems like an afternoon well spent.

Nishi Gallery

Last but certainly not least, the Nishi Gallery provides a sweet little detour along the trendy streets of New Acton. Surrounded by your pick of brunch locations, this small gallery is the reason the phrase ‘good things come in small packages’ was coined. Offering a rotation of small exhibits, this gallery is the perfect place to stop off while you digest your smashed avo. The gallery is showing a selection of works from ‘The Magic of Country’ by David Lancashire until 11 March. Drawing from a body of work featuring over 200 pieces, Lancashire vividly depicts his experience travelling to MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs. With no entry fee and being so pleasantly pint-sized, there is really no excuse not to have a peek.

Even if nothing above takes your fancy, there is always sure to be something happening in our vibrant little city that will spark your interest. If there is one certainty, it is that Canberra is an ever-expanding hub of cultural activity, guaranteed to tempt even the most religious Netflix shut-ins among us. With that in mind, go out and enjoy some of the finest this city has to offer, even if your sole motivation is refining the faux-cultured personality you adopted to show the haters that ‘Canberra isn’t the hole you all think it is, I’m serious’.

* Important.