28 ways to spend your uni break in Brisbane - Choose Brisbane


28 ways to spend your uni break in Brisbane

Another semester done and dusted and three whole months without deadlines, group assignments and lectures ahead of you.

If you’re staying in Brisbane this summer, we're determined to help you make it a great one - from the hottest show tickets in town to keeping cool in the galleries, from binge-eating to finding a summer job. Only question is, how much can you fit into the three months?

Read on for 28 ways to spend the summer holidays in Brisbane - and don't forget to share your holiday adventures using #studybrisbane

1. Jingle all the way

Lighting of the Christmas tree in Brisbane City

Ho ho ho! 'Tis the season and nobody does Christmas quite like Brisbane. Get amongst the live music, parades and Christmas sales. Christmas officially turns on with the Lighting of the Brisbane City Christmas Tree on 29 November in King George Square, followed by the Gold Lotto City Hall Lights every evening, the popular Enchanted Garden at Roma Street Parkland and the Christmas Parade through Brisbane City. The best part? The Christmas event program is pretty much free - check out all the #ChristmasinBrisbane events here.

2. Workin’ 9 til 5

If you're like most students, you’ll probably want to spend your summer break raking in the most cash you can in the limited time off you have. Keep in mind the maximum hours you can work on a student visa and check out our tips for finding holiday work and part-time work in hospitality

If you just want to rack up as much work experience as you can, look into volunteering - the Brisbane Student Hub Facebook page and the Volunteering Queensland website are good places to start. Your institution's careers office may also have opportunities listed.

Read: The ultimate student job seeker guide: Finding a job and nailing the interview

3. Be the cheer squad

Brisbane International

Mad about sports? You know who you are. The Tissot Track World Cup will return to Australia for the first time in nearly a decade – hosted at Brisbane’s Anna Meares Velodrome from 13-15 December. Brisbane is also the place to be if you want to catch some of world's greatest tennis superstars in action this summer. Head courtside and cheer for World’s No.1 male tennis player Novak Djokovic, Brisbane’s own Ash Barty, Japan’s Naomi Osaka at the ATP Cup and Brisbane International in January. 

4. Keep cool in the galleries and museums

GOMA Water Exhibition

We all know and love QAGOMA, and there’s nothing quite like wandering through the incredible exhibitions there when it’s 35+ degrees outside and you’re desperately seeking air con. What better way to cool you off than gazing at Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s snowman frozen in the heat at GOMA’s highlight exhibition “Water”?

Stop into the Museum of Brisbane and wander through their free exhibitions running over the summer break including Lloyd Rees and New Woman, or treat yourself to a $12 ticket to the incredible High Rotation Exhibition. Want to get over your arachnophobia? Come face to face with 12 live spider species and 200 spider specimens at Queensland Museum this summer - chilling, right?

For more art exhibitions across Brisbane, use our events calendar to see what else is on

5. Explore the bay

Shorncliffe Pier

If the year has passed and you’re yet to make it past Bowen Hills on the Shorncliffe line, it’s time to extend your branches. To the north, Sandgate, Brighton and Shorncliffe have beaches, cafes and history you can explore. To the south, Wynnum has a tidal wading pool and Manly is home to the southern hemisphere’s largest marina that is filled with yachts we can only one day dream of owning.

You don’t need a car to get there from your inner-city confined either – trains run to and from the bayside regularly. If you need more #inspo, here’s 26 things to do by the northern bayside, 26 things to do to the south and 34 things to do in the Moreton Bay Region.

6. At the theatre, darling

Brisbane’s theatres will be alive with music, dance, theatre and comedy throughout the summer – and the air con is really just a bonus when you hear what’s on. Cirque du Soleil returns to Brisbane with its most acclaimed tourings show "Kurios" in January ready to turn your world upside down. Queensland Symphony Orchestra continue their live performances of iconic films with Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in February. 

Cirque du Soleil Kurios

At QPAC, the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol and Queensland Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker will play in the lead up to Christmas, followed up with the hilarious musical comedy The Book of Mormon returning in January. 

Speaking of hilarious, world-famous comedians Dylan Moran, Arj Barker, Hannah Gadsby and Daniel Tosh are all coming to Brisbane this summer - get ready for some serious belly-laughing!

7. Binge watch with cheap cinema tickets

Possibly the ultimate escape from the summer heat is the air con inside the cinema, and this way you won’t be missing any Boxing Day blockbuster releases or Oscar contenders. Grab a bucket of popcorn and settle in for $8 student tickets at Event Cinemas in the Myer Centre (join Cinebuzz for this sweet deal), $6.50 tickets at Cineplex Cinemas across Brisbane, or $10.50 tickets at Palace Cinemas at the Barracks or on James Street.

8. Eating frozen everything

Gelato Messina

Yes, everything – we won’t judge. But if you have to pick something, let it be the top-notch gelato and ice cream Brisbane has to offer or some of the city’s best frozen yoghurt. That’s right – treat yo’self.

9. Being a fairy at Woodford Folk Festival

If you’re a wanderer at heart, you’ll feel right at home among the tents and trees at Woodford Folk Festival from 27 December to 1 January. Pack your comfiest clothes and get set for laid-back tunes and friendly vibes – here’s why Woodford Folk Festival is Australia’s most magical event.

10. Take a dip at Streets Beach

Streets Beach

Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach goes off during the summer holidays and it’s easy to see why. Join the swarms of locals and tourists on the beach and take a dip in the lagoon to cool down.

11. Catch up on some reading

Embrace the rare occasion of having no textbook readings and take in a novel. Brisbane Square Library has all the latest releases – plus some – or check out the book shops in the city.

12. Catch a show at Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse

Whether you chase comedy, cabaret, inspiring speakers or art, you’ll be sure to find something you like on show at Brisbane Powerhouse this summer. Check out the line-up here, or head to Livewired Sessions every Sunday at 5pm for some excellent free comedy.

13. Hosting mates

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Incentives

Get your family and friends over for a holiday and show them what you’ve been bragging about. Start with these 30 things to do with visitors in Brisbane.

14. At Moreton Island

Only 75 minutes from Brisbane and you get allllll of this. Pack your tent and swimmers and you’ve got days of summer fun sorted.

15. Bar hopping

No more morning lectures means you can spend the evenings with friends and drinks in hand at some of Brisbane’s best bars. Check out the rooftop bars, awesome bars with epic views or follow these craft beer trails for the perfect afternoon session.

16. Find Brisbane's best angle

Sunrise at Mt Coot-tha

Catch a sunrise, see the sun set or simply take in some incredible scenery. Charge your phone, grab your walking shoes, jump in the car and head to one of Brisbane's lookouts. Visit Brisbane has put together a guide of Brisbane's best lookouts, complete with a map to help you find these vantage points.

17. Devour anything and everything at Eat Street

Follow your nose all the way to Eat Street Northshore and eat your way through the culinary delights on offer, from the Buttermilk Popcorn Chicken from Poulet and Porc to the Poffertjes from Dutch Delites. Arrive hungry – you’ll leave feeling satisfied and potentially in a food coma for days afterwards.

18. Exploring North Straddie

North Stradbroke Island picnic

Perfect for a day trip, North Stradbroke Island has activities overload, incredible swimming beaches and nature-everything. Plan your trip here.

19. Play a game or two with drink in hand


Holey Moley has mastered puns, golf and cocktails alike. That’s right, it’s a cocktail bar and mini-golf course rolled into one amazing experience. What more do you need in life? Netherworld is home to gaming relics from the past that will transport you back in time – think pinball machines, arcade machines, classic consoles and countless board games from the 70s to present day, combined with a pint and a side of the Hellmouth fries. Release your inner kidult and play all your favourite arcade games at B. Lucky & Sons while sipping on alcoholic bubble tea's and classic cocktails. You can also refuel between games on stone baked pizzas, bao buns or spicy Szechuan calamari. Delish!

20. Eat your way through King Street

King Street has been under development for some time, but now it’s home to some pretty exciting bars, cafes and restaurants. Permanent food truck joint and bar Welcome To Bowen Hills has a rotating roster of excellent food trucks, Fat Dumpling will leave you full and satisfied, grab breakfast at Kuhl-Cher or pair your coffee fix with an almond croissant at King Street Bakery. Check out where else you can eat along King Street here.

21. Go chasing waterfalls

Waterfalls near Brisbane

And waterholes and lakes for that matter. If fresh water swimming is your thing, you’ll find what you’re looking for less than 40 minutes out of Brisbane.

22. Eating multicultural food

Have a break from the campus food you’ve eaten all year and check out some of Brisbane’s best multicultural restaurants.

23. Watching fireworks

Christmas Fireworks

Check out the visual spectacle that is the South Bank Christmas fireworks and the New Year's Eve fireworks. You’ll also find a heap of great New Year's Eve events across the city on 31 December.

24. Camping with mates

There’s something truly Australian about pitching a tent, propping up a fold-out chair and putting your feet up to a spectacular sunset. Visit Brisbane’s done the leg work and rounded up the best camping spots nearby.

25. Climbing things

Have fun while working out by climbing anything and everything around Brisbane. Check out some of the mountains to climb in and around Brisbane, or head indoors to an Urban Climb or Rocksports centre.

26. On rollercoasters

Who says rides are for kids? Not us. Spend your summer screaming with joy at Movie World and Wet'n'Wild just outside of the Gold Coast. If you’re less of a thrill seeker, head to the home of the Crocodile Hunter and take a day trip to Australia Zoo and see crocodiles, snakes and more.

27. Ice skating, because it's hot

Learn how to walk (on ice) again and embrace the free air-conditioning at Iceworld’s Olympic Ice Rinks at Acacia Ridge and Boondall. They also offer some pretty chill deals if you want to go more than once. 😉

28. Getting wet with Riverlife

Riverlife Brisbane River Kayaking

Again, hot, so water is where you want to be. In it, on it, next to it, you name it. Jump in a kayak for some of the best views of Brisbane or test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard.

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