The capital of Queensland and the third-largest city in Australia boasts countless attractions for visitors to enjoy. There is an amazing nightlife and culinary scene that attracts foodies from all over the world. There are world-class museums and art galleries. There are haunted corners of the city that are worth exploring. Perhaps the best of Brisbane might be the city itself. The Brisbane River offers curious travelers dozens of opportunities to view the Brisbane night sky, The Story Bridge, the South Bank, and Kangaroo Point Cliffs, all of which are gorgeous at night. Brisbane is also a world-class entertainment city, with music and comedy shows happening every night of the week.
However you end up spending your evening in Brisbane, the city’s fun atmosphere and amazing views are sure to make it a night to remember. Here are the 15 best things to do in Brisbane at night:
Brisbane Twilight Markets In King George Square
Held seasonally, Brisbane Twilight Markets pop up throughout Brisbane, and the one in King George Square is your best bet. Admission is free, and from late afternoon to early evening, you can browse through some of Brisbane’s best local artists, craft designers, and producers.
This is a quirky way to get to know Brisbane’s art and craft scene, and one of the most unique shopping experiences in town. Everything from vintage threads, to paintings, to handmade home goods and, decor are on offer. Also, some of the best street food from local food vendors in Brisbane is served around these markets.
Catch a Flick at One of Brisbane’s Open Air Cinemas
One of the most relaxing things to do in Brisbane at night has to be lounging under the stars at an outdoor movie theater. The best of Brisbane’s open air cinemas is the Moonlight Cinema at Roma Street Parklands. The amphitheater hosts an extensive program of classics, seasonal picks, and newer releases.
Depending on the movie, this is a wonderful opportunity for a romantic picnic date under the stars. If you’re with the kids, it’s a great way to gather outside and relax while the kids are enthralled by the new PIXAR feature. You can rent a bean bed to make things ultra-comfy, or bring a blanket and some delicious food for a classic picnic, it's easy to find a relaxing corner of Roma Street Parkland.
Another option for outdoor movies in Brisbane is the Yatala Drive In. Modeled after the 1950’s American institution, this drive-in theater is the perfect place to catch a flick if you have access to a car.
Paddles and Prawns (Brisbane CBD Kayak Tour)
While the views from the Brisbane River are incredible while the sun is out, there’s something special about paddling around the city under the stars. Riverlife Paddle & Prawns runs an evening kayak tour on Friday and Saturday nights and another during Sunday sunset.
The 90-minute tour (you’ll be paddling an illuminated kayak) starts at Kangaroo Point and runs along the South Bank, under the Story Bridge with views of Brisbane’s CBD, also known as downtown or city centre. After the cruise, you’ll be greeted by a feast of fresh ocean king prawns, and buckets of cold beer and other drinks.
The pace of the tour is relaxed enough for beginners and casual kayakers, while experts will be captivated by the incredible views and fun atmosphere. The kayak tour is a nice workout, the groups are very fun, and seeing Brisbane lit up at night from the river makes this one of the best things to do in Brisbane at night.
Enjoy a Romantic Meal on the Brisbane River Dinner Cruise
For those who would rather lounge on a charter than paddle themselves around the Brisbane River, a dinner cruise is a wonderful option. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, the Brisbane River Dinner Cruise runs its charters around Brisbane CBD.
The cruise ships run through the Brisbane River’s best sights, including Kangaroo Point Cliffs, the Southbank, and the colorful illuminated Story Bridge. The dinner is an open buffet style, with plenty of fresh local options for delicious food. This is the perfect way to cap off a romantic getaway in Brisbane, and an even better way to see this city’s magnificent waterfront.
Catch a Concert At One of Brisbane’s Amazing Music Venues
For a city of its size, Brisbane’s live music scene certainly punches above its weight class. There are dozens of amazing rock clubs, amphitheaters, large venues, and jazz bars all over the city. Expect live music in Brisbane to be loud, fun, and everywhere, it's one of the absolute best things to do in Brisbane at night. Here are a few of the best:
Tivoli (Fortitude Valley)
This Fortitude Valley mainstay is one of the most famous classic art deco theatres in Australia, and “The Tiv” is one of the most popular venues in Brisbane. It’s not the largest, accommodating 1,500 standing patrons, but bands of all sizes prefer to play this former French cabaret when they tour through Australia.
This amphitheater is located in the City Botanic Gardens, and it hosts many of Brisbane’s music festivals and larger stadium acts. The outdoor locale makes it an ideal venue during the summer. Check the calendar to see which world-famous act is playing in Brisbane.
Fortitude Music Hall
Located in one of the coolest neighborhoods to stay in Brisbane, this ballroom-style venue is the newest venue in the city, and it's quickly become a Brisbane powerhouse in live music. With a capacity of 3,000 standing patrons, larger touring bands, and many of Australia’s biggest music acts, fill this raucous room up.
This venue in Newstead is housed in a former WWII aircraft hangar and has been transformed into one of the premier entertainment venues in Brisbane. From the same team as Fortitude Music Hall, they only book the best of the best. Their outdoor beer garden is just another reason to head to Triffid and the perfect Friday night hangout pre-show.
Brisbane Jazz Club, Kangaroo Point
This is the premier destination in Queensland for touring jazz bands, and one of the city's most well-loved live music venues. This tiny, smoky (well, it used to be smoky) old-school jazz club is the best place in Brisbane to take in a jazz set. It’s run by a non-profit dedicated to preserving the jazz tradition in Brisbane and Australia, so you know they are booking the best of the best.
Hit The Up Late Event At The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
The Gallery of Modern Art is a can’t-miss Brisbane destination regardless of the time of day, but if you’re looking for a constructive but fun nighttime activity, the Up Late event is one of your best bets.
The Up Late events at the Gallery feature live music from a variety of local and touring acts, many of which are internationally acclaimed. The whole gallery is filled with live music. Another incredible feature of GOMA’s evening programming is the NightLife light exhibition from James Turrell. The whole gallery turns into a massive light show running from sunset to midnight. GOMA is a must-visit Brisbane museum, but with these events, the gallery has turned itself into an essential nightlife experience.
Take A Boozy Painting Class
Brisbane’s West End neighborhood is as artsy as they come, but the wine bar and art gallery Cork & Chroma takes it to another level. The shop hosts a free craft workshop where students get to learn their brush strokes while sipping on an amazing variety of Australian wines.
The class is laid back and perfect for beginners, and the Friday night atmosphere is social. The instructors are having as much fun as the class!
Take a Ride on the Brisbane Wheel
If you enjoy magnificent views and aren’t terrified of heights, it’s definitely worth a quick trip to the South Bank Parklands to check out the enormous Ferris Wheel. Each compartment can seat up to 8 people, which makes it a perfect activity for groups and families. The nighttime view of Brisbane CBD, the illuminated Story Bridge, and Kangaroo Point Cliffs are stunning, and the relaxing experience will help you wind down an evening. The Instagrams will definitely impress.
Get Scientific at The Cosmic Skydome
Located within the expansive Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium exhibits a full program of shows in their Cosmic Skydome. These offer a realistic and enthralling glimpse of various biological and scientific subjects, with incredibly advanced 3D and VR technology. These two-part tours will show visualizations of animal life and other biological organisms, and before delving into the deep constellations and night sky above Brisbane.
The Cosmic Skydome and Botanic Gardens are located in the suburb of Mount Coot-tha, Queensland, but it’s a short drive and fairly accessible.
Grab a Pint at Howard Smith Wharves
Located in the shadows of the Story Bridge near New Farm Cliffs, the Howard Smith Wharves have been transformed from an industrial corridor to a thriving restaurant and nightlife venue. There are dozens of options including The Stabkey Restaurant, Yoko Dining, Ciao Papi, Fiume at The Fantuzzo, and most famously Felon’s Brewing Company. The fun atmosphere and amazing views of the water make this a must-visit destination for local food and craft beer. Another amazing option for outdoor food and beers on a Friday night is the Eat Street Northshore facility just up the river.
Check Out The Night Lights at Kangaroo Point Cliffs
Kangaroo Point Cliffs are a must-visit destination for stellar views and access to nature, regardless of the time of day. But this geological feature offers some of Brisbane’s most iconic views. The rhyolite rock of the cliffs reflects light, creating otherworldly views at night.
The gorgeous scenery makes for a wonderfully romantic evening stroll. There are plenty of places to lay out a picnic, and the area rarely feels overrun with tourists. Most importantly, Kangaroo Point Cliffs have the locals’ stamp of approval, this wonderful area is much more than a tourist attraction, they’re a vital part of Queensland’s natural beauty.
Check Out the Glow Worms at Springbrook Reserve
If you’re spending some time around Brisbane with access to a car and an eye for nature, this Eco-Adventure at Queensland’s Springbrook Reserve is an amazing nighttime activity that you can’t find anywhere else. Glow worms are enchanting creatures found in caves and the dark depths of heavily-wooded forests. Their glowing forms are a sight to behold when contrasted with the black of night. Springbrook Conservation Area is a World Heritage National Park, and there are systems of caves that can be explored to find stalagmites, amazing geological features, and of course, glow worms. On your way to this guided tour, you’ll be able to see other animals on your hike through the damp rainforest to the caves.
Scale The Story Bridge
While anyone who has a fear of heights can see the illuminated colors of the Story Bridge from just about anywhere on the Brisbane River, brave souls can climb 240 feet (74 meters) up the bridge for stellar views and bragging rights.
Follow the trail of neon with your knowledgeable guide up to the top so you can enjoy breathtaking views of Brisbane all the way to Moreton Bay and Gold Coast. Your guide will be filling you in on the historical and cultural story of Brisbane throughout the tour, and you’ll have time to get to know other members of your group on the trek. It’s a solid workout and you will not be disappointed by the views.
Seek Out The Brisbane Arcade Ghost (if you dare)
This Victorian-era building showcases some of the most historic architecture in all of Brisbane, and the quaint boutiques and shops provide one of the city’s most charming shopping experiences. But The Brisbane Arcade has a ghostly reputation for a reason. There have been sightings of a ghost (known locally as a specter of Brisbane Arcade) dressed in Victorian-garb walking the arcade and balcony at night.
The well-dressed ghost on the balcony is just one story. The Butcher of Brisbane Arcade is certainly the more disturbing shade lurking throughout this otherwise splendid building. There are tales involving a meat cleaver that you won’t want the children to hear! There are reports from shop owners of mysterious voices and shrieks heard throughout the building. The Arcade has plaques and guides for you to explore this haunted building if you’re brave enough. Ghost sighting or not, it's some of the best shopping to be had in Brisbane at night.
Catch a Free Comedy Show
Brisbane may not have the same reputation for comedy as New York or Los Angeles, but in Australia, this hotspot for stand-up comedy has one of the best scenes. There are a number of clubs where touring and local comedians ply their trade during open-mic nights or more serious expositions. The best clubs for stand-up comedy are Blute’s Bar in Fortitude Valley, Powerhouse in New Farn, and The Milk Factory in South Brisbane. These clubs all showcase local and emerging talent, and many of them are free comedy shows. The biggest club is The Milk Factory in South Brisbane. Check the calendar to see which world-renowned headliner is coming through town.
Brisbane and its many neighborhoods have so much to offer, regardless of the time of day. There are amazing Fortitude Valley restaurants, museums, nightlife, and countless ways to enjoy an evening with the family, a group of friends, or on a romantic getaway. Perhaps the way to experience Brisbane at night is to enjoy the many amazing sights around the River. You can enjoy fanciful geological features like the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, or enjoy the wonderfully-lit architecture under Brisbane's night sky. Regardless of what your evening itinerary is, enjoy it to the fullest by letting a Bounce storage facility take care of the bags.