A sensory travel guide to Canberra

This is sponsored content for VisitCanberra.

No season elevates the senses more than spring. And Canberra, the place named third in Lonely Planet's top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2018, embraces that with gusto. Floriade, from September 14 – October 13, is Australia's biggest celebration of spring, bringing one million blooms and unfathomable fun to lush Commonwealth Park. The al fresco umbrellas are up across the region's fabulous cellar doors, restaurants, cafes and bars. The spring menus are on. Museums, galleries and theatres are jumping with new art and entertainment and the weather is perfect to explore the region's burgeoning natural attractions, on foot, bike or boat.

Only three hours from Sydney, whether it's sight, sound, taste, touch or smell, when our senses are coming out of hibernation, Canberra is the perfect place in which to spend all that reawakened lust for life. Here are five ways how.


Visual delights abound in Canberra's springtime. Of course, Floriade dazzles with its myriad of colours and is a do-not-miss. But mixing it up with a show or exhibition turns a short break into a visual feast. This spring, the much-lauded production of West Side Story based around the classic's original choreography hits the Canberra Theatre, October 10-20.

Experience over 100 playable games at Game Masters, including Dance Central 3.

Experience over 100 playable games at Game Masters, including Dance Central 3. Photo: Harmonix

Meanwhile, animation lovers of all ages are in for a huge treat when DreamWorks' Animation: The Exhibition comes to the National Museum of Australia. Interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, original concept art, maquettes, and digital interactive experiences offer insight into some of the world's most loved movies, including Kung Fu Panda and Shrek. It's on from September 20.

And over at the National Film and Sound Archive, Game Masters: The Exhibition showcases more than 100 playable games and 30 game designers, highlighting the world's most influential creators from the arcade era to now.


Commonwealth Park at NightFest, Floriade's after dark festival, hosts some stellar music acts, including The Veronicas, Electric Fields, and BUSBY MAROU on the after-sunset stage. Then there's comedy, with Dave Hughes and Urzila Carlson performing.

Visit Nightfest at Commonwealth Park for live music and comedy performances.

Visit NightFest at Commonwealth Park for live music and comedy performances. Photo: Martin Ollman. 

Elsewhere, Canberra's world class concert and music venues are hosting a diversity of artists such as Kris Kristofferson, Birds of Tokyo, Amy Shark, Kasey Chambers and Paul Dempsey.

If spoken word is your jam, Dame Edna Everage, Michael Parkinson and Joel Creasey are just a few of the amazing options available. There's burlesque, ballet, classical concerts, rock, jazz, country, pop … audio fiends are spoiled for choice.


Olives, honey, wine, beer, spirits, beautiful fresh produce and artisan-created gourmet fare … Canberra at any time of the year is a foodies' heaven. And in spring, the offerings are amped up with pop-ups, festivals and celebratory menus welcoming the warmer weather.

The Cool Climate Wine Show is an important trade event, but it opens to the public on Saturday September 14 for tastings of award-winning Riesling and Shiraz alongside many other varietals. Places at the Long Table Wine Luncheon are in high demand – it's where the year's show winners are announced along with a five-course gourmet meal accompanied by trophy and medal-winning wines. Similarly, you can spend the weekend (October 5-6) at Murrumbateman Moving Feast meeting the makers of – as well as indulging in – Murrumbateman's finest tipple and produce.

Pialligo Estate is just one of the many Canberra region restaurants and cellar doors which host special food and wine events. A venue that is passionate about connecting the community with how food is grown and produced, Pialligo hosts the Trafalgar Food and Wine Event on October 15 , an example of their incredible hospitality, where guests taste wines, tour the organic garden, learn pasta making and enjoy a two-course meal.

Visit Pialligo Estate for all of your good food and wine needs.

Visit Pialligo Estate for all of your good food and wine needs. Photo: VisitCanberra

And at Floriade and NightFest, the local producers are out in force, with food stalls for the kids, pop-up eateries and even a pop-up pub.


In Canberra it's easy to get back in touch with nature. The city is not only surrounded by rolling countryside and pristine bushland within a short drive, but at its centre is the expansive, green-ringed serenity of Lake Burley Griffin. In the buzzy capital with all its cool city stuff to do, you are never far away from the natural world.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a much-loved Canberra green space. It's also an important place to the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region and was a significant meeting place to neighbouring clans.

During the spring school holidays, visitors can feel the earth and the hum of the ancient land under foot during A Wild Night Out at Tidbinbilla, a family sleepout in glamping tents with real beds. It includes campfire activities with breakfast and dinner, night ranger expeditions and insight into the wildlife and botanic wonders of this special, 54.5 square hectare place. Dates run September 27 –October 12.

Experience glamping under the stars at a Wild Night out at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

Experience glamping under the stars at a Wild Night out at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Photo: Lean Timms


Canberra is heaven-scented in spring, especially when Floriade rolls into town. And there's no better experience which which to welcome spring than Australia's biggest celebration of the prettiest of seasons. More than one million individual flowers are the centrepiece of this much-loved spectacular, now in its 32nd year and in addition to the amazing smell of those glorious blooms, there's so much for all the senses at the free festival. Get tactile with horticultural workshops for the seriously green-fingered and crafting tutorials for the aspiring artisan. See amazing artistic displays, hear great music at concerts, touch beautiful handicrafts at market stalls, taste amazing local produce – it's virtually guaranteed you'll be feeling the happy vibes whatever sense you choose to indulge.

Have a stroll and take time to smell the flowers at this year's Floriade.

Have a stroll and take time to smell the flowers at this year's Floriade. Photo: Martin Ollman

For many more ideas on planning a sensory spring getaway, see visitcanberra.com.au