11 of the best things to do in Brisbane at night
If you thought fun in Brisbane City only had daylight opening hours, think again. As the sun sets and natural light fades, a string of festoon, neon, and fairy lights illuminate a different side of Brisbane, and it’s well worth becoming a night owl to discover the CBD after dark.
From pubs and painting to galleries and games, here’s 11 things to do in Brisbane at night.
1. Stuff your stomach
Being unable to decide on dinner is a problem as old as, well, dinner. To skip all the confusion, head to Hamilton for a night of nibbling at Eat Street Northshore.
From American-style burgers to Vietnamese bao buns, every corner of the globe is covered, transporting your taste buds from salty snacks through to sugar-coma.
Stroll through the elaborately decorated laneways (we’re talking everything from boats and giant marine creatures to fluoro lights and disco balls) to sample different cuisines from over 70 stalls, without leaving the banks of the Brisbane River.
2. Paddles and prawns
Switch up your usual daylight view of the Brisbane River with an evening kayak tour of the city as it basks in the evening lights.
Riverlife offers three tours over the weekend including Friday night paddles and prawns, Saturday night paddle and BBQ and Sunday’s sunset paddle, dips and drinks.
On the Friday night tour you’ll spend 90 minutes gliding along the river in an illuminated kayak, passing under the Story Bridge, along South Bank and the CBD before returning for buckets of fresh ocean king prawns, bread rolls and an assortment of chilled beer, wine and soft drinks.
3. Head to Howard Smith Wharves
What do you do when you have a balmy tropical climate all year round? Drink outside, of course.
Howard Smith Wharves opened in late 2018, headlined by the imposing Felons Brewing Company and neighbouring cocktail bar Mr. Percival’s.
Add dining venues such as Arc Dining and Wine Bar, the Cantonese inspired Stanley and the Greek offering of Greca Restaurant and there’s no wonder why this is the most pumping spots in Brisbane year round. Check out this post for everything you need to know.
4. Watch a movie under the stars
For a cinema experience straight out of a rom-com, shake up your usual date night and get your special someone over to Roma Street Parkland.
From 14 December to 29 March, the Moonlight Cinema takes over the Amphitheatre in the iconic park with Christmas movies (yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie), classics and new releases scattered across the program.
For the organised romantics, you can BYO a picnic blanket, pillows, and dinner, or for the spontaneous, hire a bean bed and pick up dinner (Mexican-inspired fare and classic movie snacks) and drinks (we’re talking espresso martinis, Squealing Pig wines and a range of beers) as you settle in under the stars.
5. Go to the game via Caxton Street
It’s hard to think of a street in Brisbane that comes more alive than Caxton Street on Game Day. NRL fan or not, a packed Caxton Street on State of Origin night is an experience every sport fan should have once.
If you’re looking for the ultimate weekend of football-Caxton-football repeat, circle May 1-3 2020 in your calendar for the second edition of Magic Round.
6. Get your game on
Step back in time at Netherworld, a bar-slash-diner-slash-old-school-arcade perched on the cusp of Fortitude Valley.
Enter the monster-themed underworld to find pinball, arcade classics and Nintendo consoles, with gaming relics dating back to the 70’s, and a high scoreboard with your name begging to be written all over it.
Another option, this time in the heart of the Valley within the historic TCB Building is B. Lucky and Sons, an arcade bar with all the classics from space invaders to hoops and Mario Kart. Bring your competitive streak for this one.
7. Cancel your curfew with GOMA Up Late
Get yourself to the cultural heart of Brisbane (that is, South Bank) and stroll past Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) to see James Turrell’s Night Life, a light installation on the facade of the building that runs from sunset to midnight (the whole sequence runs for 88 minutes).
Pair this with dinner at one of the City’s best restaurants and a walk along the river (maybe with a gelato from Messina in hand) and you have a very solid Brisbane date night.
8. Scale the Story Bridge
Follow the neon lights to the top of the Story Bridge with a night climb, where you ascend 74 metres (close to the height of a 22-storey building) for sweeping Brisbane views and a history lesson dished up at great heights.
Once you reach the top, standing on 12,000 tonnes of structural steel, you’re rewarded with 360 panoramic views of the bridge, looking straight into the skyline of the city out as far as the Gold Coast and Moreton Bay.
9. Get lost down a laneway
The once dingy alleyways of Brisbane have been transformed (with new options still popping up), with enough hidden gems to fill this guide.
Packing some of the best Italian food, live music, eclectic homewares and op-shops, seek and you shall find inside Brisbane’s twinkle-lit laneways after dark.
10. Tune in for live gigs
Brisbane’s live music scene received a massive boost in 2019 with the opening of Fortitude Music Hall.
The largest ballroom/theatre styled venue in Australia, Fortitude Music Hall has a 3,000 person standing capacity and was inspired by some of the world’s most loved live music venues – from classic art deco theatres to larger clubs, while still paying homage to the iconic venues of Brisbane’s past.
Other classics including the Triffid, Brightside and the Tivoli are all amazing venues for checking out local or touring talent.
11. Sip and swish a paintbrush
If you thought Brisbane’s West End couldn’t get any more artistic, think again. The creative district is home to Cork & Chroma and the order of events is simple: hold a paintbrush in one hand and a glass of Pinot Grigio in the other.
Get your creative juices flowing (no, we aren’t talking about your wine, although you can do that too) at their relaxed painting classes. Everyone is given a picture to replicate under the guidance of a professional artist but expect lots of laughter, especially if your end product still resembles a stick figure.