Summer is a slow awakening in Brisbane. After the indulgences of Christmas and New Year the city shakes off its hangover and the events calendar slowly springs back into life. Restaurants reopen, bars begin to fill and the city’s sultry, sociable party atmosphere once again takes hold. By late January you’ll find plenty to do, from a lazy swim in historic baths to first-class international exhibitions in the city’s art precincts.

Catching the sunset from Limes Hotel Roof Bar terrace. Image by Richard Moross / CC BY 2.0

Tuck into Great Australian Bites

A culinary celebration of Australia Day, Great Australian Bites runs for four days over the long weekend that leads into the January 26 public holiday. South Bank’s scenic River Quay is stacked with a bunch of excellent restaurants; this is a nice opportunity to sample their wares without breaking the bank. Drinks are also on offer and entry is free.

Where: South Bank

More info: riverquay.com.au

 Watch the ICC Cricket World Cup blow into the Gabba

While it’s a local icon, the Gabba isn’t actually the finest cricket ground in Brisbane; that honour belongs to the idyllic Allan Border Field in Albion. Still, it’s over 20 years since the Cricket World Cup visited Australia so some do-or-die international matches shouldn’t be missed.

Where: The Gabba (Vulture St, Woolloongabba)

More info: icc-cricket.com

The Brisbane Cricket Ground affectionately referred to as The Gabba. Image by Rae Allen // CC BY 2.0

Enjoy an afternoon beer at Green Beacon Brewing Co.

Green Beacon was one of the first of Newstead’s rash of charming brewhouses and some would argue it’s the best — in the afternoon anyway. Grab a medal-winning Windjammer Indian Pale Ale and relax in this reconditioned warehouse with its giant roller door open to the breeze that barrels up Helen St. There is bar food on offer but most people are only here for one thing: beer.

Where: Green Beacon Brewing Co. (26 Helen St, Teneriffe)

More info: greenbeacon.com.au

Catch a Queensland Reds game at Suncorp Stadium

The Reds have recently been one of the stronger teams in the Southern Hemisphere’s Super Rugby championship — a competition that’s marked (in Brisbane, at least) by its kick-off in mid-February, when the weather is well and truly sweltering. The Queensland crowds are capricious; if their team is doing poorly they simply won’t turn up. Look for a Reds vs New South Wales Waratahs derby to fill the house.

Where: Suncorp Stadium (40 Castlemaine St, Milton)

More info: suncorpstadium.com.au

Visit GOMA for a dose of modern art (and air conditioning)

Care of a succession of impressive exhibitions and an endlessly expanding collection of Asian art, the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA as the locals call it) is now regarded as one of the best art spaces of its type. The serene atmosphere and impressive architecture is also worth checking out (the air conditioning is pretty sweet too). Entry is free but for international exhibitions you will hand over some cash. In 2015 check out Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion (adult/child $20/free) running until February 15.

Where: Stanley Place, South Bank

More info: qagoma.qld.gov.au

Big Brisbane views from the Queensland Art Gallery (GOMA). Image by Bert Knottenbeld / CC BY SA 2.0

Listen up at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival

The nation-wide Laneway Festival just turned 10 years old and is now regarded as one of the best music festivals in Australia. Rightly so: promoters Jerome Borazio and Danny Rogers’ capacity for balancing an intimate atmosphere with cutting edge independent music is second to none. The line-up tours Australia’s major cities and a no-headliner policy giving the whole affair a very Aussie egalitarian feel. Brisbane is one of the best stops on the tour — particularly now it’s moved to a more spacious section of the RNA Showgrounds.

Where: RNA Showgrounds (600 Gregory Tce, Bowen Hills)

More info: lanewayfestival.com

Cool off at the Spring Hill Baths

Take a dip in the heritage-listed baths in the historic suburb of Spring Hill, just a stone’s throw from the city. Built in 1886, this dapper little building was Brisbane’s first in-ground pool, its multi-coloured, individual changing rooms and grandstand seating reek old school charm. Make an afternoon of it before wandering down to the Alliance Hotel (320 Boundary Street) for refreshments.

Where: Spring Hill Baths (14 Torrington St, Spring Hill)

More info: cityaquatics.com.au

LOLing at the Brisbane Comedy Festival

It’s no longer just the southern cities that pack a formidable comedy festival, Brisbane leveraging the Powerhouse’s impressive digs presents some of the best local and national comedians, as well as intimidating talent from overseas. Two restaurant-bars — Watt and Alto — are on hand to keep you laughing and lubricated long into the night.

Where: Brisbane Powerhouse (119 Lamington St, New Farm)

More info: brisbanepowerhouse.org

Wander the Eat Street Markets

Eat Street is a year-round kind of thing but summer is prime time. It is a dockyard recreation of a hustling, bustling Asian street market but with an extra buzz in summer with the warm weather and the breeze blowing in from the bay.  It can get a little rambunctious at times, but this is a much needed shot in the arm for the neat but rather stiff Portside precinct and cruise ship terminal that sit adjacent. Open Friday and Saturday nights; with fashion and music added to the foodie mix.

Where: Macarthur Ave, Hamilton

More info: eatstreetmarkets.com

Eat Street Market offers more than food selections. Image by @Agentcikay / CC BY 2.0

Rooftop cinema at Limes Hotel

Limes Hotel, one of the best boutique digs in Brisbane, also delivers one of the finest rooftop bars in the city. The views from the top are spectacular:  city centre on one side and the cranes of Brisbane’s never-ending expansion on the other. Every Wednesday and Thursday things get even more special when the bar turns itself over to films both old and new. Tickets are reasonably priced and the breeze a midsummer blessing.

Where: Limes Hotel (142 Constance St, Fortitude Valley)

More info: limeshotel.com.au

Dinner on the river at Bar Alto

One of the most reliable restaurants in town, with snappy service, a superb location attached to the Brisbane Powerhouse and hearty Italian food that speaks to New Farm’s very particular history. Eat inside if you like, but outside on the first floor deck is where it’s at, the views across Brisbane River to the flashy neighbourhood Hawthorne second to none. Try to get a 7pm seating so you can take in the last of the summer light. Pair it with a show at the Powerhouse and you’re looking at a perfect evening.

Where: Brisbane Powerhouse (119 Lamington St, New Farm)

More info: baralto.com.au

Drink on the deck at Bacchus

A place to be seen at as much it is to be enjoyed, Bacchus’ knowing opulence and expansive pool deck are nevertheless hard to argue with. Built into the first level of the Rydges hotel, this is a place for Brisbane’s bright young things – who are friendlier than most. Stay for the long haul or just enjoy the summer breeze whipping down Grey St before you set off to explore the rest of the South Brisbane precinct.

Where: Cnr Grey St & Glenelg Streets, South Brisbane

More info: bacchussouthbank.com.au

Explore related stories