29 December 2020

Things to see and do over the Christmas and New Year break in Canberra

| Sharon Kelley
National Dinosaur Museum

Meet the dinosaurs at the National Dinosaur Museum. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

It’s been a long and very confined year, but now is the time to get out and about and enjoy our national institutions and visitor attractions. To help you plan your Christmas/New Year break, we’ve got all you need to know about what’s open, and when. But you’ll need to pre-book online before heading out for almost all venues.

For the culture vultures

National Gallery of Australia

The Gallery will be continuing the Know My Name: Women Artists from 1900 to Now exhibition. The Gallery is asking us to book a timed ticket, which you can do online.

National Library of Australia

The National Library is a fascinating place, and their current exhibition Australian Dreams: Picturing our Built World is well worth a look.


The National Portrait Gallery’s Pub Rock exhibition. Photo: Supplied.

National Portrait Gallery

There are some great portraits hanging in exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery this summer, including Pub Rock and Before Hand: The Private Life of a Portrait. You can book a ticket to see all exhibitions with timed ticketing only.

For the kids


Our favourite STEM venue is open again, so while you have the kids, take them to visit Questacon, and don’t miss the Spectacular Science Shows running through the day. Pre-book your visit online.

National Zoo and Aquarium

Give the animals some love by visiting the Zoo between the hours of 9:30 am to 5:00 pm daily (except for Christmas Day). Some great deals on family tickets are available at the Zoo gate.

National Dinosaur Museum

Dinosaur night tours at the National Dinosaur Museum. Photo: Supplied.

National Dinosaur Museum

The kids will love the Dinosaurs at Night Tour at the National Dinosaur Museum. Pre-book online here.

Cockington Green

The kids will also love seeing the miniature village at Cockington Green, which is open every day with pre-booked ticketing.

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. Photo: Supplied.

For nature lovers

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Did you know Canberra plays a role in NASA’s exploration of space, with our very own Deep Space Communication Complex? Head out to the centre with your family this summer at Tidbinbilla from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily (closed 25 and 26 December) and see what they’re tracking out in space.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Take a walk in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve between 7:30 am and 8:00 pm and see if you can spot some native wildlife like an Eastern Bettong. Before you go, do check their website as the Reserve and Visitor Centre may be closed on days of total fire ban, severe weather events, or for management requirements.

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Don’t miss the Dirkswirks Timber Mosaics exhibition at the Australian National Botanic Gardens these holidays. Photo: Jack Mohr.

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Enjoy a picnic at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. While you’re there check out the Dirkswirks Timber Mosaics exhibition, or if you would like to dine in at the Pollen Cafe you will need to pre-book.

National Arboretum

Aerial view of Tuggeranong Parkway passing near National Arboretum in Canberra. Photo: File.

The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum is a great outdoors option for a walk, and the Grounds and Pod Playground will be open daily from 6:00 am to 8:30 pm over Christmas. The Village Centre including the Curatoreum gift shop and Arboretum Cafe will be open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, but is closed on Christmas Day.

For everyone

Behind the Lines

The Behind The Lines exhibition at MoAD features this Whoosh Play, showing you which dog’s breakfast your 2020 has been. Photo: Supplied.

Museum of Australian Democracy

The Museum of Australian Democracy has some great events happening this summer, including Behind the Lines: the year in political cartoons, and the must-not-miss Truth, Power and a Free Press. It is open every day (except Christmas Day) with pre-booked timed ticketing from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The Australian War Memorial

Explore the Ink in the Lines and The Napier Waller Art Prize exhibitions now open at the Australian War Memorial. Open daily except for Christmas Day with free entry, but you must have a ticket which you can book online.

Catch the Life and Times of Edmund Barton exhibition at Parliament House and learn about Australia’s first Prime Minister. Photo: File.

Parliament House of Australia

Parliament House will be open daily for visitors with pre-booked timed tickets, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Catch the Life and Times of Edmund Barton: Australia’s first Prime Minister exhibition.

Original Article published by Sharon Kelley on The RiotACT.

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