Five cultural events to watch out for


While Canberra’s event calendar is even quieter than usual this January, there’s plenty of premier entertainment coming to town over the coming months. CW arts editor Denholm Samaras looks at five cultural events to get along to in early 2020.

Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhale returns to Canberra skies in March. Photo: Martin Ollman.

Skywhales: every heart sings The Balnaves Contemporary Series

National Gallery of Australia, 7 March – 30 May

While it divided public opinion at the time and was the butt of many lacklustre jokes throughout Canberra’s 100th year, acclaimed Canberra artist Patricia Piccinini’s polarising and controversial Skywhale has aged like fine wine.

Since being unveiled to commemorate Canberra’s centenary in 2013, the infamous balloon has flown around the world, and was fittingly donated to the National Gallery of Australia recently, the site where she took her first flight.

NGA Director Nick Mitzevich described Skywhale as “one of the most talked about artworks in the history of Australia” when it was donated to the Gallery.

And in March, it will gloriously take to Canberra’s skies again, accompanied by Piccinini’s new companion hot air balloon, Skywhalepapa.

sketch of Skywhalepapa in the cultural event Skywhales
Artist’s sketch of Skywhalepapa, Piccinini’s new companion hot air balloon to Skywhale.

Together, they will form a skywhale family that will be launched near the Gallery, and take flight over Canberra eight times during the exhibition period.

The sculptures will then float across the skies of Australia as a National Gallery travelling exhibition.


Truth, Power and a Free Press

MoAD, Permanent

Another of the cultural events is Truth, Power and a Free Press which is a new contemporary exhibition, housed in a never before seen space of Old Parliament House.

Empowering visitors to unpack the importance of trusted media sources in a democracy, this exhibition brings together powerful stories and objects that span the history of media in Australia.

The exhibition lays bare the technological evolution of Australia’s media history, with items ranging from a mid-19th-century printing press used by Sir Henry Parkes to the modern-day iPhone.

A 7-foot tall interactive audio-visual installation allows visitors to hear the extraordinary first-hand stories from those on the frontline of the battle for truth.

As part of the exhibition, the former Parliamentary Broadcasting and ABC Studio were restored to reflect the studio in 1988. This studio has never before been open to the public.

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The Beanies Egg-straordinary day

The Q, Queanbeyan, 12-14 March

3 members of the beanies sitting on bench
See the Beanies at The Q in March. Photo: Jay La.

Canberra’s answer to the almighty skivvies (The Wiggles), the ARIA Award nominated Beanies will bring their egg-straordinary live show to The Q in March.

Laura, Mim and Michael Beanie will hit the stage with gusto, performing their songs that are silly, fun, imaginative and educational while cool confetti cannons, sneaky robbers and lots of silly jokes will make for an afternoon of fun for mini-beanies and their big people.

As far as live family entertainment goes, this critically acclaimed live show featuring locals Miriam Rizvi and Laura Dawson is a must-see.


H.M.S. Pinafore

The Q, Queanbeyan, 25-29 February

Set sail on the high seas with Gilbert & Sullivan’s beloved comedy of star-crossed lovers, mismatched marriages and mistaken identities.

Award winning director, Kate Gaul, makes her Hayes Theatre Co. debut with this re-imagined, gender-bending, hyper-theatrical and kinky take on this Gilbert & Sullivan classic.

If you’re looking for a great night out with captivating choreography, exquisite costumes and the songs that ushered in a new era of entertainment, then don’t miss out on this rollicking farce and get set for some hysterical hi-jinks on the high seas.


Anthems Festival

Commonwealth Park, 28 March

Another of the cultural events to get along to is the Anthems Festival. Enjoy a day of throwback Australian anthems featuring some of Australia’s biggest hit makers at one of Canberra’s most picturesque outdoor venues.

Headlining this year’s Anthems is the iconic Sydney pub rock band, Icehouse, who will be supported by the ARIA Award winning Temper Trap, Eskimo Joe, and the reformed Rogue Traders with frontwoman Natalie Bassingthwaighte.


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