Canberra Day
Canberra Day

Canberra Day 2016

If you've been itching to visit Canberra but were looking for a reason, you can stop dawdling. Head to the bush capital on Monday 14th March to join the locals in celebrating Canberra Day.

Who celebrates Canberra Day?

Only the ACT gets a public holiday out of Canberra Day. Celebrations take place throughout March, but it's on the second Monday of the month that Canberrans celebrate the official naming of the capital.

Canberra was officially named on 12 March 1913 by Lady Denman, wife of Governor-General Lord Denman, in a ceremony on Capital Hill where Parliament House now stands. The formerly sleepy backwater had been chosen as the site of Australia's purpose-built capital several years earlier, and if it hadn't, Sydney and Melbourne would still be arguing over their respective claims today.

Why is it called "Canberra" anyway?

Nobody really knows, but everyone has their theory. One theory goes that the word is derived from "Kambera" or "Canberry," which may (or may not) have been the Indigenous Ngunnawal word for "meeting place."

A sexier theory is that the name is a corruption of "Nganbra" or "Nganbira," a term for breasts used in reference to the curves of Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie. If you weren't already sold on your Canberra trip, you are now.

How do the locals celebrate?

There's no shortage of things to do on Canberra Day, especially as most businesses are closed and ACT residents get to make the most of the long autumn weekend. Whether you're joining the throng for the birthday bash in the park or checking out what's going on at more intimate venues around the city, there's no better time to pay Australia's capital a visit.

Even if you miss the big day itself, Canberra Day is just the centrepiece of the 10-day Canberra Festival of music, theatre, sport, food and everything else. Festival season is also your chance to see a different side of the city's prestigious national attractions when they open their doors after-hours for special events.

You won't have to worry about getting around in Canberra as a visitor, with public transport schedules and off-peak tickets making sure you won't miss out.

What's the best place to celebrate Canberra Day?

If you're eager to be where the action is, you won't want to miss the Canberra Day celebrations in Commonwealth Park. Starting at 2:00pm, 2016's live entertainment line-up features such diverse acts as local house music duo The Aston Shuffle, the Brass Knuckle Brass Band and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, catering for all possible tastes.

If that's not enough, there are plenty of free and paid attractions to keep kids and overgrown kids occupied throughout the day, from face painting and crafts to thrilling rides, as well as food vans on-site whenever you need to recharge your batteries.