Canberra long weekend guide: what's on March 9-12
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Canberra long weekend guide: what's on March 9-12

With three glorious days off - here's how to spend them if you're staying in Canberra.

1. CANBERRA BALLOON SPECTACULAR

The Canberra Balloon Spectacular starts on Saturday morning, launched from the lawns of Old Parliament House.

The Canberra Balloon Spectacular starts on Saturday morning, launched from the lawns of Old Parliament House.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

It's one of the largest and longest running hot air balloon festivals in the world, and the Canberra Balloon Spectacular is back from this Saturday. This year's new balloons include Kerbie the frog, and a very colourful hummingbird. While the sky is their domain, the place to be will be the lawns of Old Parliament House, with pilots inflating the balloons from 6.15am and it's free to go along and watch. If you want to head up in one of the balloons, visit balloonaloftcanberra.com.au. The Canberra Balloon Spectacular is on every morning from March 10-18. Balloon flights are weather dependant - you can check the Enlighten Facebook page each morning to check daily information. To help with the early morning, there's coffee available, plus food vans cooking up breakfast.

2. SYMPHONY IN THE PARK

After playing the hits of ABBA last year, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra is this year teaming up with conductor George Ellis and tribute bands the Killer Queen Experience. The entirely new production, created especially for Canberra, is two hours of the top hits from Queen, from Bohemian Rhapsody, and Another One Bites the Dust, to We Are the Champions and Under Pressure. The concert starts at 7.30pm at Stage 88 in Commonwealth Park, and is free. Take along your picnic and rug, and head in early to snag a good patch of grass. See cso.org.au.

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3. CANBERRA DAY

Celebrate Canberra's 105th birthday on Monday at Commonwealth Park, with a whole afternoon of free entertainment from 2pm. Early on, the Lah Lah's Big Live Band will entertain the kiddies, then Brisbane's Sheppard headline an evening of live music which includes former triple J Unearthed winner Ali Barter and Canberra's Lucy Sugerman. There will also be rides, face painting and food for sale. From 2-7pm. Free.

4. NITRO CIRCUS

Travis Pastrana and his action sports enthusiast friends are jetting around the world delivering heart-stopping stunts, and Canberra is their first stop. This year's tour includes never-before-seen tricks in BMX, scooter and inline plus a range of outrageous contraptions like their '50-foot Giganta Ramp'. They'll be at GIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon, from 3pm. Tickets at ticketek.com.au.

5. BLACK OPAL STAKES

Glam up on Sunday for the Black Opal Stakes at Thoroughbred Park. Gates open at 11.30am, with an eight-race program, live music, food stalls, and the all-important fashions on the field, plus free entertainment including a jumping castle, face painting and petting zoo for the kids. Tickets at ticketek.com.au or at the gate.

6. ENLIGHTEN NIGHT NOODLE MARKETS

This weekend is your last chance to stuff your face at the Enlighten Night Noodle Markets - they finish up on Sunday. Sitting right next to the main creative projections in Reconciliation Place, this year there are 21 stalls offering up plenty of Asian dishes to satisfy both your tastebuds and your Instagram feed (stallholders this year include Gelato Messina, Hoy Pinoy, Chur Burger, KorBQ and Black Star Pastry). It's free to get in, all ages, and even the dog is welcome. To help keep the queues down, payment is by card only so leave the cash at home. Open Mon to Wed 5-9pm, Thurs 5-10pm, Fri 5pm-midnight, Sat 4pm-midnight, Sun 4-9pm. See goodfoodmonth.com.

7. LIGHTS CANBERRA ACTION

Also part of the Enlighten Festival, Lights! Canberra! Action! film-making festival is back for its 15th year. Participating filmmakers are given a list of 10 items to include in their movie, with only 10 days to shoot, edit and produce a seven-minute film exploring a theme. The 12 finalist films will be screened under the stars at the Senate Rose Gardens at the Museum of Australian Democracy on Friday night from 7pm. Take your own picnic rug and movie snacks. Free.

Jil Hogan

Jil Hogan is an food and lifestyle reporter at The Canberra Times.

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