Fill your days on a shoestring with these free and affordable things to do in The City

Fill your days on a shoestring with these free and affordable things to do in The City

Looking to have maximum fun with minimal spending? The City is bursting with things to do on a dime, from free music gigs and secret garden adventures to mid-week cheap eats. Here are five ways to fill your days and have a blast on a budget.

Kick back to free live tunes at Gigs & Picnics
On the last Saturday of the month, roll out a picnic rug and enjoy an afternoon of live beats and tasty eats at Gigs & Picnics – a free event that takes place in the heart of Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens. Held from March to May and again from August to October, the Gigs & Picnics program sees different local artists across a wide range of genres (from blues and jazz to reggae and swing) take to the stage, delighting locals with a soundtrack of live tunes as they lounge and snack beneath the shady trees. Head along with your own spread of picnic provisions, or grab a tasty bite on site. Each month there’s one savoury and one sweet food truck to cater to your snacking whims. Gigs & Picnics is free to attend and it’s best to use the main entrance on Alice Street. Furry friends are invited, too!

Catch free exhibitions and jump into walking tours at Museum of Brisbane
Experience the city’s vibrant culture through Museum of Brisbane’s year-round program of exhibitions, which are completely free to see every day of the week. Right now, you can revel in the beautiful blooms of Brisbane with Rearranged: Art of the Flower (on display until September), explore the ever-changing city through new eyes in Making Place: 100 Views of Brisbane, or drop in to witness the flourishing community-led project from artist in residence Hiromi Tango. Keen to peel back the layers of Brisbane’s storied history? Then lace up for one MoB’s affordable walking tours, which start from just $25, or jump into a free Museum Highlights or Brisbane City Hall tour. You can view the 2024 program of tours via the MoB website.

Discover new music at City Sounds
For more than two decades, City Sounds has been introducing Brisbane locals to their favourite new artists and bands every week, by transforming ordinary urban spaces into pop-up music venues. These live mini gigs are all completely free, and are ideal for music lovers seeking out a set – and double as a delightful, toe-tapping surprise for those that just happen to be stumbling by. As Australia’s largest and longest-running free music program, City Sounds sees a weekly roster of both established and emerging talent across a range of genres (from alternative to indie, folk, jazz, electronic music and more) performing in a range of spaces throughout Queen Street Mall, Post Office Square, Reddacliff Place and other pop-up locations in The City. Check out the City Sounds gig guide to discover some of Brisbane’s most exciting new music.

Escape to the City Botanic Gardens
Whatever your mood, a trip to the City Botanic Gardens is the perfect place to escape – and it doesn’t cost a dime. Gather your pals and enjoy a sun-soaked picnic in Brisbane’s oldest park, or go it solo with a slow afternoon reading a book under the shady canopy. Feeling active? Don the joggers and wander along Weeping Fig Avenue or weave through the winding pathways on a heart-pumping run to discover secret spots like Bamboo Grove. To find your bearings or delve a little deeper into the history of the towering ancient trees, rainforest glades and exotic species, hit your daily step count with the free volunteer-led City Botanic Gardens guided walks, which leave from the Information Kiosk at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm from Monday to Saturday. A special series of Sunday guided walks will also be available from April 21 to September 29.

Snack your way through The City’s weekday markets
There’s no need to wait until the weekend for your market fix – the popular Brisbane City Markets set up at various locations throughout the week for your snacking and shopping pleasure. Wander through the markets at St Stephens Cathedral on Tuesdays (8:00 am to 2:00 pm), at Reddacliff Place on Wednesdays (8:00 am to 6:00 pm) and at Cathedral Square on Thursdays (8:00 am to 2:00 pm). Each market is lined with a mouth-watering array of street-food stalls – from Spanish paella to piping-hot doughnuts – making them a perfect pitstop for a tasty and cheap mid-week lunch. Plus, you can do your weekly shop and fill your fridge affordably with fresh produce direct from local farmers and producers.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg – jump here to discover more free and affordable things to do in The City.

This article was written in partnership with our friends at The City. 

To find out more about what’s on in Brisbane, head to our Event Guide.


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