Events in the National Capital


The Place of the People

The parliamentary area - the heart of the National Capital - is for everyone. It is the Place of the People to be enjoyed whether you are in a crowd, with family and friends or taking a relaxing stroll through one of Canberra's parks.

'The Place of the People, accessible to all Australians so that they can more fully understand and appreciate the collective experience and rich diversity of this country.'

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The National Capital belongs to all Australians

Canberra was planned and developed as the seat of the Australian Government. Nearly 100 years later, our National Capital is the location of Australia's most significant national cultural institutions. A beautiful city full of Australian character, it reflects our national life.

Canberra's national buildings and landscapes, dramatic vistas, magnificent gardens and backdrops of wooded hills provide the setting for the cultural institutions, symbols and ceremonies of Australia's parliamentary democracy. They also provide the setting and venues for a vast range of activities and events that bring meaning and vitality to Australia's capital city.

Located in the heart of the capital are national public places such as Federation Mall in front of Parliament House, Commonwealth Place, Reconciliation Place and Lake Burley Griffin, with its beautiful foreshore parks. These venues provide unique and magnificent venues for cultural and ceremonial occasions of local, national and international interest, commemoration of national anniversaries, community celebrations, displays and exhibitions, gatherings of people with common interests, parties and any number of other events. The National Capital Authority manages most of these popular public places.

The National Capital Authority:

  • promotes the Capital as a place for significant national and international events;
  • assists those planning smaller or community events that add vitality to the capital;
  • provides outdoor public places that are suitable for use as venues for national, regional and international events; and
  • facilitates events that require use of a public place, including permits to use a public place, and/or temporary structures associated with significant events.

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Special venues for events

Canberra's wonderful open spaces provide a range of excellent venues for outdoor events. Some public places in the heart of the capital have a special commemorative association or national use requiring particular consideration as an event venue.

The Parliamentary Precincts — at the heart of the nation

A spectacular location with a crowd capacity of several thousand, this area is highly desirable for events of all sizes. Close to Australia's Parliament House, the Parliamentary Precincts on Capital Hill are at the heart of the capital.

The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the Presiding Officers of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, are responsible for Parliament House and the Parliamentary Precincts.

The Presiding Officers have an interest in making Parliament House and its setting strong symbols of democratic government at work for all Australians and have supported many significant national events in the Precincts.

Given the importance of the Parliamentary Precincts as the centre point and pinnacle of Australian government, many special issues may need to be taken into consideration for events — including the Parliamentary sitting programme, occasions of state, national celebration and security.

All events proposed in this area require the support of the Presiding Officers and approval by the National Capital Authority of any temporary structures. The Authority can offer assistance, on behalf of event proponents, in liaising with the Presiding Officers through Parliament's Joint House Department.

Federation Mall — right in front of Parliament House

Federation Mall, with backdrops of Parliament House and Old Parliament House and views to Anzac Parade and the Australian War Memorial, is one of the most prestigious venues in the National Capital.

Federation Mall is the ceremonial and symbolic link between the provisional and permanent Parliament Houses.

The Mall is suitable for a broad range of events and installations, including commemoration of Australian history, celebration of national anniversaries and achievements, public receptions for national occasions, launches, national displays and community gatherings.

Due to the proximity of Federation Mall to the Parliamentary Precincts, the Authority liaises with the Presiding Officers of the Parliament when considering events proposed on Federation Mall. As with the Parliamentary Precincts, many special issues may need to be taken into consideration for events on the Mall, including the Parliamentary sitting programme, occasions of state and security.

The Land Axis — internationally acclaimed vista

Canberra is famous for the superb vista, connecting Parliament House on Capital Hill with the Australian War Memorial at Mt Ainslie.

This Land Axis is a key component of Walter Burley Griffin's plan for Canberra. The Land Axis is a grand and open landscape space. For much of its length it contains excellent grassed venues that can support major events. These venues include Reconciliation Place and Commonwealth Place, the Rond Terraces and Anzac Parade.

While events are welcome on the Land Axis, there are some restrictions related to structures associated with events which block the vista to a significant extent, or which are required to be in place for significant periods of time. Other national occasions and events at significant places along the Land Axis, such as Parliament House and Anzac Parade, will also be taken into consideration when appraising the appropriateness of new events on the Axis.

Lake Burley Griffin — go sailing or enjoy Canberra's waterfront

Lake Burley Griffin is the ornamental lake at the centre of the National Capital. It is surrounded by quality parklands and public places.

Special conditions apply to the use of Lake Burley Griffin that are outlined in the National Capital Authority's Lake Burley Griffin Management Plan. The Authority will generally only consider approving up to two powerboat events on the lake each year.

In appraising events proposed on Lake Burley Griffin, special consideration will also be given to routine lake recreational uses such as sailing, rowing, fishing, swimming, and ferry boat operations, and to environmental impact and routine lake maintenance.

Regular water quality testing undertaken by the Authority can return results that may necessitate lake closures and the cancellation of events on the lake. Proponents of events on Lake Burley Griffin are advised to take such issues into consideration.

The Diplomatic Estate — connecting Canberra to the international community

Events proposed for an area near a diplomatic mission, or in the roads and streets of the diplomatic estates, will be subject to special consideration. The Authority will liaise with the relevant mission/s and the relevant Commonwealth Government agencies regarding any proposals in such areas. National occasions, customs and ceremonies, and security, will be among the issues considered by the Authority.

Anzac Parade — a place of honour commemorating sacrifice

Anzac Parade is the National Capital's major commemorative way and is the ceremonial approach to the Australian War Memorial. The Parade was completed in 965 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli and is set along the magnificent Land Axis of the Walter Burley Griffin plan for Canberra.

Anzac Parade is important to generations of Australians as a commemoration of the military conflicts in which Australia has played a part and affirms the long and close bond between New Zealand and Australia.

Anzac Parade will generally be reserved for those events which recognise or commemorate service, valour and sacrifice by members of the Australian Defence Force, or which serve to heighten awareness of Australia's allies, military operations, symbols and ceremony, and/or defence of the national interest.

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South of Lake Burley Griffin

Commonwealth Place

Opened by Prime Minister the Hon John Howard in July 2001, Commonwealth Place on Canberra's Land Axis is a major open space venue located within the heart of the National Capital on the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin. Commonwealth Place features a large grass amphitheatre (the ‘cupped square') that includes Speakers Square (the Canadian gift to Australia for our Centenary of Federation), a paved area for entertainment and ceremonies, and upper grass terraces. Commonwealth Place has magnificent views of Lake Burley Griffin, Commonwealth and Kings Parks and Anzac Parade. Commonwealth Place can accommodate up to 7000 people for an event but is also suitable for smaller community events, gatherings and functions.

Reconciliation Place

Opened by Prime Minister the Hon John Howard in July 2001, Reconciliation Place features a 100 metre diameter grassed circular mound with a podium for performances, and a wide paved pedestrian promenade that links the National Library of Australia to the National Gallery of Australia. Along the promenade there are a series of public artworks — ‘slivers' — which depict inscriptions and images on various themes and events significant to reconciliation. Reconciliation Place is surrounded by extensive areas of flat lawns suitable for a variety of events. Reconciliation Place and the surrounds can accommodate up to 10,000 people for an event.

Patrick White Lawns

Located between the National Library of Australia and Lake Burley Griffin, with views to the Captain Cook Memorial Jet and Commonwealth Park, the Patrick White Lawns are a large, grassed outdoor venue suitable for a range of performances, festivals and corporate functions. The Patrick White Lawns can accommodate up to 15,000 people for significant events.

Old Parliament House Gardens

The Old Parliament House Gardens are splendid formal gardens established in the 1930s for the federal parliamentarians. Today the gardens are open to the public and include seating pavilions, pergolas and rose arbours, tennis courts, bowling greens and a cricket pitch. The Gardens provide superb venues for special occasions, celebrations and functions.

National Rose Gardens

These magnificent formal rose gardens, dating back to the 1930s and located north of Old Parliament House, incorporate a number of commemorative roses and are a popular venue for functions.

Magna Carta Place

Magna Carta Place commemorates the history of Magna Carta and its relevance to the freedom and laws of Australia. The Magna Carta Monument was the gift of the Australia-Britain Society and the British Government for our Centenary of Federation. The site is ideal for small gatherings, private functions and ceremonies.

Parkes Place

Parkes Place, to the north of Old Parliament House, features a number of venues with flat high-quality grassed landscapes surrounding the Federation Centenary Fountains and Reflection Pond. Parkes Place can comfortably accommodate crowds of several thousand for events and gatherings and is equally suitable for smaller functions.

Peace Park

Located between the National Library of Australia and Lake Burley Griffin, this park is dedicated to peacemakers and provides a private venue set in a prestigious location.

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North of Lake Burley Griffin

Commonwealth Park

Commonwealth Park is a large central recreational park on the northern shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Commonwealth Park is accessible by car and boat and has pedestrian footbridge access to the Civic centre of Canberra. Commonwealth Park offers several excellent areas for major events, gatherings and functions and includes generous parking, a large picnic shelter, playground facilities and public toilets. The Nerang Pool and Marsh Gardens provide unique backdrops for special occasions. The National Capital Exhibition and Canberra Promotions Centre are colocated in the Park and provide additional indoor spaces for functions, dinners and displays. Commonwealth Park is also the site for Floriade, Canberra's annual spring flower festival.

Stage 88

Stage 88 is located in Commonwealth Park. Stage 88 is a large outdoor performance venue with undercover stage, dressing rooms, public toilets and a gently sloping spectator area. The stage is designed to major event standards and is large enough to accommodate a symphony orchestra. The area directly in front of Stage 88 can accommodate up to 15,000 people, with large areas for overflow crowds or other activities associated with an event.

Kings Park

Kings Park adjoins Commonwealth Park on the northern side of Lake Burley Griffin. The Park features a natural undulating landscape incorporating historic Blundells' Cottage, a number of commemorative works, and is the access point to Aspen Island and the National Carillon. Kings Park is suited to major events and can accommodate up to 5000 people for events.

Rond Terrace

The Rond Terraces are situated at the southern end of Anzac Parade on the northern foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin's Central Basin. They adjoin Commonwealth and Kings Park and are superbly located on the Land Axis with views across the lake to Commonwealth Place and Parliament House. The site features a number of grass terraces set in quality landscape surroundings, and is well-suited to gatherings and functions.

Aspen Island

Aspen Island is located in Lake Burley Griffin and is connected to Kings Park by a footbridge. Home to the National Carillon, the picturesque island offers a range of unique venues for functions and special occasions.

Springbank Island

Springbank Island in the western basin of Lake Burley Griffin includes a number of areas for functions in an Australian landscape with sweeping views of the lake and the National Museum of Australia. The Island is only accessible by boat.

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Exclusive Use of Venues

A number of venues on public National Land in Canberra may be available for events and functions on an exclusive basis. Such venues include:

  • Areas of Commonwealth Park and Kings Park
  • Aspen Island
  • Springbank Island
  • The Old Parliament House Gardens
  • Patrick White Lawns

Exclusive use of these venues may incur a special fee.

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Defining Events

The National Capital Authority encourages events of all shapes and sizes and applies the following general definitions for events.

  • A major event is an organised gathering involving a significant number of people (generally more than 5000) that requires a specific venue and has significant associated structures and involves changes to normal traffic and parking conditions. Major events may require exclusive access to a venue and other facilities for a number of days.
  • A general event is an organised gathering of people (generally more than 300) that requires a specific venue and has some associated structures and may involve changes to local traffic and parking conditions.
  • A function is an organised gathering of people that requires a specific location within a venue for a private purpose (for example, a wedding, corporate function or formal gathering) and may have small associated structures.
  • Commercial promotions and filming relates to opportunities for location feature films, music video clips and television commercials that showcase the city to a national and international audience. Commercial promotions may require a specific location with associated structures and changed traffic/parking conditions.

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Appropriate Events for the Central National Area

  • To determine whether an event proposed in the Central National Area is appropriate or otherwise, the National Capital Authority will appraise the extent to which the event is consistent with the Authority's objectives and core values.

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Event Objectives

The National Capital Authority's objective is to encourage events that:

  • celebrate Canberra as a symbol of Australian federation and character;
  • reflect Australian historical, cultural and lifestyle experiences;
  • promote the attributes of Canberra that are of national significance;
  • provide opportunities to broaden Australians' experience of their capital;
  • enliven the national public areas of the capital; and
  • showcase the National Capital to a wide audience.

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Core Values for Events

  • egalitarianism
  • civility
  • humour
  • democratic principles
  • civic awareness
  • peace, order and respect for the law
  • mateship
  • diversity
  • tolerance
  • freedom
  • social justice for all
  • openness
  • social responsibility
  • concern for the environment
  • collective values and shared goals
  • irreverence
  • fairness

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Assessment Criteria for Events

When an event is considered appropriate, it will then be assessed for the proposed venue against the following criteria prior to determining final approval:

  • the organiser's capacity to stage and manage the event
  • venue capacity and the impact on infrastructure
  • safety for the public and event organisers
  • the scale and extent of the event and associated structures
  • the timing and duration of the event
  • potential conflicts with other events and special occasions
  • environmental impact
  • public access to surrounding areas and amenities
  • public or exclusive access to the event
  • requirements and approvals external to the Authority, such as those of the Police, ACT WorkCover and Environment ACT
  • national security.

Detail required for the evaluation of any or all of the assessment criteria will be commensurate with the nature of the event - be it a major event, general event or a function.

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Conditions of Use

Conditions for use of venues are issued through the National Land Ordinance 1989 or through various licences or leases. A range of conditions of use may apply depending on the venue, the size and the complexity of the event. Conditions of use include:

  • safety and health
  • insurances including public liability
  • works approval for any demolition or structures
  • external approvals
  • noise requirements
  • waste management
  • parking and traffic management
  • access
  • lighting
  • alcohol
  • landscape and other asset maintenance or repairs
  • risk management

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Further Information

For any query or for further information contact the National Capital Authority

By visiting

National Capital Authority
(Events Officer)
Treasury Building
King Edward Terrace
Parkes ACT 2600

By writing to

Events Officer
National Capital Authority
GPO Box 373
Canberra ACT 2601

By email to

By telephone or fax

Telephone: (02) 6272 2901
Fax: (02) 6273 4427

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