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Eight Ways to Get Your Culture Fix in Brisbane Without Breaking the Bank

From free outdoor gigs to stand-up comedy shows for a tenner, there's plenty to do around town — no matter your budget.
By Neesha Sinnya and Nik Addams
November 02, 2021
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By Neesha Sinnya and Nik Addams
November 02, 2021
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in partnership with

Getting your culture fix in Brisbane shouldn't come at the expense of your bank balance. From brilliant deals to free exhibitions, there are endless things to do in the River City on any budget — you just have to know where to look.

That's where we come in. In collaboration with Great Southern Bank, we've compiled a list of eight ways to explore Brisbane's cultural side while still sticking to your savings goals. In fact, with its clever tool The Boost, you can automatically top up your savings account with a small amount of money every time you use your debit card. So, when you spend on art exhibitions and fabulous drag brunches, you can simultaneously put a bit of cash towards those long-term financial goals. Or if you're a bit of an impulse buyer, The Vault lets you hide your savings account from yourself, meaning you can't easily dip into it.

What are you waiting for? Hit the pavement and get a big ol' dose of culture, stat — without spending all your hard-earned bucks.

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Gallery of Modern Art Exterior South & East face James Turrell artwork

CHECK OUT SOME AFTER-HOURS ART

South Bank is arguably even more beautiful as the sun sets — and thanks to some after-dark art shows, there are even more reasons to explore. QAGOMA's series of after-hours events, which usually coincide with its major exhibitions, offers both free and ticketed experiences in and around the galleries to soak up world-class art after dark. Night is also the best time to experience American artist James Turrell's permanent light installation that adorns the building's eastern and southern façades.

Down the road, Queensland Museum also runs semi-regular nighttime sessions, with the next adults-only event allowing you to enter the wonderful world of Lego.

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Van Gogh Alive

BANK ON LAST-MINUTE TICKET DEALS

The thrill of watching a live performance is that extra bit thrilling if you know you've scored an epic deal. For nights when you're feeling frivolous (but frugal), Lasttix is your one-stop shop for last-minute discounted concert tickets. Keep an eye on the website — it's updated regularly with cheap tickets for all manner of shows — from dazzling magic acts to thought-provoking conversation panels and more. Here's hoping Lasttix includes some cheap tickets to the much-anticipated multi-sensory exhibition Van Go Alive, which is set to land in Brisbane from October 29.

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Queensland Ballet

USE YOUTH TO YOUR FINANCIAL ADVANTAGE

Turns out that discounts aren't limited to students and seniors. In fact, if you're still of a certain age, you could be in line to claim a cheeky discount, too. Queensland Theatre offers discounted season passes to people under 35, while Queensland Ballet offers cut-price tickets to its world-class performances to anyone under 30. With Brisbane's performing arts scene back in full force, there's never been a better time to support local creative talent — and you can do so without breaking the bank.

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SIT DOWN AND WATCH SOME STAND-UP

A surefire way to boost your mood is sharing a laugh with friends. Thankfully, Brisbane is home to a number of excellent comedy clubs hosting local and international talent to get those ribs tickled. Paddington's legendary Sit Down Comedy Club hosts regular comedy nights at various venues around town, including three free gigs per week. It's hosted the likes of Trevor Noah, Hannibal Buress, Josh Thomas and more, so it's no stranger to some top talent.

Nearby, Good Chat Comedy Club hosts a regular lineup of laughs in its Petrie Terrace digs, with some tickets sure to leave you change from a $10 note.

After something a little more unpredictable? Leading improv studio Big Fork Theatre hosts regular shows with ticket prices that won't blow the budget. If you're feeling inspired, you can even sign up to an improv class— they're open to all experience levels, and your first class is free.

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GO ON A CULTURAL TOUR

For an eco-friendly and low-cost way to explore the crystal blue waters, pods of majestic dolphins and sandy stretches of Minjerribah — AKA North Stradbroke Island — book a ride with Yura Banji Scooters. The First Nations-owned and -run business is committed to respecting and caring for its Quandamooka Country and sharing rich cultural and historical knowledge with visitors via guided island tours. If you want to explore on your own, you can hire electric scooters for $20 an hour or level up to an electric bike for an extra tenner.

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CATCH A CHEAP FLICK

With so many streaming platforms at our fingertips nowadays, it's easy to forget about the magic of going to the movies. But a night at the pictures doesn't have to eat into your savings thanks to a range of great deals around town. First up, you can head to Palace Barracks or Palace James St on Monday for its Cheap Mondays deal. With all tickets less than $10, you can get that upsized popcorn, too.

If you don't want to be confined to Monday movies, Cineplex offers cheap tickets at its seven Brisbane locations every single day, with tickets ranging from just $6–14.

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Cloudland

BE DAZZLED AS YOU DINE AT CLOUDLAND

Brunch with a side of razzle-dazzle? Sign us up. Fortitude Valley mainstay Cloudland hosts glitzy drag brunches every Sunday (and the occasional Saturday), featuring Italian-inspired dishes, cocktail jugs and riotous performances by some of the city's most fabulous queens for $75 per person.

If it's evening entertainment you're after, book a seat at the Big Band Cabaret. Taking place on Friday nights, this lively event combines a three-course menu and three hours of free-flowing drinks with swinging big bang and vocal performances, punctuated with captivating burlesque shows.

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The Triffid

KICK BACK AT A FREE LIVE GIG

As we enter the warmer months, the idea of setting up a picnic and enjoying live music in the sunshine is beginning to sound like an ideal afternoon. And picnic backdrops don't get much dreamier than the ​​Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, especially with its free-to-enter Gigs & Picnics program that sees great local musos take to the outdoor stage. As the name suggests, picnics are encouraged here — you can pack your own basket or treat yourself to a bite from one of the food trucks parked around the grounds.

There are more free gigs to be found around town, too. Cure your hump day blues by kicking back at Acoustic Wednesdays at Newstead's The Triffid, or end the weekend on a high note at Brisbane Powerhouse for Livespark, its monthly Sunday sesh of free live tunes.

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Great Southern Bank is empowering Aussies to get clever with their banking. Whether you want to stick to your savings goals with The Boost or hide your house deposit fund from yourself with The Vault, Great Southern Bank helps you get there. For more information on savings tools and home loan options, head to the Great Southern Bank website.

Top image: Van Gogh Alive

Published on November 02, 2021 by Neesha Sinnya

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