Canberra Cinemas

Canberra Cinemas

This way to Canberra cinemas

Considering its limited size, the residents of Canberra are blessed by a broad cross-section of movie going options, from art house to the multiplex, budget to luxury and even the choice of indoors or outdoors.

Canberra is also home to a thriving film-going community, and a multitude of traveling film festivals touch down in the territory, including our home town’s showpiece, the Canberra International Film Festival.

With all this choice, where should you head to?  Read on for your guide to the best cinematic corners in Canberra.

Canberra Cinemas

Dendy Canberra – Canberra Centre, North Quarter, Civic

Canberra’s biggest cinema and housed within the centrally located Canberra Centre shopping mall.  This newly expanded, 13 screen iconic venue, mixes the multiplex experience with a good sprinkling of art house, foreign, independent and festival screenings. Home of the Premium Lounge, one of Canberra’s premium screening environments.

Annual memberships with discounted tickets and access to advanced screenings are available.

Palace Electric – New Acton

Palace Electric is Australia’s first purpose-built fully digital cinema and screens an impressive selection of international cinema; art house, documentary, independent and quality new release films. Palace Electric blends style, comfort and sophistication together for those looking for an enhanced cinematic experience.

Set in the sustainable and award-winning NewActon Nishi complex, Palace Electric features eight stylish fully-licensed cinemas and a stunning Prosecco bar. Electric was recently presented with The People’s Choice Award for‘ ‘Canberra’s Favourite Entertainment Venue’, for the third year running.

Annual memberships with discounted tickets and access to advanced screenings are available.

Hoyts – Belconnen and Woden

What used to be pretty functional multiplexes have been transformed into state of the art screening centres, kitted out with stadium seating featuring, recliner leather seats across the board, which all face some of the biggest screens in Canberra.

Tickets costs can run a little on the high side, but discounted Tuesday nights, alongside regular use of the Hoyts Rewards program, can help defray some of this. The recent Rewind series has also brought some of the classics back to the big screen, again at a discounted price.

Capitol Cinemas, Manuka

Slap bang in the middle of the bustling Manuka is the Capitol Cinemas, with its six screens which show current releases, alongside art house and independent screenings. Probably the oldest cinema in Canberra, and while the seating and sound occasionally fall foul of this, it has a real charm and feel of history about it. Plus it’s ideally situated for dinner afterward.

Limelight Cinema – Tuggeranong

The most southerly of all the screens and nestled in the middle of the Hyperdome shopping centre. Limelight features eight large screens, stadium seating and without question the cheapest cinema tickets in town. Focussing mainly on current releases, occasional promotions bring more diverse choices, with Flashback Fridays always worth a watch out for.

National Film and Sound Archive – ARC Cinema.

The NFSA is Australia’s living archive, collecting, preserving and sharing our rich audiovisual heritage.   The ARC cinema is a 250 seat state of the art cinema where film lovers can experience the best of cinema from Australia and around the world.  Home to numerous country specific festivals, the annual Canberra International Film Festival and a great calendar of screenings, blending mainstream, documentary and independent and art house fare.

ANU Film Group – Australian National University

The ANU Film Group is Canberra’s largest film society and one of the largest in Australia. Screens up to 200 films a year ranging from the most recent Hollywood hits to foreign and independent films not seem elsewhere along with classic films.

There is often only a few weeks gap between a film’s initial release, and when it plays at the ANU, so this is always a great back up if you missed something first time round.

With annual, semester and weekly memberships available, for startling cheap prices, it’s one of Canberra’s cinematic hidden gems.

Outdoor Specials

Summers in Canberra can be glorious with majestic blue sky days followed by cool and pleasant nights. The perfect combination for watching films in a more natural habitat.

Each summer there are two major outdoor festivals, which tend to run between November and February.

Sunset Cinemas – National Botanical Gardens.
American Express Open Air Cinema – Patrick White Lawns, National Library of Australia.

Both festivals offer recent releases, alongside some more classic offerings, screened outdoors with plenty of seating, drinking and eating options available.


Canberra International Film Festival

Running in October/November at the National Film and Sound Archive, the Canberra International Film Festival has a rich history of programming exceptional local and international films as well as presenting engaging industry events and workshops.

The 2017 program will be an exciting blend of retrospective and contemporary programming, offering some of the world’s best cinema, past and present, emphasising new works from Australia and Asia, and providing a proud national platform for Canberra’s own filmmakers.

Palace Electric hosts the widest variety of film festivals, with highlights including the French, Italian, Spanish, Israeli, Greek, British, Japanese, American Essentials, Cine Latino and Young at Heart festivals, plus many many more. Each festival runs for two-three weeks and continue to be hugely popular with Canberra’s multicultural and international population.  Therefore, tickets are often in high demand, so here is a local pro-tip, get your bookings in early as most screenings will sell out.

Both Dendy and Capitol 6, also regularly host festivals, including retrospectives and operatic & theatrical events as well as advanced screenings.

Unexpected Pleasures

With Canberra being home to what sometimes feels like more museums than kangaroos, it is worth keeping your eye on some of the local websites for the occasional screenings in some unexpected places.  Such as:

National Museum of Australia


National Gallery of Australia

Australian War Memorial 

Other Resources 

Aside from this blog of course, here are some other media outlets that are worth keeping an eye on for coverage of the local cinema scene, all written by Canberrans for Canberrans:

The Canberra Film Blog (with the Spotlight series written by yours truly)

The Movie Club (podcast)

Beer Movie (blog and podcast)

The RiotACT

The Canberra Times

Canberra Weekly

So there you have it, a plethora of cinematic options to help guide your film watching choices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *