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EKKA Guide: Things to Do at the EKKA for Families

Oh how we love the EKKA! Back now for the second year after a two year hiatus, we have written a detailed EKKA Guide with all the things you need to know about the EKKA 2023.

Disclaimer: This article is not yet updated with the latest Ekka information for 2024. When it is, we will let you know! (Especially if you sign up to our emails!) 😉

Families Magazine are the recognised experts in providing trustworthy Ekka resources, as evidenced in our multitude of Channel 9 News appearances showing you how to save at the Ekka!

First, a bit of history – The EKKA was cancelled two years in a row in 2020 and 2021 (having previously only been cancelled in 1919 due to the Spanish flu epidemic and in 1942 when the grounds were used as a World War II staging depot) so it’s exciting to see the community being brought together once again for the best EKKA show in 2023.

EKKA 2023

Ekka Strawberry Sundaes
EKKA Ice Cream

EKKA dates for 2023

The EKKA takes place 12 – 20 August 2023. 

Get the most out of Brisbane’s Ekka this year by reading our detailed articles listed below. And towards the bottom of this article we have our guide to the areas of the Ekka that families love best. Here you can find out all about our experience at past Ekka over the years. It is quite the read!!

So rug up warm (or at least take warm clothes for the evening, it is August in Brisbane, it gets cold at night) and pack up the kids and get amongst it – it is our show and we LOVE IT!

Detailed Ekka information all in one place

We have written about just about every aspect of the EKKA over the years from our experience. We update our articles every single year to ensure you have the accurate details you need:

  • Discounted Ekka tickets – we show you how to get into the EKKA this year with a family of 4 for under $60.
  • This Year’s Ekka Showbag Review – we show you what is in each showbag this year.
  • Cheap (& FREE) Ekka Parking – we live near the showgrounds, so we show you the best places to park and a little known free parking option that is a 6 minute walk to the show.
  • EKKA Rides, Prices & Passes – we attend the EKKA on the first morning and show you all the rides and how much they cost and update this article in real time as our reporter visits each ride!
  • Ekka for Toddlers – The EKKA is a great experience for toddlers. We show you have to have the BEST DAY EVER!
  • Ekka Food – our top 5 ‘must do’ Ekka food items this year!
  • Ekka Ice creams – one of favourite things about the EKKA is the strawberry sundaes! Find out all about them including how much they cost this year.
  • kka Fireworks – we show you everything you need to know about the night show including the fireworks!
  • 10 BEST Things to do at the Ekka this year – we give you our opinion of the best things to do with your family at the EKKA this year!
  • Where to Buy Showbags Online & Instore – if you cannot get to the EKKA this year, you can still get a showbag online!
  • Ekka on a Budget – the cheapest way to “go to the show’ this year!
  • Ekka Safety – tips to keep your family safe at the EKKA this year.

EKKA tickets 2023

To manage daily capacities, tickets, ride cards and food cards for the Ekka 2023 are available for purchase online. Below are the full price prices:

  • Adults – $39
  • Child – $24
  • Concession – $29
  • 4 and under (Little EKKA) – Free
  • Family ticket (2a, 2c) – $88
  • Adult and child – $49
  • Twilight ticket – $24 (after 4pm)

However, you can save 20% by selecting a Super Saver Ticket – available on Monday 14, Tuesday 15, Thursday 17 and Friday 18 August 2023.

Companion ticket

If you require a ticket for a Companion, a valid Companion Card is accepted at the gate as a ticket for entry. Please present your Companion Card upon entry to enter the Ekka showgrounds.

Find out how to get discounted tickets to the EKKA here.

Make sure you follow us on Facebook because I will be posting about my visit to the show on the first morning including where to get the cheapest coffee, where to find the cleanest bathrooms, where to park this year, the best value showbags and my favourite rides (and how to get discounts!).

EKKA Map 2023

Here is the EKKA map for 2023 so you can plan your day. 

Ekka Map 2023
Ekka Map 2023

What’s on EKKA 2023

There is always so much to see and do at the EKKA that you will be forgiven for needing more than one day (and night)!

EkkaNITES – 2023

The Main Arena comes alive each night of show with the spectacular never before seen night show EkkaNITES proudly presented by Brisbane City Council.

This year’s theme is ‘imagine’. 

The night show will feature an action-packed program including:

  • Queensland Harness Racing presented by Racing Queensland
  • A new equine experience by everyone’s favourite horse trainer Dave Manchon
  • V8 utes tearing around the arena
  • A nailbiting freestyle motocross display with motorcycles launching an incredible 15 metres into the air
  • A stunning fireworks display lighting up the night sky
  • And much more!

EKKA fireworks 2023

Every night at 7.50pm, you can watch the EKKA Firework Spectacular in the Main Arena.  

Daytime entertainment EKKA – 2023

The fantastic daily daytime entertainment on offer this year includes:

  • Live stage shows for the kids including the Paw Patrol Mighty Pups superhero-style mission
  • The Horsing Around Show presented by Racing Queensland where you’ll meet some well-known retired racehorses
  • The Venomous Snake and Reptile Show featuring all things scaly
  • The EKKA’s loveable Farmyard Friends – Milo the Sheep Dog, Daisy the Dairy Cow, Hayden the Horse and Barbara the Sheep – giving high fives
  • More than 30 community dance groups showcasing a range of genres from jazz to hip hop
  • And much more!

Plus there is a variety of exciting one day events including:

  • A battle of the biceps at the Queensland Armwrestling Federation Championships (August 12)
  • Some of Australia’s strongest individuals in an Australian Strongman Alliance competition (August 13)
  • Line Dancing Hoedown – kick up your heels and join in the fun (August 16)
  • The energetic cloggers from Brisbane’s Confidence Cloggers (August 16)
  • Ekka’s Keppel Dagwood Dog Eating Competition – the ultimate food challenge (August 19)
  • The best whipcrackers from across the country at the Australian Whipcracking Championships (August 20)

Rides at EKKA – 2023

cheap ekka parking
Kids love Ekka

Adrenaline junkies will love all of the EKKA rides in 2023. 

Here are a few of the highlights to look for: 

  • Alien Abduction – enjoy an out of this world experience!
  • Big Bubble Bump – run, crawl, flip and fall in these air filled bubbles of fun!
  • Break Dance – enjoy this spinning ride.
  • Crazy Cars Dodgems – let your kids take the wheel of these dodgems and enjoy the thrills.
  • Crazy Spinning Coaster – enjoy the thrills on this spinning roller coaster.
  • Crown Ferris Wheel – Everyone can enjoy 360 degree views of the EKKA (it’s the only travelling wheelchair friendly Ferris Wheel!)
  • Euro Slide – slide down the biggest slide in the southern hemisphere!
  • Fantasy Flyer – Fly high in the sky on this ride!
  • Freestyle – Spin 40m high in a 360 degree motion in forward and reverse, all while the gondola is spinning!
  • Jumbo Flying Elephants – Ride in big, colourful elephants that really do fly!
  • Tea Cups – This whirling, twirling attraction could just be your cup of tea! The Tea Cups Ride is always a favourite as it puts the Ekka world in a spin.
  • And so much more!

There are rides for everyone at EKKA 2023 (even for those of us that prefer not to be hurled upside down and dropped from great heights!). 

See photos of this year’s rides and find out how much each one costs here.

Getting to EKKA & EKKA parking – 2023

There are a few car parks within walking distance to the Brisbane Showgrounds if you want to drive, including:

  • King Street Car Park
  • Cornerstone Parking – Royal Brisbane Hospital
  • Secure Parking – Valley Metro Car Park
  • Secure Parking – McWhirters Car Park

Public transport is the easiest way to get to EKKA. Trains will NOT be running to the Exhibition Station right in the middle of the Brisbane Showgrounds in 2023 due to track works around the Cross River Rail project. See the updated EKKA transport information from Translink here.

Dedicated EKKA buses stop close to the entry gates. 

You can find out more about EKKA parking here. 

What time does the EKKA 2023 close at night?

The EKKA opens at 9am each day. Different displays and areas close at different times. For example, the EKKA Emporium closes at 6pm, the Gourmet Plaza at 9.30pm and the Kids’ Carnival at 8pm with both the Sideshow Alley and Showbag Pavilion closing ‘late’.

In summary – EKKA 2023

Yes, it might be expensive, yes, you might be able to go on unlimited rides at the theme parks… but the EKKA is more than that!

It’s the atmosphere.

And its City meets Country.

It’s a family tradition in the making.

It can cost a fortune or you CAN actually be careful and do EKKA on a budget.

It’s the EKKA… and we love it to bits.  It’s a part of our family.

Want to learn about past EKKA events? Read on to read our review of EKKAs of old. 

Past EKKA events

Learn about our experience from EKKA 2019 below. 

We’ve zoned the 2019 EKKA map and given you the lowdown on what’s in each area, so no matter which gate you enter by, you can save time and get it all done without a foot full of blisters and a pram full of frustrated children. Pick the zones you want to visit in the map below and scroll down to see what’s there. Keep this web page open on your phone – you’ll want to keep referring to it!

So here it is, nothing but practical information, specifically for families with all of the family friendly events and hidden free fun activities for children!

EKKA Map & Navigation

Collect the full EKKA map at the entrance – or even better, head to the App Store and download the free EKKA app, which has an interactive map that allows you to zoom into each area to see what’s there – zoom in enough and it even lifts the roofs off some buildings, like the Woolworths Pavilion, to show you who is inside! The app can also help you navigate to the areas you want to get to, and contains useful information about show and event times.

Looking at the map above, we’ve broken up the EKKA grounds into handy “chunks” or sections i.e. these are sections of the EKKA that you’ll want to do together (to minimise walking!)

We’ll explain the sections below, but here they are:

A – Showbag Pavilion

B – Rides (Areas 1, 2 & 3)

C – The Old Museum

D – Agricultural Hall & Channel 7 Pavilion

E – Woolworths Pavilion

F – John Reid Pavilion & EKKA Emporium

G – RACQ Animal Nursery

H – Main Arena

A – Showbag Pavilion

We’ve spent hours poring over every EKKA Showbag and have put together a guide to help you determine how to get the biggest bang for your EKKA buck, regardless of  your child’s individual interests.  Read our Detailed Showbag Review.

Ekka Showbags
Ekka Showbags

B – Rides

There are 3 main areas that contain rides, looking at our map you’ll see them indicated as B1, B2 and B3.  They are all outlined below.

When you’re looking at rides, there are a few things to consider (in regards to cost):

  • Look for the rides that offer bulk tickets to save money
  • If you have kids under 8 years old, head to Zone B3, this area has cheaper rides and quite a few bulk deals
  • Go to the EKKA on Super Ride Tuesday (14th August) and receive 2 for 1 rides between 10am and 5pm (only on participating rides)

(In previous years, a lot of showbags have had ride vouchers in them – we haven’t found any showbags with vouchers this year!  Comment below if you happen to find any… I’m not convinced they exist!)

B1 – Sideshow Alley

This area has changed a little this year, the Euroslide (i.e. giant slide is still there, and has bulk discount tickets).

euroslide ekka
Euroslide ekka

The “Pirates Revenge” log ride is a great choice (yes, you get wet) and there’s also a separate (fantastic) walk through pirate themed fun house that has a great ticket deal.

Pirates Revenge Ride Ekka
Pirates Revenge Ride Ekka

They now have water balls (right near exit 5 – just near the red cross symbol on the map).

Ekka Sideshow Alley Bubble Bump
Ekka Sideshow Alley

If you’re looking for the bungy trampolines, they’ve moved to zone 2C.

The operator of the Pokemon game was fantastic, they were very generous and knocked down the characters by hand when the kids couldn’t knock them down themselves.  Every kid won a prize – I’m not sure if that’s their normal policy, but they weren’t as strict as the other games we tried.

In regards to the Side Show Alley games, check out the prices and ask the question “do all participants win a prize?”.  There are quite a few which are similar and we’ve discovered that the pricing is quite different… AND a lot of them actually do guarantee a prize.  I know, I know… our kids shouldn’t ALWAYS have to win, however, it’s the EKKA, it’s a long day, avoid a disappointed kid at any cost (that’s my philosophy!).

Ekka Pokemon Game
Ekka Pokemon Game

B2 – Sideshow Alley

This is the “main” ride section and has a lot of the thrill seeker rides, mainly for the older kids.

Ekka Crazy Coaster ride
Ekka Crazy Coaster ride

It does have a few rides for younger kids, so it’s worth a look.

One of the best rides for younger kids is the dodgem cars.  Note that the big dodgem car ride is just outside the EKKA Showbag Pavilion.  Kids from around age 7 should be able to drive them on their own i.e. reach the pedals (and they’ll also fit a passenger… and that passenger may be left slightly traumatised and wondering whether they have the stomach to teach their child to drive at some stage in the future).  For the younger kids, head to location 2C and you’ll find a smaller version.

Ekka Dodgem Cars
Ekka Dodgem Cars

B3 – The Kids Carnival Area

This is a hidden gem, but has shrunk a little over the years due to development. It’s still a great place to visit with kids aged between 3 and 8!

Ekka Kids Carnival
Ekka Kids Carnival

The Fun House is a favourite in our house and offers a bulk ticket deal.  Just go with the bulk deal, your kids are likely to ask you to go on it again.

Ekka ride best things to do at the ekka
Ekka rides

In regards to pricing, you’ll find some of the cheapest ride tickets in this section.  Some rides are teamed together to offer multi-buy deals, allowing you to go on more rides for less. 

Ekka Rides
Ekka Rides

As mentioned earlier, this is where you’ll now find the Fungee Bungee trampolines at $12 a pop.

Ekka Rides

Ekka Rides

C – The Old Museum

There are craft and gardening activities here … and there are also some free activities for the kids.

If you have a child in school and they’ve entered some of their school work into the EKKA competition, you’ll find it here.

Generally, if you go inside the museum, you’ll find “stuff” for the grown ups to look at… but outside there are a few things for the kids, such as a mini maze treasure hunt. Whilst it’s not very tall, our 3 x 8 year old children all really enjoyed finding the clues.

Ekka maze
Ekka maze

Like last year, there’s a stall where you can make a free fresh flower headband.

Old Museum Ekka
Old Museum Ekka

D – Agricultural Hall & Channel 7 Pavilion

Firstly, this place is amazing… and not to be missed.  It provides hours of free entertainment for kids of all ages and they have somehow managed to scale the entertainment for littlies, up to big kids.  The littlies have things to play with, the bigger kids will enjoy the play, but also learn in the process.  There are two levels in the Agricultural Education Hall, downstairs is the Agricultural Education area (with lots of fun activities) and you’ll find heaps of fun but different educational activities upstairs, along with the new Technology Precinct.

I’ll start with upstairs, and break this pavilion into categories:

Firstly, as you go up the escalator, you’ll see an ambulance (which the kids can investigate), and they can play a CPR game on dummies (all free).

Ekka Emergency Services
Ekka Emergency Services

Queensland Government precinct

Everything in here is free to play with, and there are lots of souvenirs for the kids to take home.  I’d estimate that a curious child could spend an hour or two in this section alone.

QLD Gov Precinct
QLD Gov Precinct

Start by going to the Police display to pickup your passport – then start the police adventure (collecting stamps, freebies and having fun along the way!)

Ekka Police
Ekka Police

Whilst you’re collecting the passport stamps (after your child is finger printed… at which point you ask the police officer whether your child is being setup to be a cop or a criminal), kids can dress up as a police officer.

ekka police bike
ekka police bike

2019 is the Year of Outback Tourism, so there is a lot of focus of things to do and places to visit. Be aware in this area – you might get chased by a dinosaur. Sacrifice the child and save yourself!

Don’t worry, it’s just a green-screen, and you’ll be given a print out of a photograph to keep and emailed a gif to download, like this…

Ekka Dino
Ekka Dino

Channel 7 Pavilion

Channel 7 Pavilion
Channel 7 Pavilion

The Channel 7 Pavilion is where you’ll find a real helicopter (don’t ask me how they got it in there!), plus a television news station for children to put their reporting skills to the test, a virtual reality racing car game, technology (Fortnite is heavily featured!) and the Channel 7 Kids Zone.

Ekka Channel 7
Ekka Channel 7

Channel 7 Kids Zone

Ekka Kids Zone
Ekka Kids Zone

The Kids Zone has LOTS for kids to do. They can show off their talent to get a golden buzzer, pose with props, play games and do other activities. There is even the opportunity for them to win a few prizes or pick up some freebies.

Agricultural Hall

Ekka Agriculture Pavilion
Ekka Agriculture Pavilion

Head downstairs and you’ll find the Agricultural Hall.  This area has a heap of free activities for children that teach them about the food they eat, the clothes they wear, basically things like:

  • growing and planting
  • honey production
  • fire ant prevention
  • harvesting
  • processing
  • cooking
Ekka Agriculture Paddock
Ekka Agriculture Paddock

There’s a virtual paddock where children can don virtual reality goggles to experience farming for themselves, and lots of craft and interactive activities.

The ground floor of the Agricultural Pavilion is also where you will find the marvellous arts and craft displays, including stunning cakes and photography. If you want to set your kids a challenge, ask them to find Thanos’ glove!

Ekka Agriculture and Crafts
Ekka Agriculture

In summary, you could easily spend a whole day in this pavilion… and the whole thing is free, fun and educational.  It’s amazing.

E – Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion

Firstly we’ll start with a tip… it’s near impossible to get a table at lunchtime, the food here is fantastic and reasonably priced (and not rubbish), just try to eat outside of peak times if you can. There are SO many things to see and do in this pavilion, but let’s start with the food.

For a super quick fill-em-up snack, grab a $3 cheese toastie.

Cheese Toastie
Cheese toasties at the Ekka

The Gotzinger $2 mini hotdogs are now $2.50 (sorry, no new photograph), but kids love them.

Ekka Cheap Food
Ekka Cheap Food

And while you’re here, try the Woolworth’s fresh food samples. This year they’re sampling fresh fruit, green beans and banana smoothies.

There are lots of other food retailers here offering tasters and samples too, and a gourmet selection of dining options. You can even watch a live cooking demonstration while you eat.

F – John Reid Pavilion / EKKA Emporium

These pavilions are mainly shops, however, some of them have activities for the kids… but they are a limited.

On the way to the pavilions (if you’re heading from the Woolworths Pavilion or Agricultural Hall), there’s a stall that sells amazing hats for $10! There are superhero themed hats, the traditional NY hat and so many to choose from, all $10 each.  I thought it deserved a special mention, as it’s a great idea for cheap b’day / Christmas presents. There Queensland firefighters are also here selling their fundraising calendars. I just know my great auntie is going to love her Christmas present this year!

In the pavilion they have some really unique things that you don’t find in shops (for both kids and adults), it’s definitely worth a visit.  Perhaps head to these shops before going to the Showbag Pavilion, so when your child wants to buy everything you can say “you can have this… or showbags!”.

They even have costumes (think about book week people!)

G – RACQ Animal Nursery

RACQ Animal Nursery Ekka
RACQ Animal Nursery Ekka

There are so many animal related exhibits to see, but obviously the stand out for young children is the RACQ Animal Nursery where you can enter for free and buy a cup of feed for $2, or 3 for $5 (which will guarantee your child will be delightfully stalked by the animals… in a nice way).

As a family of animal lovers, all I heard from the children in our group was “cuteness overload!, cuteness overload!”, and then we came outside and look – it even says it on the sign! This is a place where my children could remain ALL DAY and be quite content.

Ekka Donkey
Ekka Donkey

There are donkeys, sheep, lambs, goats, calves, llamas, pigs, ducklings, chicks – and check out this for “cuteness overload”…

Tub of Puppies
A tub of puppies

While two of the rambunctious litter were still tussling and playing, these exhausted pups clambered into the trough for a snooze!

For safety reasons I write my phone number on my son’s hand, given it was in the picture I attempted to photoshop it out.  I appear to have removed his whole hand (in the photo, not in real life… obviously).

Animal nursery Ekka
Animal nursery Ekka

In addition to the animal nursery and feeding there are a few events that you can attend (all free):

  • The Norco Milking Barn
  • Sheep shearing
  • Cradle-a-chick
  • Racing/Diving pigs

And if the kids still want MORE animals, a visit to see all the show animals on display should see them right.

G – EkkaNITES (in the Main Arena)

The EkkaNITES entertainment is fantastic, and don’t forget they now have the 6.05pm Fairy Tale and Fantasy themed Children’s Fireworks display!

The Children’s fireworks are pretty simple, the kind of fireworks we remember as kids, but with a little extra entertainment, they do flow directly into the rest of the show.  Here’s the EkkaNITES agenda:

5.35pm – EkkaNITES welcome

5.40pm – Harness Racing

6pm – National Anthem

6:05pm – Children’s Fireworks; 10-minute display

Ekka kids fireworks
Ekka kids fireworks

6:15pm – Little Pony Roller Race

6:25pm – Extreme Free Speed Climb with the Laughing Loggers

6:35pm – Mechanical Madness – Roll Over Cars and Quads

6:40pm – A Drovers Tale

6:55pm – Coca-Cola Dance Off with Chook Farmer Goldie the Clown

7:05pm – Movie Stunt Drivers Show

7:15pm – Monster Trucks – Tom Cat & Missy the Dog

7:25pm – Aussie FMX featuring superstar Brodie Carmichael

7:40pm – Fireworks Spectacular, featuring EkkaSaurus, the flame breathing dinosaur!


8pm – Meet the Stars (they ride up close and high 5 the kids)

For you…. yes, the grown ups, you won’t love the children’s fireworks, but you’ll be suitably impressed if you have littlies (and we thank the EKKA for doing this).  But nothing compares to the main EkkaNITES Fireworks Spectacular even at 7:40pm. If you can make it, it’s worth the wait!

To give you a little clue about the theme… in the picture below, as I was taking the picture I got a big surprise and nearly fell off my chair.

Ekka nites
Ekka nites

If you’ve never been to the EKKA, watch our video from a previous year for a preview of the type of things you’ll find there!

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

2 thoughts on “EKKA Guide: Things to Do at the EKKA for Families”

  1. Great post! This guide is very helpful for families planning to visit the Ekka this year. It provides useful information on what to expect, where to go and what activities are available for children and adults alike. Thanks for sharing!


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