February is always a blessed relief in Brisbane. After a sleepy January, the gears finally start to shift around town. All your favourite restaurants have rotated through their summer vacations, a bunch of new venues have appeared and the 2019 cultural calendar begins in earnest. There’s a heap going on – here’s what to check out this month.

New bars, restaurants and burger joints
A couple of openings have already popped up over the festive season, including a new western suburbs Betty’s Burgers’ outlet and Banh Mi Now, a fresh contender for the best banh mi in the city. February, though, means the openings really start to crank. Last weekend, Perch’d introduced gussied up fish and chips to Coorparoo and Justinn DeBeer’s beautiful bar Hello Gorgeous finally opened in the former Chester Street Bakery digs in Newstead – both are very worthy of your time.

Bris Asia Festival
Bris Asia Festival returns for 2019 with an enormous schedule of events, parties and food trails. This Saturday, the traditional Lunar New Year celebration moves into Chinatown Mall with dragon dancers, fire shows, traditional music and cultural performances, while a suburb across, Welcome to Bowen Hills is throwing a huge dumpling party. On Sunday the Inala Food Trail takes over Inala Plaza Shopping Centre and Inala Civic Centre; the food discovery experience includes cooking demonstrations of a huge variety of cuisines. Later in the month there are anime screenings, performances from artists such as renowned Indian sitarist Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan and Nepalese percussionist Dheeraj Shrestha, a summer party in Musgrave Park, and of course the blockbuster Sunnybank Lunar New Year rooftop party. See the full program here.

Non-lame Valentine’s Day ideas
You might be one of those miserable bums who takes pot shots at Valentine’s Day, but your stand on the moral high ground is getting a little tenuous with the quality of events doing the rounds these days.

For 2019 E’cco has a $79 per person four-course Valentine’s menu featuring rainbow smoked trout, roasted lamb rump and velvet mille feuille. And Salon de Co at the Ovolo Inchcolm is peddling an “Adult Happy Meal”. Chef Andy Ashby is running through a typically innovative five-course tasting menu with matched drinks (if you want to stay the night, the hotel also has an “Ovolove” Valentine’s Day package, which includes a Porte-à-Vie curated box of bedtime good times). Snack Man’s idea of romance is getting six European winemakers together for a freewheeling night of exceptional plonk matched to this Fortitude Valley bar’s terrific selection of Chinese small plates – for $110 you get the food, an aperitivo cocktail and a flight of six wines. Easy peasy.

Need flowers? Slick online delivery service Little Mr Bouqs has you covered. Chasing something more extensive? Try one of LVLY’s gift packs.

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A new Brisbane night market opens
Most of Brisbane’s regular produce and night-time markets are back by now (if they took a break at all), but the big news is the introduction of Brisbane Market Place’s Brisbane Night Market. The weekly after-dark event in Rocklea will be opposite the Sherwood Road location of sister events the Saturday Fresh Market and the Sunday Discovery Market, within the enormous covered loading area usually reserved for the Brisbane Produce Market. Expect more than 40 food stalls, festoon lighting and licensed bars. The final touches of the refurb are being applied next week, with the market opening for the first time on Friday February 15. Entry is $2.50.

Sunset Cinema Returns
February ends with the return of Sunset Cinema to the winsome Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. This year’s six-week program is typically broad, featuring everything from classics such as Top Gun, The Princess Bride and Back to the Future to blockbusters Bohemian Rhapsody, Aquaman and the forthcoming Captain Marvel. You can pack a picnic or get fed and watered there. Either way, the program runs until mid-April so pick a few favourites and gather your pals.