Your must-read guide to this year’s Brisbane Festival
In Brisbane, spring is more than sunshine and roses. It’s a time for great food, theatrical performances and live music because, for almost the entire month of September, the Brisbane Festival is in full swing.
Although you’ll find pop up activations in Kelvin Grove and New Farm, the beating heart of the festival resides in South Bank and just like a heart, it will pump excitement through the veins of Brisbane.
Attention parents: if you love your children but hate boring kids shows, Brisbane Festival is here to deliver the goods.
Beloved Brisbane outfit Regurgitator has switched up Polyester Girl for pop-tastic kids record The Really Really Really Really Boring Album, which they’ll be performing at their Pogogo Show – sure to be a hit for long term fans and their little ones. But if Game Night is your family’s battleground, nab tickets to Game Show-off: Family Edition. It’s Rockwiz meets party games meets comedy club – and it’s gonna be a lot of interactive fun for all.
Step into another world as the City Botanic Gardens transforms into Fire Gardens with leaping flames, firey sculptures and displays – or head to Arcadia in South Bank to experience River of Light, a light-and-laser show on the river that tells the untold story of Brisbane by the First Peoples. It’s free, and on three times a night.
Turning Brisbane’s night sky into an epic work of art, the Sunsuper Riverfire is a must-do for families and firework photographers alike. Wrapping up Brisbane Festival, the spectacle includes over 20 minutes worth of fireworks and a special aerobatics display by the RAAF Super Hornet and Army Helicopters.
Tip: Get to your viewing site early in the afternoon to secure a comfy spot. Public transport is the best transport mode on this day as some major roads will be closed.
FOR FOOD LOVERS
Venture into Treasury Brisbane Acardia a.k.a Festival Central and lose yourself in a world of colour, wonder and cheer. It’s also home to the festival favourite Courier Mail Spiegeltent (where you can catch cabaret sensation Blanc de Blanc Encore) and hosts wine bars, lounges, Archie Rose cocktail making classes and food stalls.
Communal Table combines theatre and three courses in a multi-sensory piece at West End’s The Joinery. Food, wine, conversation and dancing come together in this world premier from Dancenorth.
FOR MUSIC FANS
Brisbane Festival is bringing a HUGE music lineup this year, and there’s something to suit every playlist – from free live music Fridays at Arcadia (come down from 4-6PM) to headline shows by some of the country’s best musicians.
Blow out 30 birthday candles at the Riverstage Birthday Bash feat. Cub Sport, Hot Dub Time Machine and Confidence Man. Catch the likes of heavy hitters Amity Affliction, folk-rock The Middle East and Eurovision songstress Kate Miller-Heidke performing around the city. The Tivoli in the Round series brings Paul Dempsey, Husky and more to Brisvegas, but if Sinatra’s more your style you can’t miss crooning through Swing On This. Riverstage also welcomes Queensland Symphony Orchestra in a free concert showcasing some crowd favourites of the classical world – byo picnic blanket.
FOR LAUGHS AND GIGGLES
Tickle your funny bone at Briefs: Close Encounters – a powerhouse cabaret of drag, burlesque, circus and comic caper that has been slaying stages from Brisbane to London’s West End. It’s raucous and raunchy in all the right places, so prepare to be dazzled.
Elsewhere around the city, catch stand-up star Cal Wilson question life in Gifted Underachiever or political fun-poker John Safran doing what he does best; causing trouble.
Moving and motivational, catch one (or more!) of the 20+ productions hitting stages across QPAC and QUT’s Theatre Republic during Brisbane Festival.
Cape Town’s Isango Ensemble have played to full houses around the globe, and are here in Brisbane to share the human stories from tragic world-war maritime disaster in SS Mendi. Award-winning Indigenous play Bighouse Dreaming is a must-watch, and if you’ve ever wondered if you’d take a lie detector test with a total stranger catch Truth Machine as it turns theatre into a social-experiment.
HOW TO GET TO THE FESTIVAL VENUES
THE HEART OF THE FESTIVAL: SOUTH BANK, SOUTH BRISBANE
Home to: Treasury Brisbane Arcadia, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), The Courier-Mail Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, South Bank Piazza, Bille Brown Studio, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).
Train: Arrive into South Brisbane Station
Bus: Arrive into Cultural Centre Station
Ferry: Arrive into the South Bank Ferry Terminal
Walk: Cross the Victoria or Kurilpa Bridge
QUT CREATIVE INDUSTRIES PRECINCT, KELVIN GROVE
Home to: Theatre Republic and La Boite Roundhouse Theatre
Bus: Arrive into QUT Kelvin Grove station
Bus: Arrive at the end of Brunswick Street at Oxlade Drive (short walk to Brisbane Powerhouse)
Ferry: Arrive into New Farm Park Ferry Terminal
BRISBANE CITY HALL
Bus: Arrive in King George Square Bus Station
Walk: If you’re staying near the city, the Brisbane City Hall is a short walk from Queen Street Mall
WHERE TO GET A LAY OF THE LAND
New to Brisbane? Take a Brisbane Greeters guided tour. Not only will you familiarise yourself with the city and how to get around, you’ll also learn about its rich history.
Climb to the top of the Story Bridge and see Brisbane city from a vantage point. You’ll get spectacular river views and a breathtaking panorama of South Bank and the CBD. And if you climb at twilight, you’ll witness an incredible sunset and watch as the city lights come on.
Not much of a daredevil? No problem! Drive to the Mount Coot-tha lookout and see Brisbane city from a different angle.
Psst! You could just multitask and sip on a cocktail while you get a lay of the land from one of these rooftop bars.
NEED HELP PLANNING?
- Find accommodation options here
- Find out more about South Bank here
- Discover 100 cool things to see and do in Brisbane here
- Want to come back for another event? Check out the line-up of Brisbane events here
- Want to take a sneaky trip to the beach? Here’s a guide to Brisbane best beaches.
- Hiring a car while you’re here? Check out this list of the best day trips from Brisbane.
- Here for a good time, not a long time? Here’s everything you need to know.