There’s not much like a city-wide festival to awaken us from our winter slumber and get us moving again. This year, The Brisbane River and city landmarks will once again be transformed into a stage for an explosion of art and performance to occur between September 2 – 24 for Brisbane Festival. Whether it be watching on in wonder at a giant sculpture of the moon, stepping inside a Japanese-style magic bar, or getting a good spot for Riverfire, there’s something for everyone this year. Take a look at our pick of events, installations and performances below.
It’s without a doubt the annual Riverfire fireworks display is a staple of Brisbane Festival. Each year, the spectacular light show seems to get better and better too. However, with huge crowds all trying to get the best spot, it can also feel a little overwhelming sometimes. We recommend heading to Wilson Reserve Outlook to catch the display over Story Bridge, even if it’s from afar.
If you’re looking for a vantage point from above, where there are cocktails, canapes, and Muum Champagne, Emporium Hotel South Bank is throwing a celebration on the 21st floor, complete with a Margarita pop-up bar, a five-course feast, and more.
The Plough Inn is also partnering with Bombay Sapphire to deliver a boozy gin party with spectacular views of the display.
And if you’re in the city, head to Brisbane Quarter for premium river views and dine at a world-class venue for the night. W Brisbane, Tenya, Three Blue Ducks, and Persone are all hosting Riverfire events. Bookings are essential.
These events are perfect for those who really want to treat themselves for Riverfire this year, which is going down on Saturday, September 3.
If you’re a lover of gorgeously mind-bending art installations, then you’ll be spoilt for choice this year at Brisbane Festival. During the month, three giant planet sculptures will pop up in West Village, starting with an illuminated model of the moon, followed by a similar sculpture of the Earth and then Mars.
Throughout the whole festival, we’ll get to gaze at Ephemeral, the immersive art installation of giant bubbles. They’ll be up day and night, so you can see them in the light as well as lit up.
Be sure to head over to Brisbane Powerhouse to catch the otherworldly Kaleidoscope installation, which will be around from August 12 – October 3.
Out of the unique interactive experiences coming to Brisbane Festival this year, Maho Magic Bar is one you’ll want to check out. Inspired by the magic bars of Japan, this dazzling pop-up space will have you sipping on cocktails while a magician performs a magic show right before your eyes.
If you’re after something more on the family-friendly side, then head over to The Pool at BOQ Festival Garden. This is art you can touch and play on. In fact, the 100 light pads scattered across the gardens light up when touched, so after-dark fun for the kids is guaranteed.
Music & Theatre
This year at Brisbane Festival, there are plenty of gigs to give you that live music fix, including a huge show from Aussie punk rock band Beddy Rays at the Princess Theatre on September 2. Also taking to the stage on the same night to kick off the festival, we have Jessica Mauboy playing at South Bank Piazza.
You can also get country music fix at Big Sound Country on Saturday, September 10 featuring Adam Brand at South Bank Parklands.
In terms of theatre performances, we recommend checking out Fourteen, a stage adaptation to Aussie author Shannon Molloy’s bestselling memoir, which explores a Queensland teenager’s school life and sexuality.
If you’re after a cheeky laugh, sit back and enjoy Sweatshop, a comedy cabaret performance from Brisbane’s award-winning Briefs Factory.
The immersive underwater-themed show Love Lust Lost is a must-see too as you’re taken on an bewitching journey like no other.
To avoid disappointment, make sure to check the Brisbane Festival website for specific dates and times for these events as some installations do not run for the full length of the festival program.