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Brisbane Festival Highlights

Home > Brisbane > Art | Festivals | Nightlife | Performing Arts | Theatre
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
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List of what is hot for the Brisbane Festival
The Brisbane Festival turns Brisbane pink every year in September. It officially runs from the 9th to the 30th of September, though some events and performances may have start and end dates outside of that time. There is usually something for everyone, with live music, theatre, art and the ever popular circus performances. The festival will be 22 days of wonder.

There is no way to cover everything that is on during the festival so let's just look at the highlights for this year. Aside from the free events, prices range from $20 up to $70 or $80 and some events are very adult while others are great for the whole family.

A couple of rules about finding cool events at the Brisbane Festival. First of all, the hottest events sell out fast. In fact, some were already sold out at the time of writing this. The other trick is to look for events that are unusual or different, in particular, the circus and acrobatic performances are often the big crowd pleasers. Also, festivals often attract international performers and performances that wouldn't normally visit Brisbane, so September is the month to catch them.

Diamonds Are For Trevor

QPAC Sep 29: $59-99

Backed by a 24 piece orchestra at QPAC's Concert Hall, Trevor will be sporting beautiful dresses and costumes designed by Tim Chappel (he won an Oscar for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and performing the hits of Shirley Bassy for one night only.

Young Hearts Run Free

Tivoli: Sep 9: $40-50

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Baz Luhrmann's movie Romeo Juliet, you are invited to dress up in masquerade costume (don't forget your mask) and enjoy a great performance by live musicians paying tribute to this classic 90s movie. Stay for the after party with a DJ and more live 90s music.

Megan Washington and Queensland Symphony Orchestra

QPAC: Sep 28: $48-89

Brisbane's own indie pop sensation Megan Washington will perform at QPAC accompanied by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. The performance will focus on her upcoming album but should include enough past hits to keep the faithful happy.


The Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent Sep 12-13: $30-36

Sven Ratzke pays tribute to the musical legend that was David Bowie in this performance that channels the multiple and diverse personalities of David Bowie. Explore David Bowie's life through his classic songs.

Photo fo Sven Ratzke as the Starman courtesy of The Brisbane Festival
Photo fo Sven Ratzke as the Starman courtesy of The Brisbane Festival

Limbo Unhinged

The Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent Sep 8-30: $60-69

For the last few years, the Brisbane Festival has been wowed by various acrobatic and circus style performances. This year, Limbo Unhinged is going to be the sexy circus performance of the festival.

Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival
Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival

]Fantastic Planet

South Bank Cultural Forecourt Sep 9-30 Free

The Brisbane Festival usually means a number of free public art installations. The most interesting this years looks to be Fantastic Planet, based on 1973 Czech/French animated film of the same name (if you have seen this film, it is worth checking out.) Giant figures will be installed around South Bank with the idea of making us reflect on our nature as humans and our relationship to the universe where we are the small savages that other beings might study or be amused by.

Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival
Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival


QPAC Sep 19-23: $45-65

At the Brisbane Festival, theatre usually takes a back seat to the more spectacular performances, but terror is an interactive story where you are the jury in a courtroom drama. Decide for yourself whether the fighter pilot who shoots down a hijacked plane is guilty or innocent of murder.

Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves The World

Theatre Republic The Loft Sep 12-23: $20-$29

Sex clown are two words most people wouldn't expect to go together (in fact many people would hope that those words should never be associated at all), but Betty Grumble takes the idea of sensuality and sexuality, which we package in clothes and makeup, and takes it to its clownish extreme. This fun disco cabaret exploration of the sensual nation of song, dance, ritual, laughter and protest will be an odyssey not to be missed.

Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival
Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival

Fun House

South Bank Piazza Sep 7-24 $32-40

Promising to be another great musical, acrobatic and multimedia performance with an electronic beat, Fun House should be a no-holds-barred contemporary circus performance.

Per Te

QPAC Sep 9-16: $49-55

Combining circus and physical theatre, Per Te tells the story of resistance and strength through the extraordinary performances and great visuals. An inner garden will be built filled with knights in armour and ravaged by storms of flying objects.

Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival
Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival


QPAC Sep 26 - 30: $19-30 for the show, $15 for the workshops

This is the family event to see and a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn more about how others see the world. A cooperation between a theatre company and Ethan Hugh who has Asperger's syndrome, they use circus and theatre to show you how Ethan sees the world. What you will enter is a space of colour, chaos, beauty and humour.

Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival
Photo courtesy of the Brisbane Festival

After the performance, there will be workshops for kids aged 5-13. This gives an opportunity for kids to come into a creative space to express themselves by shouting, jumping, tumbling pillow fighting and writing on the walls. Separate workshops will be run for ages 5-7 and 8-13-year-olds.


Vantage Points from Victoria Bridge down to the Story Bridge Sep 30 FREE

Every Brisbane Festival ends with Riverfire, Brisbane's largest fireworks show of the year. On September 30, from Victoria Bridge at South Bank down to the Story Bridge at Kangaroo Point, the river will be on fire. People find vantage points all along the river with South Bank being the most popular, though personally, I think that the tops of Kangaroo Point's cliffs give you the best overall view.


The trick is to get there early to find a good spot. From around 5:30 there will be displays of aircraft flying along the river, including the Superhornets and Helicopters. The fireworks start at 7 pm and last for 20 minutes.

If you want to avoid the crowds there are plenty of venues that provide places to view the fireworks for a fee, including cruise ships located in the middle of the river. Most options will provide a deal that includes food and entertainment after the event if you want to stay on and party.

But wait, there is more!

Above is only a sampling of what is on during the Brisbane Festival. I highly recommend visiting the Festival website. While the number and quality of free events have diminished in recent years, there are still a number of things to visit and see for nothing. In particular, there will be free live music on most nights.

Arcadia at South Bank
Arcadia at South Bank

Whether you are seeking something free or heading off to a paid event,you should pop into Arcadia at South Bank. They will have live music, bars, food stalls and more all in a convenient location next to many other Brisbane Festival events.
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Why? Great theatre, dance, circus, art, music and much much more
Where: Various around Brisbane
Cost: Prices range from free through to $99
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