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Top Free Events and Activities @ Brisbane Festival 2012

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by Geraldine Massey (subscribe)
I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
Published July 12th 2012
Top Free Events and Activities @ Brisbane Festival 2012

The annual Brisbane Festival isn't just Brisbane's largest cultural event. If you're on a budget it's an opportunity to see a range of performances and indulge in fun activities without having to dig deep into your pockets or max out the plastic.

Brisbane Festival
Brisbane Festival Logo. Image from

[ADVERT]This year's Festival sees the return of some fun family favourites, the introduction of new and eclectic entertainment and some old friends popping up in new places. The following pages show my picks of the freebie festivities.

South Bank Family Activities

Sunsuper Riverfire
Sunsuper Riverfire. Image from

South Bank will once again be the hub for the Festival's free and family-oriented activities. It is the prime vantage point for Riverfire, which this year becomes the closing night Festival spectacular (29 September), rather than the opening salvo of previous Festivals.

It's also the place for front row seats for the Santos GLNG City of Lights Laser Show every evening from Saturday 8 to Friday 28 September.

Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden
Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden. Image from

A dazzling display of lanterns from around the world will illuminate South Bank's Cultural Forecourt nightly from 6pm throughout the Festival at the Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden.

The Golden Casket Light Sphere will shed it's beautiful, bubbly light and reflections over South Bank once again this year. It will take up residence at River Quay from Saturday 8 to Friday 28 September.

Wunder Bar

From Wednesdays to Saturdays from 8.30pm during the Festival the hottest place to be will be the Wunder Bar. With an urban chic vibe courtesy of Michael Scott-Mitchell (Head of Design and Director of Undergraduate Studies at NIDA) and sited at the key Festival location of QPAC's Cascade Court the Wunder Bar will fulfill all your requirements for free after-dark live music and entertainment. Be there or be square.

The Spiegeltent

Courier Mail Spiegeltent
Courier Mail Spiegeltent. Image from

The Courier Mail Spiegeltent's new home for 2012 is South Bank's Cultural Forecourt. While most of the Spiegeltent entertainment is ticketed you can still experience its quirky cabaret atmosphere with some free entertainment. Try QUT Sessions at The Spiegeltent where you can see emerging musical talent for 3 evenings during the Festival - Saturday 15, Saturday 22 and Friday 28 September from 5.30 pm. No bookings required.

Late Night Argentina
Franco Luciani and ensemble. Image from

Late Night Argentina will bring Latin rhythms and popular Argentine music to The Spiegeltent on Saturday 15 September from 11.30pm. Famed harmonica player Franco Luciani and his ensemble will perform for 60 minutes. They will also give another free performance, along with other Argentine musicians, at Sandgate Town Hall on Sunday 16 September at 7pm.

And don't forget The Spiegeltent's Garden Bar every evening throughout the Festival from 5pm. There'll be free live music and DJ's under the twinkling lights of the Lantern Garden.

Symphony Under the Stars

Symphony Under the Stars
Symphony Under the Stars. Image from

Symphony Under the Stars also has a new venue for 2012. On Friday 21 September from 7pm Roma Street Parklands' Albert Street Amphitheatre will resonate with the soothing and stirring sounds of some of the world's best loved classical composers such as Bizet, Mendelssohn, Verdi and Strauss. It's all courtesy of Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conductor Marco Zuccarini and some special guests. Spread out your rug, bring a picnic, purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks or BYO (no glass).

Art Exhibitions

The Festival includes a host of artistic installations and exhibitions, with many works from new and emerging talent. Happily, most are free.

Caravan runs throughout the Festival. It's a partnership between The Wandering Room and A-CH architectural agency, where a gallery for contemporary visual art will be created out of, wait for it, shipping containers. Brisbane Powerhouse is the venue for this creative collaboration.

It Ain't Dead features the work of contemporary signwriters Ed Woodley, Numskull, Marty Routledge and Joel Birch, who still produce hand-painted signs in a world of digital technology and computer-generated creativity. The exhibition will run from 12 to 29 September in an as yet undisclosed Fortitude Valley location. Check the website for details closer to the Festival.

Camera Wonderers Installation. Image from

Access Arts Camera Wonderers Installation highlights the work of photographers Stephen Corti-Griffiths, Colleen Stevenson, Reg Lovell, Louis Lim, Mathew Lys, Brendan Huddy , Robert Walmsley-Evans and Magda Labuda. It's at Metro Arts, Out the Back at 109 Edward Street, Brisbane for the Festival duration.

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Why? Festival freebies for everyone.
When: From Saturday 8 September to Saturday 29 September 2012
Where: Various venues. See article for details.
Cost: All these activities and events are free.
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