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Top Free Events at Brisbane Festival 2018

Home > Brisbane > Performing Arts | Music | Lists | Free | Festivals
by May Cross (subscribe)
I'm a writer, artist and keen photographer.
Published August 28th 2018
What will you see?
It's festival time in Brisbane. Three weeks of Queensland's largest arts and cultural event: that is Brisbane Festival with over 500 performances. Tourists and locals are spoilt for choice. There'll be theatre, dance, live music, opera, circus, and even eight world premieres. Heaps to do and 22 days to do it all in.

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Reddacliff Place (May Cross)


This year is so ginormous that the organisers have changed the format with each of the three weeks being given it's own different theme or Act:
ACT 1: Home, Memory and Gender 8-16 September;
ACT 2: Circus, Dance and Music 17-23 September;
ACT 3: Family, Music and Horror 24-29 September.
There is so much to see and do that I am going to give you my "top twelve" of must-see events - all of which are FREE.

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Brisbane on the River


1. Celebrate Brisbane River of Light - The Story of Maiwar
Art and Technology. Light and Laser. Water and Air. This show tells the traditional tale of the Dreamtime Rainbow Serpent. Maiwar (Brisbane River) was created and became the life of our city. Along with the acclaimed Oracle Liquid Company, the talented Nunukal Yuggera Aboriginal Dance Company, from Stradbroke Island, have created this water fountain spectacular. The stunning illumination shows run every night throughout the festival from 8 to 29 September at 6.30 pm, 8.00 pm and 9.30 pm for 10 minutes. See it at Treasury Brisbane Arcadia. All members of the family will love it.

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Nunukal Yuggera Dancer (May Cross)


2. Qweens on King
This event is a celebration of life, love and commitment. The electorate that had the highest 'yes' vote (YAY) in the marriage equality survey in 2017 is going to be transformed into a street garden party. Eight couples will tie the knot in public in King Street at Bowen Hills with the finest of Brisbane's LGBTIQA performers. Wear your best wedding/garden/queer costume and join in the dancing. Have a gay time on Saturday 8 September from 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm as part of the launch of the 29th annual Brisbane Pride Festival.

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Drag Queen on Queen Street (May Cross)


3. A Force
Award-winning duo Hiromi Tango and Craig Walsh collaborate again on a special new public artwork. This diverse installation will evolve during the festival. Materials, memories and masses of ideas will be amassed. Audience participation is positively encouraged in the flow through space. Workshops are offered to help you create within this huge visual artwork. Although free, please register for the workshops on the festival website. It is open all day from 10 September to 14 October at Flowstate in South Bank Parklands.

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Queensland Symphony Orchestra (May Cross)


4. Symphony For Me
Do you have a favourite piece of orchestral music (maybe it's the William Tell Overture) but don't consider yourself a classical music fan? Our own Queensland Symphony Orchestra will be performing music which is special and you'll recognise much, if not all of it, from films, ads, or childhood. This event was hugely popular last year and promises to be another unforgettable evening. Although this is a free event, bookings are essential. The extraordinary two-hour show will be on Saturday 15 September at 7.00 pm in the Concert Hall in QPAC and is suitable for the whole family.

5. Lissa and Nee Nee's Disco Rainbow Sparkle Band
Here is another event for the family and it's full of music and dance. Remember funk, soul and disco? The kids can wriggle and strut their stuff to drums, cool electric bass and groovy synthesisers. The high-octane, live music sets are interspersed with quieter crafty sessions with this energetic duo and their sparkly bling band. Boogie away in the Courier Mail's Spiegel Tent on Saturday 15, 22 and 29 September at 11.00 am.

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You never know what you'll see in Brisbane (May Cross)


6. Treasure Hunt
The Wallace Bishop Treasure Hunt is back. Last year it went viral. They are again giving away huge prizes (diamond ring anyone?) to some very lucky and cunning Queenslanders. For your chance to find the ultimate treasure, get all the clues from Wallace Bishop and Brisbane Festival social media. Win, win.

7. Remember Our ANZACs
Another family-friendly free event, this ANZAC themed pop-up exhibition is not to be missed. Discover the activities and performances which remember the Armistice - the agreement that ended WWI 100 years ago. You can help create Queensland's Remembrance Day art project. Your hand-made red poppies, the symbol of peace, will join thousands from around our state to build a remarkable tribute. Come on down on Saturday 29 September from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm to South Bank Piazza.

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Venue for Lord Mayor's Concerts (May Cross)


Lord Mayor's City Hall Concerts:

8. Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University's - Con Artists Jazz Orchestra
This is an 18-piece jazz orchestra of gifted and dedicated students from the Conservatorium. It showcases bright emerging talent with traditional and contemporary classics and some new works by young composers. Catch it on Tuesday 11 September at 12 noon to 1.00 pm in the Main Auditorium, Brisbane City Hall.

9. Up Close Featuring Camerata
Players from Camerata, Queensland Chamber Orchestra, perform an intimate concert of jazz fused with contemporary and classical music. Get up close and personal on Tuesday 18 September at 12 noon to 1.00 pm in Brisbane City Hall.

10. Michael Griffiths is Cole
Enjoy internationally acclaimed cabaret artist Michael Griffiths who explores the wonderful life and songs of ever-popular Cole Porter. Enjoy it on Tuesday 25 September at 12 noon to 1.00 pm in Brisbane City Hall.

11. Brain Buzz Live
You can join Channel 9's new kids' science show with explosions, experiments, and extra excitement. Albert Einstein and other historical characters will brainstorm and answer those scientific questions you didn't know who to ask. This is the first event in the Lord Mayor's Children's Concert series. It's happening on Wednesday 26 September at 11.00 am to 12 noon in the Main Auditorium at Brisbane City Hall. Although this is a free event, bookings are essential via qtix or phone 136246.

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Riverfire (image from Brisbane Festival website)


12. SunSUPER Riverfire
Once again Riverfire wraps up Brisbane Festival' s celebrations with a BANG. And who doesn't love fireworks? The soundtrack this year is inspired by SUPER heroes and sci-fi, which sounds SUPER to me. As usual, you can tune into Triple M's live broadcast. In addition to the sensational pyrotechnics, spectators will be stunned by the stunts and aerobatics from the Australian Defence Force with the ever-popular RAAF SUPER Hornets and Army helicopter displays. The best vantage spots (which you'll have to get to early) are:
South Bank
Victoria Bridge
Kangaroo Point Cliffs
City Riverwalk
Riverside Centre
Eagle Street Pier
Captain Burke Park
Wilson's Lookout.
If you can't make it into the city, you can always watch the spectacle on Channel 9 from 6.30 pm. This grand finale is on Saturday 29 September with entertainment starting at 4.00 pm and the fireworks at 7.00 pm. Don't miss it!
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Why? It's Brisbane's biggest Festival of the year.
When: 8-29 September
Phone: 07 3833 5400
Where: All over Brisbane
Cost: All these events are FREE
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