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Brighten up: Brisbane Festival is back in huge River City celebration


Having been laid low by COVID last year, the much anticipated Brisbane Festival returns with a huge Brightly Brisbane program of arts and music featuring 139 events – half of which are free.

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The streets will be alive with the sound of music with a reprise of last year’s successful Street Serenades, while the Brisbane River plays host to six-metre inflatable art installations.

The BOQ Festival Garden serves as a brand new Festival-hub, filling South Bank Gardens with roving singers, dancers, and drag artists, pop up bars and interactive adventures for 20 days. Beginning on 3 September, the Festival opens with a Jumoo, a smoking ceremony at South Bank led by Yuggera and Turrbal man Shannon Ruska.

The Brightly program will be sprawling out throughout the city, with 139 productions over 223 locations throughout September, including huge world premiere works Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe and the Dead Puppet Society’s Ishmael.

Street Serenades returns to fill 190 suburbs with free live music from the likes of Boy and Bear, Christine Anu, and Montaigne.

The Festival’s huge program is a celebration of Queensland’s rich arts and culture scene after a turbulent year, with Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina inviting locals and visitors to reconnect and celebrate the best of Brisbane in the spring light.

“There is a renewed ambition to this year’s Festival, a joyous and uplifting celebration of our River City, with large new creations, such as the premiere of Brisbane’s Art Boat along with a spectacular line up of world class talent,” said Ms Bezzina.

Circa’s Silver City on the Rainforest Green, an immersive structure of chrome bubbles concealing acrobatic performances (Image: Supplied)

The festival will be pushing the boat out with the inclusion of Brisbane’s Art Boat, a new floating art experience travelling between Hamilton and South Bank featuring towering installations by art and technology studio ENESS including Sky Castle and Airship Orchestra.

ENESS have designed towering inflatable installations which invite you to view mystical travellers as they perform an enchanting orchestrated production of sound and light on Brisbane’s Art Boat before settling at Northshore, Hamilton.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said Queenslanders will embrace the Brisbane Festival as it brings the community together through the joy of the arts.

“The 2021 program has a real focus on connecting Brisbane, bringing life to the city’s streets, suburbs and cultural venues with diverse and unique performances,” said Enoch.

Building off last year’s Boldly Brisbane program, there will also be a huge lineup of diverse performances at Brisbane Powerhouse including Demolition by Polytoxic, a night of explosions, aerials, and cabaret, Let’s Be Friends Furever will let the dogs out in an homage to our canine companions, and 44 Sex Acts in One Week will see a self-described apocalyptic rom-com play out on stage.

Welcoming the relaunch of Woolloongabba’s Princess Theatre is a series of ticketed musical events including ARIA-Award winner Jarryd James and gothic industrial electronic duo COLLAR, as well as a huge program of gigs at The Tivoli.

The Festival will also see the largest program of First Nations artists in its history, showcasing First Nations talent across 168 artists and creatives.

Polytoxic’s Demolition (Image: Supplied)

“Showcasing 63 Queensland companies and employing more than 1000 local artists, this year’s Brisbane Festival program will also feature 168 First Nations artists engaged across the 23-day Festival, the largest in the Festival’s history,” said Enoch.

First Nations events include First Nations Fashion: Walking in Two Worlds as well as a celebration of Gurrumul Yunupingu’s posthumous album in Bungul, and a day featuring Brisbane’s deadliest musicians Blak Day Out.

Brisbane Festival Indigenous Advisory Group chair Michelle Tuahine said this year’s Festival would spotlight unique and untold stories.

“This year, 168 First Nations artisans, performers and creatives share their intensely personal narratives through ceremony, smoke, songline and performance,” Tuahine said.

“We look forward to sharing our world with you,” Tuahine said.

Closing out the Festival on 25 September will be the much anticipated return of the Sunsuper Riverfire, a pyrotechnic spectacular which will light up the whole city.

“Block out your September because you are going to want to be part of this party!” Bezzina said.

The Brisbane Festival runs from 3 September to 25 September. For the full program and more information, visit Brisbane Festival’s website. 

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