Brisbane Festival 2021 sets sail this weekend, unfurling a Brightly Brisbane program designed to fill the city with art, music and joy from 3 – 25 September.
The anticipated annual Festival is a celebration of everything people love about Brisbane with an innovative program that will surprise and delight visitors over 23 days, commencing this weekend. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was a beautiful time to celebrate all things Queensland, to showcase our unique stories and embrace the power and delight of shared arts experiences throughout September.
“This year’s Festival will feature 43 Queensland companies and employ more than 1000 local artists in telling our stories and giving fresh interpretations to ancient and classic stories,” the Premier said. “Brisbane Festival has commissioned 17 new works and will present 16 world premieres with a total of 139 productions presented in 220 locations across the city’s cultural venues, spaces and streets.
“I am delighted that Queensland audiences will be the very first to experience the compelling stage version of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallow’s Universe, bringing a uniquely local story to life through an exciting collaboration with Brisbane Festival, Queensland Theatre and QPAC.
“The Queensland Government is a proud supporter of Brisbane Festival to create and celebrate new Queensland work, provide employment opportunities for local artists and arts workers, and deliver positive economic outcomes for the state.”
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Brisbane Festival 2021 would help bring people back together while providing a boost for the economy after another challenging winter.
“Brisbane Festival has given our city that sense of excitement again by delivering another outstanding program. I know our local businesses, which continue to struggle because of restrictions and the lack of tourists, will be buoyed by the economic shot in the arm the Festival will bring,” Cr Schrinner said. “The Brisbane Festival team must be commended for their efforts in rallying world-class talent together for this month-long celebration of art, music and entertainment.”
Festival events return to the city’s favourite theatres and venues and pop up in new and unconventional performance spaces that hero Brisbane’s unique attributes: the iconic Brisbane River, sprawling suburbs, lush landscapes and its springtime skyline.
Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina said the opening weekend program was a celebration of positivity, resilience and hope and she invited everyone to come out and rekindle their love for Brisbane after a challenging winter.
“I am so excited to share a Brightly Brisbane program that places this beautiful city firmly in the spotlight and lights up the world-class talent it creates and attracts,” Ms Bezzina said. “Last year we pivoted but this year we have pirouetted in response to the world around us to craft a Festival that brings premiere productions, brand-new works, creative collaborations and fearless artists to this city.
“I invite everyone to shake off the winter blues and join us in the spring sunshine for what is sure to be an unforgettable Brisbane Festival.”
The premiere of Brisbane’s Art Boat hits the water from 3 September, taking passengers on a never- before-seen floating art experience between Northshore Hamilton and South Bank. Steady your sea legs for a unique sunset river cruise, exploring the immersive Airship Orchestra – a mesmerising large-scale, glowing inflatable installation – grabbing a cocktail at the bar and catching live entertainment nightly.
The unmissable experience features an evening soundscape curated by Shannon Ruska and opening weekend performances by singer-songwriter Jaguar Jonze (3 September), fashion designer Gail Sorronda (4 September) and electronic music producer Michelle Xen (5 September), bathing both art and the Brisbane River in a new light.
Sky Castle, a large-scale inflatable sibling installation to Airship Orchestra, makes its home at Northshore Hamilton next to the Brisbane’s Art Boat dock from this weekend. Economic Development Queensland’s (EDQ) General Manager Debbie McNamara invited visitors to experience the luminous work with specially orchestrated light and music designed to inspire joy and hope in people.
“I’m very proud of the years of work EDQ has done to reinvigorate the Northshore precinct to enable the area to host such incredible events like this,” she said.
Opening weekend also heralds the launch of BOQ Festival Garden, Brisbane Festival’s all-new entertainment hub, sprawling from South Bank Piazza down to the Brisbane River. The party precinct is a Festival playground, free and open to all visitors day and night, with live entertainment, food, bars and a slew of surprising discoveries.
BOQ Festival Garden opens with Jumoo, a smoking ceremony to cleanse the way into a bright September at 5.45pm on 3 September with Shannon Ruska of Tribal Experiences. Friday night opening highlights include live music by Katie Noonan and beats from DJ Bacon. Saturday and Sunday see roving performers, activities and live music from noon until late with Finchy Fun workshops and appearances from Silent Disco, the Bubble Queen, Elska: Heart & Harp, Jess Harlen, Rommii, and Old Lore. Everyone is invited to join the Opening Weekend Party at BOQ Festival Garden on 4 September from 5.30pm where extra surprises are in store.
The precinct hosts a playful and interactive collection of light installations from ENESS that are destined to become Festival favourites. Children, and adults rediscovering their inner-child, can find joy and contemplation on the radiant I Believe swings on Riverside Green.
Another classic playground favourite on Little Stanley Street Lawn is transformed in Light Seesaws. A journey of wonder awaits in the heart of the Rainforest Green revealing mysteries of the microscopic world in IMB Institute of Light.
BOQ Festival Garden’s crowning jewel is South Bank Piazza, a versatile new venue that transforms into a sparkling Festival performance space for a star-studded line-up of musicians and performers. Christening the new venue is Hugh Sheridan LIVE!, an opening night showtime spectacular on 3 September, featuring the much-loved star of Australia’s stage and screen.
Backed by a full band and accompanied by special guests, Hugh Sheridan’s solo show is a journey through the songs and stories that shaped his career, from toe-tapping jazz to powerhouse pop. Razzle Dazzle Riot then raises the roof of South Bank Piazza in a late-night opulent overload of sequins, song and circus.
The versatile venue swaps swing for style on 5 September with the runway event of the year, First Nations Fashion: Walking in Two Worlds, direct from Australian Fashion Week. Creative genius behind this project, Grace Lillian Lee brings together designers from across Australia in a cultural celebration that spotlights contemporary garments and textiles by eleven First Nations designers in a stunning and beautiful audio-visual experience incorporating dance, film and live music.
The mind-bending IMAGINARIA makes its spectacular Brisbane debut from 3 September in BOQ Festival Garden. This immersive and multi-sensory experience of light, sound and limitless imagination, opens in its purpose-built playground next to Queensland Maritime Museum.
Brisbane’s biggest music extravaganza blasts off from 3 September with Street Serenades playing at Newmarket, Burbank, Wynnum West, Calamvale, Deagon, Bulimba, Kangaroo Point and other locations across Brisbane. This year, music-lovers can search the new Street Serenades schedule and interactive map by artist, date or location and plan their suburban road trips.
A special Street Serenades treat will feature Queensland Ballet with two glorious free performances in BOQ Festival Garden on 4 September at 11am and 1pm. Other Festival features come alive with LOST floral illuminations at West Village and Karul Projects’ Weredingo premiering at Metro Arts. Over at Brisbane Powerhouse, fierce femme tradies from Polytoxic present an explosion of cabaret, theatre
and social activism in DEMOLITION.
See the full Brisbane Festival program and purchase tickets online.