Brisbane Festival opening weekend celebrates a spectacular start to September

  • Opening today, Brisbane Festival 2023 will captivate audiences with performances, installations and events held in the city and suburbs.
  • Across 23 days, the festival showcases Queensland’s extraordinary artists and arts organisations alongside national and international talent.
  • The festival program includes 19 world premieres, 11 Queensland premieres and over 1000 outstanding performances, arts experiences, and signature events.

Brisbane Festival 2023 starts today (1 September) activating the city with extraordinary arts experiences, showcasing Queensland artists and companies, and sharing compelling stories and exciting new works.

Opening with a gathering of Nations welcoming ceremony Jarrah – Mother Earth, and a stunning drone performance Nieergoo: Spirit of the Whale that will light up the sky, the festival features and celebrates powerful First Nations arts experiences, ceremony and stories of culture.

Breathtaking lightworks will illuminate the canopy of the City’s Botanical Gardens with a new Brisbane Festival installation Lightscape, and festival favorite Riverfire by Australian Retirement Trust will take place as part of the opening weekend with a soundtrack curated by Queensland’s own Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall.

Fifty-seven exceptional Queensland arts organisations will dazzle and delight audiences throughout this year’s spectacular festival program, including Australasian Dance Collective, shake & stir, Camerata, The Little Red Company, Karul Projects and Circa.

The Palaszczuk Government is proud to invest in Brisbane Festival as a driver of the state’s arts sector growth and capacity building, delivering opportunities for inclusive arts engagement, and realising cultural tourism outcomes.

Quotes attributable to the Acting Premier Steven Miles:

“Brisbane Festival is an iconic Queensland festival that entertains and inspires audiences with vibrant arts and cultural events, while showcasing the city and the depth of talent right here in our backyard.

“The Palaszczuk Government is proud to support this event that means economic and employment opportunities in Queensland’s arts sector, as well as trade and tourism dollars this weekend.

“Brisbane Festival reinforces the state’s reputation as a dynamic cultural tourism destination as we prepare to showcase our arts and cultural sector at the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“I invite all Queenslanders and visitors to the state to enjoy everything the Brisbane Festival 2023 has to offer.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch:

“At the heart of Brisbane Festival is a fantastic spirit of collaboration, partnership and innovation to create unique and inclusive arts experiences that celebrate the state’s cultural identity and unique stories.

“One extraordinary new work showcased this month is Salamander, conceived by Es Devlin and Maxine Doyle, and featuring Australasian Dance Collective. This is an internationally significant work that reinforces Queensland’s reputation as a cutting-edge creative hub.

“Importantly, the festival provides a platform for our local artists and arts workers, delivering employment and capacity building opportunities, including through creative placements supported by the Palaszczuk Government to strengthen our pipeline of local talent.

“In 2023, Brisbane Festival will support the growth of Queensland’s arts and cultural sector and feature over 1,400 Queensland-based artists including 170 First Nations artists and creatives, fifty-seven state-based arts companies and over 1,000 festival performances and premieres.

“The power of the arts to engage and strengthen our communities is recognised by our government’s investment in the festival’s impactful community-based activations with the return of the widely popular Common People Dance Eisteddfod, a new LGBTIQ+ and neurodivergent community program, Fashion Collab and the First Nations-led West End Stories – Meanjin Recovered.

“Brisbane Festival delivers on key priorities of our 10-year Creative Together strategy including supporting a strong and sustainable sector, activating places and spaces, sharing our stories and celebrating our storytellers.”

Quotes attributable to Brisbane Festival Artistic Director, Louise Bezzina

“My fourth Brisbane Festival program is driven by my boldly Brisbane vision to create a Festival for Brisbane; one that invites the international community to participate but, more importantly, shows the rest of the world how amazing this city is,” Ms. Bezzina said.

“A strong sense of community and connection is embedded in the 2023 program, from deeply personal stories that invite human connection to moments of pure celebration and joy that unite the entire city.

“This program is filled with complex conversations and issues spanning gender identity, our climate crisis, sexual politics, family, race and Australia’s colonial legacy.

“But there’s also the joy, heart and beautiful escape that are synonymous with Brisbane Festival, opportunities to make noise, dance, sing, laugh and not take ourselves too seriously.

“I am proud of the new work Brisbane Festival has commissioned – the site-specific dance theatre Salamander is one of the largest-scale works ever programmed by the Festival – and delighted at the abundance of bold new works choosing to make their world, Australian and Queensland premieres at Brisbane Festival in 2023.”

/Public Release. View in full here.