Brisbane Festival has unveiled a program brimming with big-name acts, more world premieres than ever, and a spectacular new light-and-laser show on the river that will see Brisbane illuminated for 22 days of celebration this September.

There will be almost 600 performances – 100 of them free – of almost 70 shows across 17 venues. More than 1,000 artists are involved.

In a coup for Queensland, Brisbane Festival will premiere eight brand new works, involving major commissions from some of Australia’s leading companies including Circa, Dancenorth and Legs on the Wall.

Program highlights include two major Riverstage music events bookending the Festival on the opening and closing nights and headlined by homegrown heroes Ball Park Music and Violent Soho; two semi-staged concerts of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece Peter Grimes, starring world- leading Australian heldentenor Stuart Skelton; and #CelebrateBrisbane River of Light – a nightly, all-ages, free river show that will ignite the city with a visual feast of luminescence and life.

In a first for Brisbane Festival, the massive program is presented in three distinct acts – one for each of the three weeks of activity from 8 – 29 September.

“Each act has its own explosion of story, and each opens a window to the world that will entertain and enlighten,” Brisbane Festival Artistic Director David Berthold said.

The first week alone offers almost 30 different productions in 15 venues across the city, including favourite Festival hubs Treasury Brisbane Arcadia, home to The Courier-Mail Spiegeltent; the fringe-fueled Theatre Republic at Kelvin Grove’s QUT Creative Industries Precinct; and live music mecca The Tivoli.

Act One revolves around ideas of home, memory and gender. Amongst the signature events is Memorial, an epic theatrical experience that gives exquisite life to each of the 215 dead soldiers named in Homer’s Iliad. It stars the legendary Helen Morse and a community chorus of 215 choreographed by Circa’s Yaron Lifschitz, with music by Golden Globe nominee Jocelyn Pook.

“This spectacular new Australian work, featuring a massive chorus drawn from the Brisbane community, will be a snapshot of the city in 2018,” Berthold said.

From the United States comes Home, in which a house is built magically onstage, seemingly from nothing, before becoming a celebration of all the things that make a house a home. By the end, the audience becomes part of a joyous house party.

Equally monumental is Qweens on King, an inner-city garden party that will see eight real-life same-sex couples tie the knot in a public ceremony officiated by Gai Lemon.

“The King Street area in Fortitude Valley registered the highest YES vote in the marriage equality postal survey in all of Queensland, so it’s an appropriate place for a public celebration like this,” Berthold said.

Another guaranteed crowd-pleaser is Festival favourite Strut & Fret, who returns to The Courier- Mail Spiegeltent with LIFE the show. It’s a world premiere for Brisbane Festival, showcasing the extraordinary capabilities of the human body, from contortion and aerials to fire-breathing and feats of incredible strength.

Additional Act One headliners include Australian TV favourite Hugh Sheridan and friends in the return of 2016 smash-hit California Crooners Club; Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project; the return of Brisbane Festival’s hugely successful free concert Symphony For Me, which sold out within minutes in 2015 and 2016; and Katie Noonan’s Elixir, Michael Leunig and The Camerata in Gratitude & Grief, a unique combination of spoken-word poetry, sublime music and live drawing.

Act Two of the Festival casts the individual against the giant forces of nature, fate and society, in thrilling expressions of circus, dance and music.

Highlights include two world premieres, En Masse by Brisbane’s internationally renowned Circa in one of their biggest shows yet, and Dust by Australia’s leading company for dance innovation, Dancenorth; while national treasure Rhonda Burchmore joins guest star Rob Mills in a sexy and sassy new show, BANG! BANG!

Act Three – the Festival’s final week – delivers a fierce and fun climax, including mind-bending scary movie homage HORROR; the colourful children’s opera The Owl & The Pussycat; and the world premiere of Man With The Iron Neck from Australia’s leading physical theatre company, Legs on the Wall. Eskimo Joe teams up with Brisbane chamber Camerata in QPAC’s Concert Hall.
The 22-day celebration crescendos Saturday 29 September with Brisbane’s much-loved fireworks celebration Sunsuper Riverfire igniting the city skyline for its 21st anniversary year. This year’s super fun soundtrack is themed on Sci-Fi and Superheroes.
“We hope this festival is altogether alluring and will bring us all together, breathing as one, as we witness artists from here and around the world working at the very limits of their imaginations to blow our minds,” Berthold said.
“This year’s Brisbane Festival is truly Brisbane’s Festival. Visit each of the three acts and you’ll be rewarded six-fold – we invite you to join us and celebrate Brisbane this September.”

For the full program of theatre, dance, music, circus, comedy, cabaret and family entertainment, visit

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