eagle street pier brisbane festival

Our Brisbane Festival Guide for 2021 (the best things for free)

Heading to Brisbane Festival this year? There is so much happening it can be hard to figure out where to start. We have put together a list of some of the not-to-be-missed free events happening around Brisbane.

Check out the Brisbane Festival website to see the full program.

South Bank

South Bank is brimming with festival goodness.

Check out the IMB institute of light – A mysterious game of secrets and spectacle hidden in the rainforest that awaits you at BOQ Festival Garden.

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While you are in the BOQ Festival Garden – Check out I Believe -a glowing scene where you swing in between the radiant beams of a mysterious UFO, with sensors in the structure that animate the lights along the UFO beams, beaming your message – whatever that may be – out into the broader universe.

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Or maybe the Light See-Saw is more your speed – An interactive light installation. As you soar through the air, the onboard physics engine interacts with 33 rows of light along the seesaw’s sides. Choose between different atmospheres such as air, water or space and watch as lights reflect motion. 

Impressed by all of the amazing art at the festival? Well over at the South Bank Piazza on the 22 September, there will be a Q&A panel with your exclusive chance to hear from a range of artists who created major new commissions for Brisbane Festival 2021.

Led by Artistic Director Louise Bezzina, this special line-up includes internationally acclaimed, homegrown creatives Casus Circus (Auntie’s Fiafia Night/Collision), Polytoxic (DEMOLITION), Alethea Beetson (Blak Social), Madeline Little (Undercover Artist Festival), Nathan Sibthorpe (IMB Institute of Light) and Daniel Evans (Let’s Be Friends Furever).

La Boite Theatre

La Boite is partying it up and have two free celebrations planned (registration is required)

On the 10 September at 8pm, party on with the HWY Shandy Takeover in La Boite’s public space with a free dance party featuring local artists, performers, DJs and musicians queering up a glittery storm.

Then on Wed 15 September at 5pm check out the HWY Block Party & Exhibition Opening for 2021 and the unveiling of three new works as part of dhagun, curated by Blaklash.

Metro Arts

Metro Arts are hosting the world premiere of The Mechanics of Adaption, where Brisbane’s hottest contemporary artists give up-cycling new meaning in this innovative exhibition.

In 2021, after 10 successful years and four million trips, the Brisbane CityCycle program is ending.

In a fascinating new Metro Arts commission, retired CityCycles are reimagined by artists Ross Manning, Kinly Grey, Susan Hawkins, Aishla Manning and Sarah Poulgrain, in collaboration with Traction and students from The Sycamore School, to reflect both art history and the urgent need for environmental awareness and sustainability.

West Village

The West Village is featuring Lost, a free enchanting wonderland of extinct and endangered floral illuminations that will glow in the gardens of the West Village.

Lost Morgan

Or you can wander through the Lost installation to find the Wearable Wonders workshop to make your own take-home flower crown or insect masks.

Children and families will up-cycle materials by folding, scrunching, finding and sticking together an assortment of wearable beauties to remind them of both the environmental impact and the floral beauty of Lost.

City Hall

Brisbane City Council are presenting a special series of Lord Mayor’s City Hall Concerts for your free lunchtime concert in the city, featuring tango, brass, and opera favourites.

Schubertiade – Maggie Noonan and John Woods: Tue 7 Sept 12pm | Register

Esteemed opera soprano, Maggie Noonan, will perform a lieder recital alongside John Woods on piano, bringing the intimate tradition of the Schubertiade into the beautiful City Hall.

25 Years of Brassed Off: Tue 14 Sept 12pm | Register

The Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University Brass Band will perform a selection of favourites from the iconic film Brassed Off, under the baton of Howard Taylor.

Tango Enigmático & Friends: Tue 21 Sept 12pm | Register

The Brisbane-based trio is coming together with friends to celebrate the music, lyrics, dance and beauty of Argentine tango. Vamos!

Eagle Street Pier

Messengers of Brisbane, one of the installations Gouldian Finches, will fly into Eagle Street Pier providing a spectacular addition of colour to surprise & delight passers-by. Created by internationally renowned artist, Florentijn Hofman, the birds themselves are brought to life by Brisbane’s Urban Art Projects. 

Eagle Street Pier’s roving performances will include fire twirling, neon acts, juggling and more across six festival dates from 5-8pm – the perfect accompaniment for a pre-show dinner or nightcap following a performance: 

  • Thursday 9 September | 5pm to 8pm
  • Friday 10 September | 5pm to 8pm
  • Friday 17 September | 5pm to 8pm
  • Saturday 18 September | 5pm to 8pm
  • Thursday 23 September | 5pm to 8pm
  • Friday 24 September | 5pm to 8pm
eagle street pier brisbane festival

Northshore, Hamilton

In 1968, legendary New Zealand-born composer and deep listener Annea Lockwood set fire to an irreparable, upright piano on the banks of the River Thames in London. It was the first of her Piano Transplants, a series of pieces that reconfigured people’s relationship to one of the most iconic western instruments of our age – the piano.

Piano Burning (10 September) is a celebration of the reconfiguration of material, the transformation of objects, and the resulting multisensory ‘performance’ that ensues.


Sunsuper Riverfire will return Saturday 25 September to wrap up three incredible weeks of Brisbane Festival. The fireworks spectacular will light up the sky from multiple bridges, barges and city rooftops.

riverfire brisbane festival eagle street pier

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