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Brisbane Festival returns in 2023 with a program that promises connection, community, complexity and joy in a city-wide celebration of arts, culture, and live performance.

The fourth program from Artistic Director Louise Bezzina simultaneously welcomes the world and spotlights Brisbane on the global stage across 23 days of evocative, accessible and uplifting work from 1 – 23 September.

Brisbane’s premier arts venues and some of the city’s most iconic locations will stage more than 1000 performances – 230 of which are free – including 19 world premieres, two Australian premieres and 11 Queensland premieres.

Making its world premiere at Brisbane Festival 2023, Salamander is a stunning, large-scale, site-specific dance theatre work by internationally renowned choreographer and director Maxine Doyle and artist and designer Es Devlin, working with composer and sound designer Rachael Dease and leading Queensland artistic company Australasian Dance Collective (ADC).

Salamander (1-24 September) transforms a warehouse on the banks of the Brisbane River at Northshore into a futuristic dream-like world, haunted by desperate characters, labyrinths, shifting structures and a flooded landscape.

Eternity, by internationally acclaimed, Brisbane-based Circa, also makes its world premiere at Brisbane Festival (13-16 September).

Staged in the hallowed grounds of St John’s Anglican Cathedral in the heart of Brisbane City, Eternity creates a communion between Circa’s eight-strong ensemble of acrobats and artists and the spellbound audience.

International festival hit The Making of Pinocchio (13-16 September) is a profound piece of storytelling; a heartwarming, at-times funny and deeply personal account of gender transition, playing Brisbane Powerhouse.

The Australian premiere and Brisbane Festival exclusive tells an intimate story through an international lens, sparking a deeper conversation about gender identity in all communities and societies.

After dazzling audiences of all ages across the world, Lightscape – a multi-sensory experience of light, colour and sound – illuminates the City Botanic Gardens.

The brilliant botanical wonderland features glowing tree canopies, larger-than-life flowers and neon roots bursting from the undergrowth along a 2.5km immersive light trail in the heart of the city from 1 September to 8 October.

The skies above Brisbane also come alive on opening weekend with Riverfire by Australian Retirement Trust (2 September) and Nieergoo: Spirit of the Whale, a spectacular, never-before-seen massed drone performance (1-2 September).

The Brisbane-first celestial dance of 400 choreographed drones takes place above the Brisbane River in front of Queen’s Wharf Brisbane, telling a captivating Dreamtime narrative through beautiful visuals and a mesmerising soundtrack.

Bookending the Festival is All Together Now (23 September), a raucous and inclusive, free, all-ages celebration of music, dance, fun and frivolity at Brisbane’s newest inner-city oasis, Victoria Park.

The cacophonous closing night party also serves as the culmination of the Brisbane Serenades program of free mini-concerts across Brisbane suburbs, amassing thousands of everyday musicians in two big events: 10,000 Kazoos and NOISE.

NOISE partners dancers from leading North Queensland company Dancenorth with 100 local drummers who thump out a scintillating live score in a dynamic community-driven performance.

10,000 Kazoos calls everyone to join the “Kazoonity” and help assemble the world’s largest and zaniest orchestra, one where no previous musical experience is required.

Australian Retirement Trust Festival Garden  is an all-ages inner-city wonderland of food, wine, entertainment and discovery set among the lush South Bank parklands.

Adding a splash of playfulness and colour to Festival Garden is Hiromi Hotel: Yu Ka 夢花, a large-scale site-specific installation by beloved visual artist Hiromi Tango.

Crowning the Festival hub is South Bank Piazza, the vibrant and versatile venue hosting a must-see program of uplifting and entertaining works from sizzling circus to Australian music royalty, feelgood cabaret to eye-popping dance.

Continuing a proud tradition, Brisbane Festival again features a strong, surprising and inspiring program of First Nations-led work starting with Jarrah (Sep 1), a ceremonial opening event that honours and pays respect to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.

Brisbane Festival’s full program also includes the world premieres of BANANALAND (18 September – 1 October), Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas! (25 August – 17 September) and Cut Chilli (14 September – 7 October) and the Australian debut of Kuramanunya (13-16 September) by Thomas E.S. Kelly and Karul Projects at Metro Arts.

Making their Queensland premieres are Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Yuldea (28 August – 10 September) at QPAC Playhouse, Hide the Dog (21-23 September) at QPAC Cremorne Theatre, The Farm/Performing Lines’ Stunt Double (6-9 September) and Australian Dance Theatre and Ilbijerri Theatre Company’s Tracker (20-23 September) at Brisbane Powerhouse, and Jodee Mundy’s Personal (6-9 September) at Metro Arts.

BRISBANE FESTIVAL 2023 plays Brisbane from 1 Sep 2023