Not only is Brisbane a very ‘Insta-worthy’ city but it’s also a busy, casual, fun city. There’s plenty of sunshine, lots and lots of green space and it’s got bushwalking spots and beaches, rivers and other waterways. As events and festivals go, Brisbane almost has more than its fair share!
Equipped with brilliant, world-class venues, the River City attracts world-class events and shows off its serious cred to its southern counterparts on a regular basis. When you’re trying to figure out where to live, study or holiday, you really must put Brisbane at the top of your list!
No sooner does one event end than the next one begins … and sometimes they happen simultaneously! Whether you fancy a good belly laugh, a feast of ethnic foods or feel like a good, solid run, there’s something for everyone in Brisbane.
- Brisbane Comedy Festival (Feb/Mar) – Prepare to laugh your head off at the Brisbane Powerhouse, a riverside arts theatre in a decommissioned power station. From the end of February to the end of March, around 40 of the country’s (and the world’s!) best comedians perform their latest acts. Big names and unknowns attract enthusiastic comedy fans looking to catch their favourite acts or discover new ones. There’s musical sketch comedy, stand-up, storytelling, improv, audience participation and more as the curtain goes up and the laughs get loud.
- Paniyiri Greek Festival (May) – Every year, on the third weekend of May, Brisbane’s Greek community descends on Musgrave Park in the suburb of South Brisbane for a couple of days of dancing, eating, grape stomping, cooking demonstrations and national Greek costumes. It’s a family-friendly event that celebrates the settlement of Greeks in the city and it attracts more than 50,000 people. Brisbane’s annual Paniyiri event is the longest running Greek festival in Australia. Eat your fill of lamb souvlaki, baklava and honey puffs. Everybody is welcome!
- Caxton Street Seafood & Wine Festival (May) – Held on Labour Day weekend each year, it’s a festival street party designed to fill the tummies of locals and tourists alike with an abundance of fresh, local seafood, served up by Caxton Street’s popular cafes and restaurants. There’s live music, historic displays, art exhibitions, excellent food, outstanding wine and plenty of celebrity appearances by comedians, sports stars, DJs, singers and artists.
- Brisbane Marathon Festival (Aug) – Feeling energetic? Take a leisurely (or not) run through the city on a 42.195-kilometre course and see if you can do a personal best time. Serious runners come from all over Australia and 35 different countries to compete and thousands of locals join in for the fun of it. Choose to limit your distance to 2.2km, 5km, 10km or the half marathon if you prefer. Make up a team with friends, wear a costume if you like and have a ball. Each year, the event raises more than $100,000 for charity groups.
- The Ekka (Aug) – Short for ‘Exhibition’, The Ekka is Brisbane’s agricultural show, where ‘the country comes to the city’ to show off its produce, livestock and wares. Prizes, ribbons and trophies are awarded and Sideshow Alley is alive with colour and noise with exciting rides, amusements and music. Eat Ekka favourites like fairy floss, toffee apples and the famous strawberry sundaes. Meet farmers and their families, watch fashion parades, explore the various pavilions and cuddle baby animals. There are fireworks every night and plenty of action in the main arena every day.
- Bridge to Brisbane (Aug) – More running, this time from the Gateway Bridge to the Ekka Showgrounds. Forty thousand runners line up every year to score a coveted ‘Bridge to Brisbane Finisher’ t-shirt at the end. These days, the event raises around $250,000 for charity, the best reason to take your mark and have a go.
- Oktoberfest (Oct) – Just like in other parts of the world, Oktoberfest is a fabulous excuse to don lederhosen and beer maiden costumes. Brisbane hosts Australia’s largest German festival and has been named as one of the world’s top 10 Oktoberfests outside of Germany itself. It’s a family-friendly event with bands imported from the mother country. Dance, drink beer, eat pork knuckle and pretzels and have a loud, happy time!
- Good Food & Wine Show (Oct/Nov) – This travelling food and wine expo makes its way to Brisbane in October or November each year and attracts huge crowds. Taste your way through cheeses, wines, breads, ice creams, chocolates, meats, nuts and more. Watch celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, take a cooking class and meet the producers of some exquisite Australian food products.
- Brisbane International Film Festival (Nov/Dec) – If you love your screen time, you’ll have a great time at BIFF. Over 11 days, you can see thrillers, independent films, animation, children’s productions, documentaries and biopics. The venues are scattered across South Bank, the City and a handful of suburban theatres.
For three weeks in September, the Brisbane Festival brings the city to thrilling colour, culminating in the Riverfire event that features fireworks, laser light shows and the exhilarating fly-over of the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Growler fighter jets.
The three weeks of the Brisbane Festival are a highlight on the city’s calendar. Mostly contained to the South Bank cultural and entertainment precinct, the various venues host dance, circus, theatre, musical and opera acts. With an audience of approximately one million every year, it’s a huge drawcard for visitors to Brisbane.
Local and visiting acts relish the opportunity to perform at the event as it means massive exposure. And on the last evening, you need to hold on to your hats as the Growlers swoop down really low and really loud and trace the length of the river along the South Bank foreshore! It’s a spectacle everyone should behold at least once in their lifetime!
All of the above are just some of the Brisbane events that happen on an annual basis. We haven’t even begun to tell you about the ad hoc events and the bi-annual events. Brisbane really has so much happening all the time; it’s time you visited to experience these things for yourself.