Painting the town pink – Aruga’s top picks at Brisbane Festival 2023

5 minutes read

September is Brisbane Festival.

The sun is shining, pink banners wave from city signposts, the sky ignites and there’s a palpable sense of celebration and joy permeating Brisbane.

Aruga has pored over the 2023 program and we’ve started filling our calendars with nights at the theatre, weekends at gigs and days spent enjoying free shows and installations.

This year, Brisbane Festival presents more than 1000 performances in some of Brisbane’s favourite arts venues as well as surprising locations like a warehouse, cathedral and dozens of suburban parks.

We’ve perused the world-class theatre and dance, the family fun and free community events, the late-night cabaret and live music to present the team’s top picks for Brisbane Festival 2023.


City Botanic Gardens
31 Aug — 8 Oct
Tickets here

“I can’t wait to wander the City Botanic Gardens as it’s transformed into a technicolour light extravaganza! Lightscape received rave reviews for its Melbourne, Sydney and international seasons and it’s so exciting to have it here in Brisbane.” – Nat, Group Account Director.


On Heat

New Benner Theatre, Metro Arts
30 Aug – 2 Sep
Tickets here.

“I was devastated to miss Leah Shelton’s BATSHIT at last year’s Festival – a show that sold out in record time and netted her a cheeky four Matilda Awards – so I’m snapping up tickets to On Heat. Come for the latex costume and lip-synching, stay for the camp and cutting takedown of sexual politics. Sizzling!” – Bel, Director of Content.

The Making of Pinocchio

Brisbane Powerhouse
13 – 16 September
Tickets here.

“I am so excited to see this deeply personal, clever and insightful piece of theatre. The Australian premiere season, this work opened to rave reviews overseas and the duo behind it are incredible at their craft. I think this will be one of those works that you remember for years to come.” – Inga, Senior Account Director

Soweto Gospel Choir – Hope

The Princess Theatre
10 – 11 Sep
Tickets here.

“Basking in the glory of the iconic Soweto Gospel Choir is like a hug for the soul and it will be especially exciting to see these three-time Grammy winners perform in Queensland’s oldest surviving theatre, The Princess. It’s not at all surprising that a second show has been added due to popular demand!” – Adam, Aruga Co-Founder

Soweto Gospel Choir – Hope, image by Will Bucquoy

Rainbow Serpent (version)

From 9 September
Details here.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the first major presentation of Daniel Boyd’s work in Brisbane. I met Daniel at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney a few years ago. I had just discovered his work and he happened to pop in while my friend and I were viewing the exhibition. He was so approachable and interesting to chat to and his work is compelling. I’m looking forward to engaging in the participatory programs running alongside the installation and reconsidering the spaces and places we inhabit as we head towards the Voice referendum.” – Jacqs, Senior Writer


L Shed, Dock B, Northshore
1 – 29 Sep
Tickets here.

“Dancenorth’s production of Red was the standout performance of Brisbane Festival 2021 for me. The combination of the set inside a warehouse at Northshore, the dancers and the music was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, I was awestruck. With this in mind, I’m super eager to see Salamander. Also set in a warehouse at Northshore, Salamander is a dance-theatre visual piece featuring national and local dancers, including Brisbane’s Australasian Dance Collective, and a highly anticipated set created by Es Devlin. It’s going to be something Brisbane has never seen before and I want to be front row centre.” – DK, Aruga Co-Founder

Salamander, image by Damien Bredburg


Playhouse, QPAC
16 Sep – 1 Oct
Tickets here.

Bananaland sounds hilarious and I’m excited for the premiere of a musical coming from local heroes like Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall. I’ve loved Kate since first seeing her play in a pub in Annandale in Sydney about 15 years ago, it’s always exciting to see her talents emerging through new work in her collaborations with Keir.” – Jacqs, Senior Writer

Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!

Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
25 Aug — 17 Sep
Tickets here.

“shake and stir theatre co’s 2022 Brisbane Festival show, Fourteen, was really moving, so much so that I saw it three times! I’m hoping they recreate this raw, funny and heart-warming storytelling in this year’s show, Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!” – DK, Aruga Co-Founder

Cirque Bon Bon

South Bank Piazza
20 – 23 September
Tickets here.

“I haven’t seen Cirque Bon Bon before but have heard amazing things. The extravagant and contortion-filled acrobatics and dance will probably have the whole audience on the edge of their seats.” – Lilly, Senior Account Executive

Cirque Bon Bon

80s Street Party

King Street
16 September
Details here.

“I hope I bump into a young Mick Jagger and David Bowie Dancing in the Street!” – Jacqs, Senior Writer.


St John’s Cathedral
13 – 16 Sep
Tickets here.

“It’s hard to pin down just one show as I’m so excited for the majority of shows on this year’s program including Salamander, BANANALAND, Nieergoo and Siva Mai Club but one that I’m particularly excited to see would be Eternity by Circa. This one is a site-specific circus commission at St John’s Cathedral – it’s going to be epic!” – Jasmine, Senior Account Executive


Erth's Shark Dive

Brisbane Circus Centre, Hamilton
17 – 29 Sep
Tickets here.

“I’m really hoping this is like Shark Week but IRL.” – DK, Aruga Co-Founder????

Brisbane Festival presents a 23-day city-wide celebration of music, theatre, and art performances from 1 – 23 September. Browse the full program here.
Aruga has proudly worked on Brisbane Festival for seven years (and counting!). Read more about our work on this iconic event here