Brisbane Festival opening ceremony to set the scene for 2032 Games weekend

brisbane festival
Brisbane Festival's Riverfire will have a strong First Nations theme in 2023.

This year’s Brisbane Festival opening event Riverfire could set the template for the Brisbane Olympics opening weekend, according to the festival’s artistic director Louise Bezzina.

Bezzina said they planned to grow the First Nations element of the opening spectacle in the lead up to the 2032 Games.

“We are really building on the Tribal Experience opening and will be integrating a large scale First Nations led spectacle which will cover the whole opening weekend,” she told The Courier Mail.

“There are so many reasons why this is important because we have that big event coming up in nine years and we want to elevate First Nations stories.”

Shannon Ruska, of Tribal Experiences, said his team was “thrilled to be working with the Brisbane Festival team to build on the First Nations storytelling element”.

“This year will see our traditional smoking ceremony Jumoo, integrated with a large-scale visual spectacle on the opening weekend,” he said.

“The Festival offers us an incomparable opportunity to share our First Nations stories with the vast audiences that gather across the opening weekend.”

The 2023 Brisbane Festival is focused on boosting visitor numbers this year after last year’s festival saw overnight visitor expenditure return to pre-COVID levels.

“As we move closer to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, now is the time to raise the profile of Brisbane Festival globally,” said Anna Reynolds, the Festival’s newly appointed Chair.

“There is no better time to elevate Brisbane Festival as a serious cultural tourism driver for the city and state than now.”

Queensland’s Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the government was “committed to positioning Brisbane as a key event destination”.

“Brisbane Festival’s unique programming, including key signature work that showcases the city, will help to leverage the opportunities presented by the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.

While details of the festival program have yet to be released, Bezzina said the festival will have “a few surprises in store that will offer even more compelling reasons to visit Brisbane this spring”.

Brisbane Festival will return from September 1-23 with the program to be released in early July.