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Eight Events to Flock to (Other than Sport) During the Commonwealth Games

Even if sport isn't your thing, there's still plenty to see.
By Sarah Ward
April 04, 2018
By Sarah Ward
April 04, 2018


Even if sport isn't your thing, there's still plenty to see.

The eyes of the sporting world are turning towards the Gold Coast, with the Queensland city hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games. That's great news if you're a fan of athletes and nations vying for glory, obviously — and, while it might not initially seem like it, it's great news for arts and culture lovers too.

As well as the expected competitive endeavours, the Games also include a huge multi-arts festival across not only the Goldie but Brisbane too. So if sports isn't your thing, you can still join in the fun thanks to everything from beachside singing to art in strangers' houses — and these eight must-attend events.

Top image: Yes, We Dance! by Artwork Agency.

  • 8
    The Festival

    First announced last year, Festival 2018 mightn’t boast the most exciting name, but it does promise a plethora of exciting programming across the 12 days of the Commonwealth Games. Taking place from April 4 to 15, the fest will feature more than 1000 arts and cultural experiences, complete with 1440 artists from 50 countries, and including 35 world premieres and 15 Australian premieres.

    Highlights include Circa’s world-first take on The Rite of Spring, but in circus form, plus Dancenorth’s 360-degree dance performance Surge. Elsewhere, Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project will kick off the music offerings, while an evening of African tunes will mark what would’ve been Nelson Mandela’s 100th year, and Courtney Act will host a celebration of LGBTQI pride.

    Also on the bill is the Gold Coast’s own Amy Shark; the all-female Electric Lady, bringing together Aussie female-fronted acts; Hot Dub Time Machine ‘s latest stint; the seven-metre-wide, floating moon sculpture that is Museum of the Moon; and Holoscenes, the performance artwork which comes to Australia for the first time after wowing crowds in New York City’s Times Square. Or, attendees can take part in a participatory dance performance featuring hundreds of people; and sing karaoke as they’ve never experienced it before — via a field of microphones on Surfers Paradise beach.

    Image: Dancenorth, Amber Haines

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  • 7
    Bleach* Festival 2018

    If you’re keen for a beachside arts and culture fix, then you’ll want to head along to this year’s Bleach* Festival. Taking place at various venues and spaces around the Goldie between March 29 and April 15, Bleach* has quite a few tricks up its 2018 sleeves.

    That includes ten performances in everyday folks’ living rooms, a musical inspired by the GC’s first surf lifesaver, an apocalyptic dance piece on Surfers Paradise’s main beach, and a 49-hour show on a sandbar in the middle of Currumbin Estuary, for example. If you’ve noticed that plenty of the fest’s highlights take place in the great outdoors, that’s because embracing everything and everywhere that the coast great is what Bleach* is all about.

    Other standouts include a music-filled trek through the Palm Beach Parklands, puppets at Paradise Point and several parties — including an opening shindig in Robina, a daily street party in the Southport CBD and a welcome party at the Gold Coast Airport arrivals section. Plus, if you’ve always wanted to sleep on the beach, then Wave Fields is for you. Merging music, environmental recordings and live sound from the site itself, it lets sound crees in and out of your dreams while you slumber by the shore.

    Image: Darcy Grant

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  • 6

    This April, Broadbeach on the Gold Coast will play host to a fun new addition in Arboria — a huge, blow-up sculpture featuring a walk-through labyrinth of winding tunnels and lofty domes. On exhibition at Kurrawa Park from April 5 to 15, the inflatable structure takes its inspiration from the forest.

    Incorporating tree-like spaces, stylised leaf patterns and a soundscape from Ecuador’s Mindo cloud forest, it creates an immersive, multi-sensory experience for visitors young and old. A maze of pods and domes leads to a stunning central space, where massive columns and soaring Gothic-style windows mirror those of Chapter House at the UK’s York Minster cathedral.

    It’s the work of world-renowned group Architects of Air, who’ve created and exhibited a whole series of these ‘luminaria’ structures across the globe. Arboria took over Melbourne’s Federation Square in January, even delaying its opening due to the city’s heatwave. When it comes to the Gold Coast, it won’t just bring a wondrous maze to the beachside — it’ll do so for free.

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  • 5
    The Festival's Free Brisbane Music Program

    If you like live music — and you like seeing it for free — then you’re going to want to head along to South Bank between April 5 and 15. As part of The Festival’s Brisbane program, a free music lineup is taking over the Cultural Centre Forecourt.

    It’s a packed bill featuring plenty of ace acts, including Regurgitator, The Preatures, Bob Evans, Kev Carmody, Ed Kuepper, Urthboy, Cheap Fakes, Airling and Major Leagues. And they’ll be joined by Jackie Marshall, Don Walker, Thando, Shellie Morris, Digging Roots, Kardajala Kirridarra, Heart Music, Electric Fields, Abbe May, Stella Donnelly and more.

    The list really does go on, meaning that seeing a gig — and not spending a cent — isn’t going to be a problem for the 11 days.

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  • 4

    More than just that patch of grass and trees at the edge of the CBD, the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens boasts a whole heap of wonders — gorgeous greenery, ponds filled with cute turtles, free exercise classes and more. From April 6 to 15, it’s also the site of Brissie’s first major outdoor contemporary art exhibition: Botanica.

    For ten days, the gardens will come alive with artworks, talks, workshops, choirs, puppets and more, including Kerrie Poliness’ geometric line drawings across the park’s manicured lawns, which she’ll tend to live throughout the event. Or, stop by on April 13 for Botanica by night, which will involve all of the above plus food trucks and live music.

    Basically, prepare to roam through the centre of Brisbane and see its natural splendour in a whole new way.

    Image: Field Drawing #1 by Kerrie Poliness, courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

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  • 3
    WOW - Women of the World Festival 2018

    Wow is the right word for Brisbane’s latest fest: the Women of the World Festival. Returning to the city, WOW is all about celebrating ladies being awesome. It might sound obvious, but it’s never a bad time to showcase the ace feats achieved by women — while also exploring the issues that still remain around gender equality.

    Taking place from April 6 to 8 at the Brisbane Powerhouse, WOW will feature women from more than 20 Commonwealth nations, taking part in talks, performances, exhibitions, workshops and panels, plus speed mentoring sessions, yoga classes,  skateboarding, Femi-oke and more. There’ll also be a healing space and a marketplace, including meditation and shopping (and both, if that’s what helps you de-stress).

    Highlights include Hot Brown Honey‘s return, interactive feminism sessions for kids under 10, a panel on the politics of hair, and classes on everything from juggling, journalling and dance to using tools and online safety. Or, mosey on over to New Farm Park on April 7 for The Beautiful Game, a creative take on football and its roots featuring armour, an oversized football and bike-riding referees.

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  • 2
    Meeanjin Markets

    There’s no shortage of markets happening around Brisbane — pick a day, pick a spot, and you’ll likely find a bunch of stalls selling a range of wares. One thing that you won’t usually come across, however, is a market dedicated to authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, crafts and experiences, which is what the two-day-only Meeanjin Markets is offering.

    It’s Brissie’s first-ever all-Indigenous market, and  it’s aiming to become a regular event like Sydney’s Blak Markets. Here’s hoping that becomes a reality — and the best way to show your support is to head along on April 6 and 7.

    Taking place at Reddacliff Place, the markets will highlight the work of local Queensland creators, while also celebrating the sights, sounds, creativity and flavours of the Australian bush. Drop by from 10am to 9pm on Friday and 10am to 5pm on Saturday.

    Image: Blak Markets.

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  • 1
    Pub Choir at The Festival

    Like karaoke? Fond of singing in public in general, whether you’re solo or in a group? Then it’s time to up your crooning game. Pub Choir is exactly what it sounds like — aka a gathering of folks belting out a tune, together, in a bar. It’s basically what happens whenever someone puts ‘Wonderwall’ or ‘Weather With You’ on the jukebox, but in a more organised fashion.

    The event happens monthly; however, as part of The Festival — aka the arts and culture fest that’s currently taking over southeast Queensland alongside the Commonwealth Games — they’re throwing an extra special shindig. On April 5, Pub Choir will be heading on over to The Festival’s Brisbane Hub at the South Bank Cultural Forecourt for what’s certain to be a loud celebration — and yes, that means South Brissie will be alive with the sound of music this time around.

    Unlike the usual get-togethers, participation is free. Don’t worry, the area is licensed, so you’ll still be able to buy drinks. Yes, singing and sipping go hand-in-hand, as they always do — just in a bigger space.

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