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Checking out the Ipswich Festival

Discover Ipswich, Staff Writer

The Ipswich Festival is one of the highlights of the city’s social calendar. This year, the event sprawls over May 4-14 and brings back all of your favourite activities, including Jazz, Wine and Blues, Global Fiesta and Parade of Light! Check out some of the highlights and enjoy some family-friendly Ipswich activities, parades and exhibits!

Festival Parade of Light

Enjoy a spellbinding display featuring giant lanterns, marching bands, and members of our spirited Ipswich community snakes its way along Brisbane Street in the Parade of Light on Saturday, May 6 from 6pm. This year’s theme is “Wizards, Witches and Mystical Creatures”. Among the display will be characters from Harry Potter to Nanny McPhee and Falkor the Good Luck Dragon.

Ipswich Festival Parade of Light

Fire on the River

Enjoy the annual favourite, Fire on the River, on Thursday, May 4 from 7pm at Riverlink Shopping Centre. The night skies are set to explode for the launch of the Ipswich Festival with a spectacular explosion of fireworks and lasers synchronised to a pumping soundtrack.

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Bremer River, this spectacular display will set the night sky ablaze with light and colour. Best vantage points are at Riverlink Shopping Centre and David Trumpy Bridge.

Fire on the River Ipswich

Jazz, Wine and Blues

Sit back, relax and enjoy an afternoon of smooth grooves and rocking blues with Jazz, Wine and Blues at Queens Park on Sunday, May 14 from 2pm. Secure your spot early and stay the day for this popular Ipswich Festival highlight.


2pm – 3pm Rumblefish
Founded in the unconventional and uncompromising blues stylings of local Brisbane legend Blind Dog Donnie, James (vocals/guitar) and Alex (drums) spent four years backing ‘the Don’ learning the school of making simple music swing before taking the plunge and forming Rumblefish. Completing the band is Jeremy (bass) and Rob (lead guitar).

3.15pm – 4.15pm Cigány Weaver
Formed out of a love of Django Reinhardt, Sigourney Weaver and Red Wine, Cigány Weaver are one of the newest, and most exciting Gypsy Jazz acts in Australia. Having recently performed at Australia’s premier Gypsy Jazz Festival ‘OzManouche’ and the Woodford Folk Festival they have captivated audiences with their unique performances, establishing an expansive following.

4.30pm – 5.30pm
The Big Love Blues Band delivers classic tunes made famous by the likes of Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Big Bill Broonzy and the king of the blues Robert Johnson. The blues has been road tested for the last hundred years from the crossroads of the Mississippi Delta to smoky Chicago night clubs, from the cotton fields of the Deep South to New York speakeasies.

5.45pm – 6.45pm SCAT
This four piece band does for jazz what bubbles do for soda-pop! Original tunes, tasty standards, clever arrangements, brilliant musicianship and serious humour is a package that audiences can’t get enough of. SCAT’s live show fronted by vocalist Craig Burnett is a unique blend of sounds, instrumental mastery, lyric riffing, crowd interaction and off-beat humour while incorporating trad, 70s groove, Latin, Swing and Big-Band styles.

7pm – 8pm Russell Morris
Aria Hall of Fame inductee, #1 selling Platinum artist, King of Pop, and Australian Icon are a few phrases commonly used when describing Aussie legend Russell Morris. Shooting to fame in the mid 60’s with Somebody’s Image, Russell had a string of hits including Hush and the Bob Dylan classic Baby Blue.

Jazz, Wine and Blues Ipswich Festival

Global Fiesta

Party your way around the world at Global Fiesta on Saturday, May 13! Enjoy a vibrant mix of world music, dance, international cuisine, stalls, workshops and activities to celebrate cultural diversity. Hand-crafted items, jewellery, giftware, decorative carvings, arts and crafts will be available at the Global Market.

The main stage entertainment kicks off at 2pm and brings together diverse cultural performances. With sticks clashing and festooned with bells, Belswagger Morris Folk dancers will take you through different English village traditions of Cotswold Morris dancing. Not to be missed is the student performance of Gypsy Jazz, Cigány Weaver, set to traditional Romani music. 

Global Fiesta

Enjoy the spectacle of colourful and imaginative traditional costumes from the famous Oruro Carnival as Bolivia Marka Dance Group present exotic and rarely seen dances from different regions of Bolivia. Roots and Funk outfit, Fat Picnic will contribute to the South American representation, their songs are sung in Portuguese with an energy and beat that everyone can dance to.

World first Didjboxa Geoffrey Fabila will captivate you with his modern spin on the didgeridoo’s ancient and traditional sound, while Umkancho present a new wave of mindful and intelligent African music built around the traditional Zimbabwean Mbira. Traditional Persian music will be performed by the talented Jazzab Ensemble.

Other enjoyable activities will include watching the Chinese Lion go through the crowd, the chance to create your own Hawaiian Lei and learn some Bollywoodesque moves from Dance Masala.

Heritage Bank Street Party and Honk!

Soak up the atmosphere as the parade ends and the party kicks in, creating an unmistakable sense of fun at the Heritage Bank Street Party on Saturday, May 6 from 7-9pm. At the main stage at d’Arcy Doyle Place, international sensation Matthew Hetherington will take over and provide the sound for your moves. Matt’s extraordinary voice and vitality on stage has earned him exceptional reviews, both from his live band appearances and his numerous award winning theatrical performances.

Wander up to the Top of Town as Heritage Bank presents Honk! with more sensational entertainment with our Ipswich City Big Band performing a smooth party set with tunes from genres like Swing, Latin, Pop and Funk.

Honk! Ipswich

Check out the awesome rides with Honk! and the elite show cars, customs, classics, vintage vehicles and plenty of club cruisers! Models span the 20th and 21st centuries. Journey through motoring history and enjoy some great dining options at the historic Top of Town.

Creative Kidz

Treat yourself to a world of interactive activities, performances and workshops at this year’s Creative Kidz Big Day Out on Saturday, May 6 from 1-5:30pm. Owl pals Hoot & Hootabelle will take over the stage for a musical performance then a meet and greet. Run away to the circus for a day at the Sekisui House Circus School and master the art of hula hoop, juggling, diablo and spinning plates.

Colour your day at the Yellow Cab’s Face Painting Factory or get artistic at the Ipswich City Square’s Crocodile Painting Corner. Laugh out loud with the amazingly inventive Dr Hubble in the Bubble Man Show. Bubbles only ever want to be spheres, but Dr Hubble will show you square, hexagon, octagon and even pyramid bubbles!

The pied piper of little people, Tim Jackman will have the very young and young-at-heart under his musical spell before you can say Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! Come face to face with some Wild Aussie Icons when Storage King Ipswich brings the zoo to you… featuring snakes, possums, turtles, lizards, owls, flying foxes and a crocodile.

Don’t forget to partake in the free workshops including plaster painting, clay play, lantern making, weaving arty brooches, junky puppets, funky flying fish and so much more.

Creative Kidz

Don’t forget to check out some of the other activities on offer, like the Unmasked display at the heritage St Paul’s Anglican Church in Ipswich CBD, which runs for the duration of the Ipswich Festival. Other unmissable events include Festival Cabaret at the Ipswich Civic Centre on Thursday, 11 May and In-Situ Public Art throughout the entire event in the CBD.

Discover Ipswich

Discover Ipswich

Staff Writer

Rocky the Rock Wallaby is a Sagittarius who lives at the Ipswich Nature Centre and often contributes to Discover Ipswich in his spare time. When he's not busy blogging or hanging out with his bestie Windora the Bilby, he likes to hit the gym for a leg session, graze on quinoa salad and ponder the possibilities of the universe.


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