Another j2 event experience

Riverfire – A Signature Brisbane Festival Event

Portfolio Classification Events of significance
Location South Bank Parklands and east to west stretches of Brisbane River flanking Brisbane central business district
Year j2 involved annually 2004 - 2009
Client Major Brisbane Festivals, Riverfestival
Quick Facts


A Queensland iconic event – the State's biggest annual public celebration

Public spectator audience across inner city vantage points numbers over 500,000 people

Television audience well over 300,000

Broadcast on Triple M 104.5FM radio

Simulcast on Channel Seven

30 minutes fireworks and lighting choreographed to a music soundtrack, "top and tailed" with F1-11 dump and burns


Brisbane Festival was developed by the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council in 1996 as an initiative to foster the arts. The Festival evolved from Brisbane's "Warana" Festival, first held in 1961. Warana, meaning blue skies, was the beginning of Arts Festivals in Queensland. Riverfestival was developed by Brisbane City Council in 1996 as an initiative for a river-based celebration combined with community engagement. In 2009 Brisbane Festival combined with the former Riverfestival to make it Brisbane's annual festival.

Riverfire was established in 1998 as one of two signature events from the original Riverfestival (the other being the International Riversymposium, an international conference on river management). Riverfire continues today as South East Queensland's largest fireworks display and in 2012 will mark the closing of the annual arts festival rather than opening the event.

For 6 consecutive years, j2 ideas & events creatively directed and produced Riverfire.

J2 Services and Solutions

Responsible for creatively developing and directing an opening event for Brisbane Festival in keeping with the vision of the event, while meeting the needs of other key stakeholders.

Key Responsibilities

Design of soundtrack in conjunction with Triple M

Design of pyrotechnics presentation in conjunction with Foti Fireworks

Design of firing platform configuration (number and position of barges, rooftops and other firing platforms)

Liaison with CASA and Department of Mines and Energy to secure support and approvals

Joint chairing of stakeholder planning meetings (Emergency Services, transport, CASA, BCC, water services, etc)

Liaison with RAAF Amberley to secure and brief F1-11 involvement

Liaison with Defence Force to secure other ADF assets (Roulettes, Iroquois, Sea Hawks, Red Berets)

Liaison with radio and television partners to develop content of live broadcasts

Head of "Riverfire Control" during the event

Stage management of event


Level of Complexity

Riverfire is the most challenging and complex event of its kind in Australia, rated as such for the quantity of pyrotechnics firing sites.

2009 Riverfire had a 4km footprint, with fireworks fired from 6 barges, 9 inner-city building rooftops and 3 bridges.

Over 6,000 fireworks cues programmed into a digital firing system to choreograph the fireworks to the music soundtrack within one hundredth of a second accuracy.

Two F1-11 "dump and burns" were also incorporated.

A key challenge was ensuring the live event translated well to television product for the increasing viewing audience watching the Channel Seven live broadcast.

Key Achievements

Designing an annual event that consistently engaged audiences at live sites and in their armchairs at home.

2009 broadcast hit Brisbane ratings of 333,000 beating an NRL final between Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans.

Stakeholder Feedback

"On behalf of the Riverfestival team I would like to extend a very big thank you for your contribution to the success of Riverfestival 2005. I have had extensive feedback from many different people on how much they loved Riverfire this year. It was a delight to see what can be achieved when the fireworks truly respond to the soundtrack. Thank you too for your attention to detail and for your management of the extensive and demanding range of stakeholders… It has been a pleasure to work with you."

Jonathan Parsons – (former) Festival Director, Riverfestival Brisbane

"Thank you for taking on the most challenging event of Riverfestival 2004 – Riverfire. You brought so much to the table to allow Riverfire to continue to be Riverfestival's showcase event. The innovation you provided and your commitment to the event ensured its success. You are a fantastic Creative Director."

Wendy Lacey – Event Management Consultant, Major Brisbane Festivals Pty Ltd, Riverfestival