Coming to Light at Horizon Festival

Image source: Contributed

Horizon Festival returns to illuminate the complex, interconnected stories of our communities through boundary-breaking arts and performance, with free and ticketed events for all ages and interests, as Georgia Beard discovers. 

When Horizon Festival rises with the sun for its eighth year, light will fall upon the unknown faces of the Sunshine Coast. 

Voices, crowds, communities – those who have lingered too long in the shadows – now break their silence with creative and cultural expression. Their art creates deep-rooted connections to people and place, defying an increasingly divided and isolated society.

From Friday 25 August to Sunday 3 September, we’re immersing in each other’s lives with an innovative and contemporary arts program of music, storytelling, dance, theatre, visual art, installation and conversation.

Local, national and international artists will ask and answer, comfort and confront, scandalise and spellbind on unexpected stages from the coast to the hinterland. 

Pitching at the Festival Hub in Cotton Tree Park again, Wonderland Spiegeltent captures the enchantment of travelling performances inside its swooping curtains and stained-glass windows. 

The Common People’s Dance Eisteddfod returns in a storm of sequins, sweat and spandex! Join dancers of all ages and abilities in over-the-top dance routines to some of the greatest hits of the ’80s and ’90s in homage to the legendary Rock Eisteddfods of the past.

Lose yourself in laughter with rapid-fire stand-up at the Sunshine Coast Comedy Gala and feel the Spiegeltent run hot with adults-only circus shows of operatic and provocative cabaret! 

After 10 years of selling out festivals worldwide, the Briefs boys are ready to air their Dirty Laundry in a night of intoxifying physicality, gob-smacking comedy, unapologetic truths and ridiculous showmanship! 

ROUGE will deliver an equally outrageous blend of death-defying acrobatics, grandiose cabaret and deeply twisted burlesque as their diverse troupe of performers subvert what it means to be sexy. 

After these seductive spectacles, settle in for thought-provoking conversation with writer, broadcaster and feminist community builder Clementine Ford. Joined by Jandamarra Cadd, Jon Coghill, Wayne Parcel, Matt Golinski and one final speaker yet to be announced, Conversations with Men explores masculinity, vulnerability and the tender connection between men and their childhood selves. 

Families can also immerse in their own circus escapades with the return of Circus Wonderland: A Neverland Adventure, bringing Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the Pirates to life with astounding acrobatics and antics! 

Explore a buzzing, humming hive of activity with Bees by Polyglot Theatre, experience shadow puppetry and animation in a two-woman physical comedy, The Outhouse, and let the kids unleash their inner headbanger at the Junior Burger Rock Show with motorcycle riding funklords Burger Joint!

Spreading out from the Festival Hub, interactive projections, pop-up performances, visual art exhibitions and imaginative workshops will inspire creativity, collaboration and revelry!

Enjoy free live music with Live & Local in the Garden aboard the Troubadour Wagon, a perfect way to wind down and watch the sunset; or connect to percussive rhythm and powerful dance when Dancenorth Australia and the Horizon Festival Drumming Band unite to make NOISE. 

Discover natural and manmade leisure materials along Maroochy River for Let’s Organise Your Leisure and join artist Kathy Mackey to construct sculptural artworks of pool noodles and yoga mats for the Float-Off Finale!

At the heart of every festival experience is the desire for unity. This year, Horizon Festival will bring other celebrations into the fold, including Sunshine Sounds Festival on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September, this all-ages, family-friendly music festival puts homegrown artistry on stage with an all-Australian line-up at the Eumundi School of Arts Hall. Experience emerging and established musicians including some of Australia’s most prominent artists alongside Katie Noonan’s Eumundi School of Music rock band.

Horizon Festival also goes back to our roots with Homegrown: The Forgotten Coast, commissioning works from local artists across all art forms. After poking around abandoned buildings, dilapidated shopfronts and overgrown train tunnels, Horizon returned from their search with several fascinating projects reactivating forgotten spaces on the Sunshine Coast: The Blak Laundry by Dominique Chen and Libby Harward invites us into a functional laundromat to air our dirty linen with critical conversation, collaboration and a celebration of all things blak to discover that everything comes out in the wash; Labyrinth by choregrapher Chloe Keating is a dance theatre work performed in three historical bookshops and tells the story of two lonely booksellers towards the end of all things; and Nicole Voevodin-Cash and Teddy Horton will shine a light on the unseen and unknown art of manufacturers in one of our most invisible neighbourhoods, Kunda Park with Where to From Here, an exhibition of photography and sculptural works to tell the stories of the artisans hidden within our industrial estates.

As boundary-breaking events light up the region, Horizon Festival reflects the Sunshine Coast in all our diversity, eccentricity and vulnerability. It’s a celebration of soul-baring we need now more than ever. 

View the complete program and book tickets online at

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