It’s Buddha’s birthday and Brisbane is celebrating.

Thousands of people braved grey skies to converge on South Bank, for the start of a three day party.

Roisin O’Connor reports.


Brisbane’s South Bank has been overtaken by thousands of red lanterns, strung up as part of an annual celebration of the birth of the Buddha.

Organisers say the festival is the biggest such event in the world.

Since 1997 the Buddha Festival has grown into one of Brisbane’s most prestigious cultural events attracting more than 20,000 visitors.

More than a thousand volunteers have worked for the past two weeks preparing for the festival.

Organisers say while the event is to celebrate the Buddha’s birthday, it also aims to demystify the Buddhist philosophy.

Steven Chang, Festival Director: “The aim of the festival is to promote Buddhism, but when we say Buddhism in fact it is a Buddhist education not the religion.”

Illustrating that the festival is not just for Buddhists, school children from surrounding districts have joined in the festivities.

Some of them travelling for more than five hours to get here.

For them it’s a learning opportunity.

Sheree Burnham, Coffs Harbour High School: “Every time my students come to this festival, every student I ask they enjoy something different.”

Organisers say the festival is also about trying to improve society.

Ralph Smith, Marketing Director: “For Buddhists they inspire to become better people and I think the whole community wishes for that.”

That idea was reinforced today with the traditional washing of Buddha, which is accompanied by the mantra, “have a good heart, say nice words and do good deeds.”

Roisin O’Connor, QUT News.