Arcadia is bustling when I meet with Brisbane Festival’s Artistic Director David Berthold on the Festival’s second day. The ‘Festival Central’ – pop-up bars, activities and stages along the South Bank waterfront – is filling up as people gather to stake out the best spots to watch the River of Lightdisplay. “Every time I turn my head over there I see more people,” Berthold says enthusiastically as we look out from the Divine bar.

David Berthold

Some eight shows began their festival season on opening night, including the river’s light and laser spectacle, which will soon see the riverbank packed again and children climbing the giant colourful letters of the word ‘Brisbane’ that overlook the river, eager to see to the water fountain, and hear the story – this year about the arrival of Europeans to Brisbane – told by Yuggera and Toorbal man Shannon Ruska.

“One of the great things was the Jacob Collier concert last night, which was out of this world, I’ve got to say,” Berthold says. “The Concert Hall was totally full for that, so it was quite a joyous way to start.”

While the Festival’s opening weekend is...