I FIRST visited Brisbane in 1988, up from Melbourne for Expo 88, a lively introduction to the city.
Although Brisbane was awash with the bonhomie of thousands of people embracing Expo 88, it was still regarded as a large country town by us snooty (and silly) Melbourne folk.
My, how things have changed.
Brisbane's exciting and ongoing narrative surely lifts the hearts of all who live there and no doubt causes a glimmer of envy in those who do not.
Now Brisbane is more than a worthy competitor to its southern counterparts when it comes to dining, activities, events, festivals and theatre.
Every day brings something new in the city: one more glam restaurant opening, another exclusive art exhibition, a sparkling hotel refurb, theatre by the bucket load, emerging trendy laneways, vibrant markets ... the story develops daily.
With the arrival of spring comes a line-up of events and celebrations in Brisbane, and Rydges Hotel at South Bank is an excellent place to base yourself for a foray into it all.
You are steps away from GoMA, the State Library, and the Queensland Performing Arts Complex. You are surrounded by restaurants, bars and cafes and have that thing rare in many large cities, open green spaces, even a sandy beach.
A stroll outside Rydges' door will ease you into the vibrant river bank, or a little longer walk will take you to all the fun of West End.
To launch a $30million redesign, Rydges has announced two excellent stay packages: the Showstopper Package and the City Lights Package, perfect timing for the spring and summer days ahead.
Rydges is ultra-luxe, and with its renowned Bacchus Restaurant and energetic Soleil Pool Bar you might not want to take your tastebuds out further. But if you do, arm yourself with a copy of the newly published food guide Dish, edited by celebrity chef Matt Moran. Dish gives the low-down on all things edible, from fine-dining restaurants to coffee hideaways, hidden gems, laneway feasts and cafe pop-ups.
"The Brisbane City dining scene has definitely shifted up a gear and just keeps on getting better," Matt Moran said.
A highlight on the Brisbane event scene was the stunning cabaret-style show Blanc de Blanc, finishing today, but next up will be the arrival of KOOZA in November. It is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions: acrobatics and clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendour and fragility combined with slapstick humour.
A glimpse of what's on in the city:
October: October 14, Disgraced by QTC at QPAC; October 19, Andre Rieu at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre
November: November 1, 2016 Melbourne Cup; November 24, KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil at DFO (until mid-January); November 28 Matilda the musical at QPAC (until mid-January)
December: all month, KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil at DFO (until mid-January); all month, Matilda the Musical at QPAC (until mid-January); December 9-23 The Nutcracker by Queensland Ballet; December 15, first cricket Test - Australia v Pakistan at The Gabba; December 16 and 17, Keith Urban at Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
The writer was a guest at Rydges Hotel South Bank.
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