Ambitious, joyful and with more First Nations artists and collaborators than ever before, this year’s Brisbane Festival is a big one.

Running from September 3 to 25, the citywide festival will take place at 222 locations, venturing into the suburbs for neighbourhood live music in the second iteration of Street Serenades. There are 15 world-premiere stage shows, including the adaptation of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe. Plus, more than half of the events in the program are free.

It’s the second year for artistic director Louise Bezzina, who says spring’s festival is all about community and celebration. “Critical to the spirit of Brisbane Festival is a program where diverse voices have a platform to tell stories and share their culture,” she says.

There are 168 First Nations artists involved in the festival, which opens with Jumoo, a smoking ceremony led by Yuggera and Turrbal man Shannon Ruska. South Bank Piazza will host First Nations Fashion: Walking in Two Worlds and The Tivoli will be home to a First Nations-led program of live music, including the world premiere of Restless Dream – a large-scale, cinematic show of music, song and dance.

Part floating gallery, part pop-up bar, Brisbane’s Art Boat is likely to be a festival highlight. It’s where you’ll catch Airship Orchestra, an installation of cute, ethereal inflatable characters; and Sky Castle, luminous arches with an otherworldly soundscape. The two installations, created by art and technology studio Eness, will alternate between the boat and a location in Northshore, Hamilton.

At a brand-new festival hub at South Bank, there’ll be giant chrome bubbles called Silver City. Inside, Circa’s talented acrobats will be hurling themselves across the space. At Brisbane Powerhouse, there’ll be an explosive physical theatre performance, Demolition. And in a daring dance work, Red, two performers will dance inside a transparent bubble as the air they breathe slowly runs out.

Joel Bray takes audiences on a flirty and passionate look at sensuality in Considerable Sexual License; Bungul is a celebration of the talent and musical legacy of Gurrumul Yunupingu featuring Yolnu dancers, songmen and musicians; and the Powerhouse becomes an off-leash theatre in Let’s Be Friends Furever.

Plus, Boy & Bear, Christine Anu and Montaigne join the line-up for this year’s Street Serenades – livening up the streets with live music, cabaret, circus and more across 190 suburbs.

Brisbane Festival returns from September 3 to 25. Tickets are on sale now.