In the lead-up to this year’s State of Origin series, Brisbanites of all ages will gather at South Bank to celebrate everything that makes Queensland great.

Queensland Rugby League (QRL), in partnership with The Star Entertainment Group, has announced the inaugural Maroon Festival, a free community event for all ages to be held at South Bank Parklands.

The festival will celebrate the way that State of Origin brings people together from across the state, not just as rugby league and Maroons supporters, but as proud and passionate Queenslanders.

QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher says the Maroon Festival will generate an amazing atmosphere across the city as the team prepares for the opening match of the State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium.

“The concept of harnessing and amplifying this passion and pride with an inclusive community festival has been taking shape for some time,” he says.

“The festival will extend the State of Origin experience for fans beyond the game, attracting more visitors to Queensland and creating economic opportunities for Brisbane and the greater South East.

“The QRL is excited to bring this event to life with the support of our principal and presenting partner, The Star Entertainment Group and our major partners, The Queensland Government and the NRL.”

Hatcher says there is potential to expand the event in future years.

“Our vision for the festival revolves around an extended schedule of events and activity across a full week,” he says.

“The ultimate aim is to make the Maroon Festival a must-visit event on our calendar and provide a reason for Queenslanders and tourists alike to get involved on an annual basis.”

The festival will kick off on Sunday 28 May with the Maroon River Parade & Fan Day, giving fans a chance to watch the Maroons team sail down the Brisbane River and dock at South Bank.

A Queenslander Stage & Forecourt will be established where festivalgoers can relax and enjoy footy-themed entertainment, including game shows, match replays, fun interactions for the kids and live panels with Former Origin Greats.

On the Legends Walk, fans can down and collect Former Origin Greats (well, their digital recreations, anyway) though an augmented reality treasure hunt experience, and have their photo taken in the Maroon Festival Locker Room, a life-sized replica of the locker room at Suncorp Stadium.

On the Health & Wellness Green, Queensland foodies can enjoy nutritious food, fun workshops and special performances for kids, along with a Fit & Fun Zone where mini-Maroons can learn sports-based skills and get moving.

The Waterfront Garden Bar will serve an all-Queensland menu of family favourites made with local produce from across the state, with the Brisbane River as its backdrop.

Some of Brisbane’s best local food vendors will also appear at the Tastes of QLD Food Stalls, serving signature dishes that celebrate Queensland produce and ingredients.

Finally, the festival will culminate in a live broadcast of State of Origin Game 1 on the big screen at the Holden State of Origin Series Live Site on Wednesday 31 May.

“It is a chance to celebrate everything it means to be a proud Queenslander and reflect on all the wonderful qualities of our state, our inclusiveness and diversity,” says Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“With Queensland Day held annually on 6 June, we have worked closely with Queensland Rugby League to ensure the Maroon Festival reinforces state pride and our generous spirit that comes from watching the Mighty Maroons in action.”

Maroon Festival will run from Sunday 28 May to Wednesday 31 May at South Bank Parklands and Cultural Forecourt. For the full festival program, visit maroonfestival.com.au.

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