Vibrant, electric and moving – all words that Australian travellers don’t frequently associate with Adelaide, the City of Churches, and ever little sister to the Australian “must-sees” Sydney and Melbourne. But I’m here to tell you just why “vibrant, eclectic and moving” really do describe this awesome city: South Australia isn’t called the Festival State for any old reason.
But are there really enough festivals to merit the title of THE Festival State, you might be asking. Do you dare to doubt me?
Here are my top six festival-reasons to make a trip to Adelaide a high priority.
Adelaide Fringe Festival
Ah, Adelaide Fringe Festival: how do I love thee, let me count the ways. If you only have time to visit Adelaide once, make sure you do it during March (when, apparently, the city becomes Mad as a Hatter). Although it’s becoming slightly more mainstream as the years progress, the Fringe Festival still offers up the bizarre and peculiar. For almost the entire month of March you can spend each and every evening soaking up a show – cabaret, theatre, music; magic, side shows and more – before spending the rest of the warm summer’s night soaking up the stars in the Fringe’s two city central hubs.
The annual favourite The Garden of Unearthly Delights will enchant those with a penchant for the strange (local tip: want to moonlight as a native South Aussie? it’s the Garden and never the Garden of Unearthly Delights). Take in a sideshow, dare to master one of the stomach churning rides, or simply eat your weight in fairy floss. Located in the Parklands in the city’s East End, you’re also a hop across the road from Rundle Street, the home Adelaide’s best restaurants.
Once you’re done delighting the senses in the Garden, take a jaunt down to the iconic Victoria Square and enter the relative newcomer: the Croquet Club. Classier than the Garden, the Club offers up plenty of Insta-worthy photo-ops, whilst you drink your on-trend mason jar cocktails. And if you’re there on a Friday night, why not first take a five minute walk to visit the famous Adelaide Central Markets to feast on the fine local produce.
In the last few years the Adelaide Fringe has also expanded to further afield. Meaning you can even pass a day wine tasting in the Barossa Valley wine region before nabbing a ticket to a show.
For more information visit the Fringe website here.
Adelaide Festival of the Arts
Another front-runner of Adelaide’s Mad March, the Adelaide Festival of the Arts is the distinguished older sister of the Fringe. Boasting acts from world-class companies and international artists, as well as the best new Australian acts on offer, a ticket to a show within the Festival of Arts may be slightly pricier than those on offer at the Fringe, but you’re guaranteed five-star entertainment.
For more information visit the Festival website here.
Need more convincing to pay a visit during March? Taking over the gorgeous Botantic Park (which you should visit on an Adelaide trip regardless), WOMAD is a diverse weekend of traditional and contemporary acts from cultures around the world. If this isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, there are hundreds of amazing food and charity stalls scattered throughout the lush parkland.
For more information visit their website here.
Becoming bigger and better every year, the OzAsia Festival is truly a celebration of the ties which Australia has with it’s nearest neighbours. Each year the festival places a spotlight on particular regions within Asia – from Japan, to India, to China – for a period in late September.
The Moon Lantern Festival is a free festival highlight, which takes over Elder Park (so long as the rain holds out!) and dazzles with its display of stunning colours and lights.
The newest addition, the Night Noodle Markets, is also a must-visit. Located behind the historic Council Chambers on the Festival Plaza (which is soon to be given a brand new facelift), the smells will hit you long before you arrive, as an array of fragrant dishes from all corners of Asia are served up fresh before you.
For more information visit their page here.
Adelaide Cabaret Festival
A part of the Adelaide Festival Centre’s annual program, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival will get you out of June’s winter blues, and into some more glittery attire. If the fact that it’s the largest cabaret festival in the world doesn’t immediately grab you, how does a list of performers which includes Idina Menzel (yes, the Frozen snowqueen Elsa herself), Kristin Chenoweth, Anthony Warlow and Bernadette Peters sound? Most of the festival is contained within the Festival Centre’s precincts, which also gives you ample opportunity to explore the Torrens Riverbank.
This means you can indulge in a show or two, before taking a ride on the iconic Popeye Sailboat or heading over the new Adelaide Oval for a true Aussie pastime: the footy.
Visit their page here for more information.
During the South Australian Living Artists Festival, artists exhibit their works across the state in almost any space imaginable. Whilst you might want to make a trip to the Art Gallery of South Australia to take in some art during the festival, you are equally likely to be met with these works within cafes, offices, shops and almost any space imaginable.
If you do make a trip to the Art Gallery, ensure you allow enough time to explore the rest of North Terrace. This road is the primary cultural hub of the city. Home to the University of Adelaide, the State Library (be sure to visit the world-renowned Mortlock Wing), Parliament House and the South Australian Museum.
Visit their website here for more information.
Surely I’ve already convinced you, but if you’re hard headed, these other festivals will surely turn you into a believer.
- Come Out Children’s Festival: if you’re visiting with children this is an excellent family affair, full of free activities and shows. It’s heading for a name-change come it’s 2018 run, so be sure to keep an eye out!
- Cheesefest: does this need explaining? A festival dedicated to cheese is reason enough to head down under.
- NutellaPalooza: a newcomer on to the festival scene. NutellaPalooza is in it’s first year in 2016. But how can this devotion to the mighty, chocolately goodness that is Nutella not become an annual favourite.
- Fork on the Road
- Feast Festival
- Adelaide Film Festival
- Adelaide Guitar Festival