What Is It?

More than 300,000 visitors descend on Adelaide during this annual festival, which had humble beginnings as a biennial event in 1960. With the support of the South Australian government, the festival has grown and incorporated a number of smaller events within the three-week celebration. In 2013 it became an annual event. Also that year David Sefton took over as director of the festival and is widely lauded as bringing fresh energy and a revived sense of experimentation to the Adelaide Festival.


A free opening party kickstarts the festivities with a massive communal dinner and fireworks display. Nearly a dozen other performances across the three weeks are presented free of charge. Tickets for other events and performances are purchased individually, with a limited number of discounted tickets available for people under 30 years old. Full-time students, pensioners, and unemployed persons also have access to concession tickets.

Where Is It?

Based in Adelaide’s city centre, the festival is spread across multiple venues. Elder Park is usually the site of the opening ceremonies, and the Adelaide Festival Centre, River Torrens, and venues along North Terrace are home to much of the festival’s programming. Visitors to Adelaide will be struck by how easy it is to navigate between venues, a benefit that’s often attributed to the city’s unique design known as Light’s Vision.

Festivalgoers will also be happily surprised by the smorgasbord of sophisticated restaurants and hip accommodations located within walking distance of the festival’s nucleus. A central location makes it easy to both embrace the festival and enjoy the city. One must-visit spot is the Adelaide Central Food Markets, whose 70 bustling stalls serve up everything from fresh produce to hot steam buns to delicate cakes.

Who’s Performing?

The artists and performers at Adelaide Festival are as diverse as one can possibly imagine - and that’s by design. Highlights have included an Aboriginal retelling of “King Lear” called “The Shadow King” by Malthouse Theater, the cult British band the Tiger Lillies, Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s multimedia “Roman Tragedies,” and a collaboration between choreographer Shaun Parker and composer Nick Wales called “Am I.”

Picking and choosing across disciplines is encouraged, but those looking to dive deep into one genre will delight in the many mini-festivals associated with the Adelaide Festival. Unsound Adelaide is an energetic celebration of electronic and experimental music. Adelaide Writers’ Week is one of the country’s premier literary events that draws authors and lit lovers from across the country. The Adelaide Festival of Ideas is a talkfest that gets international attention each year. Parents will find there’s a robust array of family-friendly programming as well.