Known around Australia as the Festival State (you’ll even find it emblazoned on car license plates!), South Australia definitely lives up to its reputation. Every month, events celebrating arts, culture, music, food, sports, history and more pop up around the state. Festivals in SA outsell the rest of Australia’s, leading in ticket sales, revenue and attendance.
These can range from month-long marathons, like the world-famous Adelaide Fringe Festival, to smaller-scale, weekend-only events, like the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival, to the annual CheeseFest food extravaganza. The festival scene is also constantly growing and evolving, bringing in fresh, new events like Harvest Rock. Best of all, most of Adelaide’s festival events happen right in the city itself, so everything’s easy to get to!
Let’s guide you through just a taste of what Adelaide’s festival scene has to offer.
Adelaide Film Festival
Adelaide Film Festival is a celebration of Australian and international film culture. Held in October, the festival involves a program of screenings, forums and special events. In 2023, get a double dose of Paul Mescal in the sci-fi drama, Foe (shot here in Australia!), and again in All Of Us Strangers, check out local talent in The Royal Hotel and Speedway, or enjoy some of the most talked-about films of the year like Poor Things and Saltburn.
Adelaide Fringe Festival
The famous Adelaide Fringe is the second-biggest annual arts festival in the world, packed with theatre, comedy, circus and more. The festival spreads out across the entire city and even out into regional areas – it’s a month-long statewide party! During Fringe, you’ll hear a lot about the Garden of Unearthly Delights, a circus-like space packed with performances, food stalls and amusement rides. Make sure to also check out smaller venues to support up-and-coming performers.
Running concurrently with the Adelaide Fringe is the Adelaide Festival, which in 2020 celebrated its 60th year. The Festival showcases international opera, theatre, cabaret, classical and contemporary music events.
After its unforgettable debut in 2022, Harvest Rock has cemented its place as Adelaide’s go-to fest for top-notch alternative music. The lineup is a blend of global acts with local legends, all in a family-friendly setting. Add to this a taste of Adelaide’s foodie scene, plenty of activities, and the lush backdrop of Murlawirrapurka & Ityamai-Itpina Parks – it’s not just a festival, it’s an experience.
OzAsia Festival (you may have heard it referred to as Adelaide’s Dumpling Festival!) features music, art and theatre from across the Asian continent. Along the riverbank, you’ll find the Lucky Dumpling Market, a garden area packed with food stalls serving everything from dumplings (obviously!), to bubble tea and mochi doughnuts. There are also free, live performances throughout the day. Another highlight is the festival’s Moon Lantern Parade, but get there early to secure a spot – it gets busy quickly!
WOMADelaide (a.k.a. WOMAD) is an open-air festival celebrating the World Of Music, Arts & Dance held in Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Park. Over four days, this colourful, laid-back festival is packed with performances, incredible international food stalls and interactive art pieces.
Tasting Australia is Adelaide’s food festival, dedicated to eating and drinking, showcasing the best of South Australia’s local produce and culinary artists. If you’re keen to improve your kitchen skills, you’ll find a range of workshops available for any budget to help you on your Masterchef path. Otherwise, laze the day away with long lunches and delectable dinners cooked up by some of the world’s best chefs. A good place to start your Tasting Australia journey is Town Square in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga. There, you’ll find stalls offering dishes packed with South Australian produce.
South Australia’s History Festival
South Australia’s History Festival is an event exploring the state’s rich Aboriginal and migrant history, with walks, talks, exhibitions and workshops. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about your adopted city and appreciate the state’s diverse history.
Adelaide Cabaret Festival
If you love music, then this festival is for you. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the world’s biggest cabaret festival and brings some highly unusual and spectacular performances to Adelaide. 2022 welcomes Australia’s own superstar, Tina Arena – singer, songwriter, musician, musical theatre actress and record producer – as Artistic Director.
Adelaide’s Anime and Video Games Festival, AVCon, features the largest cosplay competition in the state, video game tournaments, screenings and a number of stallholders. If you’re a keen collector, you’ll find people selling everything from rare Funko Pops to a range of cosplay gear.
South Australian Living Arts (SALA) Festival
SALA is a state-wide celebration of visual art that turns a range of unique venues, like hairdressing salons, into temporary art galleries. This makes SALA the perfect opportunity to keep a camera handy and take souvenir snaps of you exploring Adelaide’s arty side.
How much do festival tickets cost in Adelaide?
Each festival offers tickets that will suit every budget. Some of the smaller events offer free entry, while more expensive events will usually have student discounts on tickets.