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 WellFest Adelaide. 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.
*Note: Due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, certain festivals may be rescheduled or cancelled. Keep up-to-date with announcements via the festival’s website or social media profiles.
WellFest Adelaide is a brand-new addition to the city’s festival timetable. Held from 15 to 31 October in 2021, it’s a celebration of all things health and wellbeing. Wellness Squared, which occurs each Sunday of the festival in one of the city’s three major squares (Hindmarsh Square/Mukata, Light Square/Wauwi and Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga), is a program of fitness and wellbeing activities. These include yoga, pilates, cooking demonstrations and presentations on keeping a positive mindset. Hounds on Hutt (23 October) is a day out that’s all about dogs! Bring your furry friend along (or come and enjoy the company of other pups) and enjoy demonstrations, classes, competitions, talks, live music and much more. Both Wellness Squared and Hounds on Hutt are free events, but bookings are required for COVID-19 tracing.
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. In the heart of the city, you’ll also find Gluttony, a central hub packed with shows and unique food options, and East End Unleashed, where Rundle Street is closed to traffic and the road is open until late with plenty of outdoor dining options – the perfect opportunity to grab dinner before or after your show! 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.
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.
Adelaide Film Festival
Adelaide Film Festival is a celebration of Australian and international film culture. Usually presented in October, the festival involves a program of screenings, forums and special events.
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. Remember that even free events will require bookings for COVID-19 tracing.