The world’s zaniest arts festival happens in… Australia
From mid-February to mid-March, South Australia’s Adelaide transforms into one of the most vibrant, zany and activity-filled destinations in the world. The 58-year-old, 31-day Adelaide Fringe festival is the world’s second largest arts festival, and hosts an eclectic line-up of events, including theatre, stand-up comedy, circus-style acts, and children’s productions.
If that list feels overwhelming to read, just imagine trying to navigate the event itself. Here’s how to experience the best of the fabulous Fringe on your next trip to Adelaide.
Explore the guide
The 2017 Fringe festival had 1,160 events, 660,000 tickets sales and 2.5 million attendees. To start plotting out your calendar, play with the website’s electronic version of the Fringe Guide. Its search engine can sort out genres, time slots, shows that suit a particular mood, kid-friendly offerings, price range, and—yay—free attractions.’
Pick the right shows for you
How can one choose among so many options? Festival pros say to pick events that may feel like a bit of a risk. “The Adelaide Fringe is all about challenging and inspiring audiences, and supporting artists who take risks and dare to be different,” says Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall. “We encourage people to take a risk and step outside of their comfort zones to go see a show they wouldn’t normally see.”
For example? How about a stage version of Trainspotting, Adrienne Truscott’s provocative, award-winning comedy on very serious issues; The Naked Magicians, who are exactly what they sound like; or the all-ages sing-a-long The Ugly Ducklingfrom Nigerian-British drag queen La Gateau Chocolat? Keep tabs on Glam Adelaide and The Advertiser for the upcoming year’s new acts.
Find Fringe venues
Three outdoor spaces, dubbed The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, Gluttony, and Royal Croquet Club (RCC), serve as main hubs of activity and venues. However, several unusual pop-up spaces serve as performance settings as well. They can be as strange as a cargo truck, a cemetery, or even right on the street. Meanwhile, Adelaide’s North Terrace building exteriors come alive with nightly light projections known as the Parade of Light.
Score cheap tickets and freebies
Free events are highlighted in the first few pages of the print edition of the Fringe Guide and online, so there are thrifty ways to maximise your festival experience. And while it’s wise to purchase tickets in advance—if a show garners early buzz, it may well sell out—the festival’s box office, FringeTIX, releases half-price tickets for a selection of each day’s shows, which are announced via the daily Fringe eNews.
Go for a street art crawl
Download or grab the Street Art Explosion map, which charts the city’s many street murals. Some are tucked down laneways and cheekily around corners, but every one is worth a peek. Plus, you’ll find temporary Fringe installations to enjoy as well.
See previews at Rundle Mall
Adelaide’s bustling Rundle Mall is its see-and-be-seen pedestrian retail strip and a must all year round. The playful, bronze pig statues are Instagram gold. During Fringe, a pop-up stage hosts free preview performances and teasers from a selection of that day’s shows.
Take a beach break
Temperatures typically hover around a sweat-soaked 30° Celsius during this point in Australian summer. Give yourself a well-needed break by escaping to one of Adelaide’s half-dozen beaches. Aldinga is a local family favourite, Henley’s a pleasant bicycle ride from the city centre, and Glenelg is a lively destination in itself with charming cafes, restaurants, and bars.
Catch other festivals, too
Adelaide isn’t known as The Festival City for nothing. While Fringe can be all-consuming, two additional arts-centric festivals run concurrently. The highbrow Adelaide Festival, which Fringe was born as a funky alternative to in 1960, presents classical dance, music, stage, avant-garde, and literature. Meanwhile, Botanic Park’s open-air WOMADelaide boasts a global line-up of music, arts, and dance.
Eat at Adelaide’s food market
There’s something for everyone at Chinatown’s Adelaide Central Market. Dozens of vendors and prepared food options, including South Australian specialities like the decadent Lamington cake, are offered. Longtime vendor Mark Gleeson’s Food Tours Australia runs a variety of excellent, tastings-filled market tours for breakfast and lunch. Here are five must-try restaurants in Adelaide.
The Adelaide Fringe is one of the most exciting experiences a traveller can find—especially during the Australian summers. To make the most of the adventure, follow these tips for an entertaining, eye-opening and thrilling trip.