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Both locals and annual visitors call this time of year “Mad March” in Adelaide, thanks to the array of festivals and events dotted around the city.
If you’re planning a trip to South Australia during the change from summer to autumn, these are the best cultural, musical, sporting and food festivals to catch when you’re in the state’s capital this month.
With over 1,000 events covering theatre, cabaret, comedy, music and eclectic, experimental works, Adelaide Fringe is a magnet for creative types. It sells hundreds of thousands of tickets to events over the 31 days that it runs and includes a wide range of free performances and experiences around the city.
This year’s festival is host to 7,000 artists and includes some very unique events. Think live music in a hot air balloon and a play set in a caravan park, as well as talks and workshops to get your own creative juices going.
Kicking off at the start of March, Adelaide Festival is one of the country’s most significant annual cultural events. This year’s program features 10 world premieres and 17 Australian premieres, along with 8 works commissioned for the festival.
Highlights include a production of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, National Geographic’s free Symphony for Our World event, dance-theatre visionary Meryl Tankard’s production Two Feet, starring renowned ballerina Natalia Osipova and the song cycle Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds, which sees Australian music icon Paul Kelly team up with Seraphim Trio, James Ledger and Alice Keath.
Plus, you can find tickets for any budget, with 15 free events over the course of the festival, youth tickets, “pay what you feel” and premium options.
Although it’s technically a part of Adelaide Festival, there’s enough going on at Adelaide Writers’ Week to merit a separate write-up. If you’re looking for some literary inspiration or an in-depth talk on the state of the world, culture and society, this is the week you’ll want to be in Adelaide.
Guests this year include Nobel Prize-winner John Coetzee, renowned Australian children’s author Morris Gleitzman and best-selling authors Jane Harper (The Dry) and Markus Zusak (The Book Thief). If politics and current affairs is your kind of thing, you can also see former NSW premier Bob Carr, former Greens MP Scott Ludlam and legendary Australian journalists including Kerry O’Brien, Leigh Sales and David Marr.
Hosted in Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Park, WOMADelaide is an epic, four-day festival of music, dance and arts. Each year, around 500 artists from 30 countries perform across the 34-hectare park, which also includes installation art, engaging talks, workshops and roaming performances.
This year, the line-up features more than 40 acts from 25 countries around the world, including 3-time Grammy-winner Angelique Kidjo, John Butler Trio, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Julia Jacklin and Leftfield. There’s also tasty food, a KidZone, a global village and all kinds of environmental initiatives as part of the festival’s Green + Global commitment. Adult ticket prices start from $152 for a night pass, with concession and youth pricing available. And if you’re bringing kids under 12, they’ll get in for free.
Proudly holding the title of Australia’s largest domestic motorsport event, the Adelaide 500 is a 4-day event that shows off some of the best motoring in the world. For fans of racing, the track is a shortened version of the former Formula One grand prix circuit and includes some seriously epic corners.
But, as you’d expect from the “festival state”, there is more to the Superloop Adelaide 500 than cars and races, with live music also a key part of the weekend’s fun. This year, acts include Vance Joy, Amy Shark, Jet, The Living End and American rock legends the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. General admission starts from $45 for a day pass, with a 4-day general admission pass ($199) also including access to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performance.
If you don’t have time to explore the world-famous wine regions outside of Adelaide, this festival brings the best of the best right into the heart of the city. It features more than 180 producers from around the state, showcasing wine, beer, spirits and food. Entry starts from $28 (plus booking fees) and comes with your own Riedel wine glass you can use for the complimentary wine tastings.
Once you’ve paid for entry, you also have the option of heading to a masterclass, with prices from $25 per person. Hot tip: when you’re booking your tickets, fork out an extra $36.87 for a Market Bag so you can collect goodies to take home with you as you wander the market trail.
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