A Festival that Captures a City
With the bustling cities of Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast attracting so much tourist attention, Adelaide is often forgotten. Only once a year this sleepy little city rises up in unique artistic expression and celebration.
photo credit: badjonni
From late February to early March each year, in what some locals call ‘Mad March’, the Adelaide Fringe literally takes over the entire city with over 900 events staged in pop up venues in parks, warehouses, laneways and empty buildings as well as established venues such as theatres, hotels, art galleries, cafes and even the town hall.
Unlike a curated festival, Adelaide Fringe is open-access – offering anyone with artistic vision and drive to participate and present their work (including international artists). It is now the largest arts festival in Australia and also, I’d argue, the most fun!
Here are some of my favourite venues at this year’s 2014 Fringe Festival…
Garden of Unearthly Delights
Literally an outdoor festival playground in Rundle Park, entry to ‘the garden’ is free but you may have to line up with the uber cool to get in. Within the garden are smaller venues, with ticketed shows for theatre, circus, dance, puppetry, physical comedy, music and more. Buy a ticket for a show and it’s your express entry into the garden.
Once inside you will find sideshows with freak shows, a global food village, old school rides like the Ferris Wheel plus mini venues that showcase acts that range from the sublimely beautiful to the ridiculous; like the UK’s Clingfilm Man.
photo credit: badjonni
The Royal Croquet Club
This fun filled pop up bar and eatery complete with croquet field in the recently revamped Victoria Square has everyone in Adelaide talking. It’s the Fringe’s quirkiest new super venue with four separate performance spaces. Think of it like a garden party for you and several thousand of your closest friends!
Designed for people with a love of the finer things in life, Gluttony is best described as an open-air party in the park. There is a spread of shows to suit all entertainment tastes plus food, wine, local beer and top shelf spirits.
Friday and Saturday nights are reserved for the ‘not to be missed’ silent disco where you can chuck on some headphones, take your pick from three channels of music including a live DJ mix, and dance the night to your own tune.
photo credit: -JosephB-
The Balcony at Adelaide Town Hall boasts the best view in town and free South Australian live music every Friday from 4pm. It’s one of the quieter pop up bars for Fringe but definitely lives up to it’s claim of being savvy, sophisticated and stylish.
The Howling Owl
If you are looking for something a bit more intimate and laid back check out this little gem. With a totally South Australian beer and wine list and known for stocking local produce the Howling Owl is a bohemian coffee house till 7pm then ticketed Fringe venue till midnight. On weekend nights they reopen as Adelaide’s first specialty Gin Den till late.
Going way beyond just entertainment, the Adelaide Fringe is a cultural experience that will stay with you long after Mad March is over. Although this year’s event is over, it is a must to put on your itinerary next year. If you are planning on visiting Adelaide in this month Belinda a resident in the city who also works with the Crowne Plaza Adelaide insists “book early for next year’s Fringe Festival as accommodation in Adelaide books up very quickly”. I look forward to seeing you there as I can assure you that I will not be missing it next year!