Your Adelaide Fringe guide to Australia’s biggest summer arts festival
You can easily fill a weekend or a longer mini break with a kaleidoscope of performances - this Adelaide Fringe guide will help you plan your best festival experience.
Australia’s biggest arts festival, Adelaide Fringe, transforms the city into a spectacular mecca of creativity, culture and art from 28 February to 20 March, 2022 - so it’s the perfect time to book a last-minute getaway to the Festival State. For 31 magical days and nights, thousands of artists perform more than 1200 shows in eclectic indoor and open-air venues. You can easily fill a weekend or a longer mini break with a kaleidoscope of performances - this Adelaide Fringe guide will help you plan your best festival experience.
Known for its chaotic and welcoming energy, Adelaide Fringe showcases a diverse range of artists, from virgin performers sharing their work for the first time, to polished veterans who’ve been returning for years. The city’s streets are alive with music, exhibitions, performance, installations and parties in 300 venues across town and stretching out into the Adelaide Hills and beyond.
Watch comedy in a shipping container, or gaze up as hundreds of drones create First Nations’ stories in the night sky to a soundtrack of poetry and song narrated by Archie Roach. Cheer on circus performers and acrobats in colourful spiegeltents, sing and dance in parklands or just rest in picnic areas and watch the party. Fly away on the Electric Dreams virtual reality swings, and listen to the murmuring of plants in the Bicentennial Conservatory. Support Indigenous comedy at the Black Out Comedy Club, listen to Celtic songs in a vineyard’s forest, party on boats sailing down the Torrens River, join the silent disco and boogie along the streets under the stars, and be enthralled by the Greatest Magic Show Ever.
With so many shows to choose from, there is a piece of the festival for everyone to enjoy, from risqué burlesque, cabaret and comedy shows to family bubble parties, kids theater, musical circus and acrobatics.
While pouring over the Adelaide Fringe guide and booking Adelaide Fringe tickets in advance is advised, there’s plenty of free entertainment to discover as you wander the city. An overflow of performers and buskers occupy Rundle Mall, and if you simply stroll, you’ll stumble upon music, exhibitions and shows, as well as street art and street food. Performance hubs like festival favourites Gluttony and the Garden of Unearthly Delights host a multitude of events and you can chill in the park with festival food and a beer and soak up the party atmosphere.
Venues ripple outward from Rundle Mall and Rymill Park, with celebrations in surrounding towns and wineries. Combine your Adelaide Fringe shows with day trips into the Adelaide Hills, and relax at famous wineries in the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Clare Valley. If you have a few extra days, you could set off for one of South Australia’s most popular escapes, Kangaroo Island, where you can catch festival favourites The 60 Four and visit beaches, swim with seals and enjoy the islands’ renowned cafes and local produce.
These summer festival months of creative chaos and abandon are said to be the best time to visit South Australia, and Virgin Australia’s direct flights to Adelaide from the east coast will have you at Fringe in just a few hours. Make sure to check out the Adelaide Fringe guide and browse the hundreds of shows on offer so you can book before you go. While many are daily or even more frequently, some Adelaide Fringe shows may only have one performance. However, there are hundreds of free performances every day that you can find by wandering the streets when you get there.
What is the Adelaide Fringe festival?
Adelaide Fringe started in 1960 to support artists who weren’t getting the chance to share their work at established festivals and was open to anyone who wanted to join in. It first existed on the fringe of established curated festivals (hence its name) and has grown to become the second biggest annual arts event in the world – and the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. It now attracts more than one million domestic and international guests each year and supports emerging artists through grants and performance opportunities.
Fringe welcomes everyone to bring their performance to life as part of the festival. It’s just another reason to expect the unexpected and an opportunity for emerging artists to have their moment, try their material and experience performing at a festival for the first time.
Where are the Adelaide Fringe venues?
There are 300 Adelaide Fringe venues, and you’ll find performances in churches, parks, theaters, gardens, shopping containers, museums, galleries and more.
The city is the festival’s epicentre, and Rundle Mall to Rymill Park/Murlawirrapurka is the core of the action, teaming with performance music, art and food stalls throughout the day and night. It’s where you’ll find the festival’s signature venues: Gluttony and the Garden of Unearthly Delights featuring an abundance of shows from family friendly to risqué and embodying the frenetic energy Adelaide Fringe is known for.
Gluttony is a festival favourite. It’s a vibrant, excessive performance hub with multiple indoor and outdoor venues featuring more than 100 shows of comedy, cabaret, music, circus, dance, theatre and magic. This year Gluttony hosts 16 family friendly Adelaide Fringe shows, and there are food stalls and shaded picnic areas to relax and watch the party. Make sure to watch the BOREALIS installation on Rymill Park Lake to experience the Northern Lights, try Art-Cherry and create your own unique canvas by shooting arrows into paint-filled balloons, and be enthralled by YUMMY: ICONIC’s infamous drag cabaret in the stunning Melba Spiegeltent.
The Garden of Unearthly Delights is a colourful, chaotic outdoor festival playground with multiple venues, food stalls, and rides. It hosts theater, circus, dance, puppetry, physical comedy, and family entertainment. This year you can catch comedy from the Aboriginal Comedy Allstars, Chicksal 500, all-time favourites, Judith Lucy and Denise Scott, Joel Creasey’s Basic AF, as well as award-winning cabaret from Reuben Kaye: The Butch is Back and Smashed -The Brunch Party. Make sure to purchase your tickets well in advance for these popular shows.
What are the Adelaide Fringe festival dates?
The festival takes over Adelaide from 18 February to 20 March, 2022. There are daily performances from mid-morning to late at night.
How do I get Adelaide Fringe tickets?
It’s easy! Just go to the Adelaide Fringe guide and choose the shows you want to see. You can book tickets online and keep an eye out for online deals that are updated daily on the website. Many shows book out early and some are only one performance, so make sure to book in advance, especially if there is an Adelaide Fringe show you desperately want to see.
Is the Fringe Festival Free?
Much of the festival is free, and if you wander the streets and parks, you’ll discover performances, music, mime and more. You’ll find many of the free performances in Rundle Mall, as well as buskers, food stalls and other entertainment. Make sure to visit the many galleries across the city that are hosting free art, design, pottery, ceramics, and textile exhibitions. When you need a break, just grab some street food and drinks, sit on the grass or picnic areas at the performance hubs and watch the world go by. While you can certainly enjoy a huge amount of the festival for free, remember that if you want to see certain performances, you’ll need to book your tickets in advance with the Adelaide Fringe guide.
Are there shows for families?
Fringe marries its wild and wacky adult content with an abundance of Adelaide Fringe shows for families and kids. Drumming monkeys, slapstick comedy, stinky snot sessions, sensory explosions and science-themed shows fill a bursting Adelaide Fringe children’s program.
Take the kids to watch Adelaide Hills sisters Georgia, Ella and Clara Germein perform for their hometown on stage at Gluttony, find mermaids in Rymill Park/Murlawirrapurka, watch Mr Badger tell the story of The Wind in The Willows, and laugh together at the silly spectacle, The Best of Kids Fringe. If you have a great dad joke, then make sure to share it at the Dad Joke Challenge. Every show on the Adelaide Fringe program has a rating, so if you’re not sure if it’s appropriate, just check the guide.
Where to stay in Adelaide for the Fringe festival
If you want to be in the thick of the action, then accommodation near Rundle Mall is the most convenient. The Crowne Plaza Adelaide is a Fringe festival partner and its location places it right in the centre of the festival, close to Rundle Mall and just a short walk to Rymill Park/ Murlawirrapurka. Nearby you’ll find the Ibis Adelaide and Quality Apartments Adelaide Central, plus a number of other hotels that circle the mall. If you prefer peace and quiet after you’ve spent the day and night at the festival, you might want to book something just a little further away from the party.
Adelaide is bursting with boutique accommodation and luxury city apartments; however, accommodation will be in demand so book as early as you can.
While you’re in Adelaide
If you want to extend your stay and explore a little further, take a look at the incredible regional events happening around South Australia as part of Adelaide Fringe. Music in the Valley is a one-day family music festival at Inman Valley just 20 minutes from Victor Harbour (one hour from Adelaide) on 26 March featuring music and cultural performances. You can camp here or stay in Victor Harbour and take a taxi or Uber in and out.
The renowned Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale vineyards are each under an hour’s drive from Adelaide and can be explored in a day trip or with a day or two stay. If you have the time, beautiful Kangaroo Island is only two and a half hours by car and ferry and is worth at least a night or two on the island to explore its beaches, local cafes and renowned nature.
Virgin Australia has direct daily flights to Adelaide from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.