Driving along Australia’s iconic Great Ocean Road has become a permanent feature on the ‘Bucket List’ of many a traveller that head to the ‘Land Down Under’. The journey stretches for many kilometres, beautifully winding along in unison with the mighty Southern Ocean. The waves of which have artistically carved out the dramatic limestone cliffs for millions of years, ultimately to provide an impressive backdrop to some of planets most alluring beaches.
Those heading in a westerly direction will eventually cross the border, leaving the state of Victoria in their wake. The vigilant traveller will spot that the South Australian number plates now proudly declare you that have made an entrance into ‘The Festival State’.
So what now? Memories of the past few days will continue to linger for some time. You have just completed one of the top drives the planet has to throw at you after all. Surely there should be some sort of medal ceremony? However without a podium in sight, it is now time to focus on the road ahead. Look to the horizon and eventually the bright lights of Adelaide begin to dazzle in the distance, good timing too. It is festival season.
The ‘Adelaidean’s’ will proudly remind you that in the colonial era, theirs was the only city in Australia not to accept convicts. Founded in 1836, Adelaide is a bustling city on a smaller scale to its respective state capital counterparts of Sydney (NSW) and Melbourne (VIC). With a population of just over 1.2 million, the South Australian capital is the fifth most populous city in the Great South Land, and is certainly a place that offers much.
Why the Festival State? The South Australian capital is certainly a location with a proud ability to throw a party and does so with uniquely spectacular effect. The Fringe is one of many events that occur here, an internationally renowned open-access arts festival that attracts a diverse crowd, from the traveller on a shoestring, right to the most affluent of citizens. From cabaret to comedy, through to film, music and theatre, there’s something to suit every taste, age and background.
Those with little ones in tow can rest easy; entertainment events will cater for the little people too, a colourful array of whimsical characters come complete with a seemingly limitless repertoire of tricks. The origins of the event can be uprooted from the sixties, when a group of artists wanted to create a spectacle, allowing a more diverse performer base away from the curated, and more mainstream Adelaide Festival of Arts. What followed however, were many years of excitement as the two festivals mutually complemented each other, and as a result became magnificently entwined.
Artists from around the country, and across the globe, rapidly descend upon the South Australian capital to showcase their talents in around 900 events, at locations all over the city. As festival time officially launches, The Fringe quickly weaves its magical ambience around the city, entwining it with an enthralling atmosphere. Buildings magically undergo rapid transformations; pop up venues emerge out of thin air, the majestic sounds of a new band now emanate around the city, and dancers demonstrate their broad range of talents where Doris usually walks her dog.
For those arriving outside of festival season there is still plenty to take in. Adelaide is surrounded by the magnificent Mount Lofty Ranges, rewarding the visitor with a combination of stunning geographical beauty, complemented by an eye pleasing, and meticulously designed, Central Business District.
The Fringe paints a diverse and colourful picture upon the canvas of Adelaide’s already stunning city. The spectacle will provide those who venture into the hot zone with an enduring memory of a unique atmosphere difficult to be recreated, unless of course you come again next year.
What are your favourite highlights at festivals?