Adelaide is a great city to visit all year round. But there is one part of the year that the city truly comes alive – and that is Adelaide in “Mad March”.
South Australia is often known as the Festival State because there always seems to be some festival or other going on, but this time of the year there is even more.
Strangely, Mad March actually begins in the middle of February and runs for about a month, ending about halfway through March. I guess Mad February didn’t have quite the same ring to it! Here are ten reasons why you should visit Adelaide during Mad March.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
Adelaide Fringe Festival
The Adelaide Fringe Festival spans the entirety of Mad March. After the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the one in Adelaide is the second largest in the world.
It started in 1960 as a sort of protest after some artists were refused the right to perform in the Adelaide Festival of Arts (see below). It continued to occur every two years until in 2007 it was decided that it should be an annual event.
Now it has over 5000 performers each year and occurs in multiple venues in the city centre and suburbs. There is almost every type of show you can possibly imagine, from comedy to music, children’s shows to circus, cabaret to film.
It is estimated that in 2023 more than 1 million tickets were sold, the first time in Australia that any event has hit that milestone.
The hub of the Fringe is the Garden of Unearthly Delights, an amazing space set up in the city fringe parklands.
Not only does it include a handful of small tent-like venues, but there are also food and drink stalls, carnival rides, roving performers, market stalls, and many different seating areas under the fairy lights in the trees.
Even if you are not attending one of the shows, it’s a great evening out to meet friends here, enjoy a drink or two and some food, and just soak in the party atmosphere.
While the Garden of Unearthly Delights is the hub, the premiere event is the Fringe Parade on the opening night.
Thousands of performers don their elaborate costumes and dance up and down Rundle Street, turning it into one big party venue. More than 100 000 spectators joined in the party in 2018.
A great free event is the light projections on many of the buildings along North Terrace. These can be seen after sunset, every night during the Fringe.
For more information on the Adelaide Fringe Festival, including the full program, go to the official website here.
The 2024 Adelaide Fringe Festival will be held from 16th February to 17th March
Adelaide Festival of Arts
The Adelaide Festival of Arts also began in 1960. This festival showcases the more traditional acclaimed arts, like opera, theatre, literature, dance, visual arts and music.
It’s mostly held in venues in the city centre and includes big-name international performers.
Like the Fringe, it was originally held every two years, but thanks to its popularity, it became a yearly event in 2012. It has also spawned some of the other Mad March events which now stand on their own.
For more information on the Adelaide Festival of Arts, including the full program, go to the official website here.
The 2024 Adelaide Festival of Arts will be held from 1st March to 17th March.
Usually just called Womad, this is an event that originally began as a part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts. It now stands alone and runs separately.
The now four-day event celebrates dance, music and arts of all the nations of the world in this huge, multicultural festival. It’s set up as a family-friendly event and includes multiple performances, workshops, art displays and demonstrations.
The venue is located in the leafy Botanic Park, where three stages are used for the performances.
There are over 100 different food stalls showcasing food from across the globe, and a “Global Village” market area to buy all sorts of crafts and goods from around the world.
In 2007 Womad began to work towards a carbon-neutral festival and now funds revegetation in South Australia to offset the travel of the performers. It also is working hard on waste minimalisation, with single-use plastics almost entirely removed.
For more information on WOMADelaide, including the lineup, go to the official website here.
WOMAD 2024 will be held from the 8th to the 11th of March
Adelaide Writers’ Week
While still technically a part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Writers’ Week is one of the most popular events and is considered to be the most important literary event in Australia and one of the top events in the world.
It runs for six days and is mainly held in Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden.
Writers’ Week is a great opportunity to meet many international and Australian writers. While there are always some well-known authors present, it’s also an opportunity to discover some up-and-coming authors too. And the best thing – most of the sessions are free!
Over the years there have been some big-name authors present, such as Barbara Kingsolver, Alexander McCall Smith, Elizabeth Gilbert, Isabel Allende, Ruth Rendell, Margaret Atwood and Neal Stephenson.
For more information on Adelaide Writers’ Week head on over to the official page here.
In 2024, Adelaide Writers’ Week will be held from 2nd to 7th March.
Cellar Door Fest
Cellar Door Fest is a three-day event showcasing every type of South Australian produce possible.
Held at the Adelaide Convention Centre, there are more than 180 producers from 17 regions showing off their products and skills. There are wineries, craft breweries, distilleries, and every imaginable type of food.
If eating and drinking to your heart’s content isn’t enough, visitors can also participate in master classes, such as learning to cook unique dishes, learning how to BBQ, learning about some new wines, or even eating with well-known industry people.
Like all great events, you can take home many of the goodies, and one of the best ways to do this is by purchasing the Festival Market Bag, and visiting various stalls to try their products and take some home.
For more information on Cellar Door Fest click through to their official website here.
While previously held in March, the 2023 Cellar Door Fest will be held from the 3rd to the 5th of February.
Adelaide Cup Horse Race
The Adelaide Cup, South Australia’s premier horse race is run on the second Monday in March, and we have a public holiday here for the occasion.
Now to be perfectly honest, I am not a horse racing fan, but many people are, and a day at the races is often more about the fashion, the food and the socialising than about the races going on in the background.
For more information on the Adelaide Cup go to the website here.
The 2024 Adelaide Cup will be on 11th March.
In 2017, a new era in football emerged, the AFL Women’s League. It has been unbelievably popular. This is the first time women have been allowed to play Australian Rules Football at a professional level.
The league started off with only eight teams, but due to its overwhelming success, has increased to 18 teams.
Don’t imagine that these games are any less physical or skilful because they are being played by women. These are top athletes who take this game seriously and are absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to finally play at the top level of the sport.
The AFLW games are played in February and March, so this is a perfect opportunity to catch a game with the Adelaide Crows team playing a few games during the Adelaide Mad March window. Best of all, many of the games are free to attend.
For more information on the AFLW and the fixture, go to the official website here.
In 2021 AFLW games will be played in Adelaide on 6th, 14th & 28th February, and 13th & 26th March.
This time of year is just perfect in Adelaide. It will still be warm, warm enough to swim in the sea and enjoy the pristine beaches during the day.
The evenings are balmy, and it makes it the perfect time to be out meeting with friends, dining outdoors and seeing a show or two. The average temperatures are in the 25-28 degree Celcius range, and the likelihood of rain is low.
Daylight savings is still in force, so our extended days mean the sun doesn’t go down until after 8 pm, giving us more time to enjoy what’s going on.
Why not head to the beach during your visit and check out the Moseley Beach Club, the perfect place to sip on a cocktail while sitting on the sand and watching the sun sink into the ocean?
In Mad March Adelaide comes alive! Everything above combines to bring a buzzing atmosphere to the streets of the Adelaide city centre.
There are many more people out and about and the good vibes are contagious. Every year this feeling on the streets gets stronger, and it’s such a fun thing to be a part of.
And it’s not just young people, all ages are around. Families are included – in fact encouraged – in all of the events listed, and the locals do not hesitate to bring their children along.
So Will You Visit Adelaide in Mad March?
Adelaide often gets a bit of a bad rap. You will often hear it described as a “big country town” (it has a population of 1.3 million though!), and that generally isn’t meant as a good thing.
The implication is that it is boring and nothing ever happens here. From the above small snapshot of world-class events over a one-month period, it is clear that there are definitely things going on here.
So – will you visit Adelaide in Mad March?
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