Do you already have your visit dates set and you’re wondering which South Australian festivals might be on that month? Here are some of the most popular festivals throughout the year.
South Australia is often known as the “Festival State”. This moniker can be found in advertising slogans, on billboards and on TV, and even on some of our number plates!
And it’s true, there are a whole pile of festivals in South Australia. But which ones are on when you are planning to visit? Here are the best South Australia festivals for each month of the year.
Note: Feature image courtesy of Al Toetu/South Australian Tourism Commission.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
- South Australia Festivals – January
- South Australia Festivals – February
- South Australia Festivals – March
- South Australia Festivals – April
- South Australia Festivals – May
- South Australia Festivals – June
- South Australia Festivals – July
- South Australia Festivals – August
- South Australia Festivals – September
- South Australia Festivals – October
- South Australia Festivals – November
- South Australia Festivals – December
South Australia Festivals – January
Tour Down Under
There’s the Tour de France and the Italian Giro, but here in Australia, we have the Tour Down Under.
This six-day event is the highest-ranking professional cycling race in the Southern Hemisphere and attracts world-class riders as well as events for the average enthusiast.
In the past, it has been named Australia’s Best Sporting Event and is the first non-European event to receive UCI ProTour status.
The Tour Down Under might be a premiere cycling event, but it also comes with a week of other festivities too. Victoria Square turns into an entertainment hub with live music, food, activities for kids and other attractions.
In 2021 and 2022 Covid has unfortunately affected international visitors so the Tour Down Under has been cancelled. Instead, it has been replaced with the Santos Festival of Cycling.
This brought more local cyclists to Adelaide and has expanded to an event to include things like BMX demonstrations, family rides and night competitions.
Some of these more casual events have now been incorporated into the event program for 2023 and beyond as the Tour Down Under returns.
The Tour Down Under will be held from 12th – 21st January 2024
South Australia Festivals – February
Adelaide Fringe Festival
The Adelaide Fringe Festival runs for a full month from the middle of February to the middle of 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 the circus, cabaret to film. It is estimated that in 2018 more than 2.7 million tickets were sold to the various events.
The 2024 Adelaide Fringe Festival will be held from 16th February to 17th March
South Australia Festivals – 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 classic and contemporary 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 almost stand on their own, including the very popular Writer’s Week.
The 2024 Adelaide Festival of Arts will be held from 1st March to 17th March.
South Australia Festivals – April
Tasting Australia is ten days of celebrating the amazing food and beverages produced in South Australia.
There are hundreds of events in that time, from tasting classes to hands-on cooking classes, celebrity chef demonstrations, and, well, just eating!
There are “Tasting Australia Airlines” events where you will fly to a regional destination, tasting foods such as Coffin Bay oysters right from the sea.
Since this is South Australia, the wineries are involved, with plenty of tasting and food-matching events in idyllic settings all over the state.
There are events catering for all the different dietary requirements such as vegetarian, vegan and coeliac too.
Tasting Australia 2024 has moved to May, and runs from 3rd to 12th May.
Barossa Vintage Festival
This is a festival that I just couldn’t leave out.
It probably would have been the festival of the month if it wasn’t run only every two years. In odd years – so the next one is 2025 – there are four days of festivities celebrating all the Barossa has to offer.
The Barossa Vintage Festival began in 1947, so it has become quite a tradition, not just a party after the grapes have been harvested, but it shows off the Barossa way of life, including the German heritage and history.
Of course, there is also much wine tasting and plenty of food events, including masterclasses, long lunches and family-friendly picnics. Look out too for the fun scarecrows that pop up all over the region.
The 2023 dates were from the 19th – the 23rd of April.
South Australia Festivals – May
South Australia’s History Festival
The whole month of May is dedicated to South Australia’s History Festival. There are events that happen all over the state to commemorate historical events and celebrate our memories.
Look out for lots of Indigenous events, simple talks, tours of historical buildings, theatrical events, podcasts, poetry takeovers and much more.
Each year there is a theme for the festival, and in 2022 the theme is “Reimagine”. The 2022 program will be released at the end of March.
The 2024 History Festival will be held from the 1st – the 31st of May
South Australia Festivals – June
Adelaide Cabaret Festival
The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the biggest festival of its kind in the world. It’s been running now for 22 years and attracts international as well as local artists.
There is a wide range of events, both contemporary and classic cabaret styles. Over the years there have been many big-name performers including Dame Edna Everidge, Molly Ringwood, Lenny Henry, Tim Minchin and Mandy Patinkin.
As happened with the Festival of Arts, a “fringe” version of the Cabaret Festival has also sprung up.
It’s not as well known yet as “The” Fringe, but keep an eye out for a range of other cabaret events happening around the city that don’t quite make the main festival.
The Adelaide Cabaret Festival will run from 7th – 22nd June 2022
Adelaide Gin Festival
This is a new festival on the block, starting in 2021, but with such a resurgence in the popularity of gin, the festival was very successful so it is back again, and looks to become a fixture of the annual festival calendar.
The Adelaide Gin Festival will showcase dozens of distillers and have over 400 different gins available to try. It runs over three days, with four 3.5-hour tasting sessions available. There are also masterclasses too.
The 2024 Adelaide Gin Festival will run from the 21st – 23rd of June
South Australia Festivals – July
Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival
Could there be anything more Australian than a beer and BBQ festival?
Unfortunately, the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival is not held on a beach with beach cricket and an awesome sunset, but since it’s July, that might not be ideal anyway.
Instead, it’s held at the Adelaide Showgrounds over three days filled with, well, beer and BBQ!
There are over one hundred breweries, distillers, wineries and more showing off their beverages, alongside some amazing BBQ chefs cooking up a storm, all while listening to DJs and live music all weekend.
The Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival will be held from 14th – 16th July 2023
South Australia Festivals – August
South Australian Living Artists Festival (SALA)
SALA is a statewide visual arts festival with all sorts of different venues and artists across the state. It tends to focus on new and emerging artists rather than those that are very well known.
With over 8000 artists exhibiting at more than 500 venues, visitors will not have to go far to find something new and interesting to take a look at.
You will likely come across SALA exhibits without even trying at wineries, cafes and retail spaces around the state.
In 2024 SALA runs from the 1st – 31st of August
South Australia Festivals – September
Royal Adelaide Show
The Royal Adelaide Show has been running since 1839 and is the longest-running event in South Australia.
Run by the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia, The Show (as it’s simply called) started as a way to encourage and promote rural industries.
Over the years it has turned into a huge carnival with its own dedicated location just south of the city centre.
Today a day at The Show means carnival rides, show bags, animals of all kinds, food and wine, all sorts of businesses showing off their wares and lots of entertainment in the show ring.
The Royal Adelaide Show will be back from the 31st August – 8th September 2024
South Australia Festivals – October
The OzAsia Festival is an arts festival based on all things Asian. Starting in 2007, the three-week event seems to get bigger and better each year and is a huge celebration of our ties with Asia.
Many of the artists involved are international, coming from Asia and other parts of the world, and there is a focus on Australian Asians too.
There are a lot of performing arts events, but it also includes music, literature, film and cultural events. And of course, there is plenty of delicious food. Some of the best-known events are the Lucky Dumpling Markets on the banks of the Torrens River and the Moon Lantern Trail.
The 2023 event will run from 19th October to 5th November
South Australia Festivals – November
Adelaide Christmas Pageant
The Adelaide Christmas Pageant is a state institution, beginning in 1933. It happens each year on the second Saturday in November and heralds the official start to the Christmas season with Father Christmas arriving in Adelaide on the last float.
The parade winds through the streets in the city centre and is filled with floats and bands to delight kids young and old – see of the floats date right back to that first pageant.
Many families have their favourite spot along the route and sometimes arrive before the sun comes up to ensure their perfect view.
The day tends to have lots of other peripheral Christmassy events in the city centre, particularly in Rundle Mall after the pageant ends.
The 2023 Christmas Pageant will be on 4th November
South Australia Festivals – December
Lights of Lobethal Festival
Each year the small town of Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills lights up with the Lights of Lobethal Festival. Almost every building in town is decorated with Christmas lights in the lead-up to the festive season.
As more people started to visit to see the lights, more events and entertainment has been offered to go along with them.
The entertainment now include an opening night concert under the stars, twilight markets, buskers, a parade, and of course plenty of light displays.
Lobethal Lights will run from December 9th to 24th in 2023
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