Art, Comedy & Magic at Adelaide Fringe

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As the license plates of South Australia mention, it’s known as “the festival state”. One of South Australia’s most popular events is Adelaide Fringe. This four-week cultural festival is something you can’t miss when you’re in Adelaide during summer. I even dare say you should plan your visit in this period. The whole city seems to participate and almost everywhere you go, you’ll see, hear and be able to participate in the art, music, and other shows and activities part of Adelaide Fringe. The atmosphere is relaxed and everyone seems to be having fun. There are much and more festivals that seem promising as well, but we’ve only been to Adelaide Fringe.

One of the first things we did in Adelaide was heading over to the State Library of South Australia, to get immersed in the world of virtual reality once again. In “Your Hub @ the State Library”, basically a foyer with chairs, tables, sofas, and a piano, they set up what was called the Digital Playground. Unlike at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, I wasn’t allowed to keep my glasses on, so the virtual world was a bit too blurry for me. Brecht couldn’t get enough though and entered at least four of all the virtual realities on offer. All of this was free and volunteers offered some explanation and help. Afterwards we got some work done in that same area, while enjoying a free piano concert every once in a while, when someone came showcasing his talent or just getting some practice on the public piano.

While walking through Adelaide’s main shopping area, the Rundle Mall Precinct, we passed a FringeTIX Box Office selling tickets for the Adelaide Fringe or so called FringeTIX. We picked up a guide to everything Fringe related, and noticed a sign mentioning “HalfTIX daily 12h-15h”. Turns out every day at 12h they put up a list with a selection of shows that are on that night for which you can buy half-priced tickets. So we did! We bought two HalfTIX ($13.50 each) for a magic show: “Matt Tarrant: Honestly Dishonest”. Brecht loves magic, so was really excited, I had actually never seen a magic show before and was a little curious.

Gluttony at Rymill Park
Matt Tarrant -  Honestly Dishonest

We arrived quite early at the location of the show to take a look around and get some food. The tent where the magic was going to happen was named The Octagon, situated at Gluttony, the festival alias of Rymill Park. Gluttony had a couple of show venues, some food stalls and a nice and cozy area with outdoor sofas to relax. We had a pretty good burger for $12 each from Well Hung and Tender, with a large portion of cheesy fries for $10. (Wasn’t nearly as good as the burgers from Beast Burger in Chiang Mai though, probably the best we ever had!)

We still had to kill some time before the magic show started, so we headed over to the other side of Rundle Road, to the Garden of Unearthly Delights, otherwise known as Rundle Park. This site was larger than its neighbour, housing different show venues and tons of food stalls. We really loved this festival atmosphere, reminding us of the music festivals we attend each year back in Belgium.

Time for Matt Tarrant’s magic show, which happened to be his first solo show of his first solo tour, so kind of special. He showed some neat tricks, displayed some mind-blowing mentalism, and talked everything nicely together. It was a great show and Matt seems like a fun guy! Afterwards we enjoyed a short performance of a street artist before we made our way back to the campsite, about a 20 minute walk. You can read more about our stay at Adelaide Caravan Park in one of our next blogposts.

Street Artist at Gluttony
Birthe participating with the Comedy Show

The next day we bought HalfTIX for a comedy show in the Belgian Beer Café called Oostende ($11.50 per person). The show “Best of Adelaide Fringe: International Comedy Showcase” hosted four international top comedians. We didn’t like them all, but just like at the Comedy Lounge in Melbourne, we had the best laughs when the hosting comedian was talking. I was even invited to do a guest performance at the side of the oldest comedian that night. Or better, behind him. It was quite funny, but I can’t explain it, you should have seen it. Before, during and after the show we enjoyed some (expensive) Belgian beers, reminding us of home.

A few minutes walk from the Belgian Beer Café there’s Producers Warehouse. After the comedy show we went to see an improv show in one of their small event rooms: “Improv Against Humanity” ($18 per person). You know the game “Cards Against Humanity”? Well, the show starts with this game, everyone participates and helps compose four or five sentences that will be the subject of the improvisations. We were fan of the concept and its interactivity, but I didn’t really like the show. I know it’s not easy to improvise in front of a crowd, but I had expected it to be more funny and less weird. Brecht did enjoy it though.

Fringe Illuminations
Mitchell Building at Fringe Illuminations

Another free show during Adelaide Fringe were the Fringe Illuminations, where some of the buildings on the North Terrace became a “living canvas of light”. We loved the projections on the Mitchell Building of the University of Adelaide the most. It’s wonderful how historic buildings can come to live in such bright colours and tell a little artsy story.

Overall our Adelaide Fringe experience was awesome! We do love the festival atmosphere, but had never seen a whole city participate. There are free acts and activities, but a large part is paid. We recommend subscribing to the newsletter, so you’ll get an email with the shows for which half-priced tickets will be on sale that afternoon. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy Adelaide Fringe without going to paid shows, but you’ll miss out on some great comedy, circus, cabaret, magic, art, and much more!