With thousands of events and performers, plus hundreds of venues spanning the state, it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to navigating the Adelaide Fringe fun. To save you from the dreaded FOMO, we’ve put together your complete guide to this fabulous festival – including 10 highlights not to miss.
Just how big is the Adelaide Fringe?
In a word: Massive. From 16 February – 17 March, the 2024 Adelaide Fringe will take over Adelaide and regional SA, with more than 1300 shows held across 500 venues. It’s Australia’s biggest arts festival and the world’s second-largest annual arts festival (after the Edinburgh Festival Fringe).
Established as an adjunct to the Adelaide Festival in 1960 to showcase smaller, local performers, Adelaide Fringe has long since outgrown its roots. It’s now a multi-genre mega-event that’s famous globally and so beloved locally that one in every two South Australians attended at least one show in 2023.
Speaking of 2023, this was the year the Adelaide Fringe made history, becoming the first Australian festival to sell one million tickets. The 2024 event is already on track to smash more records, with ticket sales up on the same time last year.
Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall says this is an excellent sign for our local arts sector, since the Fringe’s success has always been a barometer for how well our arts and cultural scene is doing in both South Australia and the country as a whole.
“This increase in ticket sales, especially following a Fringe that already broke all previous records, is a testament to our festival’s ever-increasing appeal and the public’s huge appetite for magical and groundbreaking arts experiences,” Ms Croall says.
Everyone knows the Adelaide Fringe is a fun time, but it plays another important role by providing a massive economic boost for our arts and tourism sectors. Last year’s Adelaide Fringe generated $105.5 million in gross expenditure for South Australia – and $84.3 million of that was from interstate and overseas tourists.
Around 45,000 out-of-state visitors descended on South Australia to attend Adelaide Fringe shows, spending 230,000 nights in SA accommodation. Not only that, but 2023’s box office revenue soared 21 per cent to $25.1 million, with $24 million of this paid directly to artists and venues.
The Adelaide Fringe is made possible by the financial support of the South Australian Government, as well as its generous sponsors. This year marks 19 years of BankSA’s Principal Partnership with Adelaide Fringe.
What does the 2024 Adelaide Fringe include?
A better question might be what doesn’t it include? Whether you’re a cabaret connoisseur, comedy queen, music lover or theatre tragic, there’s something in the program for you – no interest is too niche! This year, Fringe goes way beyond the ‘traditional’ idea of the arts, with events catering specifically for video gamers, foodies, wine enthusiasts, nature lovers and film buffs.
Not only that, but the 2024 Fringe really is a statewide festival, with 11 per cent of the shows happening in regional SA. From the Port Augusta Fringe Hub to Naracoorte’s Comedy in the Caves, every South Australian is welcome at this party!
‘Mad March’ in Adelaide
For Adelaideans, it will be hard to navigate the CBD during Fringe month without encountering a tempting taste or two of that fabulous Fringe magic, with venues around almost every corner. Famous Fringe faves are back, including The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Gluttony and Wonderland in Hindmarsh Square. They’re joined by fun and fabulous newbies including the Pink Flamingo in Festival Plaza, Infamous Circus in Ellis Park/Tampawardli, and The Inflatable Church in Light Square.
International shows make up 23 per cent of the 2024 program, highlighting the global reputation and pull of Adelaide Fringe. Then there are 703 South Australian shows making up more than half the program and illustrating once again the strength of our state’s artistic talent.
Indigenous line up
The Adelaide Fringe is held on the ancestral lands of First Nations Peoples, so it’s only fitting there’s a significant and diverse program of First Nations shows in the 2024 program. Things kick off with First Nations Cultural Tours of Adelaide Botanic Garden on 11 February, before the official festival start date.
Other highlights include live music events Marlon – Blood in the Water and Zenadth Kes Meriba Wed (Our Songs). An artistic event that will give you unique insight into First Nations culture is Club Culture, both a workshop and mini festival. Then there’s Dupang Pangari (Coorong Spirit) Festival – a camping festival and corroboree by Uncle Moogy, Dusty Feet Mob’s joyous and healing dance event, plus the returning comedy sensation, Aboriginal Comedy Allstars.
The Fringe ambassadors
This year’s Adelaide Fringe ambassadors have been spreading their love for this special fest nationally and internationally. They are TV chef Adam Liew, Adelaide 36ers and cabaret performer Isaac Humphries, and powerhouse singer, dancer, songwriter and storyteller Prinnie Stevens.
Having shared the stage with some of the biggest names in music for more than two decades (think Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan), Prinnie is bringing her latest show to this year’s Adelaide Fringe. She says she’s thrilled to be an ambassador for a festival that prides itself on its inclusivity.
“As a performer, the Fringe was the first place I got to explore being a producer and telling my unfiltered story,” Prinnie says.
“I’m so passionate about not only creating a safe space for myself, but to open the door for others to be able to share that stage, too. I strongly believe that black and brown stories need to be told by black and brown people, allowing them, their voice and platform to share it. Every voice matters.”
Prinnie has performed at Adelaide Fringe for several years, and says the “incredible” Adelaide audiences and the “electric” atmosphere are what keep her coming back.
“I love the hub of artists and performers, it’s such an incredible sense of community. I have made some of my best friends right here at the Adelaide Fringe – Hugh Sheridan and Kween Kong to name a few.”
Why the arts matter
“In a world with so much conflict at the moment, it is so important that we stop and listen to each other in order to get past the things that have stopped us from growing in the past,” she says. “Our role as artists is so important at times like this, because we have the opportunity to speak through music and change people and move people forever,” says Prinnie.
Your friendly Fringe planner
With 1300 shows to choose from and only a month to see them in, it’s important to plan ahead to squeeze every last magic sparkle out of your Fringe experience. That’s where the MyFringe Planner comes in. Sign up to this handy little app, and you can add your must-see shows to a wishlist, then sort by time and day to schedule your entire month of Fringe festivities all in one go. Say goodbye to those pesky clashes, sit back and relax knowing your Fringe experience is sorted.
Our top 10 unmissable Adelaide Fringe shows
If you’re still having trouble choosing which tickets to buy first, we’ve rounded up some of our faves to inspire your Fringe journey. There’s something for everyone on this list.
All-Stars Comedy Showcase
This serves up exactly what it says on the label – bite-size chunks of the hottest Australian and international comedians at the Fringe. You never know who will turn up to do a set, with upcoming new stars sharing the bill with household names.
Lady Sings the Blues Volume 2
Relive musical history through the unique perspective (and stunning voice) of Prinnie Stevens. This show is an entertaining and moving journey through the famous songs and not-so-famous life stories of the truly great divas, from Billie Holiday to Whitney Houston.
LIMBO – The Return
This intoxicating mix of cabaret, circus, acrobatics and heart-pounding live music is an edge-of-your-seat ride into a sinister netherworld of gut-churning contortion, breath-taking acrobatics and jaw-dropping stunts.
Sure to leave you awestruck, this self-guided trail through projected and immersive artworks by amazing local artists will transform the Adelaide Botanic Garden into a magical outdoor art gallery under the stars.
Poppin Out Festival
Come as you are to this colourful, camp and carefree music festival where everyone is invited to pop out as their authentic self. With 30 live performers including Sneaky Sound System, Kween Kong and Cece Peniston Anetra, this is set to be one sweet day out.
Arriving fresh from an award-winning run at the Edinburgh Fringe, this interactive show for introverts follows the misadventures of IT consultants, Lloyd and Pete. Expect robots, comedy and chaos, as bingo meets tech. Play along on your charged phone (but in a fun way).
SAGE: SA Game Exhibition 2024
This is two massive days of gaming awesomeness – and it’s free! Video gamers, developers and fans will experience the best of our local video game industry first-hand, with the chance to play the latest games and meet the people that made them.
Smashed – The Brunch Party
The fabulous femme-tastic brunch extravaganza is back for more mimosas and muffins! Hosted by cabaret queen Victoria Falconer, this is an adults-only smorgasbord of world-class cabaret, exquisite drag and jaw-dropping circus.
The Inflatable Church
Europe’s quirkiest wedding venue opens for matrimonial business in Light Square. This one-of-a-kind, interactive theatrical experience might not be legally binding, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun!
This Australian premiere from Japan fuses Japanese drums, electro sounds and visual effects to create a brand new style of cutting-edge circus performance we guarantee you won’t be expecting.
For the full 2024 Adelaide Fringe program and to buy tickets click here.