Adelaide Festival of Arts

Calder Quartet, photo by Autumn de Wilde
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Summary Info Festival StoryFestival EventsOther SourcesPractical Info Not Available

Country and Region AustraliaSouth Australia
Type of Festival Dance, Drama, Music
Location of Festival Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Festival Contact Information

Adelaide Festival of Arts
Level 9, 33 King William Street
Adelaide, SA 5000
Phone: (61) 8-8216-4444
Fax: (61) 8-8216-4455

Festival Description

The Adelaide Festival of Arts is one of the world’s great arts Festivals that takes place every two years. It has created a strong tradition of innovation since 1960 inspiring celebration and presenting diverse art from across Australia and around the world. Held in the warm South Australian autumn in every ‘even’ year, this is a large-scale multi-arts event of extraordinary richness and diversity.

Each Festival program includes opera, theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, cabaret, new media events, Adelaide Writers’ Week (the largest literary festival in the world), outdoor entertainment, visual arts exhibitions, master classes, forums, a late night club and much more.

Festival Dates March 1 - 17, 2013
Festival Links

Festival Story:

When looking at Arts festivals in the world, there are the behemoths; Edinburgh, Spoleto and Adelaide. It is not surprising, then to learn that these three festivals are distant cousins of one another.

In the late 1950s, a native son, Sir Lloyd Dumas believed that his small, out of the way South Australian city would be a perfect destination for an arts festival akin to the venerable Edinburgh Festival. He recruited a local Professor of Music, John Bishop and convinced the Artistic Director of the Edinburgh Festival Ian Hunter to help run the inaugural Festival. The first bi-annual Adelaide Festival of Arts took place in March 1960 – with no less than HM the Queen Mother as its Royal Patron. It was remarkably successful – critically acclaimed, artistically stimulating and appealed to the locals and the tourists that flew in to see just what all the fuss was about. It is now one of the world’s best known and well-respected Arts festivals – and deservedly so. The festival has ALWAYS been on the cutting edge of culture, and, admittedly, tries to stir things up whenever it can. The website is remarkably in-depth and user-friendly – it’s worth a visit!

The festival now acts as the backbone for a thriving Arts community in Adelaide – a far cry from 1960 when there were still blue laws preventing pubs from being open past six o’clock! Many other annual festivals piggy-back the Adelaide Festival; the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Adelaide Writer’s Week, Adelaide Festival of Ideas, WOMADelaide (a world music fest.) to name just a few.

Adelaide is a planned city, based on a mile-square grid, so it is easily navigable and very pedestrian friendly. Unlike Sydney or Hobart, Adelaide was not settled by convicts, and has always been a destination of immigration to Australia. German settlers first came and brought with them the ancestors of the grape vines that make up anchor the thriving and very popular Australian vineyards.


Festival Events:

Artist feature 2013:
  • Calder Quartet (USA)
    • The Calder Quartet, called “outstanding” and “superb” by the New York Times, defies boundaries through performing a broad range of repertoire at an exceptional level, always striving to channel the true intention of the work’s creator. Already the choice of many leading composers to perform their works - including Christopher Rouse, Terry Riley and Thomas Adès - the group’s distinctive approach is exemplified by a musical curiosity brought to everything they perform, whether it’s Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, or sold-out rock shows with bands like The National or The Airborne Toxic Event. Known for the discovery, commissioning, recording and mentoring of some of today’s best emerging composers (over 25 commissioned works to date), the group continues to work and collaborate with artists across musical genres, spanning the ranges of the classical and contemporary music world, as well as rock, dance, and visual arts; and in venues ranging from art galleries and rock clubs to Carnegie and Walt Disney concert halls. Inspired by innovative American artist Alexander Calder, the Calder Quartet’s desire to bring immediacy and context to the works they perform, creates an artfully crafted musical experience. The Calder Quartet will debut at the Adelaide Festival collaborating with Iva Bittova.
  • For additional information visit
    • Web link


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Podcast Interviews:
  • Symons, Christopher John Bishop. A Life for Music
    Whitelock, Derek Festival! The Story of the Adelaide Festival of Arts, 1980


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