Adelaide Festival returns in March with more than 31 shows across 17 days.

The ambitious inaugural program from festival co-directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield features a gritty interpretation of Shakespeare’s Richard III by Berlin’s Schaubühne Theater; a theatrical event using binaural technology (3D audio); and a powerful sound installation retelling the stories of 10 ordinary Syrians who lost their lives in the 2011 uprising.

Italian performer Silvia Calderoni blurs boundaries and ideas of gender in MDLSX. It is part performance art, part DJ set and features music from the Smiths, Vampire Weekend, R.E.M. and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Other standouts include the theatre-dance hybrid, Betroffenheit, by the artistic director of Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre, Jonathon Young; Gala by award-winning French “anti-choreographer” Jérôme Bel; and two contemporary dance works by Israeli company L-E-V.

Rufus Wainwright headlines the music program with a one-night-only performance of songs from Prima Donna and highlights from Rufus Does Judy.

1967 features musical performances by Thelma Plum, Leah Flanagan, Adalita, Yirrmal, Dan Sultan and more in celebration of the nationwide referendum that removed racist clauses from the Australian Constitution.

Many will be happy to hear about the return of the festival bar following the success of crowd favourites Barrio and Lola’s Pergola. The new incarnation is The Riverbank Palais, a two-storey floating venue on the River Torrens.

The bar is a “reimagining” of the Palais de Danse, a floating ballroom that sat on the Torrens in the 1920s. Described as “the coolest spot in Adelaide”, by the Advertiser in 1925, it mysteriously sunk in 1928. The event was thought to be the result of an intentional act.

The new iteration is designed by Robert Cousins (The Ring Cycle) and will be in operation for all of Healy and Armfield’s tenure. Healy promises this is “not just a watering hole” but the setting for a series of contemporary-music gigs, special events and dining experiences. The menu is by Gill Minervini (Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast) and Duncan Welgemoed (Africola).

Other venues include the Ukaria Cultural Centre, the Planetarium and the Anstey Hill Quarry.

The Adelaide Festival will run from March 3–19, 2017.

adelaidefestival.com.au