A midwinter festival lighting up the city; a multi-sensory art experience; wintery wining and dining in the Hills; and nearly 300 music gigs across 85 venues. There are plenty of reasons to avoid hibernating this month. Here’s what Broadsheet Adelaide editor Daniela Frangos will be checking out.

Adelaide gets illuminated
Morse-code messages of love beamed into the sky. Lasers and light projections in the Botanic Gardens. Inflatable art installations and augmented reality. Illuminate Adelaide debuts this month, merging future technologies with art, music, performance and ideas. The inaugural program will unfold over 17 nights, taking over Adelaide’s city streets, laneways and buildings with a mix of free and ticketed events. Among them: the return of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, an all-ages evening of live music, immersive sound and light experiences by Pintupi artists during the full moon; and a multi-venue block party in the west end. Find the full program here.

Immerse yourself in art
For all the talk of what to do with the long vacant old Le Cornu site at 88 O’Connell Street, few could have imagined a multi-sensory art experience like Van Gogh Alive gracing the empty lot. The 20,000-square-foot gallery, which opened last week under the Illuminate Adelaide umbrella, brings the Dutch artist’s post-impressionist masterpieces to life through large-scale projections, an ambient soundscape, dazzling lighting and even piped aromas. The immersive spaces include a re-creation of Van Gogh’s famous painting Cafe Terrace at Night, where you can also sit and enjoy a glass of Taittinger champagne; a Sunflower infinity room, where you can stand in a seemingly never-ending field of sunflowers; and a re-creation of the artist’s iconic Starry Night, where you can walk “on air” through the famous painting. Read more here.

Wholly different but no less dynamic is Surrealists at Sea at the Art Gallery of South Australia – featuring more than 200 surrealist works by Czech-Australian brothers Dusan and Voitre Marek. When they debuted decades ago, the brothers’ pieces were considered "incomprehensible and obscene". Now they're being heralded as game-changers. See the duo's work across six decades, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, jewellery and even avant-garde films. Doors, windows and mirrors in the exhibition are used to transport viewers from the ordinary into the surreal, as are soundscapes of ticking clocks and a music box.

Live music roars back
Everybody cut footloose this month. Dancing (and singing) is back. Celebrate by getting out and about for Umbrella Festival, the annual antidote to Adelaide’s perceived wintertime lull that combines open-access and curated performances of live and local music. This year there are 294 performances scheduled across 85 venues throughout July and August. They include: a DIY music festival shining a spotlight on female and non-binary performers, a "moody" winter dance party (with wine and pizza) taking over Oddio; and an intimate performance at The Mill by Naomi Keyte and her band that brings the audience into the songwriting process.

Wintery wining and dining
After Covid scuppered plans for its 2020 event, Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival returns to regular programming this month. This year’s event will have the festival’s largest barbeque and chef line-up to date, including visiting pitmasters Red Gum BBQ and Black Iron Smokers and Melbourne food truck legend Raph Rashid (Beatbox Kitchen). Plus, more than 100 local and national brewers, cider makers and distillers.

If wine's more your tipple, Winter Reds is back for another year with 79 events across three days in the Adelaide Hills. A now annual highlight is the recurring partnership of Ngeringa winery and Sydney chef Brendan Cato, who are teaming up on a wintery lunch of stew, wood-oven sourdough with house-churned butter and Ngeringa’s new-release syrah. This year the pair is also inviting another Sydney chef along – Andrew Wandless of Una Más – to join them in preparing a five-course dinner made with Ngeringa produce and paired with their wines.

There's also a slew of new watering holes to check out, including a cosy neighbourhood wine bar, a charming city bolthole and a reinvented Hills pub with cracking city views. We've rounded up the best of the year, so far.