Illuminate Adelaide Is a Hot Winter Festival Worth Travelling For

<p>Fire Gardens</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>Fire Gardens</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>Fire Gardens</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>City Lights</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>City Lights</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>City Lights</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>intangible #form</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>intangible #form</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>Eden</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
<p>The World Has Gone Pear Shaped</p>
Fire Gardens ·Photo: Courtesy of Illuminate Adelaide / Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio
Renaissance paintings dancing to Jet, mesmerising projections, and a spectacular fire installation are just a few reasons to venture into the cold.

There’s something primal about gazing into a flickering winter fire. This year’s Illuminate Festival invites punters into the depths of the Adelaide Botanic Garden for the brilliantly unstructured Fire Gardens, which is refreshingly free of instructions on where to walk, stand, and how to enjoy.

The exclusive international commission is from French “fire alchemists”, Compagnie Carabosse, and is the flagship event amid 17 nights of art, light, music, and technology across the city. Just metres from the city’s zoo, the darkness is set ablaze with 7000 flaming pots and baskets of glowing embers. Crowds wander pathways and through the conservatory, past flaming lakes and fountains, choosing their own adventures. While it’s all safely coordinated, it feels thrillingly improvised, like stumbling through a burgeoning bushfire.

Illuminate – founded by creative directors Lee Cumberlidge and Rachael Azzopardi – is now in its fourth year and continues to make its mark on the national festival scene. The 2024 program features almost 150 artists and hopes to top last year’s attendance of 1.3 million visitors.

One unmissable spectacle is City Lights, where heritage buildings along North Terrace come to life with a series of free projections. One particular gem is the AI-generated Grand Mix projected on the façade of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Paintings from its 'Reimagining the Renaissance' exhibition are animated to sing along to tracks such as the Bee Gees’ ‘How Deep is Your Love’, Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’, and John Williamson’s ‘Home Among the Gumtrees’ (“Give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of plum trees …”). The crowds go wild for it, with smartphones at the ready.

Another intriguing installation is intangible #form by Japanese artist Shohei Fujimoto, where hundreds of spiky red lasers slice through the darkness in the epic Bonython Hall like an homage to Mission Impossible.

After walking the length of North Terrace, it’s time for a drink. Swing by Base Camp for a food truck feed (we like the burgers from Gang Gang) or a stiff gin and tonic from 23rd Street Distillery.

The festival values inclusivity and many of the events are ideal for families. Eden, an interactive digital garden from Berlin’s flora&faunavisions, or Superluminal at the SA Museum, are brightly captivating for all ages. And for seasoned music fans, Unsound Adelaide brings the legendary Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth to the Dom Polski Centre on July 20.

Illuminate certainly holds its own alongside other winter festivals such as Dark Mofo, Vivid and Rising. It’s a great reason to rug up, venture into the cold and gaze into the flames.

Illuminate Adelaide runs until July 21. Click here for more information and the full program.

The writer was a guest of Illuminate Adelaide.

www.illuminateadelaide.com
@illuminateadelaide

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