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Don't miss: The Adelaide Fringe Festival

Don't miss: The Adelaide Fringe Festival

Words: the second largest Fringe Festival in the worldJane Llewellyn

Every year during February Adelaide comes alive with a flood of arts and entertainment as the month-long Adelaide Fringe Festival kicks off. The Garden of Unearthly Delights dazzles the East End of the city; bars and eateries pop-up around town and makeshift theatres emerge in tents, disused buildings and purpose built locations. The streets are abuzz with locals and tourists soaking up the culture and the last of the balmy nights.

Adelaide Fringe Director Greg Clarke says, “I love the Fringe because it’s all about entrepreneurs, people taking control of their own artistic output. They are creating work and putting it on, promoting it themselves – they do it all.”

The Adelaide Fringe Festival is the second largest Fringe Festival in the world (after Edinburgh of course). Clarke has been at the helm for three years and says, “I have seen ticket sales increase by 34% which is quite phenomenal. I have seen the number of events registering go from 700 in 2010 to 930 this year.”

This year’s event, which launches today with a parade through the city streets, is a week longer than usual and has a bumper programme with so much to choose from it’s difficult to know where to start. Checking out some of the free events, like the opening parade, Window World (local artists perform in the windows of the State Library), Street Theatre Festival, Spirit Festival (celebrating indigenous culture) and Fringe in the Mall, is a good start.

While the Garden of Unearthly Delights is spectacular and by far the biggest Fringe venue, there are now alternative venues popping up around the city and getting bigger every year. Tuxedo Cat has grown over the last few years hosting 34 events last year. Gluttony is also on the rise and is establishing itself as the next big Fringe hub with 90 events this year to the Garden’s 100.

At the launch of the new Fringe venue, The Depot, last weekend, a huge crowd enjoyed some of the best street food on offer as Adelaide’s Food Trucks united for a lunch and dinner session (Fork on the Road). The Depot’s popularity is set to continue with the official opening party this Friday followed by a diverse programme including live music, vintage markets and street basketball (3Ball).

This year’s Fringe sees the music component stronger than ever. “If you put the music and Cabaret section together they are bigger than the comedy section,” Clarke says. “The music just keeps growing and growing which is very Australian, we love our live music and our bands.”

There is also a strong element of circus and physical theatre for which Australia is becoming very well known. “A lot of Australian work is really great and holds up really well internationally, especially circus, a lot of those physical theatre shows are some of the best in the world,” says Clarke.

For the first time the Fringe has named an official Ambassador, Paul McDermott. Clarke says, “the idea is to get a really well known person who has a connection with the Fringe and get them to spruik the Fringe interstate and in the media.” McDermott launched his career at the Adelaide Fringe in 1986 with the Doug Anthony All Stars and has returned regularly since then. “He has had a long history with the Fringe. He was the perfect choice.”

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