GIVE IT A WHIRL: A performer at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
GIVE IT A WHIRL: A performer at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Trentino

An event to enchant senses

YOU don't need a special reason to pack up and go to Adelaide, but if you do I can think of none better than to see their amazing Fringe Festival.

I taste tested the festival for just one day more than five years ago and was so impressed I have been trying to get back since.

The opportunity finally presented itself this year when a family wedding was planned for the nearby Adelaide vineyards that coincided perfectly with the 2017 festival.

With six months' notice I got in early to secure accommodation at the Mantra Hindmarsh Square, a great hotel that offers the perfect central location in the city.

Its position meant that taxis weren't needed to walk to the many venues presenting the weird and wonderful which is the Adelaide Fringe.

Australia's largest open-access arts festival has artists from Australia and across the globe invade the city, performing in hundreds of pop-up venues in parks, warehouses, lane-ways and empty buildings as well as established venues.

It's one of the most diverse arts festivals in the world and open to all: anyone can perform and everyone does. It makes for a four-week-long party during February and March.

Adelaide Fringe outdid itself again with record ticket sales for 2017 showing that the love affair between artists, audiences and the festival is still going strong after more than half a century.

Just like the majestic unicorn depicted on this year's festival poster, the Fringe soared to even greater heights with a record 655,541 tickets sold, worth a total of $16.2 million.

But it is more than the shows which enchants visitors to the festival.

Fuego Carnal.
Fuego Carnal. Contributed

There is a sense of fun and joy that sweeps through the city as people emerge from shows laughing and chatting about their experiences.

Adelaide is just a great place to be when the Fringe is in full swing.

Most events are for the night dwellers, but that's okay because it gives you plenty of time through the day to take a short 90-minute drive up into the Yarra Valley to visit outstanding wineries such as Taylors or even make the longer trip to the Barossa and stay a night among the vineyards.

The best tips for those wanting to go the festival are these.

Firstly book your accommodation well in advance because finding a room becomes near impossible the closer it gets to festival kick-off.

The next is don't be afraid to ask other fringe visitors what they thought about particular shows.

The best suggestion I got was to go along and see Fuego Carnal, an action-packed show of gymnastics and fire that enthralled audiences throughout the festival.

As we walked past their show tent we asked one of those in the long queue if was it worth seeing.

Her enthusiastic response - "this is the third time I am going along” - convinced us to pay the $35 for a ticket. It was money well spent, in fact it was worth double.

A rendition of AC/DC classics on fire-breathing bagpipes was just one of the performances that crossed street theatre with circus performance.

Of course comedians flock to the Fringe and the late-night comedy show featuring eight of the best delivering quick fire routines was another major highlight.

To sum it up, the fringe offers an amazing potpourri of entertainment that delivers something for every taste.

Adelaide Fringe director and chief executive officer Heather Croall said the key ingredients for the festival's success included audiences being keen to take risks and venues willing to provide a platform for emerging artists to get their start in the industry.

"We were really pleased to see that locals and visitors to Adelaide alike immersed themselves in the festival wonderland that the Fringe offers,” Ms Croall said.

The writer was a guest of Mantra Hindmarsh Square while in Adelaide.


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