An unremarkable array of tents buried in a grove of trees on the edge of the city of Adelaide turns out to be something rather surprising. Along with Gluttony, The Garden of Unearthly Delights is a premier venue for the Fringe Festival and the number of colourful tents seem to grow year by year with the ever expanding festival of arts. During this time of the year WOMADelaide, the Festival and the Super Cars street race are held concurrently and it’s not surprising the locals call it mad March. To add to the drama, the weather is usually hot and dry but of course, the show goes on as they say.
As you enter the Garden the scene magically changes before your eyes as you are taken into an imaginative colourful and festive world. A potpourri of theatre, comedy and magic awaits – in fact some 700 artists contribute to the Fringe experience the best of which are staged at the Garden and Gluttony venues. Together they provide a hub for the thousands of festival goers. It could be described as a heady mix of circus slash Moulin Rouge slash avant-garde theatre. At nightfall it takes on a gothic, mysterious atmosphere with the costumed characters, magicians and Victorian parlours with the Garden even boasting a sizeable amusement park. It has also been dubbed the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s alt gig for the presence of comedians (but for the absence of cringeful Adelaide jokes).
The festival has steadily grown throughout the decades and boasts some 1,300 events staged across the city. It has become a premier event and is no longer a mere adjunct to The Adelaide Festival proper. From a motley array of local artists shows in 1960 including some by the Adelaide Festival itself, the Fringe finally became an incorporated body by 1975. Name changes from Focus (1976) to Adelaide Festival Fringe and later, the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 1992 reflect the inevitable cultural nuances that occur during a 60 year history. What started as a biennial community festival reflecting local artistic enterprise, is now a truly international and major annual event. The festival has come of age with the Made in Adelaide Award for winning artists to showcase their work at the Edinburgh Festival.
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