In just four years, Illuminate Adelaide has proven its unlike any other festival. These 12 unmissable attractions show why

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In just four years, Illuminate Adelaide has proven its unlike any other festival. These 12 unmissable attractions show why

intangible form by Shohei Fujimoto – image by Artec House

The eye-opening, electrifying, transformative and curious Illuminate Adelaide festival is back.

In just a few short years it has changed what winter means for the city. Spanning from the 4-21 July, it’s a CBD takeover, bathing the wintery darkness in light and sound.

Only in its fourth year, it’s a genuinely vibrant and experimental young festival, and the 2024 program maintains its inclusive schedule of events with both free and ticketed experiences for a range of ages.

The Illuminate Adelaide difference

  • Not just experimental pieces and big name acts: it’s art you take part in
  • Three full weekends from 04 – 21 July
  • 150 local, national and international artists
  • Tickets and more information here

Stay up to date with what’s happening within the region’s art scene here.

30 free-to-encounter City Lights installations

When the sun goes down, the lights come on, with 30 free-to-encounter City Lights installations across 17 nights. They’re experiences made to stun, mesmerise, inspire and spark joy. Spectacles include light shows like Grand Mix by Inook (FRA) where old Renaissance masters AI lip-synching pop music will be shown across the exterior of the Art Gallery of South Australia, and a captivating projection of First Nations storytelling in Ngarrindjeri Ruwi by Tjarutja Dance Theatre Collective Project (AUS).

Take part in art with the interactive audiovisual experiences by Amigo & Amigo (AUS) or the swingsets of kinetic light that are Spectrum Of Happiness by 27 JUNE STUDIO (THA), and a plethora of other works responding to touch and presence of the wandering winter crowds.

Fire Gardens by Compagnie Carabosse

In a departure from last year’s electric lightscapes in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, for 2024 we return to our oldest illuminations. Fire, that hypnotic, barely-tamed element, becomes the sculptural feature of Fire Gardens by Compagnie Carabosse (FRA) with candlelit environments, over 7,000 giant flaming pots and live music. The Base Camp bar and eatery at Lot Fourteen provides an oasis between the city lights and flaming gardens – with installations and diversions of its own.

Max Cooper

Analog pasts and digital present mingle at this year’s Illuminate. Audio-visual artist and scientist Max Cooper (UK) tailors his live performance 3D/AV to each unique venue on his world tour – on this occasion, Hindley Street Music Hall – for a multi-sensory, affective event that’s an Australian exclusive, supported by Motez.

Fill The Earth

2024 sees a number of world premiere installation pieces in the festival. Fill The Earth from Finnish-born director and choreographer Juha Vanhakartano offers seven stories over 90 minutes, bringing together works from 12 artists in a thoughtful multimedia performance.

Superliminal and EDEN

The award-winning Patch Theatre will inspire younger minds with Superliminal, an interactive and tactile exploration of light, sound and nature. A digital garden of EDEN will spring to life in an immersive digital journey by Berlin design studio, flora&faunavisions.


MOD. will host both a free screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and the thought-provoking BROKEN exhibition.

Universal Kingdom: Prehistoric Nights

Adelaide Zoo plays with puppetry in Universal Kingdom: Prehistoric Nights (A Blanck Canvas, Erth Visual & Physical Inc) to move through the deep time of early pre-human life and long evolution.

Joep Beving

Dutch pianist Joep Beving will perform songs from his pandemic-composed album, Hermetism: classical piano, music anchored in place and moment with that tactile, physical presence of an upright Schimmel. At Illuminate, it will be combined with light installations by Boris Acket at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Helen Svoboda

Helen Svoboda offers a textural, multi-instrumental layering of jazz forms and digital manipulation of experimental sounds performed at Nexus Arts, Lion Arts Centre.

Live @ The Lab

Live @ The Lab brings together musicians and artists from Australia and abroad over four nights and two weekends to create live music in an immersive electronic experience with 50sqm of LED screens.

Misanthropic Grief Club presents /‘ɛks/ – July 5

Featuring experimental noise act BRACT x BAYANG (tha Bushranger), the hypnotic debut pairing of MESSIANIC GLOSS x Jacky Bones and the incredible sounds of Iranian Santur player Maryam Rahmani x Guests. Complemented by lighting and visuals from local artist House of Vnholy.

Big Yawn, No News and Georgia Oatley – July 6

Renowned for their energetic and unrelenting live performances Big Yawn (Naarm / Melb) present a unique fusion of experimental electronic music. Drawing on a wide influence of jazz, krautrock, and early electronica the group deliver an unforgettable sonic experience full of sweeping synthesizers, motorik percussion, and disorienting dub FX.

Joining in support will be the Kaurna /Naarm based instrumental trio No News, weaving analogue electronica with jazz fusion to dynamic effect. Opening the night will be the eclectic electronic compositions of Georgia Oatley, who’s expressive vocals traverse influences from the avant-garde, electronica, traditional folk, and hip-hop.

Visual collaboration across the night will be provided by local artist Miles Dunne, who’s work pairs reactive visuals with pulsing colour to create a hypnotic and rhythmic pallet across The Lab’s 50sqm of LED screens.

Mondo Pyscho and The Night Terrors – July 12

Welcome to the dark theatrics of Carla Lippis’ MONDO PSYCHO. Carla Lippis is a live grenade with lungs, unleashing her new sound described as an avant-garde descent into rock ‘n‘ roll purgatory helmed by ‘the Satanic Liza Mineli.’  Featuring an ensemble of Adelaide’s finest musicians, and having performed at festivals Australia wide such as WOMAD, Dark Mofo and more, MONDO PSYCHO bring an explosive energy and frenetic conviction to each and every performance.

The night wouldn‘t be complete without Melbourne instrumental heavyweights, The Night Terrors. Offering a mind-melting mix of dark synth magic, thunderous dreamscapes and other-worldly electronica. Featuring vintage horror synth, hypnotic rhythms and the haunting theremin melodies of Miles Brown, The Night Terrors have earned a reputation as one of Australia‘s most unusual and original acts.

Highlighting the night’s performances will be a new collaborative installation from Kaurna Yerta artists Dave Court and Rusted Chroma, providing live visuals and lighting throughout the event.

Adverse Reign presents: Word on the Street Vol. 2 – July 13

The ongoing project of local label and music collective Adverse Reign, Word on the Street is a vehicle to platform the most exciting Hip-Hop and R&B artists on Kaurna Yerta to fresh audiences.

With a strong emphasis on amplifying artists voice and message, Word on the Street is a showcase of creativity and raw talent set on cultural ignition through exceptional live performances.

Now back with Vol 2, Adverse Reign are excited to present a headline performance from Magajie (Naarm) complete with full backing band, plus support from Waikid, Stefan Rossi, Katie, Mandi Kae, Zach C-R, MC $am and Adverse Reign DJs.

Word on the Street Vol 2: a night of diverse acts from across the Adverse Reign family, not to be missed!


Unsound Adelaide

If you’re in it for the biggest music weekend, Unsound Adelaide brings the spirit of renowned Kraków festival to its cultural home of the Dom Polski Centre once again, with a line-up featuring the legendary Kim Gordon as well as the first Australian show by ambient musician, The Caretaker (UK).

In addition to exciting solo works by such artists as saxophonist Bendik Giske (NOR), a series of unique collaborations will take to the stage, including Japanese multi-instrumentalist Eiko Ishibashi with Jim O’Rourke, and ∈Y∋ (of BOREDOMS) with C.O.L.O, and an Unsound commission where Lee Gamble (UK) transforms his album Models with choreographer and artist Candela Capitán (SPA).

Unsound Club

Gamble will also play an exclusive set at the Unsound Club. Taking over The Lab @ ILA, Unsound Club is an audiovisual overload of DJs and LED stimulation, with sets from HiTech (US), Manuka Honey (AUS), Crescendoll (AUS) with a spectrum of vibrant, even chaotic dancefloor experiences into the small hours.

In a calendar of Australian festivals, the Illuminate difference isn’t just in experimental pieces and big name acts: it’s art you take part in, an all-ages takeover of the city of Adelaide, where the everyday, civic and historic is transformed into fresh, playful expression.

Book flights, grab tickets and immerse yourself in a singular winter experience. Find out more here.

This article was made in partnership with Illuminate Adelaide.