Dark nights, bright lights

Watt’s up, Adelaide? Illuminate Adelaide’s celebration of technology, innovation, music, and art returns to brighten the darkest corners of the city this winter.

Now in its fourth year, creative directors and co-founders Rachael Azzopardi and Lee Cumberlidge are excited to see how Illuminate Adelaide has been accepted into the Adelaide festival scene.

“Human beings are drawn to light,” Lee says. “So, we’ve extended that idea of a light festival into the areas of science and technology and music. Adelaide isn’t just a summer-time place.

“We wanted something different for Adelaide and to give people an opportunity to come out in winter.”

Both creative directors encourage festival goers to embrace the cold, and support their favourite city restaurants by warming up while on route. And if it’s raining?

“You can buy an Illuminate Adelaide umbrella,” Lee laughs.

Rain, hail or shine, here’s a snapshot of some of the new installations to check out this year.

Universal Kingdom: Prehistoric Nights

When: Thursday through Sunday, 4–21 July
Where: Adelaide Zoo

Illuminate Adelaide Universal Kingdom
Get up close and personal with prehistoric life. Image: Benjamin Arnedo

Calling all future zoologists, palaeontologists and conservationists – get ready to step back in time! Adelaide Zoo’s inhabitants will live side-by-side with creatures from our prehistoric past in this brand-new event, featuring a world crafted by renowned creative studios ERTH and A Blanck Canvas. Walk among bioluminescent early life forms, see dinosaurs frolic with their hatchlings, and even look Australia’s own sharp-toothed megaraptor in the eye.

“This is the first chapter,” Lee hints, “and over the next three years the story will evolve.”

Gather your intrepid explorers and be immersed in a land before time.

Fire Gardens

When: Thursday through Sunday, 4–21 July
Where: Adelaide Botanic Garden

Fire Gardens
Experience fire in a brand new light at the Adelaide Botanic Garden. Image: Andrew Beveridge

Fire was our first form of light. Return to a time before incandescent bulbs and be mesmerised by the ever-changing flames that transform the Adelaide Botanic Garden in this brand-new experience. Renowned French creators Compagnie Carabosse paint with a palette of fire, colour, warmth, sound and scent to create entrancing flaming sculptures using thousands of burning fire pots, complete with live performers and musicians.

Lee says Fire Gardens is a massive immersive experience.

“Each night, it gets lit in a ceremony with the artists from France lighting all of the sculptures and installations,” Lee says.


When: Thursday through Sunday, 4–21 July
Where: The Light Room Studio at ILA

Eden Illuminate Adelaide
Interact with a world of art, nature and light. Image: Lacey Wright

Be like Alice in your own wonderland as you’re enchanted by a world where art and nature collide, created by Berlin studio flora&faunavisions. An Adelaide exclusive event, create your own paradise in a digital garden using cutting-edge technology as it merges on ILA’s top of- the-range digital screens. Let curiosity and movement guide you and see firsthand how every little action you take can have a big impact on the world around you.

Rachael says you’ll feel like you’re in a vibrant, imaginative garden at the Light Room Studio.

“It’s a really beautiful screen-based work that really intersects art and nature,” she says.

The City Lights Trail

When: Every evening, 5–21 July
Where: Across the Adelaide CBD

Base Camp Illuminate Adelaide
Start your City Lights journey at Base Camp, this year located at Lot Fourteen. Image: Frankie the Creative

At the flick of a switch, the City Lights trail will transform the city centre into a wonderland of immersive light and sound. From the new time of 5:30pm each night, play and interact with more than 30 installations for free.

“It’s a very important part of what Lee and I set out to do: to make art accessible to everyone,” Rachael says.

“You can come into the city, rove around for free and have a great time. we’re very proud of the City Lights program.”

Here are a few installations on display this year from local, national and international artists.

Launch your evening at Base Camp, located this year at Lot Fourteen on North Terrace. Warm up with delicious food and beverages and plot your course for the evening. While you’re there, check out the ever-changing archways of Proximity State by Miles Dunne who is returning to Illuminate Adelaide after a successful run last year.

RAA members can get the VIP treatment at the new and exclusive RAA Lounge, right in the heart of Base Camp.

A stop at Bonython Hall is a must on this year’s trail, with the historic space opened especially for City Lights to help celebrate The University of Adelaide’s 150th anniversary. Your focus will be laser sharp gazing wide-eyed at Japanese artist Shohei Fujimoto’s dazzling display intangible #form. Tailored to fit one of Adelaide’s most beautiful buildings, more than 1000 laser beams have been used to craft a magical, high-tech world.

Intangible form Illuminate Adelaide
Step into a fantasy of light in Bonython Hall. Image: Artec House

Outside, near the moreton bay fig tree at the front of the university, you’ll find a glowing enchanted forest. Local talent Bailey Donovan presents the sweet-like-candy Incandescent, featuring more than 30 unique handmade glassworks illuminated from within. Take a moment to relax and reset while watching the tranquil colours and sounds.

Continue along North Terrace until you reach the State Library of South Australia. Be moved by the epic Ngarrindjeri Ruwi tale, beamed directly on the library’s surface. Using imagery and artificial intelligence, Tjarutja Dance Theatre Collective retells the Ngarrindjeri story of Kondili – the whale who is the keeper of the spark of fire.

A bit further along at Flinders University’s new city campus, located at Festival Plaza, you’ll find STORM. This artwork has been created by local Tim Gruchy, one of Australia’s longest-running multimedia artists. Dance like nobody’s watching at this interactive installation and be amazed at the intersection of technology and the human experience.

These radiant works of art and more are scattered throughout the city, so plan your journey with the online City Lights map and let the lights guide you.

In the right light

Base Camp’s RAA Lounge is the perfect place to start or end your Illuminate Adelaide journey.

Explore the program