Adelaide | 10 things about the Festival City

Cool, understated elegance that belies inner sparkle and sizzle.

There’s lots to love about Adelaide right now, with new hotels, restaurants and boutiques settling in alongside old classics. Susan Skelly checks into the City of Festivals

There are 10 annual festivals under Christie Anthoney’s Festivals Adelaide banner. Add to list…

February/March: Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Fringe (with its atmospheric playground, the Garden of Unearthly Delights), and WOMADelaide
May: Come Out Children’s Festival
June: Adelaide Cabaret Festival
July: Adelaide International Guitar Festival
August: SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival
September/October: OzAsia
October: Adelaide Film Festival
November: Feast Adelaide Queer Cultural Festival

Where to eat, play and stay in Adelaide

If you’re in town for a festival, there are plenty of fixed-address attractions to peruse during your stay. Here’s what’s new, notable & evergreen:

Adelaide Mayfair Hotel exterior

The Mayfair Hotel, Adelaide

The Mayfair Hotel
45 King William Street

Recently settled into the Colonial Life Mutual building, this 170-room boutique hotel is brilliantly located: it’s near Rundle Mall, North Terrace and the very local, vocal Hindley Street. Not to mention diagonally opposite Haigh’s shrine to chocolate. In tones of rose and gold, with a big marble lobby, a moody bar and restaurant downstairs, rooftop champagne terrace and spacious rooms, it’s elegant, attentive and a welcome addition to the city’s accommodation portfolio.

Maybe Mae
15 Peel Street

Peel and Leigh Streets, off Hindley Street, are buzzing. In a little laneway linking Peel and Leigh Streets, this dinky bar is accessed by a gentle nudge in a wood panelled wall that links the loos downstairs from the entrance to Bread & Bone restaurant (which, by the way, serves the best ever skewered tempura mushrooms). The subterranean hang-out – all green leather booths, ‘50s cool, shake-it-up cocktails and a blues soundtrack – epitomises Adelaide’s laneway revival.

Clever Little Tailor
19 Peel Street

Nice ambience, good fit-out in an early 20th-century loading dock, comprehensive beer and wine lists, and good snack food, the split level Clever Little Tailor won the Best Bar Design gong at the 2014 Eat Drink Design Awards and was nominated for Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Bar of the Year award.

Chihuahua Bar
20 Peel Street

Margarita, caipirinha, fiery mezcal or South American wines, accompanied by Mexican shared plates of pulled pork, ceviche or avocado salsa tortillas make Chihuahua Bar a pit-stop for thirsty and hungry night-owls. The light shades on a leafy wall are in fact little washing baskets. It’s like walking into a share household lounge room.

Hey Jupiter
11 Ebenezer Place

In the newish residential enclave behind Rundle Street East, Hey Jupiter’s gets the coffee, the pork belly sandwiches, scrambled eggs, fresh juices and ambience just right. It’s breakfast for locals who want something better than they can do themselves but is no threat to Heston.


A single origin hit at Hey Jupiter cafe in Adelaide. Photo Susan Skelly

Related: Paradise Portfolio: from Fiji to the Flinders Ranges

Parente Couture
Boutique 3, 12-18 Vardon Avenue

Jewellers Antonio and Adamo Parente opened in Ebenezer Place five years ago. Their jewellery – let’s call it French baroque meets medieval – is unique and highly desirable: it plays with shape, and uses black woods, ebony and antler, lacy azure and pink mesh, gold and silver that twists like Jack’s beanstalk and is studded with diamonds, and semi-precious gems such as citrine and amethyst (there’s one 30-carat lozenge as big as a thumb), mostly sourced from Germany.

Art Gallery of SA
North Terrace

Sharp curatorial eyes and clever use of spaces make a leisurely visit here full of surprises. New acquisitions are clearly flagged for the regulars. Enjoy the abstract languages of John Olsen and Fred Williams; the indigenous artist offerings (including George Tjungurrayi and a stand of totem poles); the 18th century etchings of decaying Rome by Venetian printmaker G.B. Paranesi; and, until March 29, Bill Viola’s video art. Trent Parkes’ photography exhibition The Black Rose is in residence [subs: from March 14] until May 10. Affordable art in the Gallery shop: a lens cloth featuring a print of Del Kathryn Barton’s For the Feeling 2011, $9.95.

adelaide SA art gallery things to do nail art

Thomas Hirschhorn nails it with his sculpture, Twin Subjecter, acquired  in 2011 by the Art Gallery of SA.

Sean’s Kitchen
Station Road

Sean Connolly shaped his fine dining credentials at Astral atop Sydney’s Star City Casino. With several foodie ventures since (including one at SkyCity Auckland casino), he is now wowing Adelaide in yet another casino. The food is sophisticated, but accessible: flights of ham from the in-house ham museum; a raft of sashimi; pea green and parmesan risotto; lobster rolls; and alpha cuts of meat (the pork chop with spiced apple and pears fed a small country).

adelaide seanskitchen fine dining casino

Sean’s Kitchen at the casino comes up trumps with confident, elegant cuisine.

Apothecary 1878
118 Hindley Street

An oldie but a goodie, this place consistently wins awards for its wine list. But Frank Hero’s food is good too. Share confit duck leg with pickled ginger, butter-poached slipper lobster, chargrilled venison or rare lamb loin with a parsnip puree and a clever side swish of olive sauce. With its candles and display of old school pharmacy paraphernalia, it’s a cosy, atmospheric space. Just as magnetic in a more plush way is the champagne lounge upstairs.

Your turn: Which Adelaide festivals have really rocked your boat?


Editor. Writer. Traveller. Keeping tabs on all things fab.

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Copyright © Susan Skelly 2020.