A Winter Weekend in Adelaide: The annual winter event you don’t want to miss!

Illuminate Adelaide has returned for it's fourth year.
Supplied/Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio

Even in the cold of winter Adelaide never fails to impress upon arrival, with rolling evergreen hills that really make the backdrop of this criminally underrated city. Then, as evening rolls in, suddenly the city is lit up like a firecracker with its annual light festival appropriately titled Illuminate Adelaide.

It’s hard to believe that Adelaide’s Illuminate is only in its fourth year, for it runs like a well-oiled machine. Running from July 4 to July 21, Illuminate boasts a program packed with free-entry exhibitions and kid-friendly activities – it’s the perfect family night out. So, cut the hibernation short and venture with me into the night, as we explore what a winter Adelaide has to offer…

Illuminate Adelaide
Illuminate Adelaide (Credit: Supplied/Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio)


Base Camp

(Lot Fourteen, North Terrace. Entry: FREE)

What better way to keep tabs on everyone than to start the night at Base Camp, so-called for its firepits and a wide variety of South Australian food vendors tending to every palette and appetite. Well-stocked bars also help to keep the adults (me included) in good spirits and it’s free to enter making it the perfect meeting place for the busy night ahead.

Pop-up stalls by familiar brands will catch your attention, such as my personal favourite the 23rd Street Distillery, as well as some of Adelaide’s best chefs from local establishments, showing off the best of what the culinary scene here has to offer.

the fire gardens at illuminate adelaide
Fire Gardens. (Credit: Supplied/Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio) (Credit: Supplied/Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio)

Fire Gardens

(Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Entry: $40-$42)

Lighting over seven thousand handcrafted firepots and creatively distributing them throughout a botanical garden could be slightly confronting, but when you collaborate with the French fire alchemists Compagnie Carabosse, you simply know you’re in for a treat.

The only light at this time of night is from the fire itself, so hold any little one’s hand and navigate your way through fire-ignited paths, archways and mechanical sculptures, all to the backdrop of live music performances.

Eden. (Credit: Supplied/Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio)


(The Light Room at LIA. Entry: $22-$25)

This vibrant, interactive experience will keep kids (and adults!) entertained for hours. It’s a full 360-degree screen featuring colourful blooms and sunbursts that feel ripped straight out of a child’s imagination.

The touch screen technology enables you to pop bubbles and catch seeds that erupt from Australian wildflowers.

city light as illuminate adelaide
Illuminate. (Credit: Supplied/Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio) (Credit: Supplied/Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio)

City Lights

(City wide. Entry: FREE)

The streets of Adelaide are dressed to impress with countless creative light displays by local and international artists. Not only are they captivating but many of them also encourage you to interact with them by touch to produce sound or transform.

A personal favourite was Intangible Form by Japanese artist Shohei Fujimoto; an incredible red laser display erratically transforming inside a dark Bonython Hall where you can really feel the vibrations against an intense soundtrack.

universal kingdom prehistoric nights at illuminate adelaide
Universal Kingdom. (Credit: Supplied/Tyr Liang Xplorer Studio)

Universal Kingdom: Prehistoric Nights

(Adelaide Zoo. Entry: $28-$35)

Catering more for the little ones, this prehistoric-themed adventure at Adelaide Zoo felt a little like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park where you could observe and interact with mechanical dinosaurs. The park also features a pop-up bar armed with mulled wine to help take the edge off.


(South Australian Museum, $24-$29)

This one felt a bit more theatrical and calls upon the child in you to play along and get into the state of mind of a true adventurer. Being handed a battery-operated lantern is a nice touch, as is following the storyteller’s instructions to make animal calls at random intervals.

mclaren vale vineyards adelaide
South Australia’s wine regions are considered some of the country’s best. (Credit: Getty )


d’Arenberg Cube

(Osborn Rd, McLaren Vale SA 5171)

At first glance, d’Arenberg looks as though a Rubix’s cube has plummeted from the stratosphere and taken root in the charming McLaren Vale.

At closer inspection though, you’ll see that it’s a museum filled with the most bizarre art and curiosities, complete with a winery sensory room, all straight out of the imagination of wine producer Chester d’Arenberg. Every inch of the space is impressive.

Wirra Wirra Vineyards

(255 Strout Rd, McLaren Vale SA 5171)

Tasting wine is hungry work, so a lunch-stop Wirra Wirra Vineyard’s impressive and delicious Australian menu is to die for.

The morish lamb needs only a spoon to break it apart and there’s something about enjoying a three-course lunch out in the Adelaide breeze in blissful sunshine that hits that sweet spot.



(Tenancy 4/11 Waymouth St, Adelaide SA 5000)

A modern Australian dining experience pairing the best wine SA has to offer with dishes that leave you generously wined and fed. The staff were attentive and couldn’t have done more for us.

I inhaled the souffle with the little appetite I had left and the restaurant itself is conveniently located close to poky cocktail bars perfect for a cheeky nightcap.


2KW Bar and Restaurant

(2 King William St, Adelaide SA 5000)

You go for the rooftop and a glass of bubbles.

Proof Bar

(9 Anster St, Adelaide SA 5000)

Good for an after-dinner cocktail in a dark and cozy ambience.


Crowne Plaza

(27 Frome St, Adelaide SA 5000)

An incredibly comfortable bed perfect for collapsing in after a long day of admiring lights and inhaling all that lovely shiraz. An early morning swim in the heated rooftop pool ensures you’ll be revitalised and ready to do it all over again.

The buffet breakfast is legendary with cooked or continental varieties, including eggs made to order. Sit at the high table overlooking the Adelaide rooftops and watch the sunrise.

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