Adelaide Festival reveals 2024 program

AF24-The-Nightingale-photo-by-Michael-CooperThe 39th Adelaide Festival, the first of the next three Festivals curated by Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie CBE and Chief Executive Kath M Mainland CBE, invites citizens, artists and communities to help shape the way the Festival can support and inspire us all.

Ruth and Kath bring international festival experience from Melbourne, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna and London, with the added expertise of Associate Artistic Director Wouter Van Ransbeek, who focuses on new ideas and talent in the northern hemisphere.

Ruth and Kath’s first program builds on Adelaide Festival’s legacy of world class artistic excellence and innovation, with a line-up of both returning international stars Robert Lepage, Thomas Ostemeier, Laurie Andersen, Angélique Kidjo, Barrie Kosky, Stephen Page, Akram Khan and Milo Rau; and artists making their Festival debuts: Marina Abramovic, Elizabeth Streb, Jacob Boehme, Édouard Louis and Víkingur Ólafsson.

“Since 1960, Adelaide Festival has led the way with international artists opening hearts and minds through inspiring art. It is an honour to play my part in creating an Adelaide Festival program which give artists and all of us in South Australia an important voice to the world,” said Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie CBE.

Drawing inspiration from new leaders at sister international festivals in Avignon and Edinburgh, Ruth and Kath’s first program of 64 events, 16 world premieres, 12 Australian premieres and 23 exclusives delves deeper into the role of an international festival in the 21st century.

It provides opportunities for everyone to get involved through new bookend events Create4Adelaide and Floods of Fire and unveils Adelaide Festival’s three-year plan co-commissioning ambitious new works showcasing Australian talent to the world.

AF24-Baleen-Moondjan-photo-by-Daniel-BoudKey threads in the 2024 Adelaide Festival program include:
World premieres of Adelaide Festival-commissioned work with Stephen Page’s Baleen Moondjan which opens the Festival at Glenelg Beach, Jacob Boehme’s Guuranda and Restless Dance Theatre’s Private View – all taking place on the opening weekend. In addition, the program includes the world premiere of Marrow by Australian Dance Theatre, led by Artistic Director Daniel Riley.

The Festival will also showcase new artworks in exhibitions including Yucky and the 2024 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. The biennial also features a commission by writer Kate Llewellyn and the Adelaide Chamber Singers and new works are created by young people and South Australian artists in Create4Adelaide and Floods of Fire.

First Nations First with the Festival’s hero image, Areyonga (2019), by South Australian Angkuna Baker from Indulkana, and 77 First Nations artists taking part onstage and off in 10 separate works in 2024.

The flagship Adelaide Festival operatic centrepiece – Adelaide Festival is the only place in Australia where you can see a main stage, international opera production. In 2024 it’s Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Fables, directed by Robert Lepage – with international operas already locked in for 2025 and 2026.

The brightest 20-something rising stars of tomorrow, including Mario Banushi, Australian playwright Thomas Weatherall and Melbourne theatre collective Pony Cam, are making their debut appearance at the 2024 Adelaide Festival. This continues the Festival’s long tradition of giving audiences the opportunity to see work before artists become established as major international players.

Cultural Democracy which prompts us to ask: “Who has the right to make art? Who has the right to curate it?” Create4Adelaide gives young people curatorial power. 2000 young people voted on their top three climate action priorities – extreme weather events, extinction of animals and plants, and pollution of our air and waterways. Over 1000 artworks made by young people on those priorities have already been submitted to the Open Call and submissions are welcome until the end of October via

Young people will then choose the artworks that most closely align with their top priorities for the AF24 exhibition. Continuing the Create4Adelaide journey, at the end of the 2024 Festival the vote will open to decide the themes for the year-long project for 2025.

Floods of Fire is created by the ASO and curated by international artist Airan Berg, on the Festival’s final weekend. On Saturday 16 March, Floods of Fire will take over the campus of AF partner The University of Adelaide, which celebrates 150 years in 2024. The free event will see composers and communities create new music, stories and art in response to extreme weather events. After the success at the opening of AF23, the Citizens Orchestra is back in 2024 giving everyone the opportunity to participate, regardless of musical background.

On Sunday 17 March, the world premiere of the Floods of Fire Symphonya collaboration between South Australian composers, musicians and the ASO will take the stage at Adelaide Festival Centre. The performance will include a new song commissioned from Electric Fields.

Heather-B.-Swann-Place-for-Sea-Dreamers-2022Delegating curatorial power in additional free and artist-led group exhibitions Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, curated by Jose da Silva; Yucky curated by Sam Peterson; and Neoterica curated by Ray Harris. They complement the free exhibitions at Samstag Gallery by Bruce Nuske, Khai Liew and Dana Awartani, and Country Arts SA commissioned exhibition HARBINGERS: Care or Catastrophe featuring work by five South Australian artists in the regional town of Bordertown.

A spotlight on climate action, biodiversity loss and the human environment connection is evident in climate action projects like Create4Adelaide and Floods of Fire, as well as Festival pieces Gondwana and Antigone in the Amazon – which focus on damage to equatorial and tropical forests.

The Festival’s operatic centrepiece, Stravinsky’s The Nightingale, has inspired Festival artists to create 18 pieces featuring the songs of 17 different birds, which are dotted throughout the 2024 program. In 2020, Adelaide Festival became Australia’s first festival to be certified carbon neutral and holds ongoing partnerships with conservation startups, Wilderlands and Reforest.

This year’s artistic hub will be located at Community at Lot Fourteen on North Terrace, ideally placed near many 2024 Adelaide Festival venues and with free entry to continue conversations into the night. Discount ticket schemes for those facing a financial barrier in continuing established Festival initiatives Tix for Next to Nix and Pay What You Can, thanks to The Balnaves Foundation.

“When a festival comes together, common threads and shared concerns among artists from around the world start to emerge and shape the program. This year, a resounding global concern revolves around climate change and the deterioration of our natural environment, as artists and communities take centre stage in the quest for solutions,” said Chief Executive Kath Mainland CBE.

AF24-Adelaide-Writers-Week-photo-by-Andrew-BeveridgeAdelaide Writers’ Week, curated by Australian literary leader Louise Adler AM, once again brings together writers from across the world, with a focus in 2024 on South Asia and an impressive array of star names including Dame Mary Beard, Édouard Louis, Richard Ford, Elizabeth Strout, Ted Chiang, Yanis Varoufakis, Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart.

“In 2024, novelists, poets and writers from across the world (including seven contemporary South Asian writers, one of this year’s areas of focus) will again join us to reflect on the lessons of history, make sense of the present moment and imagine a future that just might hold the promise of hope,” said Adelaide Writers’ Week Director Louise Adler AM.

“The issues writers lay bare for us are both universal and specific to this time and place, and explorations of the personal and the private are inescapably also political and public,” said Ms Adler.

“Time and again, Adelaide Festival has proven itself to be a catalyst not only for economic growth but also as a vital wellspring of social and cultural enrichment and creative talent development for the people of South Australia,” said South Australian Premier Peter Malinuskas MP.

“With pride, my Government has committed an additional $2.3 million in support over the next three years to expand the Festival and enhance its capacity to draw ground-breaking international events, ensuring its continued prominence globally,” said Mr Malinuskas.

The 39th Adelaide Festival runs over 17 days and nights from Friday 1 March to Sunday 17 March 2024. Adelaide Writers’ Week runs 2 – 7 March – the full program will be announced in January 2024. For more information, visit: for details. Checkout the trailer here!

Images: The Nightingale and Other Fables – photo by Michael Cooper | Baleen Moondjan – photo by Daniel Boud | Heather B. Swann, Place for Sea Dreamers, 2022, (detail) painted forged steel 200 x 600 x 90 cm, Collaboration with Nonda Katsalidis for the 2022 Setouchi Triennale | Adelaide Writers’ Week – photo by Andrew Beveridge