Inaugural Illuminate Adelaide brings a touch of magic to the city, promising a bright future

Illuminate-Adelaide-Light-Cycles-photo-by-Moment-FactoryThe inaugural Illuminate Adelaide, which took place across July and August, concluded yesterday with its sold out extended season of the centrepiece work, Light Cycles bringing a touch of magic to the city and the promise of a bright future for the South Australian event.

Despite a pause due to severe weather and the subsequent seven day COVID19 lockdown, the event was embraced enthusiastically by audiences who were enchanted by the celebration of light, music, art, technology and innovation.

A scaled-down version of the original program following the lockdown saw hundreds of thousands of South Australians of all ages flock to the CBD, bringing vibrancy and life to the winter nights. The free outdoor program, City Lights lit up the streets and laneways across the opening and final weekends of Adelaide’s newest winter major event.

Light Cycles, by Canadian multimedia studio Moment Factory, was the dazzling heart of the program at the Adelaide Botanic Garden. Selling out almost every session, and extending by three weeks to meet demand, the two-kilometre trail of lights, lasers, projections, and sound through Adelaide’s magical Botanic Garden enchanted tens of thousands who took the journey through the sold out season.

Several other site-specific events were also able to proceed and extend seasons after selling out including Van Gogh Alive – a multisensory exploration of the Dutch artist’s masterpieces in a specially-built Grand Pavilion; and an immersive celebration of the animal world in Light Creatures at Adelaide Zoo.

The reinvigorated Adelaide Festival of Ideas, presented in partnership with the University of Adelaide, provided panellists, speakers and audiences with the opportunity to unpack the challenges and opportunities of our time.

“We set out to create a new major event for South Australia to activate the Adelaide CBD and its precincts in midwinter, and we were overwhelmed by the public response to our inaugural program,” said Illuminate Adelaide co-founders and creative directors Lee Cumberlidge and Rachael Azzopardi.

It was a delight to behold such a large, diverse audience enthralled by the various installations, events, and experiences across the CBD. Incredible artists from around the state, joined by others from across Australia, and internationally, created extraordinary work under difficult and unexpected conditions.

“Delivering a new cultural event in the middle of a global pandemic was always going to be a challenge, but it’s been inspiring to see the people of Adelaide jump on board so wholeheartedly. We look forward to being able to deliver our next program in 2022 and years to come, for South Australians and visitors from across the country.”

With a focus on fostering collaboration and partnerships, Illuminate Adelaide worked with the City of Adelaide on Permanent Public Art Work by South Australian artist Jason Sims; the Art Gallery of South Australia on Sea of Light; and the Migration Museum on Being Different Together.

Other planned events including MAAD, William Barton with the Australian String Quartet, Thin Ice, Light Visions, Dark Intervals and Kinara were unable to be presented due to Covid restrictions, but were well on the path to reaching capacity and selling out.

Illuminate Adelaide provided employment for over 300 people across a wide range of roles, and despite having to present a reduced program due to the lockdown, businesses in the CBD reported that trade was up by 35%.

“This major event was tasked with reinvigorating our city and regions during winter. I congratulate Illuminate Adelaide on well and truly achieving this in its inaugural year,” said Hon Steven Marshall MP, Premier of South Australia.

“Thousands of South Australians flocked to the CBD and regional centres to see Illuminate Adelaide events and programs including the city-wide free program in City Lights. The centerpiece of the event, Light Cycles was a sell out with hundreds of hospitality venues and retailers alike all experiencing a surge in foot traffic and trade.”

“It certainly was not without challenges. The event battled severe weather, restrictions, and a lock down but despite all that, it reopened and was a huge success,” said Mr Marshall.

Illuminate Adelaide also presented regional commissions in Mount Gambier, Tumby Bay, and with Renmark to come over 17 September to 9 October, bringing light and life to winter across the state.

Signature event THE AVALANCHES: Since I Left You, Live with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at Adelaide Entertainment Centre has been rescheduled to Wednesday 13 October.

Illuminate Adelaide’s impact upon the city in its inaugural year was immense, despite the many challenges, with organisers and audiences already looking ahead to it lighting up the city with all its power in 2022.

Illuminate Adelaide returns in July 2022. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Illuminate Adelaide Light Cycles – photo by Moment Factory