Adelaide’s art & culture trail

Last updated 01 Sep, 2020

As a UNESCO Creative City, music, culture and creativity are deeply ingrained in our DNA. Follow one of the four self-guided trails to discover insights to hidden gems and treasured favourites that add to the rich and unique culture of Adelaide.

  • Public art trail
  • Live music trail
  • Performing arts trail
  • Design, architecture and makers trail

Or create your own trail from the interactive map below.

View the map in fullscreen

Design, Architecture and Makers

From Art Deco beauties in North Adelaide, to the latest in playspace design in the south of the city, follow seven points of interest that make up the Architecture, Design and Makers Trail and explore the built elements of our city.

The Piccadilly Cinema was considered to be one of the most elegant and ultra-modern buildings of its time.

Piccadilly on O'Connell Street was built in 1940 and designed by Messrs. Evans Bruer and Hall, architects, of Adelaide in conjunction with Mr. Gus Crick of Sydney. The Art Deco style attracted a lot of attention because of the elegance of its design. The cinema is still operational today and maintains its integrity in design both internally and externally.

The Queen's Head Hotel is the oldest licensed venue in its original location in South Australia. First licensed by Giles Abbott Snr in July of 1838 it has sat proudly on the corner of Kermode Street and Abbott Lane for over 175 years. The hotel’s facade, unchanged since major renovations in 1881, is in line with other heritage offerings in and around Kermode street and gives a taste of other quality culinary offerings dotted throughout North Adelaide on Melbourne and O'Connell Streets.

The lookout from Light's Vision offers a stunning view of the world's only city in a park.

Put down a picnic rug at Light’s Vision, a statue of Colonel William Light pointing to the location of what would become the City of Adelaide, memorialised by Scottish sculptor W. Birnie Rhind. The statue was originally located in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga and was relocated to Montefiore Hill in 1938. It was at this time this precinct was officially named ‘Light’s Vision’, in time for the centenary of Lights death. Light died of tuberculosis on 6 October 1839 in Adelaide, aged 53. He was buried in Light Square, one of six squares in the City of Adelaide. Light’s plan of Adelaide is widely acknowledged to be an early example of enlightened city planning. This is one of the best spots in Adelaide to view the design of the city, so carefully planned by Light.

The East End is a mecca of artisan offerings with the very best in food, wine, fashion and design. The cosmopolitan district plays host to some of Adelaide's best-known street art, boutiques, pop-up markets, restaurants, pubs, cafes and small bars.

Admire the heritage Architecture and hidden gems of the Arcades.

Running between Rundle Mall and Grenfell Street, Adelaide Arcade opened on 12 December 1885 and features a glass panel in the floor revealing an ornate old staircase leading to what were once underground tearooms. One of 50 shops, the lavish Turkish Baths in the south-eastern corner were a particularly exotic feature - with warm baths offered for a shilling. Adelaide Arcade was one of the first city buildings with electric lighting.

Regent Arcade opened in 1928 as The Regent Theatre, one of the most beautiful and luxurious theatres of its time. The heritage listed arcade now features an array of local retailers and eateries.

The West End is a hub for the city’s creative industries including film, dance, live-music, visual and performing arts.

The JamFactory showcases contemporary Australian craft practice housing studios for ceramics, glass, furniture, jewellery and metal including an exhibition and retail space.

Through production initiatives and workshops the Media Resource Centre produces up to 50 films a year and offers a unique screening program of shorts, features and documentaries at the Mercury Cinema.

Nexus Arts showcases creative offerings from culturally significant groups including visual arts, music and performance through their exhibition and cabaret space. ACEOpen offers transformative contemporary art experiences for artists and audiences.

LWDance Hub - Adelaide's home of independent dance offers artist residencies and dance performance space.

The Lion Arts Factory has been a live music venue since the 1970s under a number of different guises. SALA HQ is home to the South Australian Living Artists Festival - a statewide festival of visual art held in August.

Guildhouse supports and creates opportunities for artists.

Marshmallow Playground weaves a narrative inspired equally by nature’s ecological systems and traditional Kaurna knowledge.

After coffee in Hutt St, mix with the locals in Marshmallow Playground. Pelzer Park, Pityarilla (Park 19), located in the southern Park Lands, is home to the popular Marshmallow Playground (named after the Holly Hock plant not the confectionery).

Recent rejuvenation works include an upgraded nature playspace also provide for a ‘cultural stage’, and ‘wild play’ roaming areas. The design is a result of community, school and Kaurna group consultations, and weaves a narrative inspired equally by nature’s ecological systems and traditional Kaurna knowledge. The Park has a focus on learning through play, celebrating diversity and interaction with others.

Public Art

Public Art is about artistic expression. Integral to the character of the city, in its diversity and quality it provides an insight into cultural life and community values. It plays a strong role in creating and celebrating the city’s sense of place and identity.

The South Australian Society of Arts was established in the 1850s and still operates as the oldest Australian fine art society in existence.

Using rooms in the 1861 Institute Building on the corner of Kintore Avenue and North Terrace, it was the centre of the art world in Adelaide.

Through the lobbying of this organisation and the South Australian Institute, the National Art Gallery of South Australia, with the nucleus of a state collection, was established 1881. Now known as The Royal South Australia Society of Artists, it is an active arts group that still today facilitates professional development and exhibition opportunities for local artists.

One of several sculptures by Bert Flugelman, ‘Knot’ was supported by the Art Gallery of SA and the City of Adelaide.

Knot is one of several sculptures by Bert Flugelman that Adelaide residents and visitors enjoy. Flugelman is also the creator of Spheres in Rundle Mall and Tetrahedra and its smaller Vertical Variation at the Adelaide Festival Centre. All are straightforward, unadorned shapes of stainless steel, made striking by their monumental size and shining surface.

Knot was commissioned by the Adelaide City Council’s ‘Work in Public Places Fund’. It was loaned to the Art Gallery of South Australia where it was located from 1975 to 1995 before being removed due to redevelopment there. In 2003 it was relocated to the northern end of Light Square / Wauwe in Adelaide.

John Tonkin’s artwork of the same name comes to life at night – get up close, play and see how it changes!

'Sensing with Light' by John Tonkin is best viewed at night and invites the viewer to interact with the sensors that pick up movement and touch to change the colour and pattern strung up in the sky.

Developed as a creative response to research carried out at the University of Adelaide's Institute of Photonics and Advanced Sensing this artwork explores interactivity in public spaces by inviting the public to play.

The Market to Riverbank project connects the Adelaide Central Market to the Adelaide Riverbank, and allows people to experience art in everyday places as they pass through streets and laneways such as Topham Mall.

'Riverbank is a Kaurna Market' by Paul Herzich invites people to learn, feel and experience aspects of the Kaurna language and culture today and Yangadlitya - for the future.

Topham Mall also features 'Geode' by Amy Joy Watson along the drainage gates. Inspired by geology, the design references ancient landscapes and rock formations.

This symbolic artwork marks the traditional meeting place of the Kaurna people, the original custodians of this site.

The Cultural Marker is a significant symbolic public artwork, marking the historical traditional meeting place of the Kaurna people, the original custodians of the site. Created by artist Jacob Logos, it was unveiled as part of NAIDOC Week 2017.

Logos worked with members of the Kaurna community and wider Aboriginal community, including local school children, to develop this significant art work.

The granite used is South Australian and was selected for its colour and connection to this land. Solar lights form a representation of the Kaurna shield at the centre of the design, surrounded by beautiful illustrated interpretations of Kaurna words.

The Qingdao Rose Garden sculpture is a replica of the one in Qingdao, donated by our Sister City, symbolising the union between our two cities and ’Song of the Wind‘ across the seas. Red roses are significant in Chinese culture symbolising life and celebration.

The Qingdao Rose was specially created for the Adelaide Qingdao Rose Garden. The rose is a fitting symbol for the friendship between Qingdao and Adelaide as Sister Cities.

‘Talking our way Home’ by Shaun Kirby reflects the artist’s experience of sailing to Australia as a child.

‘Talking our way Home’ (2005), by noted Adelaide artist Shaun Kirby, is an installation of five glass and steel boats on the River Torrens / Karrawirra Parri.

The origami-like boats appear translucent and fragile, suggesting movement and transport, and the idea of a journey. Kirby was born in London in 1958.In the mid-1960s, he and his family migrated to South Australia by ship.

Kirby lived at the Elder Park Migrant Hostel, on the site of the present Adelaide Festival Centre. His installation is intentionally nearby. The piece evokes the artist’s own journey and one many new Australians took at the time.

Declare your undying love with a padlock at our purpose-built Love Locks sculpture. The Riverbank Love Knot is formed from two intertwined overhand knots and is representative of a symbol of binding love.

Designed by Felicity Sando, Anthony Coupe and Ella Xie from Mulloway Architects and built by Jeff Fulford from Iguana Creative. The Riverbank Love Knot art work is a way of preserving the historic University Footbridge and allowing the people of Adelaide a place to symbolically lock their love at the same time.

The locks that were on the University Footbridge were recently removed and placed on to the Riverbank Love Knot art work. Love locks are believed to be an ancient tradition originating in China where lovers lock a padlock to a fence, bridge or pole and throw away the key to symbolise their everlasting love.

Discover the quirky Museum of Economic Botany hidden inside the Botanic Gardens since 1881. Be amazed by the life-like and rare 19th Century German papier-mache model pear and apple collection housed in the Museum.

Economic botany is the study of plants through the perspective of their practical use for humankind.

Throughout the nineteenth century, museums devoted to economic botany were commonplace in the English-speaking world. Examples were seen in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, though only the Adelaide building has survived to this day.

This Museum’s purpose was to ‘make the results of botanical study available to all the world’. Today we see the creative reflection of contemporary artists responding to the space through a rolling exhibition program complementing the historic exhibitions.

Performing Arts

With over 16 theatres located within the Adelaide CBD and North Adelaide, performing arts play a huge part in the city's thriving arts culture. From groundbreaking festival's to golden oldie theatres,

The Queen’s Theatre is the oldest surviving theatre in mainland Australia. Costing £10,000 to build back in 1840, the theatre initially offered seating for 1,000 people and opened its doors in January 1841 with a theatrical performance of Othello.

Over the years the building has opened and closed its doors as a theatre many times over. In the 1980s a proposed development of the site prompted an archaeological excavation that uncovered extensive remnants of the former Queen’s Theatre, including dressing rooms and an orchestra pit.

The historical significance of the site prompted the State Government to take ownership in the 1990s and efforts to conserve its surviving heritage architecture were undertaken. Since 1996 the building once again became a venue for performances.

The Arts Theatre is home to the oldest surviving amateur theatre company in the southern hemisphere, the Adelaide Repertory Theatre which was established in 1908. 

In 1963 they built the Arts Theatre, which now hosts ‘Adelaide Rep’s’ (as they are affectionately known) shows, as well as several other local major amateur theatre companies. It also hosts shows for world renowned entertainers as a part of the annual Adelaide Fringe.

The Bakehouse Theatre, down the road, has offered a home to emergent and experimental theatre since 1998. The name comes from its origins of once being used as a bakery in the late 1800s.

Elizabeth Cameron Dalman established Australia's first modern professional dance company Australian Dance Theatre in Adelaide in 1967. She trained dancers at her studio in Gays Arcade and later Gouger Street. “Ugly dance impresses” is one of the review headlines from the Australian Dance Theatre’s first performances.

Contemporary dance was a new concept for both critics and audiences in Adelaide. Not only was it more expressive than classical ballet, the dancers were barefoot. They danced to soundtracks ranging from classical to jazz, electronic music and folk songs.

Recognised as one of the world’s best art festivals, Adelaide Festival began in 1960.

In 1960 Adelaide Festival was the first of its kind in Australia and paved the way for so many other festivals earning Adelaide the Festival State title. The Fringe and Adelaide Writers’ Week also started in 1960. Writers' Week was the first literary festival to be held in Australia.

Today it remains Australia’s largest free literary festival. These have paved the way for other prominent Adelaide Festivals including Feast Festival, Cabaret, SALA, Dream Big, WOMADelaide, History Festival, Adelaide Film Festival and Oz Asia. Adelaide Festival Centre established in 1973 was the first arts theatre in Australia and host to many major performances delivered as part of these festivals.

Live Music

As a UNESCO City of Music, Adelaide is recognised globally for our world-class music festivals, our entrepreneurial music industry, the quality and diversity of our musicians, live music venues and leading music institutes. As a result we are truly a city of music, with an abundance of immense talent being showcased every night of the week across over 50 live music venues around the city.

The Elder Conservatorium has been home to some of Australia’s finest musicians, including Hooper Brewster-Jones. Brewster-Jones first studied piano at the Elder Conservatorium in 1901 at the age of 14.

He conducted several orchestras in Adelaide and was very influential writing music columns for the newspaper and hosting radio programs on the ABC.

His son, Arthur Brewster-Jones, was the conductor of the Adelaide Stringster Orchestra. Hooper Brewster-Jones' last performance was the D minor Mozart piano concerto with his son's orchestra. He died of a heart attack fifteen minutes later.

He is the grandfather of John and Rick Brewster, who are founding members of Australian rock band The Angels.

Rock royalty Cold Chisel and quirky singer/songwriter Sia both began their journey to fame in Adelaide’s West End.

Enjoy live music in the clubs and bars of the West End, where a number of famous Adelaide musicians started their careers. Cold Chisel held their first residency at the former Mediterranean Hotel, which is now Red Square, at 181 Hindley Street.

Not far down the western end of the street is the site of former Cargo Club where Sia Furler used to play regularly in jazz funk band Crisp in the 1990s. There is an eclectic collection of live music venues in the precinct catering for all tastes in music.

Explore the West End’s bars and clubs and discover the next superstar in the making.

The Beatles’ visit to Adelaide Town Hall brought the city to a standstill.

When the Australian leg of The Beatles’ 1964 world tour was announced, Adelaide was left off the list. Entrepreneur Ron Termaine sprang into action and enlisted the help of radio DJ's Bob Francis and Jim Slade who gathered more than 80,000 signatures on a petition used to persuade the tour promoter to bring The Fab Four to Adelaide.

The Beatles arrived in Adelaide on Friday 12 June, 1964 to throngs of fans who lined the streets at least four-deep from the airport to King William Street. Hordes of screaming fans waiting for a glimpse of the world’s most famous pop group deafened the city. John Lennon told the reception ‘Wherever we go, anywhere in the world, this reception which Adelaide has given us will stick in our memories.’

Discover the local music legends at the AMC SA Music Hall of Fame, just inside St Paul’s front door.

Cold Chisel – Formed in Adelaide in 1973 with Jimmy Barnes joining in 1975 to complete the line up. Seven of their studio albums have reached the Australian top five. Their popularity is synonymous with Australian working class life and they have been touted as one of the best live bands that was defiantly Australian in outlook.

The Angels – Formed in Taperoo in 1974 as the Keystone Angels by brother John and Rick Brewster enjoyed the success of seven top 10 studio albums and a host of top 20 singles in the 80s and 90s. They helped to redefine the pub rock tradition in Australia after changing their name to The Angels in 1976 and signing a record deal after touring with AC/DC and Chuck Berry in 1975.

The Superjesus – Formed in Adelaide in late 1994 enjoyed success of three studio albums hitting the top five in the ARIA albums chart. Shooting to fame after appearing at the 1996 Big Day Out the band received high rotation on Triple J radio station for a decade.

No Fixed Address - An Australian Aboriginal reggae rock group formed in 1979. The band was led by Bart Willoughby (lead vocals and drums) Pitjanjatjara from Koonibba Mission near Ceduna in the far south west of South Australia, together with Ricky Harrison (rhythm guitarist and principal songwriter) Kurnai from Morwell in Victoria, Leslie Lovegrove Freeman (lead guitarist), Ngarrindjeri from Murray Bridge in South Australia, John Miller (bass) from Port Lincoln in South Australia and Veronica Rankine (tenor saxophone), Ngarrindjeri from the south east of South Australia. They all met and formed the band at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) in North Adelaide, South Australia.

The Masters Apprentices formed in Adelaide in 1965.

The Masters Apprentices were given the shed behind the King’s Head Hotel to practice in by drummer Brian Vaughton’s father, the hotelier at the time. The use of the shed enabled the band to have a functional rehearsal space that paved the way for subsequent success. One their biggest hits 'Undecided' was recorded here in Adelaide in 1966.

The East End of Adelaide is renowned for its lively music scene.

Enjoy live music in East End venues after dark. The iconic East End live music precinct features an eclectic mix of live music venues.

The Exeter and Crown & Anchor showcase local entertainment every night of the week.

Local and international DJ's spin the decks at Sugar most nights.