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5 of the Best Events in Mad March

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by David Francis (subscribe)
David Francis is a freelance writer based in Adelaide.
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5 of the Best Events in Mad March
Each year during March a number of events take place in Adelaide and there is something for everyone. The diversity is astounding and ranges from authors quietly speaking to small groups in a beautiful garden setting, to loud and exciting car races through a city street circuit.

Whatever takes your fancy can be found, whether you are a rev-head, art-lover or simply someone who enjoys new experiences. Admission fees can be in the hundreds of dollars for multi-day passes to some events but there are many things to do and see for much less, or for free.

Adelaide Fringe
Fri 24/2/12 – Sun 18/3/12
The world-renowned Adelaide Fringe starts late February but its more than three week duration takes it well into March.

Performances by the 4,000-odd artists vary from stand-up comedy to serious theatre pieces and take in much of the absurd along the way. There are musicians, acrobats, dancers, actors and comedians in every corner of the city.

In simplistic terms, what distinguishes the fringe festival from its big brother Adelaide Festival largely comes down to the way it is organised and run. The latter invites performances from around the globe and runs each event. The fringe is open to anyone who registers – which includes many from other countries or interstate – and is not so much run as co-ordinated. Each venue is autonomous and responsible for itself, albeit assisted and promoted by the Adelaide Fringe.

The organising body also puts on many free events, such as street theatre, and the atmosphere in Adelaide of spontaneity and carnival enhances the enjoyment of visitors, whether or not they have come for the fringe itself.

An area called the Garden of Unearthly Delights is popular and has several venues within it - or you can just wander around. The free Opening Night Fringe Parade is always fun and worth a look.

Clipsal 500
Thu 1/3/12 – Sun 4/3/12
The first thing you notice about the Clipsal 500 is the noise. It might be the aerial entertainment of an RAAF jet fighter coming in low over the track, or the race-track thrills of V8 practice sessions or support races featuring other vehicles.

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RAAF FA-18 overflies the track. Photo: Anthony Cramp (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The V8 Supercars can be heard for many kilometres away from the city-based track. Now some people don't like that, of course, but it's all thrown into the mix of Mad March and makes for a vibrant city – and it is only for 4 days.

There are after-race concerts on each of the last three nights, designed to keep part of the crowd back to stagger the outflow of people from around the track, featuring some big names on the bill.

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V8 Supercars on the grid. Photo: GTHO (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

2012 entry prices range from $39 for the Thursday up to $80 for Sunday (the main race day). There are multi-day passes for $150 covering all four days. Children 12 and under are free, but only if accompanied by a paying adult and passes must be obtained in advance. Tickets are more expensive if purchased at the gate.

There are a variety of premium ticket prices too, for example 4-day grandstand prices range from $200 to $325, depending on which part of the track you choose. These tickets also give you access to the on-track entertainment after the race.

Adelaide Festival
Fri 2/3/12 – 18/3/12
The Adelaide Festival is Adelaide's premier arts event and attracts world-class productions from around the globe.

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Festival Theatre (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

While the Festival Theatre hosts many productions it is by no means the only venue and there are music, theatre, visual art, film, and dance events throughout the city and surrounds. The program utilises parks and gardens, art galleries, theatres, halls, cinemas, and the old Adelaide Gaol.

Most of the productions will cost you money - some will be quite expensive - but there are regular free events (such as Writers' Week featured in the next section) and often large installation art pieces available to the public to view at any time. An example of this was the popular "Northern Lights", where coloured-light images were projected onto public buildings along North Terrace, transforming the staid structures into changing works of art.

Adelaide Writers' Week
Sat 3/3/12 – Thu 8/3/12
Writers' Week is part of the Adelaide Festival and has been in existence for over 40 years, making it the oldest literary festival in Australia.

Writers Week
Pioneer Women's Memorial Gardens

For an avid reader or a writer, this is one of the best free events around and lets you get up close to well-known authors and find out what makes them "tick". Writers speak to the audience about their work then answer questions. There are also sessions where a group of authors discuss a set topic in front of an audience, presenting their views in an informal atmosphere.

Held in the Pioneer Women's Memorial Gardens – this is across King William Road from the Festival Theatre, immediately behind the rear walls of Government House – it showcases a mix of Australian and international authors.

Plenty of books are on sale there and the authors are on hand to sign them if you want.

Food and beverage stalls are available so you can grab a bite and a drink and either find a table and chairs or lounge around on the grass waiting for the next speaker.

The 2012 program, for the first time, includes a special children's day on March 4.

Fri 9/3/12 – Mon 12/3/12
When Peter Gabriel first brought his WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) concept to Adelaide in 1992, the name WOMADelaide was coined and has become part of the local language.

There are performances by artists from around the world on seven stages and street theatre throughout the park. Food stalls are plentiful and a children's area has hands-on crafts and other activities.

The Friday is a night-time (6pm) start, but the rest of the festival has twelve or so hours of performances each day from midday.

This four-day event takes place in Botanic Park on the city fringe. A full festival pass in 2012 will cost $304 for an adult or $252 concession. There are a variety of day / night and night-only passes and group discounts are on offer in all categories. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.

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Why? See how much fun you can cram into a few weeks
When: Adelaide Fringe starts late February until late March
Where: Many venues around Adelaide
Cost: Varies, some free
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