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Top Free Things to Do in Adelaide - January 2016

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Music to everyone's ear this time of year
Top Free Things to Do in Adelaide - January 2016

While everyone's favourite Weekend Notes writer, Dave Walsh, is out of action recovering from surgery, I've taken a hiatus from my hiatus to tend to his popular monthly column and discover some of the best and most fun free things to do this month.

adelaide, beach, summer, sunset, south australia, seaford, fleurieu peninsula
It's hard to believe something this good is free


We're all a bit weary after the rush of the festive season and the cash isn't flowing quite as freely as it was prior, so take advantage of free entry and browse Adelaide's many outdoor markets at a leisurely pace.

Nothing says summer like a sea breeze and a balmy evening, which you can experience at the Semaphore Summer Twilight Market on Friday evenings and Seacliff's Beachfront Twilight Market on Friday, January 15.

Over on my favourite peninsula, the Fleurieu, there's the Goolwa Wharf Market held every Sunday during January, the Willunga Quarry Market on Saturday morning, January 9, and The Vale Market at McLaren Vale on Friday evening, January 22.

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The Willunga Quarry Market is held once a month


A good way to stay on track with your New Year's resolutions might be at the Adelaide Health and Wellness Market on Saturday, January 23. You'll find all manner of nutritious food and wellness whatnots (including the heavenly Mystique Aromatherapy candles and products) to keep your good intentions flowing.

What's On in Adelaide - Free Events

All your aquatic adventures are organised this school holiday with the Immerse Yourself in a Marine Park program. There are free activities (and some that incur a small fee) happening at beaches along the coast, from Hallett Cove to Second Valley and beyond.

second valley, beach, fleurieu peninsula, snorkelling, holiday spot, south australia
Snorkel your summer away at Second Valley


The west may well be the best on Saturday evenings in January with the West Torrens Summer Festival. Live music and outdoor movie screenings are the main attractions and you'll even find the food truck fiesta that is Fork on the Road there in February.

The most notable event happening this month is undoubtedly the Tour Down Under from January 16 to 24, which puts South Australia on the world map as cyclists make their way around our fine state. It won't cost you a dime to find a good vantage point and join a pedal powered party. Perhaps you'll even be inspired to dust off the two-wheeler and don your own Lycra this New Year.

We're crazy about Greece this month with not one but two great cultural events, including the traditional Blessing of the Waters Festival at Glenelg on Sunday, January 10. The very next weekend (January 16 and 17), Semaphore sells souvlaki by the seaside at the annual Semaphore Greek Festival. It's sure to be a fantastic day out with lots of entertainment and food don't worry, the yiros will be danced off in no time!



If you like a side of fashion and cycling with your food and wine festivals, then the Unley Gourmet Gala is for you. It's free, it's fun, it's a little bit fancy, and it's on Tuesday, January 19 to coincide with the Tour Down Under.

There's a food and wine festival on any given weekend in South Australia, like the Crush Festival in the Adelaide Hills from January 22 to 24. Some of the 43 events are ticketed, but many are free and with 38 wineries involved, there's bound to be something to tickle your taste buds.

Join tens of thousands of revellers on Tuesday, January 26 to celebrate Australia Day in the City, it'll be like New Year's Eve all over again. The free event begins at 6 pm with a colourful street parade along King William Street followed by a concert and fireworks display in Elder Park.



Goolwa's At The Wharf is all about taking time to enjoy local food, wine, music, and company. Get some friends together from 5 to 8 pm on Friday, January 29 and savour the moment.

Finish the month off at the Al Salam Festival, also known as the festival of peace, on Sunday, January 31. It's held at the very peaceful and lovely Veale Gardens and promotes awareness of Islamic culture by way of entertainment, education, and delicious food.

Not Free, but Fun Things to Do

This month you can get three wedgies for $12. The Big Wedgie is the world's tallest inflatable water slide and it's set up at Glenelg until January 28. There's also a smaller water slide so that thrill-seekers of all ages can enjoy a wedgie.

See Australia's most precious stone at the Opals exhibition at the South Australian Museum. There are some spectacular pieces on show, one valued in excess of a million dollars, which makes the $17 entry fee seem a small price to pay. Children may also like to partake in Minecraft at the Museum, which is running in conjunction with Opals.

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There's lots to see and do at the Adelaide Botanic Garden


The Adelaide Botanic Garden has a great school holiday program to nurture the nature lover in every child. Kids can learn how to make traditional fire and glue, meet Trixie the cow, and hear Aboriginal Dreaming stories at no charge, while ice cream making (botanically flavoured, of course) and other activities involve a cost of up to $20.

Fashionistas will find the $2 entry fee to the Labels Style Market money well spent, especially when there are designer pieces up for grabs with prices starting as low as the cover charge. It's at The Highway on Thursday, January 14 from 6 to 9 pm and if you're there early enough you may even score a free goodie bag.

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A gold coin donation gets you into the Harvest Festival at McLaren Vale


With just a gold coin donation for entry, the Harvest Festival is practically free and a lot of fun. It's on Saturday, January 16 at McLaren Vale oval, which will be brimming with local wine and produce for you to try and buy, as well as activities and entertainment for the whole family.

If it's a movie night you're after this summer, then you really can't go past the Moonlight Cinema in the beautiful surrounds of Botanic Park. There are screenings of new releases like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Spectre as well as old favourites including Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

moonlight cinema, outdoor cinema, adelaide botanic garden, summer events
Movie night at the Moonlight Cinema in the Adelaide Botanic Garden


Other Things to See and Do in Adelaide

If that isn't enough, then you can always head to the beach. Consider a drive south of Adelaide where the beaches, such as Maslin's, Aldinga, and Sellicks, are beautiful and usually a little less crowded than those closer to town.

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Kangaroo Island is a nice place for a summer holiday


It'll cost you a pretty penny to get there, but if you've still got some holiday time up your sleeve then the beaches of Kangaroo Island are worth exploring too. Try and get to Raptor Domain, Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery, and the Kangaroo Island Farmers' Market while you're at it.

With evenings that never end, it's the perfect time to suss out the offerings of some of Adelaide's trendiest new restaurants and bars, such as NOLA and Mississippi Moon. Then discover the sordid stories of Adelaide's haunted past with an Adelaide Arcade ghost tour.

Now then, let's wish Dave a speedy recovery and hope that he's back on board next month. With the festival season rolling into town, you can bet the money you saved with all these free events that it's going to be a doozy!
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Why? Spend your time, not your money
When: January 2016
Where: Adelaide, South Australia
Cost: Mostly free
Your Comment
What a brilliant effort! Thanks Hayley- you picked an awesome lead photo too.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11214) 1292 days ago
Congratulations winning 1st prize.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12398) 1288 days ago
Nice article. It can be hard to find free events around the place - but you managed to find quite a few decent ones
by Rota (score: 2|708) 1293 days ago
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