This will be the fourth year of Illuminate Adelaide, with the line-up for the annual winter festival encompassing free and ticketed events seeking to showcase the magic that can happen when art, light, music and technology converge.

The centrepiece of creative directors Rachael Azzopardi and Lee Cumberlidge’s July 4-21 program is the previously announced Fire Gardens, a fresh iteration of the popular event presented by French artistic collective Compagnie Carabosse in the Botanic Garden during the 2020 Adelaide Festival.

Compagnie Carabosse’s Fire Gardens. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

Taking place across 12 nights, Fire Gardens features thousands of “fire pots”, candlelit archways and flaming sculptures, as well as live music. Azzopardi and Cumberlidge say it will be much larger than the event audiences saw previously, extending into new spaces such as the Bicentennial Conservatory.

Adjacent to the Botanic Garden will be Illuminate’s pop-up night-time food and drink hub Base Camp in its new location at Lot Fourteen, where visitors will find bars, firepits and live performances across the site’s laneways.

A highlight of the free City Lights trail of immersive installations and activations will be Grand Mix, which will see Renaissance portraits come to life on the façade of the Art Gallery of South Australia. The sound and light show by French company Inook uses deepfake AI and has been presented at art museums and galleries across Europe – including the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon (see video below), where thousands gathered to watch and join in as the projected portraits “sang” hits by artists ranging from Serge Gainsbourg to Britney Spears and Eminem.

In Adelaide, Grand Mix will feature artworks from AGSA’s Reimagining the Renaissance exhibition, which opens the same month, and Azzopardi and Cumberlidge say the soundtrack will be almost all Australian pop and rock anthems.

Other City Lights works will include The World Has Gone Pear Shaped (Tine Bech Studio), a 6m-tall inflatable structure featuring detailed 3D images from NASA, which will be on the War Memorial lawns; Ngarrindjeri Ruwi (Tjarutja Dance Theatre Collective Project), which brings to life the Ngarrindjeri story of Kondoli the whale on the State Library forecourt; and ChronoHARP (Amigo & Amigo), a giant harp-inspired instrument of light and colour at Festival Plaza that will react to human movement.

Adelaide Zoo will once again light up after dark with a new experience ­– this time featuring prehistoric creatures from land and sea recreated through puppetry and installations by creative studios Erth and A Blanck Canvas. The program says visitors to Universal Kingdom: Prehistoric Nights will be able to “wander in a sea of floating bioluminescent jellyfish, see playful Plesiosaurs frolic with their hatchlings, and even come eye-to-eye with Australia’s own sharp-toothed Megaraptor…”

Berlin design studio flora&faunavisions’ “digital garden” EDEN will bloom across the 150sqm of LED screens of the Light Room at ILA in Light Square, with interactive technology enabling audiences to create flowers and change the whimsical landscape, while Adelaide’s Patch Theatre will present its new interactive light-play show Superliminal at the SA Museum.

A digital garden of EDEN will take over the LED screens in ILA’s Light Room. Photo: Lacey Wright

A highlight of Illuminate’s music program will be Dutch musician Joep Beving, who is described as one of the most-streamed living pianists in the world. He will perform music from his latest album Hermetism at the July 18 show at Her Majesty’s Theatre, which is co-presented by Adelaide Festival Centre and will be the first stop on his Australian tour.

“I played my last show down under in March 2020, moments before the lockdown,” Beving says. “There was a zebra on stage that night in Adelaide. I realise this will be difficult to top. But we’ll do our best by bringing a beautiful light installation designed by artist Boris Acket especially for the show.”

The Unsound Adelaide experimental music festival will return to the Dom Polski Centre during Illuminate with a line-up that includes British artist Lee Gamble, who will bring his latest album to the stage through a collaboration with Spanish choreographer and “action artist” Candela Capitán; former Sonic Youth member Kim Gordon; British ambient musician The Caretaker; Japanese multi-instrumentalist Eiko Ishibashi, with producer and musician Jim O’Rourke; and Norwegian saxophonist and performance artist Bendik Giske.

Also in the West End, at Nexus Arts, will be Fill the Earth – a performance installation from Finnish-born director and choreographer Juha Vanhakartano that will be presented with 12 SA-based contemporary dancers, sculptors, lighting designers and performance artists and see a series of cryptic scenes exploring “tragi-comic rituals” play out on a round stage.

Azzopardi and Cumberlidge, in a statement accompanying the program launch, say the 2024 Illuminate Adelaide program features “some of the most exciting creative innovators and artists the world has to offer”.

“And we can’t wait for July when they will brighten our winter with installations, projections, performances and immersive experiences across the city for a full 18 nights.”

Illuminate Adelaide will take place from July 4-21, with the full program now online.

The World Has Gone Pear-Shaped – Tine Bech Studio’s inflatable pear is coming to the War Memorial lawns during Illuminate Adelaide. Photo: Greg Franklin

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