Keep Calm – The 2013 Adelaide Cabaret Festival is on its way!

It’s that time of year again in Adelaide. The stars are coming, the stars are coming!

Keep Calm and come to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Image by Hayley Horton.
Keep Calm and come to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Image by Hayley Horton.

This year is a bumper year for Broadway superstars, in Kate Ceberano’s second year as Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

For all the die-hard cabaret fans whose favourite festival of the year is just a couple of weeks away, planning to survive is key to enjoying everything that this fantastic festival has to offer.

But keep calm… here’s a few reminders of what to expect and how to make the most of it.

The location

Anyone who’s read any sort of SA news over the past year knows that there is major construction work going on along the riverbank at the moment (that footbridge better be worth it).  The convention centre is having a major overhaul, the Adelaide Oval is clad in cranes and scaffolding and stretches of the Torrens are out of action.  How this is going to affect the Adelaide Festival Centre (AFC) is yet to be seen at one of its busiest times of year.

The hot tip would be, be prepared.  Having a whole festival in the one complex is fantastic and one of the real perks of the Cabaret Festival, but be prepared to take a bit longer to get into and out of the venue – especially if you’re parking.

Your best bet is a pre-paid park at the AFC car park. At a $12 flat rate, you can book in advance by calling BASS on 131 246 and although it does add to the cost of the night, it removes all need to negotiate parking options.  But be quick as these parks sell out on popular nights.  The Riverbank car park is also still operational and good value for money (and never seems to get full) but allow extra time for the road works on the western end (particularly when exiting).

The shows

As anyone who read my articles from last year would know, I’m a big fan of packing as much into my nights at the AFC as possible.  The Cabaret Festival is more and more popular, which unfortunately means things like rush tickets and 2-4-1 Wednesdays are gone, so chances of taking a risk can be more expensive.  Don’t let this deter you though! Take advantage of the 4-show subscriber offer, to save a few pennies buying in bulk (although you do have to book everything at once so a well planned schedule wouldn’t hurt either).  Pick shows that have the “flavour” of show you like but aren’t necessarily what you would choose first-hand – that’s where the pleasant surprises come from.

The Variety Gala is always a good place to start and this year celebrates the AFC’s 40th birthday so it’s likely to have an extra bit of pizzazz and nostalgia to go with your smorgasbord of Cabaret acts.  Many shows are already selling out though, so my biggest hint for this year would be to plan ahead… you can book online easily enough at or give them a call on 131 246.

Kate Ceberano
Kate Ceberano

Another big change this year is the fact that the Backstage Club is no longer free to ticket holders. Sure, they’re only charging $10/head to get in but it will be interesting to see how this affects numbers – last year the queue was out the door and the venue was packed every night. I would say the money is well worth it after some of the magical moments experienced last year.  With a different host each night, there’s bound to be a wide variety to choose from, just get in early to avoid disappointment.

The food and wine

Again, due to the riverbank construction, this year will see the Bistro by foodbusiness closed for the duration of the Cabaret Festival. While the Bistro has never really been the hub, it has certainly been convenient for festival-goers at the western venues like the Space, Artspace and Dunstan Playhouse. There is a bar in the Space Foyer, sponsored by Grant Burge so you’re likely to grab a decent drink between shows but really, you’ll need to venture east for the good eats.

Yet again, the Winter Garden is my hot (or should I say chilly with heaters?) tip for a quick meal, a place to meet and a mulled wine or whatever takes your fancy.  Based up on the Festival Theatre terrace (between the Festival Theatre and the Banquet room), there are a bunch of vendors offering hot food, a bar and dessert which is the perfect place to kill some time before or after a show.  Sometimes it gets pretty busy and it’s impossible to find a table, but other times it’s empty – it’s pot luck really and never be afraid to ask a fellow festival-goer if you can share their table.  While you’re at it, why not ask them if they’ve seen anything good?  A “new” place to eat and drink will be the Foyer Bar in at the Festival Theatre… time will tell as to how this handles the overflow from the Winter Garden and whether the food will stack up to curry and wood oven pizzas just around the corner.

The schedule

There’s a fine balance between seeing so much you get festival fatigue (wishing that final weekend would get here sooner) and only seeing a couple of shows and feeling like you missed the festival altogether. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep a balance and make the most of your nights at the AFC. Even if you’re only there one night a week, you can easily fit in 2 – 3 shows and enjoy the atmosphere. With stars like Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Kristin Chenoweth, Jim Meskimen, Bernadette Robinson, Cassandra Wilson, Adam Guettel, Molly Ringwald and so many others milling about, there’s every chance you’ll get to be a part of a moment that isn’t listed in the official guide, that you’ll treasure forever.

Last, but not least

The introduction of the Official Adelaide Cabaret Festival app for iOS (iPhone and iPad) or Android is a welcome (if a couple of years late – the Adelaide Fringe has had one for years) addition to 2013. Already there have been a number of “special offers” on particular shows and there are bound to be extra notices in the lead up to and during the festival that users can take advantage of – check your inbox regularly!  Plus the planner is very handy for those of us who find the calendar in the hard-copy brochure too hard to follow.

Remember, dashing in to a show without pausing at the bar or soaking up the atmosphere is only half of what the Cabaret Festival has to offer. Enjoy the experience as much as the individual shows and I guarantee you’ll have the best Cabaret Festival possible.

Last person standing at the end of June shouts the Berocca.

Hayley Horton

Hayley was an arts worker in South Australia for twelve years working freelance for small to medium clients as well as for companies such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Theatre Company SA, Urban Myth Theatre of Youth and the Australia Business Arts Foundation. As part of her freelance work, Hayley founded the ATG Curtain Call Awards (which is now an annual gala event), co-produced three 24 Hour Show charity fundraiser events, has judged for the Adelaide Fringe Festival and reviewed for Aussie Theatre and the Adelaide Theatre Guide. Hayley now runs a boutique events and arts management business, Footlight Events and in her spare time, is involved with Adelaide’s amateur theatre community as a producer, performer and director.

Hayley Horton

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