Past, Present, Wonder: South Australia’s History Festival

South Australians and visitors in their thousands will embrace local history and explore the world of cultural heritage and storytelling during South Australia’s History Festival throughout the month of May.

Presented by the History Trust of South Australia, the month-long Festival is expected to enjoy more than 100,000 attendances to the over 520 events being held across the state from 1 to 31 May.

With the theme of ‘Wonder’ underpinning the events and experiences on offer, the program invites all to discover the values and meaning that come from understanding the complexities of the past and build
wisdom for today.

History Trust CEO Greg Mackie OAM says the month-long celebration of all things history is a welcome return to normalcy in South Australia’s thriving post-COVID event culture.

“The real heroes of this festival are regular people from the community of historic societies, local historians and groups, community museums, and history enthusiasts who, through the Festival, draw attention to the rich history and stories of our State,” he says.

The History Festival has seen significant growth over the past two decades, expanding from a single week of events in 2004 to now being recognised as one of the most well-attended autumnal Festivals and a welcome addition to South Australia’s cultural calendar – the largest state-based program of its kind in Australia.

Made possible through the financial support of Presenting Partner, Freemasons of SA & NT, Major Partner, the City of Adelaide – and a number of amazing cash and in-kind partners the History Festival features over 520 events state-wide.

When designing this year’s program, key objects from the South Australian Aviation Museum, the State
History Collection and one private collection were selected for their representative value and as examples of important South Australian stories.

The result is five compelling sets of images, adorning the five unique covers of the 2023 program, wherein objects are photographed alongside South Australians who have powerful connections to the storied artefacts. The photos are compelling, juxtaposing the tangible with the emotional, to elicit a sense of wonder.

To help people navigate the 82 pages of events there are five Focus Programs: sub-categories within the full program that connect audiences with events that may suit special interests while amplifying voices related to key causes.

This year’s Focus Programs are Rainbow History, Children and Family, First Nations, From Many Places
(supported by Focus Program Partner Multicultural Communities Council of SA) and Open Doors (supported by Focus Program Partner Office for Ageing Well and Seniors Card).

Across the state, people can enjoy an extraordinarily diverse program of events, starting just before May, with the first event being the South Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Goolwa.

“There are events for all interest groups; look out for art installations, poetry evenings, eccentric plays, lively performances, and guided or independent tours. And there’s talks and debates – often in new and unusual spaces,” says the History Trust’s Head of Museums, Marketing and Major Events, Paul Rees.

“The 2023 program boasts a rich offering, with multiple events celebrating some of South Australia’s most iconic buildings, their architecture and the stories that impart their unique character. Not to be missed are numerous Devonshire Teas on offer at some of these picturesque and historic settings and History Festival events,” says Rees.

South Australia’s spookier side will also be on show for those who prefer their experiences a little darker – think ghostly cemetery tours like those taking place in Stirling, Goolwa and in the CBD (to name but a few), or the writing workshop Words at West Terrace, offering aspiring authors the chance to draw inspiration from the morbid and macabre.

Many of Adelaide’s well-known public institutions are joining in the Festival. The Adelaide Zoo is hosting a Dark History Tour, one of SA’s iconic wineries is involved with A Taste of Penfolds History and the Australian Space Discovery Centre’s ‘Twinkle Little Star…’: Early Space Tracking in Australia looks at the early history of star gazing.

For the full listing and description of events, including those across wide-ranging regional destinations (over 40% of the Festival’s events are in regional SA), head to or pick up your hard copy program from Foodland supermarkets, public libraries and South Australia’s History Festival event venues.

South Australia’s History Festival

1 – 31 May 2023


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    Made up of a small, tight knit team of writers and contributors who are passionate about all things FIFTY+ and the New Age. We love Adelaide and wider South Australia and sharing with you all of the l...


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