Adelaide Festival

Festival Review: Fire Gardens

Filled with eclectic sculptures, music and light, the Botanic Gardens are transformed into something quite unique.


Presented by Adelaide Festival and Arts Projects Australia in association with Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium

Reviewed 12 March 2020

Walking through gardens can often be therapeutic.  The serenity of the leafy surrounds has the ability to soothe concerned minds.  Having walked through the Botanic Gardens countless times, I can attest to its gifts and think of it as one of Adelaide’s natural wonders.  The French artistic collective Compagnie Carabosse obviously think so too as they have turned it into a garden of fiery and dreamy landscapes.  Having found fame by illuminating such global icons as Stonehenge in England and Russia’s Kremlin Square, they know a thing or two about enhancing popular existing spaces.  Filled with eclectic sculptures, music and light, the Botanic Gardens are transformed into something quite unique. 

Making Fire Gardens stand out is its simplicity.  The bells and whistles it uses are thousands of candles, ethereal tunes and the spectator’s imagination.  Each flickering flame of the sculptures bring them to life with an other-worldly feel.  With the garden’s bat population flying above you, it’s very easy to feel transformed elsewhere.  One torched-lit exhibit leads to another with the garden’s myriad paths taking you to another visual adventure.  The music enhanced the experience with a few segments featuring people on violins, swaying to the flickering flames and night-time breeze.

Fire Gardens is the type of experience where you decide how you want it to be.  Moments can be soothing or energetic depending on the viewer’s mood.  There’s a sort of trance-like quality watching the fires burn in such unique ways.  The craftmanship of the designs of how they’re displayed is dazzling as is the layout.  Perhaps the only mis-giving were the enormous crowds who frequently jostled to get their own slice of fiery heaven.  It may have been wiser to extend this event rather than just having it be squeezed into four days.  But that’s also a mark of how effective it was due to me wanting more peace amongst what is an amazing experience.  It also reminded me what a good site the gardens would be for a Day of the Dead-like festival as the spooky flames would go well with that famous Mexican celebration.

Adelaide Festival’s Fire Gardens is certainly a captivating thing to witness.  If one can avoid the massive crowds and find a spot to fully enjoy what it has to offer then go for it.  At any time, the Botanic Gardens is great to walk around.  Fire Gardens enhances its delights with its shadowy walkways revealing new flame-filled treasures.

Reviewed by: Patrick Moore

Twitter: @PatrickMoore14

 Rating out of 5:  4

Venue: Botanic Gardens

Season: 12 March – 15 March 2020.

Duration: 1 hr.

Tickets: $29

Bookings: Book online at, or phone BASS on 131 246

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