Founded by Greg Mackie, the Adelaide Festival of Ideas began in 1999 and ran every two years until 2013. The Adelaide Festival of Ideas Association Incorporated has been formed to relaunch an annual Festival from 2016.

The Adelaide Festival of Ideas promotes intellectual debate across all domains of human activity, including, but not limited to, the sciences, technology, social sciences, humanities and arts.

A fundamental feature of the Festival is that most events are free of charge to the public, with the aim of attracting and engaging a diverse cross-section of the community as active citizens rather than paying customers.

The 2013 Festival attracted over 30,000 attendees. The relaunched Adelaide Festival of Ideas will build on this unique background to expand the range of public debate that is intelligent, edgy and engaging.