27 Mar 2024

Gather Round countdown starts in the Adelaide Hills


Rory Laird and Gavin Wanganeen in Hahndorf
Rory Laird and Gavin Wanganeen in Hahndorf

With just over one week to go until the first bounce of the 2024 AFL Gather Round, businesses across the Adelaide Hills are gearing up for an influx of visitors.
New additions to this year’s Gather Round will entice even more footy fans to head to the Hills, including a free two-day community event ‘Gather in the Hills – Hahndorf Footy Festival’ in the main street of Hahndorf and a new AFL Family Zone at the grounds at Mount Barker.
The popular precinct, The Terrace, will return to Mount Barker’s Summit Sport & Recreation Park in 2024 with an expanded footprint to showcase even more of Adelaide Hills’ food, wines and spirits.
The new and improved footy festivities coincide with the sold-out back-to-back AFL matches in Mount Barker, West Coast Eagles v Sydney Swans on the Saturday and Gold Coast Suns v GWS Giants on the Sunday.
As the countdown officially begins to the return of Gather Round to South Australia, the State Government together with the AFL has today unveiled the official 2024 AFL Gather Round Sherrin. Taking inspiration from the thousands of fans who travel to South Australia for Gather Round each year, the football features badges and postal stamps from all three host venues – Adelaide Oval, Norwood and Adelaide Hills.
New and expanded footy festivities in the Adelaide Hills – as well as an additional AFL match in Mount Barker this year – are expected to boost visitation and expenditure in the region. Last year’s Gather Round generated more than 25,000 visitor nights outside of Adelaide and the single match in Mount Barker helped inject $2 million into the Adelaide Hills’ economy alone.
On Saturday 6 April and Sunday 7 April, Gather in the Hills – Hahndorf Footy Festival will be held at the Hahndorf Academy lawns, showcasing the charm of the iconic Adelaide Hills’ town and driving footy fans into local businesses. It will offer a program of community arts, live music, free family activities, and player appearances, all located in the heart of one of Australia’s premier tourism, cultural and hospitality destinations.
Some of the game’s littlest fans will enjoy a brand-new AFL Family Zone activation at Mt Barker which includes a mini football oval to play NAB AFL Auskick, footy skills games, mascot meet and greets and a dedicated chill zone for when the kids need to take a break.
Artists announced today to complete the Gather Round entertainment lineup include Australian indie rock band The Jungle Giants and Australian electronic music duo The Presets who will perform in a pre-match show at Adelaide Oval on Thursday and Saturday nights respectively.
In addition, a special DJ set from a duo of AFL players – Adelaide Crows’ Josh Rachele and Port Power’s Aliir Aliir – will perform at the free Gather Live concert at Adelaide Oval No. 2 following the Collingwood vs Hawthorn match on Sunday April 7.
The inaugural Gather Round was an overwhelming success which saw 268,000 fans attend across all nine sold-out matches, more than 40,000 visitors travel from interstate, and more than 80,000 fans attend the Footy Festival at Elder Park. The 2023 event contributed $83 million to the state.

Treasurer Stephen Mullighan said with two matches secured in Mount Barker as part of this year’s AFL Gather Round, we’re making sure local businesses will be the beneficiaries with even more on offer across the region.
“We saw how footy fans came out in droves to the Adelaide Hills last year, helping pump $2 million into the region’s economy alone – and this year, we’re determined to top that,” Treasurer Mullighan said. 
“In its inaugural year, the AFL Gather Round delivered an $83 million economic boost for South Australia and this year’s new and expanded offerings aim to drive that even higher and create an even greater return for our state.”
Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison said the exciting new and improved events in the Adelaide Hills detailed today are another way we are delivering on the promise to make this year’s AFL Gather Round bigger and better than before.
“A two-day community event coming to the township of Hahndorf, as well as a new AFL Family Zone and an expanded Terrace precinct at the grounds, aim to capitalise on the increased visitation, showcase the region’s offerings, and drive valuable tourism dollars into the Adelaide Hills’ economy,” Minister Bettison said.
“The line-up we have for the 2024 AFL Gather Round across our state is further proof that South Australia is the best destination in the country to host major events, and now, the countdown to first bounce is officially on.”
AFL CEO Andrew Dillon said the AFL is proud to announce a host of new fan engagement offerings at Adelaide Hills this year including the introduction of the AFL Family Zone and Gather in the Hills event, plus the return of the popular Terrace which is sure to be a fan favourite on game day. 
“The level of fan engagement activations both at our venues and across the city of Adelaide has risen to new levels this year, with activities that cater for fans of all ages,” Mr Dillon said. 
“Whether you have a ticket to a game, or you are in the city to soak up the Gather Round atmosphere – there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy.
We’re also thrilled to have two amazing Australian acts in The Jungle Giants and The Presets join us for our pre-match entertainment at Adelaide Oval on Thursday and Saturday nights plus I’m looking forward to seeing two familiar faces in Josh Rachele and Aliir Aliir spin the decks for a DJ set at Gather Live on Sunday.”
Mount Barker District Council Mayor David Leach said with a significant number of the 20,000 ticket holders coming from interstate, this is a fantastic opportunity to promote the district and showcase the region.
“A significant aspect of these AFL matches is the ripple effect they have on the local economy,” Mayor Leach said. 

“By funding events like Gather in the Hills – Hahndorf Footy Festival, Council is supporting local businesses to highlight how magnificent the district and Adelaide Hills region is. We want to encourage visitors to stay longer and explore our townships over the duration of the AFL Gather Round weekend.”

MP Member for Kavel Dan Cregan said the community is very excited to be hosting not one, but two AFL games and we appreciate the economic benefits they will bring. It’s going to be huge.
The Manna Group Director David Whitaker said he’s seen really strong bookings for Gather Round, not just across the weekend but in the week leading up to it too.

“There’s no doubt there’s huge appetite as the enquiries continue coming through, our team is really busy taking bookings,” Mr Whitaker said.
“The extra attention from Gather Round is a great opportunity to build awareness among people who may not know about the Adelaide Hills. It gives them a reason to come and we find once they have, they see it’s more than just a day trip – so they return to stay overnight and explore the region.”