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Boy and girl at Parrtjima Festival

Top Aboriginal cultural festivals & events in the Red Centre


There’s something special about the Red Centre of the Northern Territory that attracts people to its exciting events and festivals

Visiting Alice Springs in the heart of the Territory will reward you with open spaces, ancient landscapes, spectacular starry skies and incredible gorges and waterholes to swim in. But this awe-inspiring landscape is not just full of natural wonders. It’s home to an ancient culture whose people have been caring for this land for more than 65,000 years.

There are many ways to connect with the diverse Aboriginal cultures of the Red Centre. The festivals and events in the Red Centre are like nowhere else. Here’sour recommendations for some of the unique events which showcase Aboriginal culture of the Red Centre. Delve deeper and discover the connection between Country and culture w.

1. Parrtjima Festival

An extraordinary fusion of the old and new, Parrtjima Festival showcases thousands of years of Aboriginal cultural traditions through magical light displays. The festival is– set against the stunning backdrop of the 300 million-year-old MacDonnell Ranges, just outside of Alice Springs/Mparntwe at Alice Springs Desert Park.

Wander through interactive light installations that bring ancient stories to life, discover more about Arrernte Country and culture in workshops and talks, and dance under the stars to performances by some of the hottest First Nations musicians. Be mesmerised by the spectacular Central Desert landscape.

Held over 10 spellbinding nights each April, Parrtjima is a powerful and inspiring festival blanketed by stars, truly unlike anything else.


2. Desert Mob

A vibrant celebration of the creativity of Desart member centres (the peak arts body for Central Australian Aboriginal Arts and Craft centres), Desert Mob showcases artworks from more than 30 remote Aboriginal art centres from across the Central Desert region. With a curated exhibition featuring hundreds of emerging and established artists and a bustling marketplace that’s perfect for wandering around and picking up some special pieces – Desert Mob is a chance to immerse yourself in the rich Aboriginal art and culture of the Central Desert region.

In addition to the abundance of amazing art, there’s an engaging public program to help you delve deeper. Listen to artists and curators discuss the inspiration behind their works, expand your skills in workshops with talented artists, and be transported to remote communities by film screenings that show artists working on Country.


3. Desert Song Festival

Each year, across 10 days in September, glorious melodies ring out across the Central Desert region during the Desert Song Festival. Bringing together artists from the region’s vibrant multicultural community with visiting interstate and international artists, Desert Song Festival is a celebration of singers, their songs, the land and its people.

The festival program is influenced by the depth of wisdom and culture embedded in 60,000 years of Central Australia occupation by traditional owners. Desert Song Festival celebrates the diversity of Aboriginal languages and culture through performances which have been featured on the international stage.

Discover the world-renowned artistic culture of communities like Ntaria/Hermannsburg on guided tours, and learn new skills or discuss important ideas at a range of talks and workshops. Whichever events you attend during this jam-packed program, Desert Song Festival is a unique way to connect with the different cultures and landscapes of Central Australia.


4. Desert Harmony Festival

Held over four days on Warumungu land in Tennant Creek and the Barkly region of the Northern Territory, Desert Harmony Festival is the perfect event for arts and culture lovers with a love of adventure. Bringing together local creative talent with nationally recognised special guests (Casey Chambers is a previous performer), Desert Harmony Festival features performances, an art fair and an engaging series of workshops. Enjoy rousing spoken word, brilliant live music and circus performances at the Variety Spectacular event or rock out at BAMfest – a showcase of the best bands from Barkly and beyond.

If you’re heading to the festival from Mparntwe/Alice Springs, be sure to stop off at Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles. Take your time wandering around these ancient, gravity-defying boulders that are a sacred site for the Warumungu people.


5. Follow the Red Centre light trail

Follow the light installations, sunrise and sunsets around the Red Centre on a self-guided light trail journey to connect with Country and Aboriginal culture. Some of these exceptional experiences include:

Wintjiri Wiru - a spectacular light and sound show utilising drones and lasers with Uluru as a backdrop. Wintjiri Wiru, which means 'beautiful view out to the horizon' in the local Pitjantjatjara language, brings to life the ancient Mala story of the Anangu people through drones and laser lights.

Field of Light - 50,000 colourful glass spheres gently sway, lighting up the foreground of Uluru at sunrise and sunset in an award-winning installation by Bruce Munro. The exhibition, which is known as Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakunytjaku in the local Pitjantatjara language means 'looking at lots of beautiful lights' can be experienced on a variety of tours and experiences.

Light-Towers - a sound and light installation with the striking escarpment of Kings Canyon as a backdrop, Light-Towers may be viewed at sunrise of sunset. Wandering through the colourful towers allows visitors to reconnect with nature in a spectacular setting.

Kings Canyon - Watarrka National Park is home to Kings Canyon, where 300m tall vertical sandstone walls rise above a tropical oasis known as the Garden of Eden. Hike to the canyon's rim before the sun rises to see the golden early morning sunlight dramatically light up the canyon walls and rocky escarpment.


If you’re seeking to experience more in the Red Centre, check out the full NT calendar of events to start planning your trip.

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