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Parrtjima - A Festival of Light in Australia's Red Centre

21 Mar 2022

Updated March 2023

Are you going to this year's Parrtjima Festival of Light in Alice Springs?


Credit: Parrtjima

It’s not too late to book your FREE ticket and experience one of the world’s most incredible outdoor light shows!

With a 2023 theme of ‘Listening with Heart,’ this year’s Parrtjima (pronounced ‘par-cheema’ and meaning ‘lighting up’) will have a focus on reflection, contemplation and coming together.

Parrtjima festival of lights

Credit: Parrtjima

Set to feature a number of signature installations that will light up the sky below the natural canvas of the West MacDonnell Ranges, this free ten-night event from April 7-16 happens inside the Alice Springs Desert Park and will also showcase music, art and culture from a range of local and international contributors.


Home to the world's oldest living culture, Parrtjima is an invitation from our First Nations People to walk together and build a better future.

Curator Rhoda Roberts AO, who is returning for her sixth Parrtjima, said the theme of 'Listening with Heat' will 'remind people of the significance of oral storytelling, aswell as the story of Kuniya and Liru that shaped the landscape of Uluru through art.’

Parrtjima festival of lights 2

Credit: Parrtjima

This year's program of installations will be led by Maruku artist Rene Kulitja, and a group of artists from Mutitjulu, near Uluru. 


Credit: Eagle Eye, Parrtjima

What to see at Parrtjima

As much as the festival is known for its incredible displays of light in the desert, its lineup of musicians, independent films, art, workshops, culture and food are just as much of a drawcard.

Parrtjima festival of lights corey tutt

Two Way Science with Corey Tutt. Credit: Parrtjima

Corey Tutt is here to educate us on the spiritual connection between astronomy, science and land management. Corey will be talking on April 10. If you have a kink for science or are just curious, then this is one not to be missed!

Parrtjima festival of lights workshop

Warlukurlangu Artist Workshop. Credit: Parrtjima

The Araluen Arts Centre is one of the longest-running Aboriginal-owned art centres in Central Australia.

This year, it is hosting Warlukurlangu artists who will be introducing traditional storytelling techniques through brightly coloured acrylic symbols. Guests will have the opportunity to personalise their own artwork and showcase their own journey. 

Other workshops held at the arts centre include Dance with GUTS, Watercolour workshops, and Jewellery making with Ikuntji


Eastern Reggae Band. Credit: Parrtjima

If you are in the mood to groove, then don't miss the Eastern Reggae Band on April 13. This band of Indigenous artists have been performing across communities since 1999, singing in Eastern Arrernte and English. 

Everything is free to attend but as Rhoda explains, the workshops are popular and are often booked out in advance. Others include pottery and storytelling through sand!

Check out the full 2023 program of events here

Things to do at Parrtjima

Amongst the spectacular schedule of light displays, art, music, film and culture, there are a number of other activities to get involved with.

parrtjima-festival-of-lights-camelsCredit: Parrtjima

One not to miss is the Sunset and Nocturnal Tour of the Alice Springs Desert Park.

Including an intimate Welcome to Country, this is your chance to meet a local Arrernte Traditional Owner from the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group.  

Witness sunset over the McDonnell Ranges and enjoy light refreshments in the amphitheatre before being guided through a spotlighting tour that gets you close to some of the most endangered animals in Central Australia.


Credit: Outback Ballooning

Outback Ballooning is another activity we can’t recommend highly enough. Take your sense of adventure to the skies and see Alice Springs like never before.

Flights take place approximately 15 kilometres south of Alice Springs, adjacent to the MacDonnell Ranges and over the historic Owen Springs Cattle Station.

Not to be forgotten is the Merne Bush Food and Medicine Tour, another chance to meet local Arrernte Traditional Owners skilled in bush foods and medicines of the Central Australia region.

Check out the full list of experiences here.

What is Parrtjima?

Parrtjima festival of lights 5Credit: Parrtjima

A meeting place of the old and new, Parrtjima is the only authentic Aboriginal light festival of its kind.

Its purpose is to showcase the oldest continuous culture on earth using the latest technology and the natural canvas of the 300-million-year-old MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia.

Parrtjima festival of lights 6

Each year this free event celebrates the ways in which artists evolve and experiment with different styles and materials, while staying true to country and culture.

Parrtjima is held on Mparntwe land (Alice Springs), which is connected to the estates of Mparntwe, Antulye and Irlpme.

This includes a network of people who have connections to these areas; some of whom established the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group (PFRG) to guide and help create the Parrtjima Festival.

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Stay at Discovery Parks - Alice Springs

Discovery Parks - Alice Springs is central to many of the NT’s natural wonders and attractions like Kings Canyon, Glen Helen and the Larapinta Trail, and provides travellers with a home away from home in the incredible Red Centre.

Parrtjima festival of lights Alice springs discovery

A wide range of accommodation options include luxurious, self-contained deluxe cabins to budget-friendly rooms, safari tents and sites for caravans and tents.

Aside from attending Parrtjima, Alice Springs is the perfect place to begin any outback adventure.

Explore the Red Centre, take in artwork by local Aboriginal artists and join Parrtjima – Australia's only authentic Aboriginal light festival.


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