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A digital render of Parrtjima, a festival of lights in Alice Springs.
Photograph: Supplied

Pack your bags for this spectacular light and art festival in Alice Springs

See large-scale installations and projections set against the ancient canvas of the MacDonnell Ranges

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier

People usually visit Australia’s red centre for one of two reasons: to marvel at a place of extraordinary natural beauty, or to connect with the Indigenous cultures that have persisted for tens of thousands of years.

But when you arrive in Alice Springs, it becomes immediately clear that these two aims aren’t so easily separated. This place is home to the world’s oldest living culture, and their stories, lives and legacies have been shaped by the country. And you can’t really understand that country without understanding some of those stories.

That’s part of the purpose of Parrtjima, an annual festival of Aboriginal art and culture that lights up Alice Springs Desert Park with art installations and large-scale projections. This year, the festival will be illuminating the ancient canvas of the Macdonnell Ranges from April 8 to 17.

A render of Parrtjima, a festival of light in Alice Springs.
Photograph: Supplied

This year, the theme is 'Sky Country', and many of the installations will explore and acknowledge Australia's first scientists and astronomers and their relationship with the sky and universe. 

Visit signature installations like 'Water Tree', a twinkling piece designed to replicate the natural phenomenon of budgerigars flocking together, and 'Night Sky' a 15-metre-high installation housing 1,200 illuminated orbs to look like a blanket of stars. Explore the full suite of projections and installations while listening to a live soundtrack provided by a line-up including Dan Sultan, King Stingray, Barkaa, Black Rock Band and Jimblah. 

The program will also include a films program focusing on a retrospective of acclaimed filmmaker Warwick Thornton's works, as well as a series of intimate conversations with some of the artists behind the installations and speakers like NRL star Josh Addo-Carr. 

For program details and to register for free tickets to the festival and its events, head to the Parrtjima website

Can't get away from Melbourne? Check out the best gigs happening this month. If you're craving large-scale art, here's where you can find some of Melbourne's coolest public artworks. 

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