Alice Springs lights up for annual festival

10-night celebration of the Central Australian landscape, art, stories and light.

Alice Springs will dazzle locals and visitors in September when it hosts the only Aboriginal light festival of its kind in the world, Parrtjima – A Festival in Light.

The free festival’s theme is “Lifting our spirits” and runs for 10 nights, from 11 September, at the home of the Arrernte people.

AGB Events, the festival’s creative directors and producers, have again engaged First Nations Adviser Rhoda Roberts as part of their team to work alongside the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group (PFRG) to develop stunning light installations and a program that includes “deep listening” talks, Aboriginal films, workshops and music.

“We couldn’t be happier with our new program and everyone involved is so thrilled to be able to host Parrtjima this year after having to postpone due to COVID-19 earlier in April,” Ms Roberts said.

“Now is the perfect time for Australians to connect with each other, enjoy themselves, and immerse themselves in wonderful stories, art and performances.”

The highlight of the event will again be the 2km illumination of MacDonnell Ranges with this year’s light show called Ebb and Flow of Sky and Country

Frank Yamma at 2019 Paartjima festival in Alice Springs.

The light installations showcase Werte, has been inspired by an artwork by Kumalie Kngwarraye Riley. Among the highlights will be artist Greg McAdam’s enormous glowing sphere, Grass Seed, measuring 7m in diameter and suspended 3m from the ground; Rachel Wallace’s Alatye (Bush Yam), reinterpreted into a 4m flower; and Lachlan Dodds-Watson’s representation of the next generation of artists, Emu Laying Eggs at Night, a towering 8m emu.

Spearheading the talks program, hosted by Rhoda Roberts, will be journalist, film maker, author and Wiradjuri man Stan Grant, who will discuss Race, identity and belonging; and journalist, author and educator Tracey Holmes on Sydney 2000 – Representing Aboriginal culture and heritage globally.

In a first for Parrtjima, there will be two nights of cooking demonstrations with high-profile chef Mark Olive and Rayleen Brown, co-founder of Kungkas Can Cook. Rayleen is recognised throughout Australia and internationally for shining the spotlight on Central Australian bush foods.

Hosted by Paul Ah Chee, the Sounds of the Centre music program will be a unique mix of locally sourced NT talent, from Stuart Nuggett, a finalist in the 2020 Indigenous Language Award at the 2020 National Indigenous Music Awards, through to Leah Flanagan’s string quartet, and to metal from the world’s most remote metal band Southeast Desert Metal. Other popular acts include Kirra Voller, Jessie K, and Paul Ah Chee and Friends. 

Light display at 2019 Paartjima festival at Alice Springs.

Cinema in Todd Mall will feature free feature films and documentaries including Aussie favourites Top End Wedding, The Sapphires and Bran Nue Dae plus ground-breaking documentaries, including The Australian Dream and In My Blood It Runs

As part of the festival’s COVID-safe, guests must register their attendance. This will help manage the number of visitors each night, reduce queueing, and support physical distancing guidelines. Click here to register.

Click here for more details on Parrtjima’s program of events.

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