Festival time in the Northern Territory
The Top End comes alive with a vast array of events.
The dry season (May to October) is great time to visit the Northern Territory to enjoy the great “winter” weather and a long list of festivals and events to suit all tastes.
Darwin, 2 May-26 September
Darwin International Film Festival showcases the best of local, national and international film, with a focus on south-east Asian cinema, northern Australia and Indigenous stories. Film buffs are invited to experience Darwin’s unique film culture and everything the city has to offer, from unmatched sunsets, balmy tropical weather to its thriving dining scene.
Katherine and surrounds, 11-13 June
The Barunga Festival celebrates a long and proud tradition of storytelling and the culture of remote Indigenous communities. Every year, thousands descend on the town of Barunga for an incredible weekend packed with music, sporting prowess, traditional arts and cultural activities and an international didgeridoo competition.
Alice Springs, 25-28 June
One of the quirkiest desert events, Alice Springs Beanie Festival brings together crafters to celebrate the humble head-warmer. The festival, which first started as a “beanie party” in 1997 to sell beanies crocheted by Aboriginal women in remote communities, has grown to become a major regional event in Central Australia promoting the textile arts industry.
Darwin, 2-11 July
Known as Top End’s biggest independent arts showcase, Darwin Fringe Festival is a vibrant 10-day event which celebrates creativity and diversity of the region’s artistic community. Expect music, theatre, dance, comedy and visual arts, with more than 100 shows and 11 genres on offer.
Arnhem Land, 30 July-2 August
Garma Festival is the largest and most vibrant annual celebration of Yolngu culture. Bringing together leaders, academics, journalists and travellers to learn about the Aboriginal people of north-east Arnhem Land, the four-day festival incorporates ancient storytelling, dance, music, forms and an outdoor art exhibition.
Darwin, 5-22 August
In August, the streets of Australia’s only tropical capital city are transformed into a vibrant celebration of art, music, theatre and dance. Over 18 balmy nights, the festival offers a program rich with local, national and international talent and celebrates First Nations culture with event highlights including National Indigenous Music Awards (7 August), Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award (7 August onwards) Country to Couture (3 August) and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (4 August).
Gurindji Country, 27-29 August
Every August people from all walks of life make the pilgrimage to Gurindji Country in the heart of the Northern Territory to celebrate Aboriginal Land Rights and unity for a positive future. This year marks the event’s 55th anniversary of the event and travellers can expect an unforgettable weekend of arts, sports, amazing cultural experiences and incredible music.
Alice Springs, 3-5 September
The ultimate festival of wheels returns to the Red Centre. The three-day festival will showcase the best in street machines, elite show cars, hot rods, classics and exotic vehicles with an entertaining program, including street cruising and drag racing.
Darwin, 5 September
Established in 1974, the iconic annual Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta is a Top End family favourite. Teams race boats constructed from beer cans to plastic bottles and milk cartons along Mindil Beach into the water and hope their DIY dinghies make it to the finish line. The day also includes sandcastle competitions, running races, thong throwing and more.