See Ancient Stories Sparkle in a New Light

·3-min read
Parrtjima – A Festival in Light 2020

Parrtjima, an annual Aboriginal light festival in Alice Springs, just might be the greatest desert show on earth.

Want to see the Red Centre in a dazzling new light? Take the family to Mparntwe/Alice Springs to experience the majesty of Parrtjima – A Festival in Light.

The free annual Aboriginal light festival, which started in 2016 and this year unfolds over 10 nights from 8-17 April, uses cutting-edge light technology to paint the natural canvas of the desert with artworks that each tell a fascinating story. The kaleidoscope of colours, patterns and imagery not only collectively form one of the planet’s most epic outdoor galleries but are an ultra-contemporary way to experience the world’s oldest living culture.

As always there will be several signature installations at this year’s event, including the bold lighting of the quartzite rock-face of the 300-million-year-old Yeperenye/West MacDonnell Ranges. Wander through Alice Springs Desert Park, the festival’s hub, to interact with other culturally rich works that include familiar desert motifs.

The 2022 event’s theme is Sky Country. The works will focus on humankind’s place in the universe and the unique relationship First Nations people have with their Country – particularly, how they have always looked to the skies to understand their place on Country.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light 2021
Parrtjima – A Festival in Light 2021

In Australia’s harsh central desert, the behaviour of the sky, the seasons and the wind all provided the knowledge required for survival. Parrtjima (pronounced par-chee-ma), which means “lighting up”, will tell the story of these elements through light shows, installations, art, music, talks, films, workshops and performances.

Tell the kids to not only look around but to look up. Complementing the manmade light installations will be the Red Centre’s night skies, famous for their glittering stars and constellations that have guided generations of Arrernte people across their homelands.

A free shuttle bus loops between Alice Springs and the open-air festival site seven kilometres from the town centre. Register to attend for Parrtjima here.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light
Parrtjima – A Festival in Light


During the day, there are heaps of things in and around Alice Springs to show the kids. For starters, head to Ormiston Gorge and Pound, a 90-minute drive from town, to splash around in the near-permanent waterhole that’s almost dwarfed by the gorge’s towering red walls. Make sure you do the short walk up to Ghost Gum Lookout for a bird’s-eye view of the waterhole and the gorge’s spectacular geology.

Near the Todd Mall is the Alice Springs Reptile Centre. Residents here include Terry the saltwater crocodile, geckos, goannas, thorny devils, pythons and death adders.

South-west of town at Pyndan Camel Tracks, climb aboard a camel for a one-hour ride in the afternoon or at sunset. Spend a morning at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station – the birthplace of the Alice Springs township.


Near the banks of the (usually dry) Todd River is Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Alice Springs – home to a glorious outdoor pool. Next door is another four-star hotel with a pool – Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters. Both back onto the fairways of the Alice Springs Golf Club.

The Parrtjima Festival runs from 8 – 17 April 2022.

Register for FREE to attend here.

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