Australia’s biggest light installation is put on by the world’s oldest living culture. Visit Alice Springs to see it for yourself.
For 10 nights each April, Alice Springs is taken over by a fantastical festival of light installations, interactive workshops, talks, films and live music. Parrtjima (pronounced parr-chee-ma) is Australia’s only Aboriginal-dedicated event celebrating the world’s oldest living culture by using the very newest technology. If you’re hoping to attend the free event, here’s what you can expect.
How to get there
Admire the ancient landscape
At the base of the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges and just a 10-minute drive from Alice Springs, the Desert Park is closely connected to the local Arrernte people. The stories and history of the Arrernte people are interwoven with this land they’ve called home for tens of thousands of years. Take in the spectacular lighting displays projected across the 300-million-year-old canvas of the MacDonnell Ranges, an ancient landscape that has been patiently sculpted by the elements.
Learn about the First Nations
Parrtjima is hosted by the traditional owners of Alice Springs, the Arrernte community, and is done so in part to display their wonderful artworks, but also to help educate others about their rich culture and history. Everyone is welcome to attend the free daily language workshops put on during the festival, where they can learn about the ancient Arrernte language. There are also regular ‘Talks & Ideas’ sessions which delve deep into the artists (most of whom come from the central desert area), their artworks and the ideas and that drive them.
Sign up for a workshop
The best part of the Parrtjima Festival is that visitors are encouraged to interact and immerse themselves in the schedule of events. Daily workshops are hosted, with themes like ‘Spear Making Demonstration’, ‘Sculpture Making with Maraku Arts’ and ‘Sculpture Weaving with Tapatjatjaka Arts’ put on as part of the program. Be sure to register early as there are limited spots for these interactive workshops.
Take in the culture
Each night of Parrtjima, as the mountains light up with the vibrant art projections, the stillness of the desert is interrupted by a booming live music set. Aboriginal artists like Baker Boy, Black Rock Band and Alive Skye have performed at previous year’s events, so you can be sure the current lineup will include exciting music acts that will have everyone dancing. Follow this up with a free film, hosted at 8.30pm each night at Todd Mall in the heart of Alice Springs.