Northern Territory’s Red Centre illuminates with Parrtjima – A Festival in Light

Parrtjima A Festival in Light Arelhe Urrperle and The Arrernte photo by Lisa HatzParrtjima – A Festival in Light has returned, promising 10 nights of breathtaking new illuminations, captivating artworks, engaging talks, music, and markets, all set within the scenic backdrop of Alice Springs Desert Park.

Running until 21 April, this free event will delight visitors under star-studded desert skies, celebrating the importance of interconnectedness across First Nations culture in Alice Springs (Mparntwe).

Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts AO said the theme of Interconnectedness was a powerful way to continue with truth-telling and education about First Nations people.

“We are all connected and Parrtjima is an extraordinary way to showcase, encourage and inspire relationships and understanding that help everyone heal, learn and enjoy” she said.

Parrtjima’s unforgettable large-scale light installations includes the MacDonnell Ranges Light Show – which sees almost two kilometres of the 300-million-year-old MacDonnell Ranges come to life through a new, extended light and sound show, and the much-loved Groundedwhich projects animated Indigenous art onto the red sands of Alice Springs Desert Park.

Other new light installations include: The Arrernte – a series of illuminated cars which celebrate a collage of work across Eastern, Western and Central language groups, Honouring, an immersive passageway which will pay homage to the great Arrernte leader, the late Dr MK Turner OAM.

Tjoritja Cockatooswhere the evocative artwork of Artist and Director Iltja Ntjarra Art Centre Vanessa Inkamala is brought to life across three screens and represents the cyclical and seasonal work of Country.

For the first time, visually-spectacular theatrical experience Arelhe Urrperlestanding at six-metres tall and weighing 600kg, will stroll through the festival sharing language and stories. Created by visual theatre wizards Erth Visual and Physical Inc., the expert puppeteers have trained local Indigenous performers on how to operate her.

Arelhe Urrperle represents the matriarchs and knowledge holders in Aboriginal cultures, recognising the influence and importance of our First Nations women, their strength and spirit and their role as providers to the families connected to the Arrernte skin groups.

In another first, a three-night marketplace will offer art, bush medicine, jewellery and beauty products from local Aboriginal businesses and art centres. Called the Desart and Northern Territory Indigenous Business Network (NTIBN) Buy Blak Market, the marketplace will be held until 14 April 2024.

Singer-songwriter Shellie Morris, ARIA award-winning R&B artist Miiesha and a host of other well-known and emerging Indigenous performers will be performing during the festival. The talks program will include screenwriter and producer Aaron Fa’aoso, broadcaster Floyd Doyle, graphic artist Declan Miller, heath researcher Roxanne Ngarulya Highfold, art historian Professor Gregory Lehman and others.

Parrtjima is delivered by Northern Territory Major Events Company (NTMEC) in partnership with Creative Directors Grumpy Sailor and events destination company We Are Gather.

NTMEC CEO Suzana Bishop said Parrtjima is an unforgettable experience that makes a positive and lasting impact not only on those who attend, but local Aboriginal communities.

“Parrtjima not only brings together the world’s oldest living cultures with leading-edge technology, it brings together people from across the country to connect and engage with our First Nations people and cultures,” she said. “It is also an event that makes a meaningful and positive impact on local communities, as well as the local economy.”

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light continues to Sunday 21 April 2024. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Arelhe Urrperle and The Arrernte at Parrtjima – A Festival in Light – photo by Lisa Hatz