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Alice Springs' Dazzling Parrtjima Festival Will Light Up the Red Centre in September

The Indigenous arts, culture and storytelling festival has been rescheduled from April.
By Sarah Ward and Libby Curran
June 20, 2020
By Sarah Ward and Libby Curran
June 20, 2020

It might just be Australia's brightest festival, and it's returning to light up Alice Springs once again. That'd be Parrtjima - A Festival In Light, which was originally slated to deliver its fifth annual program between Friday, April 3–Sunday, April 12 — but, after delaying its 2020 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will now do so between Friday, September 11–Sunday, September 20.

The move marks the fest's temporary return to the latter half of the calendar, following a shift to an earlier autumn timeslot in 2019 — which attracted a record crowd of 25,000 attendees. Regardless of this year's coronavirus-inspired change of dates, the fest will continue its free ten-day public celebration of Indigenous arts, culture, music and storytelling — and its focus on dazzling light installations — in the CBD's Alice Springs Todd Mall, as well as at tourism and conservation facility Alice Springs Desert Park Precinct just out of town.

On the bill: the festival's signature installations, new luminous displays, live music and other performances, all falling under the theme 'lifting our spirits'. The 2020 fest is particularly enthusiastic about "lifting the spirits from the work of artists, old and new, to the spirit of this year's audience". While an initial 2020 program was released earlier this year, just how much of it will make the leap to September is yet to be revealed.

Lighting the Ranges, Parrtjima festival, Alice Springs, Australia.
5/4/2019. Images courtesy Parrtjima / NTMEC

That said, as it always does, the Alice Springs Desert Park will come alive with the festival's main attraction. Once again, a huge artwork will transform a 2.5-kilometre stretch of the majestic, 300-million-year-old MacDonnell Ranges, showering it with light each night of the festival. Just what it'll feature this year hasn't been unveiled, but it's always spectacular — and it always highlights stories, symbols and knowledge of Aboriginal culture.Another returning favourite is Ahelhe Itethe – Living Sands (Grounded), where installations are projected onto the earth accompanied by a striking soundscape.

Of course, Parrtjima is just one of Northern Territory's two glowing attractions in 2020, with Australia's Red Centre lighting up in multiple ways. The festival is a nice supplement to Bruce Munro's Field of Light installation, which — after multiple extensions — is now on display indefinitely.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light runs from September 11–20, 2020 around Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. For more information, visit the festival website.

Images: James Horan.

Published on June 20, 2020 by Sarah Ward


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