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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Alice Springs' Luminous Parrtjima Festival Will Light Up the Red Centre Again in 2020

The festival will mark its fifth year, once again celebrating Indigenous arts, culture and storytelling.
By Libby Curran and Sarah Ward
May 05, 2019
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Alice Springs' Luminous Parrtjima Festival Will Light Up the Red Centre Again in 2020

The festival will mark its fifth year, once again celebrating Indigenous arts, culture and storytelling.
By Libby Curran and Sarah Ward
May 05, 2019
  shares

It might just be Australia's brightest festival: Parrtjima - A Festival In Light, which has just finished its fourth and most expansive annual program in Alice Springs. Shifting from the fest previous spring timeslot to autumn, the 2019 event attracted a record crowd of 25,000 — and, if you're keen to be among them next time around, organisers have announced that the fest will return in 2020.

While exact dates haven't been revealed, the nation's first indigenous festival of its kind will light up the Red Centre in April, once again filling the region with dazzling light installations. This year's free ten-day public celebration of Indigenous arts, culture and storytelling included seven luminous displays gracing both the Alice Springs Desert Park Precinct and the Alice Springs Todd Mall. Expect a similar lineup — with all-new lighting pieces, of course — to feature next year.

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

If you're already thinking about blocking out your diary, 2019's highlights might help cement your plans. Alice Spring's CBD was lit up with new installations and events, and just out of town, tourism and conservation facility Alice Springs Desert Park came alive with the festival's main attraction. Once again, a huge artwork transformed a two-and-a-half-kilometre stretch of the majestic MacDonnell Ranges, showering it with light from 6.30–10.30pm each night of the festival — and featuring an audio track voiced by Aussie acting legend Aaron Pedersen. Visitors were also able to immerse themselves in art and storytelling as part of the returning Ahelhe Itethe – Living Sands (Grounded), with installations projected onto the earth and accompanied by a striking soundscape.

New additions to this year's lineup included an illuminated tunnel that attendees walked through as they enter the festival space, called Angkentye Anpernirrentye-kerte – The Language of Kin; an array of over-sized sculptures relaying the social history of First Nations station workers and their language of the land, dubbed Angkentye Stockmen Mape-kenhe – The Language of Stockmen; and a series of sculptured large-scale moths, badged The Language of Moths, in Todd Mall. There was also a huge maze for kids and a set-up of three bush taxis displaying works by First Nations artists.

Language of Kin, Parrtjima festival, Alice Springs, Australia. 5/4/2019. Images courtesy Parrtjima / NTMEC

With the news that Parrtjima will shine again, the Northern Territory will boast two glowing attractions in 2020 once again. The festival it's a nice supplement to Bruce Munro's Field of Light installation, which has been extended all the way through until December 31, 2020.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light runs until April 14, 2019 around Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. For more information, visit the festival website.

Images: James Horan.

Published on May 05, 2019 by Libby Curran

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