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This Is What the Red Centre's Stunning Parrtjima — A Festival in Light Looks Like in 2023

This spectacular First Nations festival is currently lighting up Alice Springs if you're keen on a last-minute getaway.
By Sarah Ward
April 08, 2023
By Sarah Ward
April 08, 2023

Visit Alice Springs at any time of year and you'll find plenty to see and do in Australia's Red Centre, including making the trip to Uluru, marvelling at Bruce Munro's Field of Light, and checking out the Tjoritja gorges and Kings Canyon. Here's a spectacular reason to head by every April, including from now until Sunday, April 16 in 2023: Parrtjima — A Festival In Light.

The region's luminous Indigenous arts festival is back for another year and, set against the 300-million-year-old MacDonnell Ranges, it looks stunning as always. This event celebrates First Nations arts, culture and storytelling, and just might be Australia's most luminous event — with installations in breathtaking surroundings leading the show alongside music, talks, films, workshops and more.

Sisters at Watarru by Noreen Dixon, Grounded.

2023's focus: 'Listening with Heart'. That's what this year's light-heavy installations, which were announced late in 2022, are focusing on. Parrtjima's theme is inspired by the artwork surrounding the Statement from the Heart, with that piece depicting Uluru-Ku Tjukurrpa, the Uluru story of connection, as created by a group of artists from Multijulu as led by Maruku artist Rene Kulitja. So, Kulitja has worked with other of artists for Parrtjima to turn the Statement from the Heart artwork into a large-scale immersive light and sound installation.

Accordingly, Parrtjima attendees are currently getting plunged in the world of the Aṉangu people of the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands surrounding Uluru. This year's festival installations feature ancient songlines, plus Indigenous viewpoints on Country, as well as connecting to First Peoples' strong links with the land, water and sky.

Two things that are also on the bill: two of the festival's regular annual attractions, aka a huge artwork that transforms a 2.5-kilometre stretch of the majestic ranges, showering it with light each night of the festival; and Grounded, the installation projected over the red dirt at tourism and conservation facility Alice Springs Desert Park.

As for the music program, it is overflowing with First Nations talent, including Docker River Band, Eastern Reggae Band, Emily Wurramara, JK-47, KAIIT, Karnage and Paul Ah Chee. They're joined by Radical Son, Richard J Frankland, Discovering Leerpeen Mara, Rowdy Birds, The Andrew Gurruwiwi Band and The Merindas across the ten days — and with a range of dazzling backdrops.

The talks lineup features actor Steven Oliver, marathon hero Charlie Maher, media identity Naomi Moran, scientist Corey Tutt, Olympian Nova Peris and more, such as musicians Richard Frankland, KAIIT and Paul Ah Chee — doing double duty on stage and having a chat.

Movie-wise, attendees can look forward to Westwind: Djalu's Legacy, Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky, Araatika: Rise Up and The Australian Wars. And, the workshops schedule includes dance, art and pottery.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light runs until Sunday, April 16, 2023 around Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. For more information, visit the festival website.

Images: Parrtjima – A Festival in Light.


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Published on April 08, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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