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

After COVID-19 delays in 2020, the Indigenous arts, culture and storytelling festival will return in its usual time slot in 2021.
By Sarah Ward
February 09, 2021
By Sarah Ward
February 09, 2021

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 will deliver its sixth annual program between Friday, April 9–Sunday, April 18 — returning to the autumn time slot it established in 2019.

After a chaotic 2020, which saw the event postponed to September due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions — and offer a virtual tour, too — the fest has big plans for 2021. Once more, it'll continue its free ten-day public celebration of Indigenous arts, culture, music and storytelling, and its focus on dazzling light installations. This time around, the event is corralling its program around the theme 'future kultcha'. That means there'll be a particular focus on "intergenerational wisdom told through light, interactive workshops, art, music, films, performance and the spoken word".

Artist's impression of 'Landing Kutcha'

When it returns to the Alice Springs CBD's Alice Springs Todd Mall, as well as tourism and conservation facility Alice Springs Desert Park Precinct just out of town, Parrtjima will unveil a new set of signature installations — and yes, they're set to dazzle. While the festival's full program hasn't yet been released, the event has revealed a few key details about its luminous displays for this year.

The striking 'Landing Kultcha' will use light tubes of different lengths, span 20 metres in length and provide quite the entranceway. 'Revolving Kutcha' will feature shields, coolamons and skateboards, including one large central piece that'll range between six to eight metres high, plus eight other two-metre-tall sculptures. And, 'Grounded Kultcha' will project an animated sequence of curated artworks onto the sands of Alice Springs Desert Park.

There's also 'Merging Kultcha', which features a train of five illuminated camels; 'Tailoring Kultcha', with light and textiles used to transform Todd Mall; and 'Harvesting Kultcha', an interactive game for all ages that's inspired by the constant movement in a honey-ant nest. And, as it always does, the festival's main attraction will glow far and wide. 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. The installation is being called 'Spirit Kultcha' this year, and it'll include a soundscape by Electric Fields.

Artist's impression of 'Merging Kutcha'

The full Parrtjima program is set to be announced in March, with more than 55 artists involved. You'll be able to dine under the stars at the Alice Springs Desert Park Precinct — thanks to a dinner that's a first for the fest — and also see a music lineup led by Casey Donovan.

Of course, Parrtjima is just one of Northern Territory's two glowing attractions in 2021, 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.

If you're keen to start making Parrtjima plans, remember to check out the Northern Territory's COVID-19 border restrictions first.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light runs from April 9–18, 2021 around Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. For more information, visit the festival website.

Top images: James Horan.

Published on February 09, 2021 by Sarah Ward


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