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Parrtjima: a life-changing experience in the heart of Australia

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Parrtjima – A Festival in Light is set to bring a welcome glow to the Red Centre tomorrow, with Opening Night promising an abundance of Aboriginal art, culture and entertainment in the heart of the desert.

As night falls, Alice Springs Desert Park and Todd Mall will burst into life with large-scale light installations enticing visitors from across Australia to find out more about this free, 10-night celebration. The installations form the heart of the festival, alongside the incredible lighting of two kilometres of the ancient MacDonnell Ranges. The Ranges are a natural canvas for an unforgettable lightshow with a carefully curated soundscape that leaves a memorable impression on viewers. 

Opening Night also includes an impressive line-up of events, including award-winning musical duo Electric Fields, who will perform their dedicated Parrtjima track on stage in front of the Ranges. Other highlights are a fabric and textiles workshop with National Indigenous Fashion Awards Director Nina Fitzgerald, talks with artists Jungala Kriss and Raymond Walters Japanangka, and the screening of classic movie Jedda.

Parrtjima is delivered by the Northern Territory Government through NT Major Events Company (NTMEC) and produced by Creative Directors AGB Events. NTMEC CEO Tim Watsford said the event is like no other.

“Parrtjima is really a one-of-a-kind experience,” he said. “For a start it takes place under the Red Centre’s astonishing night skies, which are impressive enough.

“Combine that with exquisite Aboriginal artworks transformed into large-scale light installations, a full two kilometres of the MacDonnell Ranges illuminated with Aboriginal art, and a program bursting with film, talks, workshops and more, and you’ve got something pretty special. You really have to experience it to believe it.”

Parrtjima runs from 9-18 April and the theme this year is Future Kultcha, with a focus on intergenerational wisdom. Parrtjima is the only authentic Aboriginal light festival of its kind, and features a full program of events each night at Alice Springs Desert Park, plus a signature installation at Todd Mall, and a film and art tour program at Araluen Arts Centre. Highlights for the rest of opening weekend include Casey Donovan performing on Saturday, 10 April, and author Bruce Pascoe chatting to Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts on the same evening, while NRL legend Josh Addo-Carr will discuss his life and career to date with Rhoda on Sunday, 11 April. Workshops include wooden carving with Maruku Arts, and bushfoods with celebrity chef Mark Olive and local expert Rayleen Brown