Parrtjima Lights Festival


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Set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the MacDonnell Ranges, Parrtjima emerges as a luminescent celebration of Australia’s rich indigenous culture. As the festival of lights illuminates the heart of the red desert, it melds ancient tales with modern light artistry, creating an unparalleled spectacle.

Parrtjima Alice Springs festival of lights
Festival highlights

About the Festival

Parrtjima, the festival of lights held in the heart of Australia’s red desert, stands out as an unparalleled blend of modern technological prowess and the profound stories of the world’s oldest living culture. Taking place against the timeless backdrop of the MacDonnell Ranges, this festival isn’t just a visual spectacle; it’s a heartfelt ode to the indigenous peoples of Australia.

Featured Lighting Displays:

  • Tunnels of Lights: Walk through tunnels that transition from vibrant colors to calming hues, each representing different facets of indigenous tales.
  • Light Art Installations: These large-scale masterpieces, spread across the desert landscape, tell tales of ancestral spirits and sacred landscapes.
  • Lanterns: Hovering above, these lanterns are more than just light sources; they’re beacons guiding you through the indigenous dreamtime stories.
  • Interactive Displays: Engage directly with light creations that respond to movement and touch, offering a personal connection to the tales being told.
  • Light Shows: Periodic shows marry sound and light in an explosive celebration of culture.
  • Glowing Trees and Plants: Native flora comes alive in the night, with each tree and plant illuminated to highlight its significance in indigenous stories.
  • Illuminated Animal-Shaped Sculptures: From the sacred kangaroo to the elusive platypus, these glowing renditions offer a deeper understanding of each creature’s place in indigenous folklore.
  • Fairy Lights: Draped across gathering areas, these delicate lights add a touch of magic to the surroundings.
  • Glowing Decorations: Throughout the festival, various shapes representing symbols from indigenous stories glow, offering pockets of wonder.

Activities for Visitors:

  • Workshops: Immerse yourself in sessions that teach traditional indigenous art forms, storytelling methods, and the significance of different symbols.
  • Lectures: Eminent speakers and indigenous elders share insights into the rich tapestry of their culture, traditions, and the significance of the land.
  • Live Performances: Traditional dances, didgeridoo performances, and storytelling sessions come alive under the canopy of twinkling stars and the festival’s radiant lights.
  • Concerts: Contemporary and traditional indigenous musicians create a harmonious blend, taking attendees on a melodious journey through time.

Parrtjima isn’t just a festival; it’s a soulful journey. As you walk through tunnels of light, interact with vibrant displays, and attend heartwarming sessions, you’re not just witnessing a festival. You’re stepping into a living, breathing narrative that has thrived for millennia.

Festival Dates (2024)

Parrtjima is set to cast its mesmerizing glow from April 12th to 21st, 2024. In this 10-day extravaganza, traditional storytelling methods seamlessly intertwine with innovation, promising attendees an unforgettable experience. Mark your calendars and prepare to be enthralled by a fusion of age-old narratives and modern light artistry.

Where it’s Located and How to Get There

Parrtjima will be lighting up the vast expanse of Arrernte Country, located in the iconic town of Alice Springs, Australia. This sacred land, home to the Arrernte people for thousands of years, provides a fitting backdrop for the festival’s blend of deep-rooted stories and luminescent displays.

Alice Springs Airport is the closest aviation gateway to Arrernte Country. Situated merely 15 kilometers away, it offers both domestic and select international flights. Once you land, there are several options to get to Arrernte Country, with local buses, taxis, and car rental services readily available to shuttle visitors to the heart of the festival.

Traveling to Arrernte Country, Alice Springs by Train:

  • From Adelaide: Board the legendary Ghan train from Adelaide Railway Station. The journey takes around 24 hours, traveling through the heart of Australia and providing panoramic views of the country’s diverse landscapes.
  • From Darwin: The Ghan also services the route from Darwin to Alice Springs, making its way south and taking approximately 24 hours.
  • From Sydney: First, take the Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Adelaide. After a layover, board the Ghan to Alice Springs.
  • From Melbourne: Like the Sydney route, travelers can take a train to Adelaide. From there, the Ghan offers a direct route to Alice Springs.
  • From Perth: Begin with the Indian Pacific train to Adelaide. Following a layover, continue the journey on the Ghan to Alice Springs.

For details and information on train schedules and tickets, visit the respective train company’s official website.

If you’re in Australia, you might want to check out these other great lights festivals as well:

Illuminate Adelaide

Enlighten Canberra

Festival Hours

Parrtjima illuminates the vast landscapes of Arrernte Country every evening from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. As the sun sets and casts a golden hue over the desert, the festival springs to life, beckoning visitors to dive into a radiant world of stories, artistry, and luminescent magic.

Cost to Visit the Festival

Parrtjima is a celebration that opens its radiant arms to everyone, absolutely free of charge! Whether you’re a local or a visitor, young or old, every individual is invited to experience the luminescent wonders of Arrernte Country without any admission fees. It’s the organizers’ way of ensuring that the tales, traditions, and twinkling lights are accessible to all who wish to partake in this unforgettable journey.

Weather and What to Wear

April in Alice Springs is typically characterized by its mild autumn weather. Attendees can expect daytime temperatures to hover around 25°C to 28°C, while the evenings, especially in the desert, can become cooler with temperatures dropping to an average of 10°C to 12°C. The desert climate is known for its clear skies and sharp temperature fluctuations between day and night, so it’s essential to come prepared.

Parrtjima Alice Spring

Recommended Clothing for Parrtjima:

  • Layered Outfits: Given the temperature swings, wearing layers ensures you can adjust to the warmth of the day and the chill of the evening.
  • Light Jacket or Sweater: Ideal for the cooler evenings. A wrap or shawl can also be handy.
  • Comfortable Footwear: With plenty of walking and exploring to do, ensure you’re wearing supportive shoes.
  • Hat and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the daytime sun, especially if you’re exploring the area before the festival starts.
  • Sunscreen: A must-have to shield your skin from the strong desert sun.
  • Scarf or Neck Wrap: Useful for when the temperature drops in the evening or to shield against any unexpected desert winds.
  • Backpack or Bag: To carry essentials like water, some snacks, and any clothing layers you might shed during the day.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

As the lights dim at Parrtjima, discover cozy retreats and comfortable lodgings nearby to rest and rejuvenate for the next day’s radiant adventures.

  • DoubleTree by Hilton
    • Address: 82 Barrett Drive, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Location: Nestled in the heart of Alice Springs, a short drive away from the festival grounds.
    • Description: Embrace luxury and sophistication at the DoubleTree by Hilton. As you step in, you’re greeted with their signature warm cookie, setting the tone for a stay that promises comfort and class.
    • Amenities: Apart from the free Wi-Fi to keep you connected, guests can enjoy a state-of-the-art fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool, and exquisite dining options.
  • Desert Palms Alice Springs
    • Address: 74 Barrett Drive, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Location: Situated amidst a tropical oasis, it offers serene views yet remains easily accessible to the main attractions.
    • Description: The Desert Palms offers unique standalone villa accommodations, ensuring privacy amidst tranquil surroundings. Each villa overlooks a crystal-clear pool or lush gardens.
    • Amenities: Besides free Wi-Fi for guests, the resort offers BBQ facilities, a well-stocked kiosk, and a beautiful central swimming pool.
  • Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters
    • Address: 93 Barrett Drive, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Location: Positioned conveniently near the town center, offering guests easy access to both the festival and Alice Springs’ main attractions.
    • Description: The Crowne Plaza blends premium accommodations with touches of local culture. Guests can explore various dining options, from casual to fine dining, within the property.
    • Amenities: On top of complimentary Wi-Fi access, guests can indulge in a day spa, a heated swimming pool, and even try their luck at the adjoining casino.
  • Alice Motor Inn
    • Address: 25 Undoolya Road, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Location: Located in a quiet area, it provides a peaceful retreat without being too far from the festival’s luminosity.
    • Description: Alice Motor Inn is a budget-friendly choice that doesn’t compromise on comfort, making it perfect for families or solo travelers looking for value.
    • Amenities: Along with free Wi-Fi to keep guests connected, the inn offers a refreshing swimming pool, laundry facilities, and a friendly tour desk to help plan local excursions.

What to Eat

As you bask in the glow of Parrtjima’s lights, satiate your culinary cravings with some of Alice Springs’ finest dining delights.

  • Page 27 Café
    • Location: Fan Arcade, 3/42 Todd Mall, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Description: Page 27 Café offers a cozy atmosphere, where modern Australian breakfast favorites are served with a unique twist. The café’s ambiance is further elevated by its subtle use of twinkle lights, making it a delightful spot for a morning meal.
    • Foods Served: Indulge in their eclectic range of breakfast bowls, avocado toasts, eggs benedict variations, and freshly brewed coffee. Don’t forget to try their signature pancakes sprinkled with a touch of whimsy.
  • The Juicy Rump
    • Location: 93 Barrett Dr, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Description: This lively dining spot is all about sizzling steaks, tantalizing grills, and a fun atmosphere. The fairy lights draped all around create a magical setting, perfect for a hearty evening meal.
    • Foods Served: Feast on a variety of premium cuts of steak, delicious ribs, gourmet burgers, and an assortment of sides. Their drink menu is equally impressive, offering craft beers, wines, and signature cocktails.
  • Hanuman Alice Springs
    • Location: 82 Barrett Dr, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Description: Hanuman provides an authentic journey into the rich tapestry of Asian flavors, serving dishes inspired by Thai, Indian, and Nonya cuisines.
    • Foods Served: Delight in their offerings of Thai curries, spicy Indian tandooris, flavorful biryanis, and the delicate tastes of Nonya seafood. Pair your meal with a refreshing Asian-inspired cocktail or a traditional lassi.
  • Watertank Café
    • Location: 14 Palm Circuit, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Description: A haven for eco-conscious diners, Watertank Café is committed to sustainability, offering dishes crafted from organic ingredients and locally-sourced produce.
    • Foods Served: Relish in their wholesome menu featuring gourmet sandwiches, hearty salads, and daily specials that celebrate the region’s bounty. Their vegetarian and vegan options, alongside a selection of organic beverages, make it a hit among health enthusiasts.

More Things to Do in The Area

Beyond the luminous allure of Parrtjima, Alice Springs beckons with a myriad of activities and attractions to enhance your desert adventure.

  • Anzac Hill
    • Location: Anzac Hill Road, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Description: Standing tall in the center of Alice Springs, Anzac Hill is a dedicated war memorial and a popular lookout point. As you ascend the hill, the panoramic views of the town, set against the backdrop of the sprawling MacDonnell Ranges, are nothing short of breathtaking.
    • Activities: Engage in a serene walk to the top, take in the interpretive displays detailing the region’s military history, and capture some memorable photographs of the stunning landscape from the summit.
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum
    • Location: 8-10 Stuart Terrace, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Description: This museum pays homage to the incredible work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which has been a lifeline for remote communities in Australia. Dive into the captivating tales of aviation history and the vital role these flying doctors have played.
    • Activities: Tour the interactive displays, witness the evolution of communication equipment used, and even get a glimpse of a working RFDS base. The multimedia presentations are both informative and moving.
  • School of the Air
    • Location: 80 Head Street, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia
    • Description: A testament to innovation in education, the Alice Springs School of the Air offers a unique insight into how children in remote areas of Australia receive their schooling through radio and, in more recent years, the internet.
    • Activities: Participate in guided tours that showcase lesson broadcasts, explore the school’s rich history through interactive displays, and gain an appreciation for the challenges and triumphs of distance education.

A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Experience at the Parrtjima Lights Festival

As the sun sets over Alice Springs, the Parrtjima Lights Festival awakens the night, bridging ancient traditions with modern illuminations. This festival of lights is more than just a visual spectacle; it’s a heartfelt tribute to the rich tapestry of Indigenous culture and storytelling. 

From tunnels of lights to interactive displays, every feature resonates with the spirit of the land and its people. So, as you immerse yourself in this radiant experience, let the glow of Parrtjima be a beacon of discovery, connection, and celebration.

Parrtjima Alice Springs,


  • Is there parking available at the festival? 
  • Yes, there are designated parking areas near the festival grounds. However, space is limited, so visitors are encouraged to arrive early or consider alternative transportation options.
  • Can I smoke at the Parrtjima Lights Festival? 
  • The festival promotes a smoke-free environment. Designated smoking areas are available outside the main festival grounds. Please be respectful and use the provided receptacles for cigarette butts.
  • Are pets allowed at the festival? 
  • While we love our furry friends, pets are not permitted within the festival grounds, with the exception of certified service animals.
  • Is the festival wheelchair accessible? 
  • Absolutely! Parrtjima Lights Festival is designed to be accessible for everyone. There are designated pathways and viewing areas for those using wheelchairs or mobility aids.
  • Can I bring my own food and drink? 
  • While there will be a variety of food and beverage options available for purchase, visitors are also welcome to bring their own snacks. However, please note that alcohol is not permitted.
  • Are there restroom facilities on-site? 
  • Yes, there are clean and accessible restroom facilities throughout the festival grounds, including facilities for those with special needs.
  • Will there be first aid services available? 
  • The safety of the visitors is a top priority. First aid stations, staffed with trained professionals, are strategically located throughout the festival grounds.
  • Is there a lost and found area? 
  • If you happen to misplace any items or find something that someone else lost, head to the designated lost and found area near the festival’s main entrance.

It is always best to visit the festival’s official website for up-to-date information.


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