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For its ninth iteration, Parrtjima – A Festival in Light returns to shine brighter than ever in Alice Springs (Mparntwe) from 12-21 April 2024.

The program, released today, promises 10 nights of fantastic free entertainment under star-studded desert skies and celebrates this year’s theme, the importance of interconnectedness across First Nations culture. 

Parrtjima’s famous large-scale light installations will appear more brilliant than ever and crowd favourites, the Ranges Light Show and Grounded, continue to evolve thanks to new technology.

The Ranges Light Show, which sees almost two kilometres of the 300-million-year-old MacDonnell Ranges come to life through a spectacular light and sound show, will feature additional projection space to enhance the immersivity of the experience. 

Grounded, which projects animated Indigenous art onto the red sand of the region accompanied by a soundscape, will be more interactive, adding a fun new dimension to this much-loved installation.  

New installations include Arrernte, a series of illuminated cars which celebrate a collage of work across Eastern, Western and Central language groups, and Honouring, an immersive passageway which will pay homage to great Arrernte leader the late Dr MK Turner OAM and celebrate her way of connecting through ancestral stories, language, knowledge and art. 

New to Parrtjima this year is a legendary large-scale wandering puppet, six metres tall and weighing 600kg, operated by visual theatre wizards Erth.

Named Arelhe Urrperle by the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group, she will delight people of all ages as she strolls through Alice Springs Desert Park, sharing language and stories. Expert puppeteers will train local Indigenous performers how to operate her. 

Another exciting edition – and for the first time in the festival’s history – Parrtjima will host a three-night marketplace, showcasing food and products from local Aboriginal businesses.

Called Northern Territory Indigenous Business Network (NTIBN) Buy Blak Market, the marketplace is a collaboration with Desart, the peak arts body supporting Central Australian Aboriginal art centres. 

A raft of big names will also wow visitors, with Australian country music star Troy Cassar-Daley, and singer-songwriter Shellie Morris on the music program. They will be joined by a range of performers including ARIA award-winning R&B artist Miiesha and Red Centre glam-rock band Mulga Bore Hard Rock, who famously supported rock legends KISS on tour in 2022.

The talks program will include musicians Shellie Morris and Troy Cassar-Daley as well as Floyd Doyle and Dr Josie Douglas, with more names to be announced soon. 

Parrtjima is delivered by Northern Territory Major Events Company (NTMEC) in partnership with Creative Directors Grumpy Sailor and events destination company We Are Gather. 

NTMEC CEO Suzana Bishop said Parrtjima is a captivating experience that is unlike anything else in Australia. 

“Parrtjima is something special. The light installations which use the latest technology, the program which provides room for truth-telling and healing between Aboriginal Australians and the wider community, and the landscape where it takes place – all this adds up to a magical experience in the desert,” she said. 

“We value working closely with people from local Aboriginal communities to help them use Parrtjima as a vehicle to tell their stories. The festival puts Alice Springs on the events map, showcasing one of the most striking landscapes in the country and celebrating the world’s oldest living culture. We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors from all over Australia and the world who will be able to stay and enjoy some of the unique tourism experiences on offer in this iconic location.” 

Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts AO said the true essence of Parrtjima has always been about sharing cultural knowledge, new expressions transforming stories from First Nations people, and expanding the impact of Aboriginal artists in the public consciousness. 

“Increased cultural expression leads to a greater understanding of First Nations heritage and experience, shaping the way rich and vibrant cultural connections are showcased for new audiences,” she said. 

For program details and to register for free to attend, visit