The world’s oldest continuous culture will be showcased in light across a 300-million-year-old canvas when the free Parrtjima festival returns to the Northern Territory this year.
In a light festival like no other, contemporary and traditional Aboriginal stories will be brought to life across 2.5 kilometres of the ancient MacDonnell Ranges and spill into Alice Springs Desert Park from September 22 to October 1.
Organisers say Parrtjima is the first authentic indigenous light festival of its kind. The name means ‘lighting up’ – both literally, as in lighting an object, and figuratively, as in shedding light on a subject.
Northern Territory Major Events Company general manager Andrew Hopper said: “Created in partnership with local Aboriginal artists and art centres, the event aims to raise the profile of Aboriginal artists from Central Australia by sharing their outstanding work and rich culture with the world.”
The Central Arrernte people are the traditional owners and custodians of Alice Springs (Mparntwe), where the festival takes place.
Mr Hopper said last year’s inaugural festival captivated a 16,000-strong audience with its breathtaking light and sound shows, and promised this year would be even more spectacular.
Field of Light Extended
Meanwhile, another extraordinary light display in the Territory has been extended until next year.
Bruce Munro’s award-winning Field of Light art installation at Uluru, otherwise known as Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku or ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’ in local Pitjantjatjara language, will be on show until March 31, 2018.
More than 50,000 stems crowned with glass spheres illuminate an area the size of seven football fields. Visitors can wander pathways through the artwork as the sky fills with stars.
The ticketed event can also be seen from camel-back or from above by helicopter.
Follow the Light
Australia does light festivals spectacularly well. In Sydney, this year’s Vivid Festival will take place from May 26 to June 17. Last year it attracted 2.3 million visitors like moths to a flame.
See the iconic Opera House and other key locations around the city emblazoned with light. Hear the Vivid LIVE concert series, which this year will include Fleet Foxes performing at the Opera House. Or think about innovative new ideas at a series of talks and workshops.
At Enlighten Canberra, the nation’s capital comes alive with 10 architectural projections transforming the Parliamentary triangle, as well as satellite venues, from March 3-12. There will also be international entertainment, live music and food galore, with roving artists and enchanting shows.
The recent White Night Melbourne festival transforms the CBD for one night, from dusk ’til dawn. Along with intstallations, street performances and interactive events, the Royal Exhibition Building, State Library and Flinders Street Station were used as canvases for light and sound shows.
In Brisbane, City Hall in King George Square is also illuminated at Christmas time with a series of light and sound shows.