First Nations-led festival channels interconnectedness for 2024

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light returns to connect visitors with Country and Culture from 12-21 April 2024.
First Nations. Image is of a garden lit in yellow and solo tree lit up in pink.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light is set to return in April 2024, promising a captivating experience in Alice Springs/Mparntwe, Northern Territory. From 12-21 April, this free festival will once again illuminate the 300-million-year-old canvas of the MacDonnell Ranges with a fresh perspective and theme, as well as a new partner.

Growing from its humble beginnings in 2016, Parrtjima is now a world-class event on the Australian cultural calendar and has expanded beyond its home in the NT. Earlier this year, an exclusive installation from the festival was showcased in Melbourne’s Federation Square, and again in Canberra in August as part of Facing North, an event aimed at showcasing the Territory to the Commonwealth. Parrtjima’s beloved Grounded installation, featuring an animated sequence of Indigenous artworks, was projected onto the floor of Parliament House, offering visitors an immersive experience.

Suzana Bishop, CEO of the Northern Territory Major Events Company (NTMEC), says: ‘It was exciting to have taken Parrtjima from one figurative heart of Australia to another, showcasing the strength, beauty and richness of Aboriginal culture to the country’s decision-makers at Facing North.’

Respected First Nations cultural leader and Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts AO returns for the 2024 event, which has the theme ‘Interconnectedness’. Always a First Nations-led festival, Parrtjima will continue to share the significant stories of First Nations people on Arrernte Country with the world. ‘Interconnectedness was and is embedded in First Nations culture, like footprints in the red sand. It ensures a collective responsibility and an awareness of the bond we have with all forms of life,’ says Roberts. 

She continues: ‘Our ancestors were living under strict social structures and belief systems where everything was interrelated from the land and waterways to our sky country and seasons. This way of being has sustained and unified Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Everyone had a place and purpose guided by eons of storytelling, ceremony and song lines that connected the entire nation.’

Robert says to this day the most wonderful things still happen out of interconnectedness. ‘Along with the resilience that’s tinged with laughter, interconnectedness blankets the wisdom of generations. At Parrtjima, we are reminded by our hosts, the Arrernte people, that culture is everything to experience and absorb,’ she says.

This year, Parrtjima welcomes Grumpy Sailor as its new events delivery partner. Known for its innovative use of technology and blend of traditional storytelling methods, Grumpy Sailor, in collaboration with We Are Gather, aims to provide visitors with a unique and immersive experience.

In 2023, Parrtjima generated a total expenditure stimulus of $14.9 million, $11.9 million of which was new money to the Territory. 

Read: Illuminating the Statement of the Heart by listening with heart

Bishop says: ‘Parrtjima had a significant positive impact on the Northern Territory. The event contributed to over 29,000 visitor nights, benefiting Alice Springs and other parts of the NT. Additionally, more than a quarter of attendees came from interstate or overseas, underlining the festival’s growing international appeal.’ 

Thrumming live performances, sublime site-specific projections and artworks will welcome visitors back to Parrtjima in 2024. 

Don’t miss the chance to be a part of this spectacular cultural celebration in the heart of Australia. Running from 12-21 April 2024 in Alice Springs/Mparntwe, Parrtjima is a free event, registrations now open

Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. Most recently she took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne.