incredible light show at MacDonnel Ranges

Checking Out The Parrtjima Festival

Located in the Alice Springs Desert Park in front of the breathtaking MacDonnell Ranges is a light festival that projects both traditional and contemporary Australian Indigenous artwork in a very unique way. Over 2.5km of the ranges are lit up with a 3 minute light and sound show that runs every 20 minutes. Think Vivid in Sydney but instead of an industrial background you have a natural canvas.

Why Visit

Ever since we visited the top end of Northern Territory for the Barunga Festival I have garnered a greater appreciation for the Indigenous people of Australia.

When we saw the concept art for the festival (as at the time no real footage had been produced due to this being the festivals first year) I immediately wanted to head down and check out these art projections. If you are organising a trip to Alice Springs with flexibility on your dates we suggest you try and plan to head down during the festival.

The combination of a very unique light show projected onto mountains as well as rich culture bred into the festival, if you have an interest in aboriginal artwork, this is one of the best ways to experience it.


What to see

The MacDonnell Ranges light show: This multi-coloured light and sound show goes for 3 minutes and runs every 20 minutes. Here you see the Indigenous artwork and stories project across the MacDonnell Ranges.

The Five Illuminated Skirts: Locally it is known as Inti Ljapa Ljapa Irapakalam which is a series of 5 illuminated skirts containing water coloured landscapes of Alice Springs from local Indigenous artists.

Range of Expression/Interactive Light Wall: Here you can jump in an interactive booth and choose what colours you want to see projected onto the MacDonnell Ranges. Certainly the highlight of the festival is this booth as you can send out your unique colours onto the ranges.

Grounded: Artwork is projected onto the desert sands with beautiful sound design included.

The Caterpillars: Three large caterpillars are on display with illustrations from students of the local school.


Where to stay

If you are heading into Alice Springs for the festival you should have no issue finding either a hotel, motel or even a bed and breakfast.

We stayed at the Lasseters Hotel with the beautiful MacDonnell Ranges as a backdrop from our balcony and a golf course below us. It’s only a 15 minute drive from the Alice Springs Desert Park so you should have no issue getting there whilst also enjoying the views from your room. There’s 3 restaurants on site, a casino and pool/spa to dip in after being in the sun all day.

Airbnb: Jumping online I can see that there are plenty of options to rent a room from AirBnb if you are looking to save costs on your accommodation.

When is the Festival?

Parrtjima Festival is currently in its inaugural year and is running between September 23rd till October 3rd 2016. No details have been announced for 2017 but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s back again. The festival’s light show can be visited during 6.30pm till 10.30pm.

If you are interested in seeing the festival, check out our daily vlog of us arriving in Alice Springs and heading to the light festival.

You can go to the Parrtjima Festival for free in Alice Springs for 10 days during the 23rd of September till 2nd of October 2016. This is the first time this festival has been run but I am sure you can expect it to return next year. Check the website for 2017 and beyond dates.

Stephen and Jess signoff

Thanks to Tourism Northern Territory for kindly inviting Flying the Nest to experience the Parrtjima Festival. As always, all opinions are our own.


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  • Jacqui @FlightsFancyMom

    Absolutely stunning! I love when communities put shows on like this. And it includes everyone. Not just those that can afford it. Thank you for sharing!

  • Jeanette

    That s GORGEOUS! Australia is HIGH on my bucket list! I want to go so bad! This makes me want to go sooner rather than later!

  • Pam W

    What an awesome event. I love the caterpillars with artwork from the local schools. My son really wants to see Australia.

  • It would be nice to see the lightshow at alice springs. It would just be a visual spectacle watching the light display and attraction.

  • Alice Springs looks like a gorgeous place to visit, I am addicted to seeing things like this. Light shows truly mesmerize me.

  • Kelly Hutchinson

    This is absolutely breath taking and stunning. I would love to see this in person some day.

  • Mistee Dawn

    Oh wow! That is so gorgeous. Looks so amazing. I would love to go see this in person.

  • Wow, that festival sounds really cool. I’d love to see the creative artwork they put on display.

  • Lori Vachon

    What an absolutely stunning presentation! The display looks simply breath-taking, what a sight to see in person!

  • jennifer

    this looks amazing! what a display to see in person. a light show would be so cool to see!

  • TheMummyToolbox

    Wow this looks stunning, I didn’t realise they had a light show there. This is definitely going on the bucket list!

  • Rebecca Swenor

    This looks like an amazingly beautiful festival. I would love to see this one day. I love how the back drop is the mountains or natural setting. Thanks for sharing your experience and I loved the video.

  • Madi Vachon

    Wow, this looks so incredible! I would love to try going to it one day, it seems right up my alley!

  • This sounds like a fun festival!! I have never heard of it before, the light show looks amazing!

  • Bucket list! How did I not know this exists? I can’t wait to check it out!!

  • Chrissy Hme

    So much fun! I would love to see this in person. My nieces would love the caterpillars.