10 incredible festival experiences you can only have in Australia’s Northern Territory
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It’s like nowhere else in the world: a million miles (ok, a few thousand – but you know where we’re going) from the bustle of Sydney and Melbourne and the golden beaches of Queensland, Australia’s Northern Territory has a personality that’s more distinctive than many of its neighbours. With a capital city (Darwin) that’s just a hop skip and a jump from Asia, the Northern Territory is a unique destination that centres on epic landscapes, sweeping vistas, and ancient traditions. Local arts thrive, music festivals light up the cloudless night sky in the historic Red Centre, and the iconic sights just keep coming: the soaring Kings Canyon, where you can catch a sunrise via helicopter or dine under the stars. The red domes of 800 million year old Kata Tjuta; the stuff of dreamtime legend. Uluru, rising from the desert. The nature might be unlike anything you’ve seen before, but that’s not the only thing that’s going on here. In fact, as Australia’s southern states begin to feel the chill of autumn, the Northern Territory is entering into its peak season with incredible, guaranteed sunshine, warm temperatures and more festivals than you can shake a stick at - think fringe comedy, aboriginal art, bluegrass music and gigantic light installations. We picked just a few – so, from botanic garden vibes to aboriginal culture to a “spiritual hoedown”, here are ten Northern Territory festivals for you to start dreaming about… 1. Embrace your calm with botanic garden tunes Where? BASSINTHEGRASS Music Festival 2. Experience the Aboriginal way of life (without appropriating a culture) Where? Barunga Festival, Katherine The town of Katherine, found in the Northern Territory’s “Top End” on the Katherine River, plays host to Barunga Festival, a celebration of culture, sport and music from the local indigenous community. It’s not just a festival for locals, though – 4,000 visitors from across the world drop in across the festival’s three days, and international visitors are embraced warmly. This is the real Australia, free from Westfield and surfers. It’s been called “the kind of festival that changes the way you see the world forever”, so get ready to be irrevocably altered (in a good way). 3. Catch an up-and-coming star of the arts world
Where? Darwin Fringe Festival A “community arts festival with bite”, you wouldn’t be far wrong if you thought of Darwin Fringe as similar to the one that takes place in our very own capital (well, Scotland’s – but we love Edinburgh so we’ll be claiming it as our own.) The nine-day arts festival promises to showcase “work in every genre you can think of (and a few that might be made up)”, and is dedicated supporting the NT’s diverse local arts sector. Sign us up! 4. Get the real Outback experience, “amongst the red dirt and under a blanket of stars…” Where? Desert Harmony Festival, Tennant Creek Back to the desert for August, and we’re back in Australia’s deep, red heart. Tennant Creek’s Desert Harmony Festival is all about place and belonging in 2018, and will give visitors a rare insight into the state’s desert culture. Expect locals to bring their art and performances from across the arid landscape as an opportunity for “everyone, especially for those seeking an adventure in a VERY remote Australian destination”, to get a taste of the indigenous world. 5. Get creative in the heart of the arts
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Where? Desert Song Festival 7. Witness “the oldest continuous culture on earth through the newest technologies...”
8. Welcome the spring to Central Australia Staying in the desert for the aptly named Desert Festival, which uses independent artists to support the local community. There’s a local vibe here (you might be noticing that this is a distinct theme of festivals in the Alice.) We also heard something about sequinned mermaid trucker caps being given out, but maybe that was just a rumour… 9. Embrace the spiritual heart of Australia Where? Field of Light Uluru A "fantasy garden of 50,000 spindles of light” that covers a space equivalent to seven football fields, Bruce Monroe’s critically acclaimed installation will be lighting up the NT’s night for another 18 months – at the very least. Oh, and it’s right by Uluru. Life-changing. 10. Get lost in a spiritual hoedown Where? Wide Open Space,
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