Whether planning to hitch up the caravan or book a flight, the Northern Territory has plenty of events lined up for 2023.
From leading First Nations arts and culture events to spectacular native food and wildlife experiences, Aboriginal fashion showcases, red desert drag extravaganzas and bumper music festivals, there are more than 180 unique and vibrant experiences.
Here is a guide to some of the events coming up across the Top End and Red Centre to consider when planning this year’s adventures:
March 9-12, Alice Springs
Inspired by the classic cult movie The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, fabALICE extends Mardi Gras and WorldPride celebrations to the Red Centre. Expect a sparkling showcase of drag, glitter, comedy, cabaret and entertainment, family-friendly and community activities – all in celebration of inclusion, individuality and the legendary film and stage musical.
Parrtjima – A Festival in Light
April 7-16, Alice Springs
The only Aboriginal light festival of its kind in the world, Parrtjima is an extraordinary free 10-night celebration of Aboriginal art, culture and music. The program includes the illumination of the West MacDonnell Ranges, light installations, workshops, films, talks and performances from leading First Nations trail blazers. The 2023 theme is “Listening with Heart”.
Karrimanjbekkan An-me Kakadu, Taste of Kakadu
May 13-21, Kakadu
An indigenous cultural food festival, Taste of Kakadu returns with a mouth-watering native-infused food program to immerse visitors in a stimulating journey of senses. Guests can expect unique culinary and cultural experiences including traditional ground oven feasts, forage walks with Traditional Owners, canapé cruises and workshops.
BASSINTHEGRASS Music Festival
May 20, Darwin
The Northern Territory’s biggest and longest-running music festival returns to Darwin’s Mindil Beach. The 2023 line-up features leading Australian artists such as Angus and Julia Stone, Amy Shark, Baker Boy, Guy Sebastian, The Presets, and Tones and I.
June 9-12, Katherine surrounds
A nationally-acclaimed event, Barunga Festival celebrates a long and proud tradition of sharing the culture of remote Aboriginal Australia, as communities come together to camp and take part in a program spanning music, sport, and culture. Barunga promises musical collaborations, cultural workshops, sporting matches and the chance to purchase authentic First Nations’ art.
Alice Springs Beanie Festival
June 23-26, Alice Springs
Since 1997, this quirky red desert festival has brought together beanie makers as well as locals, artists and Indigenous communities to share stories and make new friends. At Beanie Central, more than 6000 beanies hang alongside exhibitions, food stalls, live music, textile workshops and more.
Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta
July 16, Darwin
Established in 1974, the annual Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta has boats made of everything from beer cans to plastic bottles and milk cartons. Teams race along Mindil Beach into the water and hope their DIY dinghies make it across the finish line. The day also includes sandcastle competitions, ironman races and thong-throwing competitions.
August 10-27, Darwin
Australia’s warmest winter arts festival combines the quintessential multicultural spirit and energy of Darwin with diverse outdoor festivities and a vibrant program of world-class events for an unforgettable good time. Pick from music, theatre, visual art, dance, cabaret, and comedy.
The Rotary Henley-on-Todd Regatta
August 19, Alice Springs
Held for the last 58 years, this is the world’s only land-based boat race, set on the dry Todd River in the NT’s Red Centre. Competitors race along the riverbed “Flintstones-style”, using pedal power to make it over the finish line with their home-made boats, dinghies, yachts and canoes.
September 1-3, Alice Springs
The ultimate festival of wheels returns to the Red Centre. Over three action-packed days, the festival will showcase the best in street machines, elite show cars, hot rods, classics and exotic vehicles, with a program that includes street cruising, drag racing, and 4WD obstacle courses.
September 21-October 1, Alice Springs
An award-winning showcase of arts, culture and community in the Red Centre which highlights the region’s diverse talents, ranging from live music, dance, theatre and circus to interactive workshops and demonstrations.
Darwin International Laksa Festival
November (dates TBA), Top End
The annual festival celebrates the Top End’s multicultural community and love of Laksa.