Across the country, festivals celebrating Indigenous culture and tradition bring together communities and promote awareness.
We’ve compiled a list of the best Indigenous festivals for anyone wishing to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous communities, or celebrate the incredible talent of our Indigenous artists.
Parrtijima is a festival of light held annually in the beautiful landscape surrounding Alice Springs. The free 10-night program features incredible light installations, artworks, performances and more, all exploring Indigenous culture and creativity. The installations can be found in MacDonnell Ranges, which are over 300 million years old, and focus on the connection between new and exciting artistic techniques, and a longstanding tradition of culture and art.
This year, the festival included a light and sound installation unlike any other. Designed by Maruku artist Rene Kulitja and a team from Mutitjulu, guests were led through the story of the Mala people using ground-based lighting techniques and soundscapes. Parrtjima is a stunning and unique festival experience.
Focusing on contemporary Indigenous art, this festival highlights the incredible talent of First Nations artists. Tarnanthi means ‘to appear’, and comes from the language of the Kaurna people, who are the traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains where the event is held. The festival highlights the power of art as a storytelling medium, allowing Indigenous artists to share cultural stories through their work displayed at the AGSA (Art Gallery of South Australia). Other events in the festival include artist talks, performances and workshops. Tarnanthi is guaranteed to get your creativity flowing.
Held as part of the Byron Bay Bluesfest, Boomerang Festival was established by Rhoda Roberts, a Bundjalung woman and Festival Director. She says “it’s obvious the people will return for this experience and for our people it will be a returning of the culture.”
Boomerang Festival invites participants to discover the instruments, dances, and songs of Australia’s Indigenous people over three days of performances and workshops. It gives emerging artists the chance to share the spotlight and share their talent, promoting an appreciation for Indigenous music.
Taste of Kakadu
Taste of Kakadu is a food experience unlike any other. It provides visitors to Kakadu National Park with the opportunity to sample the unique flavours of the region and learn about Indigenous cooking practices. Program highlights include demonstrations on how to make traditional spears, guided tasting walks, damper workshops, and a tour of rock art sites.
Participants will gain an appreciation for local produce and resources by learning from the Indigenous locals who know it best.
Yabun Festival is the largest single-day gathering that recognises Indigenous Australian culture. The free event is held annually on the 26th of January, and combines live music, talks, markets and performances. It was created by the Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation in 2003 as a way to give voice to Indigenous issues and spark meaningful discussion, while also celebrating the culture and history of the Indigenous community. Artists from across the country come to showcase their skills, resulting in a jam-packed day of education and entertainment.
Barunga Festival is all about sharing traditional culture with the community. It encourages people from every background to engage in traditional dance, spear throwing, weaving and cooking, in order to learn more about Australia’s First Nations people. One of the biggest events is the Bunggul traditional dance, where performers from across the Northern Territory come alive on stage. The aim of the festival is to “offer a platform for passing on knowledge and experience to the next generation as well as to the non-Indigenous community”
Barunga is a small community around 80 kilometres from the city of Katherine. Each year, the festival attracts over 4000 guests, promoting awareness and respect for local Indigenous cultures. It helps to facilitate cross-cultural communication, and emphasises the importance of reconciliation.
To discover more Indigenous experiences across Australia, click here.