Tourism NT has unveiled its epic calendar of 2023 events that 'bring the different'. I thought this might be of interest in case you're looking for Australian holiday destinations and travel inspiration.
With more than 180 unique and vibrant events to pick from – from leading First Nations arts and culture celebrations to amazing light installations, premier bush tucker experiences, eclectic drag extravaganzas, major sporting events, quirky regattas and beachside music festivals – Australia's Northern Territory is an incredible destination with so much to see and do.
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, the Northern Territory is stacked with events that are sure to 'bring the different' in 2023.
The Territory's jam-packed 2023 events calendar is set to feature more than 180 unique and vibrant experiences across iconic destinations including Darwin, Uluru, Alice Springs, Tiwi Islands, Katherine, Arnhem Land and more.
Some of this year's most anticipated events include Parrtjima – A Festival in Light, the only Aboriginal light festival of its kind in the world; fabALICE, a dazzling rainbow celebration in Alice Springs; Taste of Kakadu, one of Australia's premier Indigenous food and culture festivals; and BASSINTHEGRASS, a beachside party featuring huge names in Aussie music including Amy Shark, Angus & Julia Stone, Baker Boy, The Presets, Tones And I, and many more.
Other highlights include Darwin Festival, an 18-day celebration of music, theatre, visual art, dance, cabaret and comedy; Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, a leading showcase of First Nations' art and fashion; and Desert Song Festival, an epic staging of artists and choirs performing in the NT's iconic Red Centre.
Held right across the Top End and Red Centre, the events provide the perfect launch pad to experience an unforgettable holiday in the NT, no matter what time of the year.
HIGHLIGHT 2023 NT EVENTS THAT 'BRING THE DIFFERENT'
9-12 March 2023, 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
7-16 April 2023, 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', inspired by the artwork surrounding the Statement from the Heart.
Karrimanjbekkan An-me Kakadu, Taste of Kakadu
13-21 May 2023, Kakadu
An indigenous cultural food festival like no other, Taste of Kakadu returns in 2023 with a mouth-watering native-infused food program set to immerse visitors in a stimulating journey of senses. An authentic bush food experience unlike anything else in the world, 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
20 May 2023, Darwin
The Northern Territory's biggest and longest-running music festival returns to Darwin's iconic Mindil Beach. The festival's bumper 2023 line-up features leading Australian artists such as Angus & Julia Stone, Amy Shark, Baker Boy, Guy Sebastian, The Presets, and Tones and I, plus many more.
9-12 June 202, 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 unique musical collaborations, cultural workshops, sporting matches and the chance to purchase authentic First Nations' art.
Alice Springs Beanie Festival
23-26 June 2023, 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 6,000 beanies hang alongside exhibitions, food stalls, live music, textile workshops and more.
Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta
16 July 2023, Darwin
Established in 1974, the annual Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta is an iconic Top End family favourite. With 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, thong-throwing competitions and more.
28-31 July 2023, Arnhem Land
One of Australia's largest Indigenous gatherings, Garma Festival features a four-day celebration of Yolngu life and culture held in remote Arnhem Land. Hosted by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, Garma showcases traditional miny'tji (art), manikay (song), bunggul (dance) and storytelling, and is an important meeting point for the clans and families of the region. The Key Forum Policy Conference also hosts discussions and debates on major issues.
Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAAs)
11 August 2023-February 2024, Darwin
Australia's longest running and most prestigious Indigenous art awards, are now also the nation's richest. The total prize pool has doubled from $80,000 to $190,000, with the winner of the main Telstra Art Award set to take home $100,000. The awards ceremony will be held on 11 August 2023 and, after that, art lovers can see the exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT).
10-27 August 2023, 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, comedy and more.
Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF)
11-13 August 2023, Darwin
Returning for its 17th year, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair is one of Australia's most significant and internationally recognised art events. Visitors have the chance to ethically purchase Aboriginal art from more than 70 Aboriginal-owned communities and 1,500 creatives across Australia, as well as enjoying a vibrant program of traditional dance, workshops, talks and fashion events.
Country to Couture
11-13 August 2023, Darwin
One of the most popular events in the DAAF program, Country to Couture showcases the best of Aboriginal fashion and textiles in a colourful showcase of wearable art. The high-energy runway presents collections from emerging Aboriginal designers and artists, and unique collaborations between Indigenous communities and well-known Australian labels.
National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs)
12 August 2023, Darwin
The NIMAs ceremony is one of Australia's largest and most prestigious celebrations of Indigenous music, from heralding emerging artists to those who have achieved international acclaim. Held annually under the stars at Darwin's historic Amphitheatre, the NIMAs is a not-to-be-missed event on Darwin's entertainment and music calendar.
The Rotary Henley-on-Todd Regatta
19 August 2023, Alice Springs
Held for the last 58 years, the Rotary Henley-on-Todd Regatta 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.
1-3 September 2023, 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 an entertainment program that includes street cruising, drag racing, 4WD obstacle courses and more.
7 September-22 October 2023, Alice Springs
Now in its 32nd year, Desert Mob showcases the most comprehensive survey of contemporary Aboriginal art by artists from the Desart art centres of Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia, and is an important cultural gathering for artists, families and visitors. The program features an exhibition, marketplace where visitors can ethically purchase diverse Aboriginal arts and crafts, plus artist and curator talks.
Desert Song Festival
8-17 September 2023, Alice Springs
Over 10 days, artists, musicians, choirs and audiences come together to celebrate the rich and diverse musical traditions of Central Australia with the majestic ranges and gorges of Alice Springs as their backdrop. This year's festival features the celebrated Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir and the Shubhendra and Saskia Rao Duet from Delhi, India.
21 September-1 October 2023, Alice Springs
Desert Festival is an award-winning showcase of arts, culture and community in the Red Centre. The program highlights the region's diverse talents, ranging from live music, dance, theatre and circus to interactive workshops and demonstrations.
East Arnhem Live
October 2023 (dates TBA), East Arnhem Land
Bringing together some of the most inspired and creative Yolngu musicians, East Arnhem Live is a must-attend event for music lovers, held in one of Australia's most pristine and untouched landscapes. The festival, which first started as a free online concert series during the COVID pandemic, features three days of Aboriginal bands, DJs and Yolngu culture.
Million Dollar Fish – Season 9
1 October 2023-31 March 2024, Top End
Australia's richest fishing competition is back for its ninth season, giving anglers the chance to experience the Top End's iconic fishing waters and reel in a prized barramundi. Since the competition's inception in 2015, winners have taken home significant cash prizes, but the lucrative Million Dollar Fish is yet to be caught.
Darwin International Laksa Festival
November 2023 (dates TBA), Top End
The annual festival celebrates the Top End's multicultural community and love of Laksa. Territorians will embark on a month-long journey to discover different Laksas and 'inspired by' dishes across various market stalls, eateries and restaurants – culminating in a community vote to award the 'Golden Bowl' for Best Laksa.
For more information on NT events including a full downloadable 2023 events calendar, visit northernterritory.com/events.