Celebrating 22 years of Desert Festival 

Desert Festival was first held in 2001 as the Alice Springs Festival. 

In 2001, the Alice Springs Festival (ASF), a community led organisation, was founded to create a nationally marketed umbrella brand for events in the Alice Spring shoulder season to boost the local economy. Along with the promotion of events, it launched two of its own signature events, Wearable Arts Acquisition Awards and Desert Song. The Alice Springs Festival also supported the creation of other key calendars on the Alice Springs calendar, including Bush Bands Bash, BushFoods / WildFoods and Cinema in the River, and significantly built the region’s capacity to deliver international quality events and festivals.  

In 2004, the Alice Springs Festival was rebranded to become the Alice Springs Festival of the Desert which was shortened in 2005 to Alice Desert Festival. In 2009, Red Hot Arts Marketing, which commenced as a project initiatives of Arts NT in 1999 before coming an incorporated body in 2005, merged with the Alice Desert Festival under the banner of Red Hot Arts Central Australia.

Desert Festival is now run by Red Hot Arts Central Australia, and held annually in Alice Springs/Mparntwe in September, celebrating arts and culture in Central Australia.

In 2022, Desert Festival won Best Metro Festival at the NT Music Awards and a Brolga Northern Territory Tourism Award for its Festivals and Events category.   


Our 2022 theme was BLOOM, highlighting
our flourishing desert wildflowers – and
desert talent!

Gallery | Full Program | Program (pdf)


Our 2021 theme was Lovin’ Local, where we focused inwards and selected a range of events and experiences that embraced the depth and breadth of arts and culture in Mparntwe.

Gallery | Program (pdf)


Our 2020 theme was ‘Celebrating 20 years of Desert Culture & Art’. We gathered and relished in all things music, theatre, film and art, created right here in our own backyard.

GalleryProgram (pdf)