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A Guide to the Dark Skies Festival

One of the nation’s most outstanding astronomical events, the Dark Skies Festival, takes place in Alice Springs in May. An array of culture, science, food and sensory experiences are available during one of the best winter experiences Central Australia has to offer.

Taking place over four nights just 15 minutes outside of Alice Springs at the award-winning eco-tourism venue the Earth Sanctuary, the Dark Skies Festival is packed with opportunities to experience some of the best food, talks and local culture alongside the centrepiece of the star-filled sky. Boasting some of the darkest night skies in the world and scheduled to align with the best viewing of this celestial display, the festival runs from May 25 to May 29 in 2022.

The night sky festival includes soundscapes, live music and visual presentations from artists and astronomers, overnight events spanning sunset to sunrise, the chance to taste bush foods, astrophotography workshops, star shows and telescope viewings.

Earth Sanctuary sky tour

Star Talk

Observe The Night Sky

This year’s Dark Skies Festival will feature a range presentations and exhibits on dazzling constellations and opportunities to see and learn about the stars above. See the full program here.

Access to Deep Sky telescopes at the observatory will enable you to see clusters of thousands of stars in our galaxy, many light-years away from our solar system, including the Jewel Box Cluster and Beehive Cluster.

Outback brothers, Earth Sanctuary's Dan and Tom Falzon, will take you on an experience deep into space by sharing local stories on the Pleiades, Arcturus, the Sun and Moon, Orion and the Milky Way. Local astronomer Andrew Fitzgerald will also host talks about space and star signs to shed new light on our galactic neighbours.

Earth Sanctuary Telescope

Telescope Viewings

Book Your Tickets Now

The Dark Skies Festival is a rich experience for visitors of all ages, offering a rare glimpse of the night’s stars in one of the clearest, darkest locations in the country. 

Whether you want to learn more as an amateur astronomer or marvel at the universe, this star-lit opportunity to see beyond the Earth is ready for you to take part and create memories to cherish for years to come. 

Visit the Earth Sanctuary website to book your tickets now and make the most of this extraordinary event.

Earth Sanctuary firepit

Overnight experience

About the Earth Sanctuary

The Earth Sanctuary has a busy schedule of events across the rest of the season, including regular public and private astronomy tours. These tours teach you celestial navigation, an ancient wisdom still used today to find direction by identifying stars, the location of the visible Zodiacs in the sky and the opportunity to look through some of the Deep Sky telescopes operating at the Earth Sanctuary Observatory.

Groups of 15 or more are able to book a dinner and a show to experience the "spirit of the outback" including bush and native food products and stories about local ecology, culture and astronomy. Quandong beer, fire-cooked damper bread, locally sourced BBQ steak and homemade sticky date puddings are part of this exquisite menu. You can also wander through the red sands at the Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre.

Earth Sanctuary dome

Star Show

How to spend your time during the day

Use your daylight hours wisely and take some day trips through the East and West MacDonnell Ranges. You’ll be able to take a dip in a desert gorge waterhole and marvel at the extreme rock formations and dry riverbeds. Glide gently over Alice Springs with views of the sunrise from a hot air balloon, or visit the Alice Springs Desert Park, where you’ll learn about the native plants and animals of the Red Centre. 

There is also a range of museums and historical sites within walking and cycling distance in and around Alice Springs. The Old Gaol and the Central Australian Aviation Museum have fantastic collections that will take you on a trip back in time.

 

Accommodation

There is a range of accommodation within Alice Springs. There are options to suit every budget and range, from family-friendly to solo travellers. 

If you are after a unique experience, Dark Skies Festival hosts an overnight adventure, where you can sleep in a swag and continue your space exploration throughout the night, as different constellations and planets move across the sky. If this sounds like something you're interested in, see more here.

Dark Skies Festival FAQ

The Dark Skies Festival is an event that takes place in Alice Springs, NT in the month of May. It aligns with the Waning Crescent & New Moon phases of the moon to allow the darkest skies of the year.
The event explores the wonderful and ancient stories played out in the night sky and hosts an array of interactive experiences and workshops to get involved in. From using Deep Sky Telescopes, listening to Space Talks, getting your photo taken with the Milky Way, and enjoying live music all while experiencing the beauty of the stars above.
The Dark Skies Festival takes place at the Earth Sanctuary in Alice Springs.
From Alice Springs CBD head south along the Stuart Highway for 7 kilometres until you reach Colonel Rose Drive where you turn left for 4 kilometres. Where the sealed road ends turn right at the entrance for the Earth Sanctuary. The driveway is unsealed.
As the Dark Skies Festival takes place in the evening in May in Alice Springs, we recommend wearing long sleeves & pants, with possibly a jumper, with closed toe shoes (it is quite sandy).
It is best to check the forecast before you head out incase of any other weather.
In 2022, tickets range from free entry to the festival to $400 for the fully-catered sunset to sunrise camping experience. Different price options are available for different experiences, including the astrophotography workshop, or dining experiences.
For up-to-date prices see more here.

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