A Guide to Desert Song Festival

Held every September, the Desert Song Festival celebrates Aboriginal languages and culture through performances that foster pride, resilience and social cohesion. Central Australia’s cultural and artistic history goes back 60,000 years. The depth of knowledge and wisdom contained within this 60,000-year-old culture and its country has been shared through song over nine annual festivals, so far. The last two years were cancelled due to the pandemic, so 2022 is set to be jam-packed.

The theme for 2022 is ‘Our Climate, Our Planet, Our Future’. Ten days, between 9–18 September 2022, of programming around this theme will include music, art, cultural experiences, the ‘Climate Caravan’ and a Climate and Land Symposium. Below are the highlight shows featuring in the 2022 program. 

For full event program and further details, see their website here.

Desert Song Olive Pink

Desert Song Festival at Olive Pink Botanic Gardens

Desert Song Shows

Spinifex Gum in Concert

Spinifex Gum is a musical collaboration between the Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl, Ollie McGill and Marliya Choir – an all-female, all-Indigenous group from Cairns. Conducted by Lyn Williams (AM) and choreographed by Deborah Brown, this performance also features Emma Donovan.

Festival Choirs at Desert Song Festival

Festival Choirs will descend on Alice Springs as the ‘Climate Caravan’, bringing the energy of months of climate action and ‘singing for the climate’ from their hometowns across Australia. Festival Choirs will showcase their musical and artistic flair at venues and pop-up performances in and around town: from the glittering Parade of Performers, to the Festival Finalé at Kwartatuma (Ormiston Gorge).

Under the Southern Cross

The Earth Sanctuary is a star gazing haven, connecting visitors with astronomy and our planet. Over two nights it will host the climax of the ‘Climate Caravan’.  Artists, musicians, choirs, climate scientists, Indigenous knowledge-keepers and audiences will participate in an interactive musical and artistic experience.

Remote Community Visits

Interstate visitors get the chance to connect with the Traditional Custodians of Central Australia and their land. Ntaria (Hermannsburg) provides an immersive experience of ancient and contemporary Indigenous art, culture and language. 

From the Desert to the Arafura Sea

This intercultural musical collaboration features the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, the Arafura Music Collective (Darwin), Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiwi (the Yolngu Song-man), and violinist and composer Netanela Mizrahi, with support from other festival artists and choirs. Delivered entirely in Indigenous Australian languages from the Central Desert, Arnhem Land and Cairns, don’t miss this artistic conversation of music, song and storytelling. 

The Djari Project

A collaboration between Guwanbal Gurriwiwi and Netanela Mizrahi, the Djari Project features music in Indigenous languages for chamber ensemble, voice (Guwanbal), yidaki and choir. Experience choral and chamber music in several ancient languages, including Yolngu’matha, Hebrew and Old Norse.


Described as an ‘intercultural musical collaboration of artistic depth and geographical breadth’. The passion-filled experiment of the festival’s artistic director, Morris Stuart, has performers from the Northern Territory and as far as Mali, Mexico and Brazil. This show is a musical conversation: featuring centuries-old sacred poetry (hymns) in the Western Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara languages. Enjoy a rare insight into a largely unknown aspect of Aboriginal culture in the Central Desert.

Desert Song Festival Ormiston Gorge

Desert Song Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

Buy Desert Song Festival Tickets

The Desert Song Festival 2022 program includes a mix of free and ticketed events. Visit the Desert Song Festival website for more information and the full program, and purchase your tickets here.

Desert Song Aperture Opening

Aperture, Todd Mall

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.



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

Desert Song Festival FAQ

Desert Song is a Festival held in Central Australia that showcases performances in singing and language.
The Desert Song Festival will take place in September on 9-18 in 2022.


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