Celebrating 20 years of Desert Culture & Art


Since 2001 the Desert Festival has been working to develop Alice Springs as a nationally recognised destination for arts and cultural events. This has been achieved through promotion, incubation of leading events and development of sector capacity.

In 2018, the Desert Festival switched to a season format and returned to its successful roots by partnering with venues instead of creating its own.

In 2019, Desert Festival continued developing the Spring shoulder season from the end of August to mid- October delivering ambient weekly programming in venues. A full calendar of other festivals and events in Alice Springs in early September 2019, including the Henley on Todd Regatta, Red Centre Nats, Desert Song Festival, Desert Mob and the Soweto Gospel Choir performing at the Araluen Cultural Precinct necessitated a review of the dates for the 2020 Desert Festival in consultation with our funding body, NTMEC. The 2020 Desert Festival will run from the 24th September – 11th October 2020.

In 2020 the Desert Festival will focus on increasing visitation to the region while building up the production values of our shows. Intrastate promotion will be experimented with for 2020 in Darwin and Katherine, through partnerships with the visitor information centres and NT Airports. The goal of 2020 is to study approach and catchments to improve intrastate and interstate promotions progressively through to 2021.

To further improve promotion, the Show Development and Media Kit programs will work with local artists to create early and high-quality collateral to be distributed through the What’s On network.

2020 will continue the business partnerships with existing venues, including Montes Lounge, Epilogue Lounge, the Gap View Hotel, the Alice Springs Cinema and the Totem Theatre. New venue partnerships will be sought to create secondary opportunities offer visitor audiences unique Central Australian experiences.

Youth Program
With more production and promotional support in 2020 to make a better experience for audiences and artists, Red Hot Arts is offering a branding partnership to Yeperenye Shopping Centre so we can offer more youth shows and leverage their family focused marketing.

Street Parade
The long-standing partnership between ASTC and Red Hot Arts in delivering a free community experience at the start of the season will investigate returning to the very successful Street Parade model in 2020.

Professional Development Program
All out of town applicants to the Desert Festival are required to offer professional development as part of their acceptance into the program. Promotion of these professional development opportunities will be promoted in the general festival program and through all our other marketing channels.

The type of engagement (e.g. Workshops, artist talks, engagement with schools) can be negotiated between the artist and the festival. These activities not only increase access and participation from the community; but make the interstates artists attendance at the festival more financially viable.

The professional development program includes but will not be limited to interstate artists only and a series of local workshops delivered by local artists will also be presented throughout the festival.

Show Development
From March through August the artists participating in the Show Development Program will work with lighting, sound and décor to create shows with higher production values. Show ready festival artists will be consulted and if determined, will also be provided production support for their shows.

On top of production support, Desert Festival promotes shows, provides tickets, door service, show management and venue management. Artists are invited to co-promote their show with matched advertisement funding by Desert Festival.

In 2020, Red Hot Arts will review the model where for ticketed shows, artists get 100% of their ticket sales, less the eWAY transaction and bank fees charged on the sales. In 2020 we will continue developing options to increase opportunities for artistic forms that are difficult to ticket, such as installation, visual and projection arts.

Artists in the youth program and free promotional shows will be pay-to-play at industry rates, both types of content will be offered involvement in the show development and press kit programs.

Proudly Supported by our Principle Partner the Northern Territory Government | Alice Springs Town Council | Festivals Australia

Monkey Marc with guests Fyah Roiall and Rider Shafique
Photo Credit: Oliver Eclipse
2019 Desert Festival