Desert Festival

Since 2001 the Desert Festival has been working to develop the Spring shoulder season 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.

The Precinct

Initially the festival worked in existing venues before moving to a hub model to foster large events. From its success, Spring is now a thriving calendar of large events and Desert Festival turns its attention to filling out Alice Springs as a festive experience for tourists and locals.

In 2018 as part of an initial 4year plan, Desert Festival will work with existing venues, restaurants, accommodation and businesses within the CBD to transform the route from Gap Rd to Anzac Oval into an events precinct throughout the Spring season.


The festival precinct has a wealth of public and controlled venues each sized to the audiences of Alice Springs. Red Hot Arts will work with them throughout the year to simplify the install and create unique production rigs and décor sets to make them shine throughout Spring.


The size of Alice Springs audiences, their free time and spend capacity works against dense events with lots of shows. By working with venues on production through the year and using a season long install, shows can be programmed for audiences instead of production cost.

Applications open in October for the following year.

Red Hot Arts is reactivating the Programming Subcommittee to curate the Festival. The committee is selected annually from the members to represent a mix of arts practices and provide peer assessment to support the development of applicants.

Two free outdoor live shows are planned to be hosted on ASTC managed grounds with their support. These shows are family accessible and promotional in nature. Production and décor will focus on leveraging the natural setting vs dressing spaces.

Up to 18 shows are planned for over the Spring season. Shows and venues will be matched based on technical needs, audience pax, seating style and amenity. Shows will be curated by the programming subcommittee and can be ticketed.

Kids day has always been one of the best attended parts of the festival. In 2018 the value of workshops and shows for kids returns, working with Uniting Church and ASTC it will use the Flynn Church lawns and offer a weekend program through the season.

A street parade to open the festive season has been a tradition since the start of the Desert Festival. Red Hot Arts will continue working with ASTC and Henley on Todd to develop the parade as an event to showcase the community and its spirit.

In 2018 Red Hot Arts will focus on establishing the local and national relationships to restore Cinema by the River as an ongoing film festival program through the season. More will be announced in 2018 as negotiations finalise.

Venues and other presenters can take advantage of the festival season to book shows and be included in Desert Festival promotion. Red Hot Arts production and ticketing services can be commissioned, or the show selected for developmental support.

Red Hot Arts has formed a working group to assess the local capacity for developing a discreet and new program to be incubated within the Desert Festival for 3 years. This will be applied for through Festivals Australia to start in either 2018 or 2019.