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Sacred Song lines in Alice Springs - Desert Song Festival

27th May 2019

The ancient Aboriginal song lines - the indigenous memory code of ancestral sacred stories - run deep through the heart of the Red Centre, making Central Australia’s dramatic landscapes and Alice Springs’ iconic heritage venues the perfect stage for the annual Desert Song Festival, a celebration of the singer, the song, the instrument, the land and its people. 

This annual celebration of cultural diversity and artistic brilliance will unite singers, musicians and audiences through a series of concerts, workshops and masterclasses. Along with the traditional music of the people of Western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara, the freedom songs, folk music, classical and a cappella singing traditions of Africa and the Americas will come together to showcase the musical talent of Central Australia’s vibrant, multi-cultural community.

Over ten magical days - from 6 - 15th September 2019 - choirs, musicians, vocal ensembles and soloists will perform, not only within Alice Springs township, but also in Central Australia’s extraordinary natural landscape as the setting.

The 2019 Desert Song Festival will launch with The Parade of Performers. This late afternoon event will ignite Todd Mall with a kaleidoscope of sound, colour and harmony. This will be followed by APERTURE, a rousing community celebration in the Alice Springs CBD that will offer a captivating preview of the tapestry of talent uniting to perform over the ten-day event, including the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir comprising choirs from six remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. The women of this remarkable choir embody the culture, heritage and pride of Central Australia, performing emotive choral arrangements and centuries-old sacred songs in their own Western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara languages. 

Other highlights of the diverse and colourful 2019 Desert Song Festival program include the Festival’s main attraction, the three-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir that has been spreading sheer joy to audiences across the globe for nearly two decades, adding 6 days of musical spice to the event! Hailing from the town of Soweto, the birthplace of South Africa’s democratic movement's struggle for freedom, Soweto Gospel Choir continues to inspire audiences around the world with their powerful blend of African gospel, freedom songs, and international classics.

Add to this a performance of musical and poetic musing like no other – ‘Under the Southern Cross’: lie in the sand, nestle under your rug and surrender yourself to the Aurora and Arafura Collective as you gaze into the night sky. 

A Desert Song Festival schools’ event will see a parade of young choirs and dance ensembles from local schools and youth groups showcase their incredible talents. And a special Picnic Day at White Gums will offer visitors a range of wonderful guided journeys on country, traditional Central Australian cooking demonstrations by the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, an Aboriginal Art market and, of course, more enchanting song.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the season’s dazzling outdoor finale. The natural acoustics of Ormiston Gorge, in the Tjoritja (West MacDonnell) National Park, will create a breathtaking and uniquely Australian amphitheatre for ‘A cappella in the Gorge', a magical afternoon of melody and voice like nothing you’ll experience anywhere else on earth!

And don’t miss out on a true blue Aussie dining experience at the Festival Club – Watertank Café. Surrounded with signature watertank fittings and features, this is a welcoming café for locals and travellers alike to enjoy a genuine and relaxed Centralian dining experience and hospitality.

The 2019 Desert Song Festival provides a once in a lifetime opportunity for music lovers to connect with country, local tradition, and the original inhabitants of Australia through sublime music, spirit and song. Take ‘the Essential Australian Journey’ to the Red Centre and Find Yourself at DSF!

Talk to us about securing your spot and enjoying a range of experience packages that combine the Desert Song Festival with other arts and cultural events in the region.