The Alice Springs Beanies Festival is an all-volunteer craft event which has grown from a small regional festival into something larger over the years. It was originally started to promote the beanie, a type of skullcap, as a unique regional art form. This event was started by Aborigines and westerners alike and features a market place, a parade, a prize exhibition, concert, and various workshops. If you like crafts and craft art then this is an event that’s tailor made just for you.
Another popular Alice Springs festival is the Alice Springs Master Games. Most things in the Alice are done with a wink and nod, this is not a traditional, formal atmosphere, far from it, and the Master Games are a part of this non-traditional frontier spirit. In these games adult athletes of all ages are encouraged to participate in around 30 different sports. They’re cheered on by the townspeople and the many tourists who make the journey to Alice Springs for the event. It runs every other year in September/October and is a barrel of fun. The sophomoric spirit of Alice Springs is absolutely contagious.
Alice Springs is a place with rough country all around it making it the perfect place for racing over difficult terrain. In fact there are plenty of big racing events from mountain bikes, to motor cross, to off road vehicles held in and around the Alice. It’s just perfect for challenging race events. One such event is the Central Australian Bike Challenge. This is a six day long adventure race which features mountain bikes. The course is around 250 kilometers long and large cash prizes attract a long list of entries. The entry fee is $440 dollars and participants must be a least 17 years of age to enter. The race starts in Alice Springs, goes off into the desert and then returns to Alice Springs for the finish line.
The Finke Desert Race is another rough desert race that starts in Alice Springs, only this time the racers aren’t on mountain bikes they’re on either motor bikes or inside off road vehicles and buggies. The full name of this race is Tatersall’s Finke Desert Race and it starts in the Alice and ends in Finke. It’s a 235 kilometer long treacherous track filled with numerous natural obstacles. This event has been going on for around 30 years now and like most events in the Alice only seems to grow in popularity as the years roll on.
No festival event in Alice Springs is more hilarious than the Henley-on-Todd Regatta which takes place in September. This event was begun as a joke to poke fun at the seriousness of British river races. It’s really a mock regatta, because the Todd River is bone dry at race time. In fact, the race was cancelled once because it did rain and their actually was water in the river, it’s got to be the only regatta in history that was ever cancelled because the river bed wasn’t dry. Hysterical. The way the event works is that the race participants run the “boats” in the hot sand of the dry river bed. There is a gala and events galore. It’s a riotously good time.
The Alice Springs Cup Carnival is a 3 week long horse racing event that is extremely popular with locals and travelers a like. Each day there is a special theme and different flavor to the events, for example there’s Young Guns Day (a day for young singles), Ladies Day, and Family Fun Day. There’s even a large black tie event, a rarity in a town like Alice Springs. This event has come a long way from its humble beginnings. You’ll find the Alice Springs Cup Carnival at the Pioneer Park Racecourse each year.
Alice Springs is a country town at heart, and many of its festivals reflect that spirit. The Alice Springs Show is a spring festival with country roots. It was started way back in 1960 and back then was much more focused on agriculture, livestock and crafts. Those elements still abound at the fest today however more modern components have been added like business stalls, photography exhibits, and cooking demonstrations. This fest kicks off in July and costs just 10 dollars for admission. There is a monster fireworks show that’s sure to please one and all.
As has been mentioned a few times, the folks in the Alice have an incredible sense of humor and their events and festivals have always reflected that. The Camel Cup is yet another funny event and festival hosted in the Alice. It’s a little known fact that Australia has the largest wild camel population in the world. These animals were imported into Australia from 1840 to 1907 and many of them escaped into the wild bush. Anyway, the Camel Cup is a hit or miss race because as we all know camels, depending on their present mood, will either take off like a dart or sit down and become an immovable object.
Alice Springs Festivals are amazingly creative and fun, this place is a special one in Australia that more and more people are discovering every year.