From a simple ‘beanie party’ to a full-blown festival, this one-of-a-kind celebration can’t be missed. 

Whether you’re looking for a way to fill up time before your epic trek along the Larapinta Trail or you’ve just come back from a magical adventure through Australia’s Red Centre, soak up some local culture and buy yourself a silly, colourful, and downright wondrous piece of headwear at the Alice Springs Beanie Festival. Mingle with the best beanie-ologists in the Northern Territory, enjoy live music, dig into some local bush tucker, participate in traditional workshops, and appreciate the dedication, creativity, and craftsmanship of every handmade hat along the way. 

What is the Alice Springs Beanie Festival?

Originally created as a way to showcase and sell beanies made by Aboriginal women in remote communities way back in 1997, the Alice Springs Beanie Festival has grown to become a celebration of Aboriginal women’s textile arts and culture, as well as their creativity and skill. With the main focus on encouraging community participation and further reconciliation between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, this unique festival aims to bring everyone together over artistically crafted, handmade beanies. 

Where and when is the Alice Springs Beanie Festival in 2022?

The Alice Springs Beanie Festival is an annual celebration occurring every June (24th – 27th June 2022) in the Aruluen Centre at the Alice Springs Cultural Precinct. Artists come from all over the country to submit their own handcrafted beanies in the hopes of winning one of the coveted trophies and admiring and appreciating the work of others. 

Who were the winners of the Alice Springs Beanie Festival in 2021? 

In 2021, there were 13 categories including ‘Celebrating a Favourite Myth’ and ‘Embellishment Prize’ for participants to submit their beanies. Please see below a condensed list of winners:

  • Celebrating a Mythical Creature: Winner – Bunyip by Kristian Malinksi
  • Celebrating a Favourite Myth: Winner – The Kraken by Louise Leckie
  • Celebrating a Legend or Folk Take: Winner – ‘Goorialla’ the Rainbow Serpent by Letisha Kirkland
  • Colour Magic: Winner – Scary Dragon by Louise Thackray
  • Heart Felt Prize: Winner – Yarning Myths and Legends by Dina Van Der Gaag
  • Embellishment Prize: Winner – Emu Eye by Nita Ferguson

For a full list of past winners, please visit the Alice Springs Beanie Festival’s website. 

Things to do at the Alice Springs Beanie Festival 

A handmade beanie from the Alice Springs Beanie Festival

Peruse the stands of brightly coloured, handcrafted beanies

With a measly couple hundred beanies on show at the first festival to a whopping 6,400 last year, you can expect this special and eccentric event to bring on the beanies in a big way. Wander buildings full of these delicately made creations, try on your favourite designs, and perhaps buy one or two, as you chat to artists that have come from both near and afar to showcase their beanies. 

An aboriginal woman demonstrating how to weave

Learn from the best and participate in a textile workshop

If wandering through the thousands of beanies for sale has you feeling inspired to go home and try out your own beanie-making skills then the best thing you can do is participate in a workshop with one of the experts first. From making your own festival beanie to learning how to create a wearable neckpiece or weave a grass vase, there are over 30 incredible workshops to choose from.

An aboriginal colourful dot painting on display at the Alice Springs Beanie Festival.

Watch a demonstration of Aboriginal arts and crafts

If you’ve always been fascinated with Aboriginal art practices and the way it’s so embedded into their culture then you’re not alone, but you are in luck. Every year, members of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council demonstrate traditional native spinning and basketry methods in the name of sharing both culture and skills. Watch on as these women show off their craft and transform materials into beautiful masterpieces. 

Woman walking towards a green food truck

Enjoy live entertainment and snack on delicious food

We’d forgive you for thinking that marveling at the daring designs and captivating colours of the many beanies on display is all there is to do at the Alice Springs Beanie Festival but it’s actually not. With live performances from local musical acts and food trucks catering to the hungry crowd of beanie-lovers, this festival has really thought of everything. Sit down to listen to your favourite musical genres or munch on some homemade tucker for a truly memorable day. 

Alice Springs Beanie Festival FAQs

Getting to the Alice Springs Beanie Festival is extremely easy if you're travelling from the Alice Springs City Centre. From 10am - 4pm for the duration of the festival, there is a free bus available to transport you from your accommodation in Alice Springs to the Aruluen Centre where the festival is held. To get to Alice Springs itself, you can either catch a plane, train, or bus, or you can also self-drive to explore more of the natural wonders of the Northern Territory. 

There is no official ticket price for the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, however, you will have to give a gold coin donation if you wish to enter. You don't have to register your arrival or organise tickets. If you want to participate in a workshop the prices do vary but you can expect to pay anywhere between AUD$50 to AUD$150. Children's workshops are free. 

The weather in Alice Springs can get extremely hot (even in winter) so it's always best to pack a reusable drink bottle with you so you can stay properly hydrated during your time at the festival. It's also a good idea to pack a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect yourself against the heat of the sun. Be sure to also pack your camera (to take photos of all the amazing beanies), as well as some snacks to keep you energised throughout the day. 

Once you've bought a beanie or two at the festival, there are still plenty of other things to do in Alice Springs. From exploring the city centre to journeying out into the desert, Alice Springs is the perfect starting point for plenty of epic adventures. See below a list of our favourite things to do in Alice Springs:

  • Explore the West MacDonnell National Park 
  • Have a go at stargazing
  • Make your way to Uluru 
  • Adventure through Kata Tjuta National Park 
  • Wander around the Alice Springs Desert Park 
  • Visit the Kangaroo Sanctuary 

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