Thousands of people grooving to a transcendent beat, camels kicking up dust as they round a bend in the track, fast feet hitting heavy, red rock, and a field of lights illuminating a 300-million year old landscape.

You might not expect it, but all of this happens in The Red Centre. The heart of Australia’s desert isn’t as deserted as you might expect. In fact, every year thousands of people from all corners of the continent flock to the centre to attend and participate in some of the most unique events Australia has to offer. 

Planning your trip to The Red Centre around one (or more!) of these events will ensure you really squeeze the most out of your time there. Here’s what you can expect to find happening in The Red Centre (and when!).

Adventure Events

1. Australian Outback Marathon

Location: Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park
Dates: 30th July 2022
Cost: From $895

Possibly one of the most iconic marathon courses in the world, the Australian Outback Marathon trails along the red sand bush tracks and unsealed roads of The Red Centre, taking in the unforgettable views of Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa along the way. 

Choose to run the full or half marathon, or the shorter 11km or 6km courses. 

With a long line of package options available, which include race entry and accommodation for up to five nights, there are plenty of ways to turn your race into a full-blown holiday.

2. West Macs Monster Trail Running Fest

Location: Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges
Dates: 20-22 May 2022
Cost: From $120

If hiking the 230km Larapinta Trail sounds a little too easy, maybe you’d prefer to run it instead? 

West Macs Monster Trail Running Fest runs for a whole weekend in May and offers a range of race lengths that take on the impressive ridgelines and gorges of Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges.

The longest race sees runners take on the entire Larapinta Trail, crossing the finish line at the summit of Mt Sonder. 

For those trying to preserve their sanity, there are a few shorter options available, all starting from Mparntwe / Alice Springs;

  • 128km Ellery Monster to Ellery Creek Big Hole
  • 65km Standley Monster to Standley Chasm
  • 25km Simpsons Monster to Simpsons Gap

There’s also a 5km family fun run loop so you can start training your kids from day dot.

Tourism Central Australia has got a mighty fine deal on offer for any Explorers hitting the trails in the running fest. Check it out!

3. The Redback

Location: Mparntwe / Alice Springs
Dates: 18th-21st August 2022
Cost: From $28 for single stages 

If you’re a mountain bike fiend who devours single-track for breakfast, The Redback MTB Stage Race is made for you. 

This award-winning, four day, six-stage race takes on the plethora of snaking trails that surround Mparntwe / Alice Springs, with over 175km of single-track to smash. 

The Redback MTB Race prides itself on having the easiest logistics of any stage race, as every day of the event starts and ends in Alice Springs. That means no hire car or support crew is needed, and riders can stay in the same accommodation the entire time. Like coming home to roost every night! 

Riders can either lock themselves into all six stages, or pick and choose what appeals to them. 

What are you waiting for? Get on ya bike!

Plus for all rider’s hitting the single track, Tourism Central Australia has a great rest and recovery package so you can chill out and lap up The Red Centre after the race.

4. Easter in the Alice

Location: Mparntwe / Alice Springs
Dates: 15th-18th April 2022
Cost: From $90 for single stages

Easter in the Alice is a three day, three-stage race that takes on the technical and flowy single-tracks found all around Mparntwe / Alice Springs. 

Riders can choose between the 115km Full Distance option, which includes a 70km marathon stage on day one that laps around a 23km course, or for those still finding their riding legs, there’s the Midi Race that covers 60km over three days.

The best part is you don’t have to be an expert to race – so long as you’re of reasonable fitness and know what you’re doing behind the handlebars, you’ll be set.

The races start early each morning so there’s ample time for swimming in waterholes in the arvo, beaut!

Tourism Central Australia has an unreal deal on offer so you can rest up and recover after the race and make the most of your time in The Red Centre.

Read more: 4 Swimming Holes in The Red Centre You Need to Jump in

5. AMRF Larapinta Challenge

Location: Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges
Dates: 6th-12th May 2022
Cost: From $390

If you’re looking to explore the most remarkable sections of the Larapinta Trail, all while supporting a good cause, the Larapinta Challenge is a great shout. 

Over five days, you’ll trek 60 spectacular kilometres of the 233km trail in a group of 10-20 people, all the while raising funds for the Australian Melanoma Research Foundation. 

Epic hike – tick!
Good human – tick!

6. Run Larapinta

Location: Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges
Dates: 22nd-25th April 2022 & 12th-15th August 2022
Cost: From $142 for single stage entry

A four-day, four-stage trail running event across the most scenic sections of the Larapinta Trail, Run Larapinta is a pick-your-own-adventure style trail run, with the option of running the entire course or picking the stages that work for you. 

This year there are two events happening, one in April and another in August, to make up for when the race couldn’t be run in 2021. 

All skill levels are welcome, so long as you’ve got your game face on. To quote the Run Larapinta team, ‘You don’t need to be fast but you do need to be determined’.  

Thinking of entering but keen on some downtime too? Tourism Central Australia’s got a post-race recovery deal just for you!


Run Larapinta at Ormiston Gorge | Photo thanks to Run Larapinta

7. Great Outback Escape

Location: The Red Centre
Dates: 30th April – 7th May 2022
Cost: Prices start from $4000

What an unreal way to see the best of The Red Centre! The Great Outback Escape is an eight-day biking holiday that tours from Alice Springs, past the West Macdonnell Ranges to Kings Canyon, and down to Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa. 

Fortunately you don’t need to bike the whole way, but there’s still around 330km of riding involved, with a few days scheduled in for activities at the must-experience sights. 

All costs are covered once you arrive at the starting point in Alice Springs, and there are a few options to upgrade your adventure experiences if you fancy a helicopter flight and a sunset camel ride.

Read more: Ultimate Road Trip Through The Red Centre Way

Weird & Wonderful Events

8. Parrtjima – A Festival in Light

Location: Mparntwe / Alice Springs
Dates: 8th-17th April 2022
Cost: Free but you’ll need to register

For ten spectacular nights, light displays illuminate The Red Centre at Parrtjima – the meeting place where old meets new – bringing the desert to life.

The only authentic Aboriginal light festival of its kind, Parrtjima showcases the oldest continuing culture in the world through one of the newest technologies, creating a festival of light across the ancient landscape of the Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges. 

But it’s so much more than just a few twinkling lights. Artwork and light shows illustrate the natural environment, and a full program of performances, workshops, film screenings, music acts and talks fill the ten days. 

The festival is completely free to attend, however you’ll need to register to nab your spot at certain events. 

9. Dark Sky Festival

Location: Earth Sanctuary Observatory, Mparntwe / Alice Springs
Dates: 25th-29th May 2022

Spend five nights camping out and drinking in the spectacular million-star view that makes up the basis for Dark Skies Festival

Held at Earth Sanctuary Observatory, Dark Skies Festival is hosted by two local brothers, who combined have spent more nights under the stars than I’ve even lived.

This unforgettable festival combines talks from astronomers, live music, projection-based space art, and the chance to stare into the sky through a deep-space telescope. 

Prepare for lift off!


Earth Santuary | Photo thanks to Tourism Australia

10. Uluṟu Camel Cup

Location: Yulara
Dates: Returning in 2023

You couldn’t get more outback than this if you strapped a cork hat to a dingo! Now in its 10th (?) year, the Uluṟu Camel Cup is held in the tiny town of Yulara, just outside the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. 

Over two days locals and visitors alike strap in to watch this iconic and unique spectacle take place in the heart of the nation. 

Eight races happen on the main day, plus a reptile show, whip cracking display, and outback Fashions on the Field to keep the crowd entertained between runs.

End the day with some boot scootin’ to a live band!

11. Henley on Todd Regatta

Location: Todd River, Mparntwe / Alice Springs
Date: 20th August 2022
Cost: Adults from $22

Have you ever tried to sail a boat in shallow waters and the hull kept bumping the floor below? How about manoeuvring a boat without any sign of water, whatsoever?

That’s exactly what goes down in Mparntwe / Alice Springs at the Henley on Todd Regatta – the only dry riverbed boating regatta in the world. 

Run by the local Alice Springs Rotary Club, this truly unique event has seen locals dragging, tugging, and urging boats to sail through the dry Todd River for 60 years now. 

It’s a sight to behold and an action-packed day out for the whole family, with all proceeds going to the Alice Springs Rotary Club.


Henley on Todd Regatta | Photo by Tourism NT/Imparja Creative

Feature photo thanks to Calumn Hockey


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Feature photo thanks to Calumn Hockey

Feature photo thanks to Calumn Hockey