I was on a mission to find the perfect red beanie.
But when you’ve got over 6000 beanies to choose from, it was never going to be easy.
What on earth am I talking about?
Let me introduce you to the Alice Springs Beanie Festival. It’s a four day spectacle devoted to that most humble of head coverings, the handmade beanie.
What? I hear you say. Isn’t Alice Springs in a desert? Isn’t always just hot, hot, hot?
Well, the answer to that a huge NO!
One of the fabulous things about central Australia is that we get a real winter. It’s not uncommon for us to have below zero Celsius temperatures overnight in June to August. We’ve even had temperatures as low as -7C.
…So a deliciously warm beanie comes in handy around the campfire on those blessedly cold winter’s nights.
But a whole festival devoted to beanies? Surely not?!?
Every year for the past 18 years, the Alice Springs Beanie Festival has warmed the heads and hearts of central Australia.
It’s my favourite of all Alice Springs’ annual events.
Let me show you why.
For me, there is no other festival that captures the TRUE spirit of Alice Springs quite so well.
The Alice Springs Beanie Festival is diverse, slightly alternative, cosmopolitan, creative, down-to-earth and practical – just like the town itself.
When I first arrived in Alice back in 2001, I arrived in June. The beanie festival was the very first event I attended.
I was amazed by the beanies I saw. These just weren’t your Great Aunt Tolley’s beanies. These were true works of art. I’ve been almost every year since.
Each year, the beanie festival has a theme and exhibits the very best beanies in a gallery at the Araluen Arts Centre.
This year’s theme was ‘Out of This World’.
No boring old tea-cosy-type beanies here!
By the Community, For the Community
Each year, the Alice Springs community comes together and joins in. It’s a proper celebration of who we are.
The beanie festival creates work and income for Aboriginal women in remote communities.
Every year, the Ernabella (Pukatja) ladies come to the festival and give demonstrations of hand spinning wool.
They also showcase the beanies they’ve made from the wool:
The Tjanpi weavers also give raffia basket-making workshops – which are always very popular.
‘Tjanpi’ (pronounced JARN-pea) means ‘grass’ in Pitjantjatjara. Every year more and more communities are getting involved.
There’s also fabulously yummy food, soup and cakes (there’s even a Beanie Festival Cookbook).
There’s knitting, crocheting and even felt making workshops – many are free.
This year, there was also the Art Bus, a hop-on-hop-off bus which toured other local Aboriginal art and craft centres in Alice Springs.
However, it’s Beanie Central where most people bee-line for when they first arrive. We’re all on a quest for the perfect beanie!
Over the years, I’ve amassed a large beanie and felt hat collection.
As it’s hard to figure out what to pick –there’s just soooo many amazing beanies- I now pick a colour or theme each year.
This year, I was looking for the perfect red beanie. I think I found it:
The Alice Springs Beanie Festival is held every year on the second last weekend in June.
It’s held at Witchetty’s which is in the Araluen Art Centre, located on Larapinta Drive in Alice Springs.
It runs for four days, and there’s a an opening event on the Friday night. Workshops can be pre-booked through the Beanie Festival’s website.
The cost to enter is a gold coin donation. Opening hours seem to vary from year to year, so check the festival details on the website below.