• Beanies on display at Ernabella (Alice Springs Beanie Festival)Source: Alice Springs Beanie Festival
Nothing quite compares to the feel of a handmade item, and the annual Alice Springs Beanie Festival is back again this year to showcase and celebrate their unique style of headwear.
Emily Nicol

20 Jun 2016 - 1:56 PM  UPDATED 20 Jun 2016 - 1:56 PM

Starting off as a humble beanie party back in 1997, the Alice Springs Beanie Festival has grown dynamically from selling 100 beanies made by Aboriginal women in remote communities to now offering over 6000 beanies from all over the world. Some artists from overseas send their creations in, whilst others make the journey to be a part of the festival and volunteer their time.

 Festival organiser Jo Dixon, who was one of the original volunteers, a core group who proudly call themselves 'beanie-ologists', says that there is a vibrant, creative and inclusive nature to the festival that everyone enjoys.  

"I think (first-time visitors) will be very surprised at the joy, the colour and the delight the festival has to offer. And also the community and cross cultural spirit that's alive at the Beanie Festival."

While there are a couple of spin-off festivals, the Alice Springs Beanie Festival is the original and thanks to sponsors they have been able to support  skills development in such communities as Papunya, Mutitjulu, Willowra and Ernabella, whose Mukati (Warlpiri word for beanie) artists have been creating beanies for the festival for over 15 years. 

Hand made beanies are a coveted accessory for those crisp winter nights and one of the great benefits of the festival is that anyone can be involved in the process, says Jo.

"Anyone can make a beanie and be involved in the festival. They can see their beanie being worn by other people and feel they are worthwhile and creative and have something to offer."

 There are special workshops to sit with those who are more advanced to learn the craft of needle felt, knitting your own creation or simply enjoying the free demonstrations of traditional Anangu spinning and other Aboriginal textiles. There will also be artists from the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council demonstrating their own methods and basket weaving.

 This year the festival is celebrating 20 years of nurturing community ties, creativity and arts and they will open with a special gala night with a special exhibition, music, food and fashion parade.  

"It's all about everyone being allowed to be involved in the arts.  And everyone unites to be included in the festival," says Jo

The festival kicks off this Friday 24th June and runs till the Monday 27th June. For more information head to their website http://www.beaniefest.org/