Central Australia proudly asserts its international reputation for the creation of quirky, hand-made beanies. Whether based in fact or not, it’s undeniable that every year serious beanie lovers gather in Alice Springs to admire the new season’s crop of fashionable (and not-so-fashionable) knit headwear, and to surmise which beanies might be contenders for one of the coveted prizes.

The Beanie Festival traces its origin to a humble community party in 1997, organized by local resident Adi Dunlop. The event was repeated annually to promote beanies crocheted by Aboriginal women in remote communities. Today the festival has mushroomed into a weekend-long extravaganza with thousands of visitors flocking to workshops, demonstrations, and a speed-crochet contest known as the Beanie Olympics.

The festival has even branched out into tea cosies and hand-spun yarns. At least for one weekend a year, beanies are the coolest thing going in Alice.

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