WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT the Northern Territory?

If you are trying to decide when is the best time to visit the Northern Territory, the main thing to consider is the weather and your tolerance of it! Along with being more comfortable, they hold most of the best festivals to coincide with the best weather.

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There are pros and cons to each time of year and in an ideal world, you would get to experience both. Having braved a wet season in Kakadu and Litchfield, I can highly recommend it – so lush and green. The trade-off is that many roads are closed, so it’s not great for four-wheel driving – but by air, you are in for a treat.

Weather in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory has two climate zones. The Top End, taking in Darwin and down to Katherine, is tropical. Below this, the climate is semi-arid.

Weather in Australia’s Top End

There are just two seasons in the Top End, the wet and the dry.

  • November to April – The wet season sees high humidity and heavy rainfall,
  • May to October – The dry season offers lower humidity and cooler temperatures.

The Wet Season

The thing most people find uncomfortable about traveling in Northern Australia is the humidity, which can be as high as 85% in the wet season.

Wet Season temperatures can soar to between 30°C to 38°C (86°F to 100°F) or higher.

January is the wettest month of the year, although heavy rain is not uncommon throughout the season. This makes some road unpassable and some key sites close.

I visited in March one year as the wet was ending, and it was fantastic,lush and green with plenty of action in the waterfalls. There was still some small flooding in parts of Kakadu but we did not miss much and the payback was fewer people around and much lower prices.

The Dry Season

Visiting in the dry season is much more comfortable. Average daytime temperatures range from 20°C to 35°C (68°F to 95°F). Humidity drops to 20-30%,and the rain all but disappears.

As a result, most of the Territory’s big events take place in the dry season, which results in higher prices for accommodation and flights.

Does the Northern Territory experience monsoons or cyclones, and when do they usually occur?

The top end can see both monsoons and cyclones during the wet season (November to April). Monsoons bring heavy rainfall and can lead to flooding, while cyclones can bring strong winds and storm surges.

Weather in the Red Centre

The centre of Australia has a semi-arid climate with low annual rainfall.

There are four seasons in the centre, with winter nights getting quite cold, something that catches some travelers by surprise. Summer brings very little rain and some uncomfortably high midday temperatures. This can reduce the time you have to walk each day, and early starts are the best idea.

Summer (December to February): During summer, the weather is hot and dry, with average daytime temperatures ranging from 35°C to 40°C (95°F to 104°F) or higher. Nights are warm, with temperatures around 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). Thunderstorms can occasionally occur, bringing brief but often spectacular downpours.

During this time, many walking trails at Uluru are closed from 11am due to the intense heat.

Autumn (March to May): With its milder temperatures, autumn is a much more comfortable time to visit. Daytime temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F), and evenings start to get cooler, with temperatures dropping to around 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F). It is generally dry during this season.

Winter (June to August): The perfect time to visit with daytime temperatures a pleasant 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F), nights become cold, with temperatures dropping to around 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F) or even lower in some areas.

Tip: Be sure to pack warm clothing for the evenings and early mornings. Winter is also considered the peak tourist season, so book early for the best prices.

Spring (September to November): Things start to warm up again. Daytime temperatures gradually rise from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F) in September to 30°C to 35°C (86°F to 95°F) in November. Nights become milder, ranging from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F).

Tip: Spring is generally a dry season, but there might be some sporadic rainfall as the weather warms up.

Northern Territory Festivals and Events

When you are looking at the best time to visit the Northern Territory, it’s well worth trying to include some of these unique NT events if you can.

This information may be subject to change, so please check before making plans. I will add updates as they release details. A list of events in Darwin can be found here

DateFestival
7-10 March 2024FabAlice Festival – Alice Springs
12-24 April 2024Parrtjima–A Festival in Light
TBC April 2024NT Muster
24-26 May 2024Taste of Kakadu
7-10 June 2024Barunga Festival – Katherine
TBC June 2024Tatts Finke Desert Race
TBC June 2024Darwin Pride Festival
5-6 July 2024Alice Springs Show
July 12-21, 2024Darwin Fringe Festival
28-30 July 2023Desert Harmony Festival – Tennant Creek
TBC August, 2024Garma Festival – Arnhem Land
TBC 2024Darwin Cup
17 August 2024Henley on Todd Regatta – Alice Springs
8-25 August 2024Darwin Festival
30 August – 1 September 2024Red Centre Nats – Alice Springs
TBC 2024Katherine Bird Festival
TBC 2024Desert Festival – Alice Springs
TBC 2024Kakadu Bird Week
Dates correct at time of publication

Northern Territory School and Public Holidays

School holidays see prices go up and availability reduce. If you don’t need to be travelling over holiday periods you can save by avoiding it.

Public Holidays in Northern Territory 2023-2024

Holiday 20232024
New Year’s Day01 January01 January
Australia Day26 January26 January
Good Friday07 April29 March
Easter Sat.08 April30 March
Easter Mon.10 April01 April
Anzac Day25 April 25 April
May Day 01May 01 May
Kings Birthday 12 June10 June
Picnic Day01 August05 August
Christmas Eve24 December24 December
Christmas Day25 December 25 December
Boxing Day26 December 26 December

Source: NT Government June 202
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School Holidays in the Northern Territory 2023-2024

Period 20232024
Autumn break:07 April – 16 April06 April – 14 April
Winter break: 24 June – 17 July 22 June – 14 July
Spring break:23 September – 08 October21 September – 06 October
Summer break:16 December – 29 January 202414 December – 27 January 2025
Source: Correct as of July, 2023

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