Cairns Events Calendar 2016

There are so many things to do in Cairns, including attending our fantastic events.




New Years Day – 1 January 2017 (public holiday)

Public holiday. Please note some tours don’t run on New Years day but tourist areas are open.


Australia Day – Thursday 26 January 2017 (public holiday)

Community celebrations are held in Cairns at the Esplanade from 12pm to 9pm, including events such as thong throwing and meat pie eating competitions, bouncing castles, live music and face painting.

Celebrations are also held at Trinity Beach and Babinda.



 Chinese New Year 20 Jan – 11th Feb 2017



Chinese New Year is a busy time in Cairns, so make sure you book tours and accommodation in advance!

There are various activities on, including Chinese New Year Eve fireworks on the Esplanade and the Chinese New Year Street Festival.

This colourful celebration includes Chinese food and market stalls, a parade starting at 6pm with traditional Dragons and drummers, concluding with fireworks at 9pm

For more information, including dates times of activities, visit the Cairns Chinese New Year website




Feast of the Senses, Innisfail –  23 to 28 March 2017


A week-long celebration of local produce with events such as: the famous bush poetry competition and breakfast (book early, tickets usually sell out fast!) tropical fruit tasting and art exhibition, concluding with the Market Day with over 100 stalls featuring local food, produce, jewellery, art & craft.

This year they are even attempting the world record for the longest banana split!

For more information visit their website Feast of the Senses


Ocean Film Festival – March 2 to 4 2017

Featuring short films and documentaries from all over the world, ocean lovers will not want to miss this event.

This film festivals tours all over Australia and lands in Cairns for 3 nights, held at the Centre of Contempoary Arts. Screenings include movies of various lengths and tickets are $31.50 adults and $18.50 for children.




Easter – 14 to 17 April 2017

Friday 14 and Monday 17 are public holidays. Shops may be closed, but tours operate and tourist areas are open.


Easter in the Park, Kuranda – Date TBC


An annual fun day for families with lots of activities and entertainment for the kids including live music, roving performers, magicians, face-painting, jumping castles, competitions and of course Easter Eggs.

In fact 5,000 chocolate eggs will be showered upon the crowd throughout the day!


ANZAC day – 25 April 2017

Memorial services in Cairns, Trinity Beach and Port Douglas. Some shops may be closed part or whole of the day. Tours and tourist areas are open.




Labour day – 1 May 2017

Public holiday. Tours operate and tourist areas are open.


Cairns Children’s Festival, Tank Arts Centre, Cairns Botanic Gardens – Sunday 21 May 2017

Hugely popular festival, with so many fun activities for the kids, aimed at children 4-12 years.

Each of the tanks hold different activities such as workshops, theatre, art and dancing. Outside you will find a market with food, toys and clothing and roving entertainers.

Most activities are free but some require a gold coin donation.


The Great Wheelbarrow Race, Mareeba to Chillagoe – 19 to 21 May 2016

Yes, that’s right, a race where people run with wheelbarrows! Do it solo or in teams. 140kms over 3 days.


Port Douglas Carnivale – Friday 26 to 28 May 2017

A festival celebrating food, music, wine and fun.
The festival opens with a grand parade and is jam-packed full of events.
This year, the festival has changed management companies and changed from a 10 day event to 3 days.  Some of the past events include the Family Fun day at 4 Mile Beach, daily live music, fashion parade, comedy shows, Seafood Extravaganza, Food & Wine Concert, Longest Lunch, and A Taste of Paradise.
Please note some event tickets need to be pre-purchased as they sell out.

For a full list of the events, see Port Douglas Carnivale website


ECOFiesta – Sunday 29 May 10am-6pm

A festival all about the environment, community and fun, held at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal.

It is all about innovative products, clean technology and affordable sustainable living solutions.

But doesn’t mean it can’t be fun too! Activities include live music, food, games for kids, buskers, circus acts, 90+ stalls.

This is the 3rd annual festival, held by the Cairns City Council..




Cairns Adventure Festival – June 4 to 12 2017

Athlete riding bike at Cairns Ironman

A great festival for athletes and spectators alike. There are lots of events held over the week.

Events include:

Coral Coast Triathlon

Triple R (Rural, Rainforest & Reef) Mountain Bike Challenge

The Hekili Great Barrier Reef Ocean challenge (paddle boards, outrigger canoes & surf skis)

The Quicksilver Reef Swim at Green Island – you can choose from 1.5km or 3km swim

And the big event – the Cairns Ironman Asia-Pacific championship. There are heaps of viewing areas for the public and other events held throughout the week such as McDonalds Ironkids Cairns.


Kuranda Roots Festival – June 23 & 24 2017

Aboriginal singer/guitarist at Kuranda Roots festival

An annual event, celebrating it’s 13th year this year.

The festival is held over 2 days in the Kuranda outdoor amphitheatre and celebrates soul, reggae and creative culture.
Over the 3 days various DJ’s, bands, singers and dancers perform and workshops are held.
There is a campground and both weekend and day passes available. It is also family friendly.

For more info and the line up, see Kuranda Roots website



Starry night cinema –date and movie TBC

Open air cinema at Cairns Botanic Gardens, bring a picnic rug and nibbles. $13 adults, $5 kids – TBC @ 7pm


Cairns to Karumba Bike Ride – June 24 – 30 2017

An epic 780km cycling challenge. Take either the road or adventure track though spectacular scenery ranging from rainforest to outback whilst raising money to support education in the outback for kids.



Mareeba Rodeo Weekend – July 15 to 16 2017

In the 2 weeks leading up to the Rodeo Weekend, there are lots of fun events held in the farming community of Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands.

Events include the Mareeba Rodeo ball, art exhibition, horse sports, motor racing events, agricultural show, wood chopping competitions and the big event – the Rodeo Weekend on July 15th & 16th

Cairns Show – 19 to 21 July 2017

All the rides, showbags, agricultural, produce and craft exhibitions you would expect from a rural show.


Starry night cinema – date and program TBC

Open air cinema at Cairns Botanic Gardens, bring a picnic rug and nibbles. $13 adults, $5 kids –TBC @ 7pm


Townsville to Cairns Charity Bike Ride – 27 to 29 July 2017

A 350km ride for charity, broken down into a 3 day ride, ending with a gala dinner in Cairns the night of the 26th


Cairns Indigenous Art Fair – 14 – 16 July

Local Aboriginal painting for Cairns Indigenous art fair

The art fair, celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders art, is held at various locations around Cairns.
Both free and ticketed events are held throughout Cairns.
Events include traditional welcoming ceremony, fish and food festival, art exhibitions, art market, fashion parade and Indigenous dance and song concert.
A great cultural event to catch is the Arts Big Talk One Fire Cultural Festival. A free family-friendly evening of culture, dance, music and food.
The Gimuy Fish Festival & Corroboree is a celebration of culture, community and food. There will be talks, children activities, traditional dancers and cultural performances.
Make sure you dont miss the Evening on the Green, it’s a fantastic night of Indigenous performances and its free.



Taste Port Douglas – 11 – 13th August 2017

Annual food, beverage and restaurant event, including celebrity chef cooking demonstrations and food stalls with local produce. $15 entry adults pre-purchased, or $20 at door. Kids under 18 free, but must be accompanied by an adult.

Please note tickets for some events must be pre-purchased.


Cairns Cup – August 12 2017

Annual horse-racing event with various events held throughout the weekend. Ladies day is on the 5th with the main event on the 12th.


Cairns Bluewater Billfish Tournament Cairns – August 23 to 26 2017

Join fishermen from all over the world as they compete in waters famous for its Marlin and Sailfish. Make sure you book early to secure your place on a boat.


Cairns Festival – August 25 to 3 September

Fireworks at the annual Cairns Festival

Cairns biggest festival celebrating, well….Cairns!
This annual festival is held on the waterfront and throughout the city and encompasses so many events.
The Grand Parade kicks off the festivities on August 25th at 5.30pm with fireworks at 9pm.
Fields of fire on 30st August is a giant bonfire family night in Yorkey’s Knob from 4pm to celebrate our cane sugar history (tickets are free but need to be booked, sell out quickly).
The Carnival on Collins, held at Cairns Botanic Gardens 9am-3pm every year on Fathers Day (3rd Sept). It is a huge celebration, featuring over 180 market stalls with multi-cultural food, produce and local arts and crafts.  There is live music on the main stage and roving entertainers. Parents will love the Kids Carnival area with activities for the little ones and Tank 5 is holding a sustainable living exhibition.
Other events at the Cairns Festival include a buskers stage at the Esplanade, art displays, live music, theatre, movies, plus family and kids activities.


Cairns Ukulele Festival – Dates TBC


This self-proclaimed “happiest festival in the world” involves 3 days of fun celebrating all things Ukulele!
There are Hawaiian dancing lessons, uke party night, workshops, art exhibition and concerts.

This is our annual attempt to break the world record for the most people playing the same song on the ukulele at the same time. So far we haven’t broken the record, but thousands of people have had fun doing it. Don’t own a Ukulele? Don’t worry you can buy one and learn the 3 simple cords to join in the world record attempt, this year the song is yet to be announced.

Keep an eye on the Cairns Ukulele Festival website for more details and the line up.




Cairns Amateurs – September 1 to 2 2017

The Melbourne Cup of Cairns! – It’s just as much about the fashion as it is the horses. Make sure you dress to impress!


Starry night cinema – date and program TBC

Open air cinema at Cairns Botanic Gardens, bring a picnic rug and nibbles. $13 adults, $5 kids – Movie TBC @ 7pm



Queens Birthday – Monday 2 October 2016

Public holiday. Tours operate and tourist areas are open.


Babinda Harvest Festival – October 7 2017

A cute country festival celebrating the towns horticultural history.

Activities include a street festival and fireworks.


Reef Feast, Palm Cove – October 5 to 8 2017

Food lover’s heaven with marquees on the waterfront with food stalls, cooking demonstrations and market stalls. This is a family friendly event with live music and activities for the kids. Throughout the weekend, various restaurants offer special dining events.


Tablelands Folk Festival, Yungaburra – October 26 to 29 2017

This festival celebrates all things folk though music, storytelling, poetry and dance encompassing blues, roots, jazz, world and folk styles. Tickets are limited for some performances so make sure you book ahead.


Taste of the Tablelands, Atherton – 1 October 2017 (TBC), 9am-4pm


Celebrating local produce with food, wine and handy craft. There is entertainment throughout the day including a fashion parade, Chef’s cooking competition and children’s activities.


Starry night cinema – date and program TBC

Open air cinema at Cairns Botanic Gardens, bring a picnic rug and nibbles. $13 adults, $5 kids – Movie TBC @ 7pm



Lake Tinaroo Barra Bash, Atherton Tablelands – November 3 to 5 2017

The annual Lake Tinaroo Barra Bash is back.

Fisherman from all around Australia love competing to catch the largest Barramundi in the lake. Lines in at 5.30pm Friday, through to 10am Sunday.

Coral Spawning

Also known as the “sex on the reef”, a few nights a year all coral on the Great Barrier Reef reproduce by releasing tiny little eggs into the ocean in spectacular display. The first coral spawning occurs in the Inner Great Barrier Reef during the week after the full moon in October. The Outer Reefs spawn in November and December. It is hard to predict exactly when this will happen until closer to the date.


Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival (Run for the Reef), Port Douglas  – October 22 2017

Run for the Reef is a series of Marathons held at various locations along the coast of tropical north Queensland, including Port Douglas.

Participate in a variety of runs though picturesque Port Douglas, ranging from 21kms to 74kms. There is even a kids category.

Some of the proceeds go to the Great Barrier Reef research fund to protect our beautiful Reef.


Port Douglas Marlin Challenge – 11 to 14th November 2017 (TBC)

Marlin fishing competition held over 4 days.


Starry night cinema – 2date and program TBC

Open air cinema at Cairns Botanic Gardens, bring a picnic rug and nibbles. $13 adults, $5 kids – Movie TBC @ 7pm




Carols by Candlelight, Cairns – Sunday 10 December 2017 (TBC)

Held at Fogarty Park, 5-10pm.  As well as carols, there are food stalls, carnival rides and an appearance by Santa.


Christmas Day – 25 December 2017

Many tour operators do not operate, plus most business are closed for Christmas Day.

Boxing Day public holiday is on Tuesday 26th December this year. Tours do operate and shops usually have sales, but other types of businesses and services can be closed.


New Year Eve Celebration, Port Douglas – 31 December 2016

Firework displays at 8.30pm and midnight


New Year Eve Celebration, Cairns Esplanade – 31 December 2016

Entertainment for the whole family, including live entertainment and firework displays at 9pm and midnight


Plan your Cairns holiday, check out the best 20 tours in Cairns 

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