Festivals and events in Cairns to celebrate the spirit of Queensland

When visiting Cairns, there are heaps of exciting festivals and events that honour the beauty of the region and the culture of its people.

 

Cairns is well-known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s also a town where artists and performers converge every year to showcase their skills. Dive into the best festivals and events of this gorgeous tropical town and discover why it should be your next travel destination.

 

An author signing with Julia Baird at the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival © CTWF

 

Cairns Tropical Writers Festival

 

The Cairns Tropical Writers Festival is a collection of writers, readers and thinkers from local and national communities who come together to share the power of literature. It features a series of workshops, readings and conversations that champion the importance of stories in shaping the world. 30 percent of the program is free, encouraging everyone to get involved.

During the 2023 festival, 82 different sessions brought together a group of passionate individuals as they engaged in school workshops and in-depth panels. 

Dates: 8-10 Mar

 

 

Cairns 50

 

Cairns 50 is a community running festival that takes place over three days. The main event is a 50km ultra marathon that winds through the stunning Redlynch Valley rainforest and cane fields. Thanks to the fast and flat course, Cairns 50 is known as an ideal introduction to the world of ultra marathon running, or the spot to beat your PB.  

If ultras aren’t really your style, there are plenty of other events to choose from, including a 30km, 10km and a family fun run. Bring along your friends and family to cheer from the sidelines, and celebrate your impressive run with jumping castle, face paint and food stalls.

Date: 5 – 7 Apr 2024 

 

festivals and events

 

Cairns Expo

 

Held on the Cairns Showgrounds every year, the Cairns Expo gives vendors the opportunity to show off their products and services that will take your outdoor adventures to the next level. This includes everything from caravans to campers, fishing equipment to jet skis.

Thrill seekers and camping enthusiasts will find plenty to see and do here. With prizes to be won all weekend long and food stalls to keep you fueled, it doesn’t get much better. 

Dates: 10 – 12 May

 

A performance from the 2023 Cairns Children’s Festival © Cairns Regional Council

 

Cairns Children’s Festival

 

The Cairns Children’s Festival is an annual celebration aimed at children aged 12 and under. Dress ups, colourful performances and unique outdoor activities make this a highly-anticipated event for parents and children alike.

Plus, it’s hosted by some of the biggest venues in Cairns, such as the Performing Arts Centre and the Botanic Gardens. 

Dates: 18-19 May

 

An exhibition at the 2023 Arts Fair © ciaf

 

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

 

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is a celebration of culture and an opportunity for Indigenous artists to take centre stage through the mediums of dance, song and visual media. 

For 2024, the theme is ‘Country Speaking’ with a focus on letting Country be heard and using art as a medium to express the experiences, issues and challenges faced by First Nations people. There are $60,000 worth of awards to be won, and market stalls where visitors can purchase their favourite pieces from local Indigenous artists. Come along to this popular event and celebrate the talent of our First Nations people.

Dates: 25-28 Jul 2024 

 

festivals and events
The popular reef lights on the Cairns esplanade © Cairns Festival

Cairns Festival

 

The first Cairns Festival was held in 1962 to celebrate the opening of a new jetty on Green Island, and since then has developed into one of the most anticipated events of the year. The 10 day festival boasts a fun and exciting program filled with music, art, theatre and cultural events. 

Dedicated to showcasing the beauty of the Cairns region, the festival makes the most of its location in the heart of town. The joyous program has a range of free and ticketed events that you’ll love being a part of. 

Date: 23 Aug – 1 Sep 2024 

 

 

 

Wallaby Creek Festival

 

This family-focused event is all about the wonders of art and music. Located in the Wet Tropics Rainforest of far north Queensland, the festival is a short 4 hour drive from Cairns. Due to the open and spacious grounds, visitors are encouraged to camp out for the duration of the Wallaby Creek Festival, and sleep under the stars with fellow music lovers.

Whether you’re intrigued by the poets’ breakfast, street theatre, food stalls, markets, or something else entirely, your days will be filled with excitement. There’s also lots of original music to enjoy from some of the best local musicians. 

Dates: TBA 

 

To discover the wackiest festivals and events in Australia, click here.

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