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Art Events in Cairns and Surrounds

Whether you're a local having a staycation or a guest visiting our fine tropical climes, one thing's for sure: you won't be bored from a lack of art and culture events throughout the year. A fine contingent of blockbuster festivals from music, indigenous art and dance, carnivale-inspired circus and world-class films, Cairns and the Tropical North is the place to be to get your festival fix on.

If you're someone who travels for art, you might want to book those domestic flights now. This is an impressive line-up of our top eight, with plenty more yet to be confirmed. Hop to it.

Chinese New Year

When: 24 January – 1 February 2020 
Where: Cairns Lagoon Plaza and Shield Street

It’s the Year of the Rat! In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth, so if you ever needed a reason to celebrate, here’s a good one! The Great Barrier Reef Chinese New Year Festival’s celebrations offer cultural performances, food experiences and activities designed to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to come together and celebrate. On the 24th January, the Eve of the Chinese New Year, from 5pm to 7.30pm at the Cairns Lagoon Plaza, welcome in the Year of the Rat with dragon dance, lion dance, pyrotechnics, and firecrackers, then on 1st February, the Cairns Airport Chinese New Year Street Festival, will be held from 4pm to 9pm in Grafton St (between Shields and Spence St).

Cairns Children's Festival 

When: 16 + 17 May, 2020
Where: Cairns Performing Arts Centre, Tanks Arts Centre + Botanic Gardens Precinct

Finally answering the age-old question from small people, ‘When is it Children’s Day?’, The Children’s Festival encourages a day of fun, learning and creativity for children aged 12 and under, encouraging youngsters to explore and experience theatre and the arts and even take to the stage themselves. Run over three venues – CPAC, the Tanks Arts Centre and the Botanic Gardens - The line-up includes performances by the acclaimed children’s circus company CIRCA, The Young Company Theatre group, as well as catching the latest releases from Cairns’ own little filmmakers in the ScreenPlayZONE.

Port Douglas Carnivale

When: 22 – 24 May, 2020
Where: Check website for event locations in Port Douglas

While our Southern friends are stoking the fireplaces and pulling their novelty jumpers out of storage, Port Douglas is ramping up for balmy days of tropical perfection and endless sunsets over the Coral Sea. There’s something in the air at this time of year – the taste of paradise on the horizon garnished with good times and grooves. Celebrated over one jam-packed weekend in May, expect to see the very best of what the tropics has to offer – a twilight street parade, lashings of good food and good wine, talented local and national musicians, comedians and cabaret, acrobats and adult circus performers, a Saturday beach party and a seafood festival with snacks straight off the back of the boat.

Cairns Eco-Fiesta

When: 7 June 2020
Where: Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal

The Cairns EcoFiesta celebrates the natural environment and sustainable living in Tropical North Queensland. Ecofiesta is where you can immerse yourself in a day of stellar performances, hands-on workshops and a massive expo of green-tech and sustainable living solutions. With a dedicated children's program, local street eats, ecotourism prizes and new connections to your community the Cairns Ecofiesta is set to help you celebrate today and inspire tomorrow.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

When: 10-12 July 2020
Where: Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal Held over three days annually in July, the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair draws art collectors, curators and the general public from both home and overseas offering an opportunity to experience the beauty and diversity of Indigenous cultures. This event presents an annual showcase and celebration of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through art, dance and music.

Cairns Tropical Writers Festival

When: 7 - 9 August 2020
Where: Check website for event locations

The north’s biggest celebration of writing and ideas! The Cairns Tropical Writers Festival brings together a regional community of writers and readers with Australian and internationally revered authors and celebrities, who inspire and feed our literary minds. Highlights include a local book fair and bookstore where you can meet authors, attend book launches and purchase books written by locally based writers, about the region or by their visiting authors, as well as exciting workshop programs designed to ensure there is something for everyone.

Wallaby Creek Festival

When: 25 – 27 September 2020
Where: Home Rule Rainforest Lodge, Rossville

Wallaby Creek Festival is a celebration of music and arts in the rainforest – set in the stunning grounds of Home Rule Rainforest Lodge near Rossville, via Cooktown, Queensland. Like Woodford Folk Festival for the North, the festival grounds come alive with an exceptional line up of internationally touring musicians, workshops, performers, street theatre and dynamic activities, set along the spectacular backdrop of Home Rule Falls.


WHEN: 16 + 17 October, 2020
WHERE: Rex Smeal Park, Port Douglas

The Ports Shorts Film Festival is back for 2020 and ready to blow the socks off viewers with a series of short films from both local and international film makers. The (other) best bit? The Port Shorts Film Festival will be staged under the stars in Port Douglas’s own Rex Smeal park, overlooking the Coral Sea and the Daintree Rainforest as the sun goes down. Legendary Australian actor Stephen Curry (The Castle), Wolf Creek Executive Producer Matt Hearn and AFI nominated screenwriter Kier Shorey (Blurred) will be tagging along for the ride as official ambassadors, hosting the event and mentoring a series of masterclasses for up-and-coming film makers.


WHEN: October 2020 (Date TBC)
WHERE: Barlow Park, Cairns

The Grass is Greener is an Australian boutique music festival, combining the best in Australian talent with worldwide artists each October. Last year’s festival was an absolute sell out with the likes of Tyga, Amy Shark, Golden Features and The Veronicas performing, so you can bet your music-loving high-waisted jeans this years lineup at the city's Barlow Park will be just as mic-dropping.

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