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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 climate, 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 events, with plenty more yet to be confirmed. Hop to it.

Cairns Art Gallery

The Cairns Art Gallery is one of Australia’s leading public galleries and plays host to an ever-changing program of local artists as well as exhibitions from Australian and international collections. Located in the heart of the Cairns CBD and just a five-minute walk (or bike ride) away, the not-for-profit gallery is the perfect place to explore the arts and cultures of the area. For those who love to shop, the Gallery’s shop contains a collection of souvenirs and gifts inspired by art, culture and design from Tropical North Queensland.

Cairns Art Gallery is the exclusive Australian venue for the Archibald Prize 2020 outside of New South Wale. Presented by Art Gallery of New South Wales the Archibald Prize is Australia’s oldest, most prestigious art award and the traveling exhibition will be on display (just up the road) from 20 March until 2 May. A must-see exhibition that is sure to leave Bailey travellers inspired!


Located just a stone’s throw away, Bulmba-ja showcases stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and plays a vital role in the Cairns arts scene. Managed by Arts Queensland, this beautiful newly refurbished building houses JUTE Theatre Company, NorthSite Contemporary Arts gallery and shop, Miriki Performing Arts, The Pryce Centre for Culture and Arts and Minjil.

Cairns Performing Arts Centre 

Cairns Performing Arts Centre (CPAC) offers a innovative and debut performances in addition to a well-crafted mix of classics and revived theatrical pieces. With multiple performance spaces across the CPAC site, the versatility of the venue enables the presentation of a variety of events including theatre, music, dance, contemporary circus, opera, film and comedy. The program of events aims to a focus on youth, new collaborations and our local performing artists alongside a wide range of touring productions.

Tanks Arts Centre

Situated in the Cairns Botanical Garden precinct, this mutli-use centre is an innovative and iconic art space creatively housed in three converted WWII oil storage tanks. Tanks Art Centre offers a range of arts and cultural events and activities throughout the year including live music, visual art exhibitions, theatre productions, community development opportunities and workshops and monthly markets.

What are you waiting for, borrow one of our free Bailey Bikes and pedal your way to one of the most highly distinctive and dynamic spaces in Far North Queensland.

Cairns Children's Festival

When: 15 – 16 May, 2021
Where: Cairns Botanical GardenTanks Art Centre and Cairns Performing Arts Centre 

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.

Port Douglas Carnivale

When: 22 – 24 May, 2021
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: 13 June, 2021
Where: Munro Martin Park

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: 17-22 July, 2021
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: 12 - 15 August, 2021
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: 24 – 26 September, 2021
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.

Port Shorts Film Festival

When: 16 + 17 October, 2020
Where: Rex Smeal Park, Port Douglas

The Ports Shorts Film Festival is back for 2021 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. 

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