Most of North Queensland’s festivals and events occur in the dry season between May-October when the weather is cooler.
Here’s a list of the major NQ festivals and events happening across the region during 2018.
Cairns Chinese New Year Festival (8-24 February)
Chinese New Year year seems to become a bigger event every year in Cairns with thousands of Chinese tourists descending upon the city for the celebrations. Highlights this year are the Esplanade fireworks on 16 February and the ever popular Chinese Street Festival on 24 February with Lion dancing, traditional drumming, performances, Chinese food and lots of colourful entertainment. Book yourself in for some yum cha to welcome in the year of the dog.
Feast of the Senses (22-27 March)
A celebration of local produce in Innisfail.
Undara Outback Rock and Blues Festival (20-22 April)
A fun family event in the outback that is small enough for visitors to mingle with the musicians.
Bowen Superboats (28-29 April)
Bowen will be hosting a round of the Australian Offshore Superboat Championships so this is a great opportunity to watch the spectacle of speedboats reach up to 200 kph.
Herberton Pioneer Weekend (5-6 May)
Get your vintage gear on and step back in time for this family friendly weekend with live entertainment and demonstrations.
Port Douglas Carnivale (25-27 May)
A well-established annual event catering for foodies and families.
Palm Creek Folk Festival (7-10 June)
After 25 years this festival is still a popular event on the calendar with heaps of performers over four days. Held at the Mountain View Lake Eco Park about 40kms south of Townsville.
Cooktown Discovery Festival (15-17 June)
Fully costumed re-enactment of Captain Cook’s landing in 1770 with lots of family fun.
Weipa Fishing Classic (8-10 June)
Cape York’s most significant fishing competition with a $100,000 prize up for grabs. Lots of other activities and entertainment also on over the 3 days.
Cairns Airport Adventure Festival (6-10 June)
Action-packed festival including the Cairns Ironman on 10 June.
Kuranda Roots Festival (22-24 June)
All-ages event showcasing artists from the world, roots, reggae and dub genres.
Laura Dance Festival (bi-annual, next one 2019)
Unique cultural event bringing together Cape York’s Aboriginal communities for dance, singing, art and crafts. It’s held every two years at the Dance Festival Showgrounds near Split Rock (approx. 300kms from Cairns). Camping is the only option for accommodation.
Townsville Show (29 June-2 July)
Townsville Show opens 5pm Friday night and runs until 10pm on Monday. The Monday is a public holiday for locals.
Mareeba Rodeo Festival (14-15 July)
Experience Australia’s outback cowboy culture.
Townsville 400 – V8 Supercar Race 2011 (6-8 July)
Probably the biggest event on the Townsville calendar and a major NQ event for revheads. You can book tickets for the event through Ticketek.
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (13-15 July)
An increasingly popular event that celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with art, dance and music on display.
Cairns Show (18-20 July)
Australia’s biggest regional agricultural show. The last day (20th) is a public holiday in Cairns.
Australian Festival Chamber of Music (27 July–5 August)
A well-established event in Townsville with an international reputation. Classical musicians from around the world will be performing.
Whitsunday Reef Festival (2-5 August)
Annual event held in Airlie Beach celebrating life in the Whitsundays
Australian Italian Festival (4-5 August)
Celebration of the regions Italian migrants in Ingham.
Townsville Cultural Festival (17-19 August)
One of Townsville’s best events celebrating the diversity of Australian culture with performances and food from the Pacific Islands, Middle East and a range of other nations.
Airlie Beach Race Week (9-16 August)
Tropical Writers Festival (17-19 August)
A bi-annual event that attracts book lovers and writers from around the country including some big name authors.
Townsville Triathlon Festival (17-19 August)
Hamilton Island Race Week (18-25 August)
A major international event and Australia’s largest offshore sailing regatta.
Cairns Ukulele Festival (tbc)
Feel the tropical vibe with thousands of ukulele players from around the world. A surprisingly fun event that has been gaining momentum each year, especially as they keep trying to break the world record for number of people playing together at the same time.
Cairns Festival (24 August-2 September)
A celebration of living in the tropics. Kicks off with a street parade and finishes with Carnival on Collins on Father’s Day.
Magnetic Island Race Week (30 August-6 September)
A great excuse to enjoy the beautiful Magnetic Island and surrounding ocean. There are also lots of social activities happening on the island too.
Magnetic Island Bay Dayz Festival (tbc)
A whole month of live music, art exhibitions, gallery openings, environmental walks and talks, theatre, workshops and markets
Cairns Amateurs (6-8 September)
A highlight of the Cairns social calendar with four days of fashion, food, racing and entertainment.
Taste Port Douglas (15-16 September)
A popular foodie event that includes celebrity chef dinners, master classes, food trails and lot of other yummy events to lure food lovers to the North.
Wallaby Creek Festival (28-30 September)
Very popular and family-friendly music and arts festival located just south of Cooktown at Home Rule Lodge.
Glendi Festival Townsville (6-8 October)
Previously known as Greek Fest, this event is a celebration of Greek Australian culture with food, music and dance.
Palm Cove Reef Feast (tbc)
An event that celebrates Queensland’s seafood and local produce.
Tablelands Folk Festival (26-28 October)
A popular annual event in Yungaburra that us known as Queensland’s longest running folk festival. Very family friendly with lots of music and entertainment.
Airlie Beach Festival of Music (tbc)
Over 200 international and national performers gather together to feature in various shows all around town in this idyllic tropical environment.
New Years Eve Events
Most large towns and cities in the region have events on New Years Eve from free live music and entertainment to parades and fireworks displays.