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Experience the ultimate cultural celebration at Cairns Festival’s City Lights, running from Friday 25th of August to Sunday 3rd of September at the Cairns City Library on 151 Abbott St. Collaborating with renowned local artist Roland Nancarrow, this event showcases his exquisite talents in sculpture and painting, brilliantly capturing the allure of the tropics with a focus on tropical birds and plant life. Be prepared for an enchanting sensory adventure as Roland’s captivating artwork comes alive through intricate projections, creating a mesmerising fusion of visuals and sounds. Immerse yourself in this unforgettable extravaganza of light and creativity, where art and illumination intertwine to create an experience like no other. 

On Tuesday, the 29th of August, from 6.00pm to 9.00pm, head to the ethereal setting of Lake Placid for the mesmerising Light Moves Display by Bonemap. Nestled along the Barron River, Lake Placid holds cultural significance as a Djabugay story water place, brought vividly to life by local artist Bernard Lee Singleton Jr. Witness the unfolding narrative through mesmerising animation of creation motifs projected onto the rainforest gorge surrounding the waters. The event also features the late Arone Meeks’ artwork, showcasing animated characters from his award-winning children’s book ‘Enora and the Black Crane.’ Light Moves is an enchanting journey, celebrating Indigenous art, dance, and music, and honouring the living spirit of this Bama story place.  

Continuing the festival’s magic, don’t miss the breathtaking Reef Lights at the Esplanade Lagoon, also running from Friday 25th August to Sunday 3rd of September, with the laser show nightly at 7pm. Celebrating the interconnection of the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest, this awe-inspiring sensory light experience immerses guests in vibrant colours, captivating lasers, and enchanting soundscapes. The event makes a powerful statement about Cairns’ unique culture and its profound connection to these natural wonders. Prepare to be dazzled by this extraordinary journey of light and creativity that will leave you spellbound. 

The first weekend of Cairns Festival kicks off in grand style with a dazzling opening parade that winds its way down the Esplanade at 5.30pm. Imagine the excitement in your children’s eyes as they witness captivating floats, colourful costumes, and a myriad of performers from diverse cultural backgrounds. The festive atmosphere will leave everyone enthralled and set the tone for the days of celebration ahead. Attracting thousands of visitors and locals, the Grand Parade has long been the opening highlight of the Cairns Festival and is a true community event in the finest of Tropical North Queensland traditions.  

Join in on the Grand Parade festivities and then watch the sky sparkle with spectacular fireworks at 7:30pm. 

Prepare for a riotously entertaining spectacle as a flappy-footed flamboyance of full-size flamingos descends upon Cairns in an outrageously hilarious outdoor performance by the creative geniuses at Dead Puppet Society. 

These brightly-colored, bendy-necked, and leg-balancing birds are undeniably nature’s most amusing creatures. Known as heroes of front lawn decor and the preferred guests of croquet clubs, they are guaranteed to create a scene wherever they go. 

Flamingos was co-commissioned by Dead Puppet Society and Cairns Festival, ensuring an exclusive and unforgettable experience for all who attend. 

Friday, August 25: 

  • 7.15pm – 7.45pm: Tanks Arts Centre
  • 8.15pm – 8.45pm: Cairns Esplanade (Main Stage) 
  • 9.45pm – 10.15pm: Tanks Arts Centre

Saturday, August 26 (The Esplanade – Grand Parade): 

  • 6pm – 6.30pm 
  • 7pm – 7.30pm 
  • 8pm – 8.30pm 
  • 9pm – 9.30pm 

Sunday, August 27 (Court House Gallery – Front Lawn): 

  • 6pm – 6.30pm 
  • 7pm – 7.30pm 

Sunday, August 27 (The Esplanade): 

  • 8pm – 8.30pm 
  • 9pm – 9.30pm 

Prepare to be transported back in time to the whimsical world of the side shows of old with The Knock ‘Em Downs – a comically interactive and visually engaging experience like no other. Step inside the vibrant tent and get ready to embark on a crazy journey of fun and games, where nostalgia takes a curious twist and the carnies have magically transformed into clowns! 

Court House Gallery, Front Lawn:

  • Friday 25 August – 5.45pm – 9.00pm
  • Sunday 27 August – 4.45pm – 8.00pm
  • Monday 28 August – 5.45pm – 9.00pm
  • Tuesday 29 August – 5.45pm – 9.00pm
  • Wednesday 30 August – 5.45pm – 9.00pm
  • Friday 1 September – 5.45pm – 9.00pm
  • Saturday 2 September – 5.45pm – 9.00pm
  • Sunday 3 September – 4.45pm – 8.00pm  
Lagoon Plaza Cairns Esplanade: Fri 25 Aug – Mon 28 Aug, 5pm

String Symphony is the story of Leor’s awakening and discovery of both himself and his connection to others. Hand-woven using more than one kilometre of woven rope, the giant marionette is suspended within a 5metre truss. Illuminated from the inside by 600 LED lights, Leor truly comes to life when 10 community volunteers each take a string and work together. Told in three distinct acts, Leor’s adventure unfolds with the help of the narrator, puppeteers and original music score. This is a joyful, interactive and visual stunning work that appeals to all-ages.

Friday 25 August
5.00pm | 6.30pm | 7.40pm

Saturday 26 August
10.00am | 11.10am | 4.00pm | 7.30pm | 8.40pm

Sunday 27 August
10.30am | 11.40am | 5.00pm | 6.30pm | 7.40pm

Monday 28 August
10.00am | 11.10am | 5.30pm | 7.00pm | 8.30pm

Cairns Esplanade, Sat 26 Aug4:30 pm: Duration 15 minutes 

Prepare to be amazed as multi-disciplined aerobatics pilot Emma McDonald takes to the skies with a thrilling aerobatic display over the breathtaking Cairns Esplanade on Saturday, 26th August, somewhere between 4.30pm – 5.30pm. 

For the best view of this high-flying spectacle, head to any spot along the Cairns Esplanade and be prepared to witness Emma’s awe-inspiring manoeuvres in the sky. The excitement doesn’t end there! Stick around for the Cairns Festival Grand Parade, set to kick off at 5.30 pm, adding more festivities to your day. 

Norman Park, Gordonvale, Friday September 1st – 6pm 

Join Moving Picture Nights for a captivating evening as they present “Blueback,” a compelling feature film adaptation of Tim Winton’s beloved novella. This universally resonant fable is a heartwarming tale about friendship, family, and the remarkable impact of a young girl’s determination. 

The event promises an enjoyable evening for all, starting with live music at 6pm, setting the perfect ambience for the film screening at 7.00pm. To ensure your comfort during the movie, bring a picnic rug or chair for seating. You can also bring along your favourite snacks as this is a delightful opportunity for a picnic. Please note that “Blueback” celebrates a family-friendly atmosphere, making it an alcohol-free event for everyone to enjoy. 

Tanks Arts Centre & Cairns Botanic Gardens, Collins Avenue: Sunday September 3rd,  9am – 3pm 

Join the annual street party celebrating life in the tropics as you wander through the beautiful Tanks Arts Centre and Cairns Botanic Gardens precinct.

Be surprised by pop-up dance acts, lively street performers and enjoy the multi-cultural rhythms coming from the main stage.

Over 200 market stalls featuring plants, arts crafts and more will line the streets, together with an extensive array of free workshops that make up Carnival on Collins, a Cairns’ Father’s Day tradition and a Cairns Festival favourite!



Hope is an all-new concert by 3-time Grammy®-winning Soweto Gospel Choir – celebrating songs and anthems from the Freedom movement of Nelson Mandela’s South Africa, back to the Civil Rights Movement of Martin Luther King’s 1950’s America.

Hope opens with a rousing program of South African freedom songs, before the repertoire echoes down through time to the USA, with beautiful renditions of the protest music of the Civil Rights Movement, including works by legendary artists James Brown, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder and the one-and-only Aretha Franklin.

Formed to celebrate the unique and inspirational power of African Gospel music, Soweto Gospel Choir draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around Soweto. The choir is dedicated to sharing the joy of faith through music with audiences around the world and has received critical acclaim and audience adoration for their powerful renditions of African American spirituals, gospel and folk music.


Queensland Symphony Orchestra returns to Cairns for a spectacular concert experience. Chief Conductor Umberto Clerici will lead the musicians in a performance that promises to delight the senses.

The program begins with Peter Sculthorpe’s Earth Cry, an evocative piece that captures the unique beauty and vastness of the Australian landscape.

William Barton’s virtuosic performance on the didgeridoo is undoubtedly a highlight of this piece. The concert also features Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.5, a masterpiece that shows off all the sections of the Orchestra. With conductor Umberto Clerici at the helm, the orchestra will bring the music of Sculthorpe and Tchaikovsky to life with all the power and emotion they deserve.