Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Image Credit: Darren Jew/ Tourism and Events Queensland

Top 10 events in Tropical North Queensland

  • BY AG Staff |
  • March 21, 2017

From food festivals to the 2017 Rugby World Cup, here's our pick of some of the best events the region has to offer this year.

1. Undara Outback Rock & Blues Festival

Frequency: Annual

When: 21-23 April 2017

Location: Undara Experience, Undara Volcanic National Park, Savannah Way

Distance from Cairns: 275km, sealed road

2017 events tropical north queensland

Image credit: Brad Newton

Outback Rock and Blues is rapidly growing in popularity and is set to rival sister event, Opera in the Outback with many guests coming as much for the music as for the magic that is Undara. Outback Rock and Blues attracts a wide variety of visitors who return each year as well as being highly rated among performers. Outback Rock and Blues is an amazing weekend of music and mates in one of North Queensland’s most unique locations – Undara Experience.

2. Great Barrier Reef Masters Games 

Frequency: Biennial

When: 25-28 May 2017

Location: Cairns

2017 events tropical north queensland

Close to 2000 masters-aged men and women from Australia, Oceania and South East Asia are expected to converge on stunning Tropical North Queensland to take part in this great sporting event. This exciting multi-sport event will see participants compete in 23 different individual and team sports across 4 days of competition.

A nightly entertainment program complements the daily sporting program, providing an avenue for participants to socialise and experience the destination's adventure and hospitality.  

More info: www.gbrmg.com.au

3. Cairns Airport Adventure Festival

Frequency: Annual

When: 5-13 June 2017

Location: Cairns

2017 events tropical north queensland

The festival features an event for everyone, including IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns, RRR Mountain Bike Challenge, Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge, Quicksilver Reef Swim – Green Island, The Cairns Post Bright Night Run and McDonalds IRONKIDS Cairns! The pinnacle event of the festival is ‘Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns’ a gruelling full-distance triathlon that features a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike leg that travels the Great Barrier Reef Drive, one of the most scenic coastal roads in Australia, and a 42.2km run that includes the Cairns Esplanade before finishing in the heart of Cairns.

4. Cooktown Discovery Festival

Frequency: Annual

When: 9-11 June 2017

Location: Cooktown

Distance from Cairns: 327 km, unsealed sections of road north of Cape Tribulation on Bloomfield Track or sealed road through Inland Road.

2017 events tropical north queensland

Cooktown’s rich history, colourful local characters and amazing natural surroundings make the Discovery Festival a one of a kind event marking the landing of Captain James Cook and the first contact between Australian Indigenous culture and Europeans. The festival includes local indigenous and contemporary dance, the re-enactment of Cook’s landing, traditional ceremony, and contemporary events throughout the town streets and venues from Friday evening through Sunday.

5. Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Frequency: Annual

When: 14-16 July 2017

Location: Cairns

2017 events tropical north queensland

CIAF is the quintessential celebration of the art of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Tropical Cairns is the setting for the three-day annual display of visual art, music, performance and knowledge sharing in a combination of free and ticketed events. CIAF is an art fair but it is also a place for the finest cultural exchange and a fair point of sale for the Indigenous artists of Queensland. The event is dedicated to supporting the careers of Queensland Indigenous artists by providing a platform for exposure and income generation.

6. Taste Port Douglas

Frequency: Annual

When: 11-13 August 2017

Location: Port Douglas

Distance from Cairns: 67km, sealed road

2017 events tropical north queensland

Taste Port Douglas is an annual celebration of TNQ food culture and lifestyle. The three-day foodie fest brings together and highlights the region’s produce, farmers, indigenous culture, restaurants and chefs, with the help of an inspiring line-up of guest chefs and presenters from some of the most prestigious restaurants and food publications in the country. Over three days, guests enjoy collaboration lunches and dinners in stunning locations across Port Douglas. The main event is the Taste Port Douglas Food & Wine Festival weekend, taking place over two days at Rex Smeal Park.

7. UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

Frequency: One off – host destination changes every year

When: 5-10 September 2017

Location: Smithfield

Distance from Cairns: 16km, sealed road

2017 events tropical north queensland

The 2017 flagship event will feature over 300 riders from 35 countries competing in the cross country (XCO) and Downhill (DHI) disciplines. Set to welcome thousands of fans and spectators to the region, the UCI Mountain World Championships will showcase the beauty of the destination to the world and truly position Tropical North Queensland as a mountain biking mecca.

8. Reef Feast Palm Cove

Frequency: Annual

When: 5-8 October 2017

Location: Palm Cove

Distance from Cairns: 27km, sealed road

2017 events tropical north queensland

Reef Feast Palm Cove is one of Tropical North Queensland’s premier foodie events celebrating the region’s fine cuisine, produce, live music, culture and lifestyle. With a program including events such as The Longest Lunch, Prawns by the Jetty, Sunset Soiree, TNQ Beer Awards and a seaside market day, Reef Feast mixes just the right amount of family-friendly activities with events to tempt the most discerning of palates.

9. Tropical Journeys Great Barrier Reef Marathon 

Frequency: Annual

When: 21-22 October 2017

Location: Port Douglas

Distance from Cairns: 67km, sealed road

2017 events tropical north queensland

Dubbed "the world’s best adventure course" by Olympic marathon champion Steve Moneghetti, the diverse landscape of Port Douglas offers a combination of beach, road and trail running for all distances - enabling runners to see this amazing area up close and personal. All distances start on the flat, compact sands of Four Mile Beach - some with the sun rising over the Coral Sea, setting the tone for the rest of the run. Distances range from the gruelling 74km JCU Ultra Marathon to a 2.3km Junior Challenge. 

10. Rugby League World Cup

Frequency: Every 4 years - host country changes every World Cup.

When: 29 October & 11 November 2017

Location: Cairns

2017 events tropical north queensland

Cairns will be host city to a Round One double header on 29 October, with Scotland v Tonga and Ireland v Italy battling it out at Barlow Park. Scotland will be back on 11 Nov, this time playing against Samoa for a Round Three encounter that could determine which team progresses to the Quarter Finals.

More info: www.rlwc2017.com/host-cities/cairns

This article was published with the support of Tourism Tropical North Queensland.