Laura Quinkan Dance Festival

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Head north for these epic Cape York events

TNQ Writer

Welcome to Cape York, an incredibly diverse region sprinkled with rugged national parks, pristine waterways, secluded beaches, rich Indigenous heritage and some of the best events you’ll find.

From races and rodeos to spectacular cultural displays, there’s no shortage of exciting events to explore. Find your next adventure with this guide to Cape York events.

Cape York Marathon

Brace yourselves for this epic race to the tip! Starting at dawn in Australia’s northernmost mainland settlement, Bamaga, the Cape York Marathon takes place each year in May. 

Competitors can choose between a 21km half marathon or the 42km full marathon, with both routes finishing at the tip of Australia, plus a 7km fun run that was added to the program in 2022. 

Cooktown Discovery Festival

If you’re keen to learn all about the shared story of reconciliation between Captain Cook’s crew and the Guugu Yimithirr people, then point your compass north for the annual Cooktown Discovery Festival in June.

Set on the meeting ground of Indigenous and European cultures back in 1770, the discovery festival shares a blend of Indigenous and non-indigenous settlement stories through traditional music, performance, food, workshops, markets and more.

Laura Quinkan Dance Festival

For centuries, Laura has been the central meeting place for Cape York’s Indigenous population and is home to some of the most well-preserved rock art in the world. 

At the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival, you can immerse yourself in the culture of the region and discover why this is Queensland’s longest-running Indigenous event.

Every second year, Laura sets the stage for up to 1000 performers from 20 different Indigenous communities to showcase their culture over three epic days. It’s not just a magnificent display of dance and art, there are also workshops on offer for festival-goers to get a real hands-on experience.

Once you’re done dancing up a storm, check out some of the nearby Quinkan Rock Art galleries, touted by UNESCO as one of the top 10 rock art sites in the world.

Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival

Get ready for a breathtaking display of rich Indigenous culture on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. 

Held over four spectacular days, the Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival treats visitors to traditional performances, boat races, forums and even a reconstructed traditional village, creating what is now known as one of the most incredible Indigenous cultural festivals in the country.

Wallaby Creek Festival

With something to suit every taste, the Wallaby Creek Festival is your one-stop-shop for family fun this September. Get involved in three days of art, music and culture as you camp out under the stars, surrounded by stunning tropical rainforest. 

The event program offers original acts on three stages, with everything from art and performance to food stalls, children’s activities and healing spaces. Plus a safe swimming spot in the river for when you need a little cooling off.

2022 marks the festival’s 20th anniversary, so this year’s event is one not to be missed! 

Outback by the Sea Festival

Get your country on in Carpentaria for the Outback by the Sea Festival. 

Kick back and relax at the Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre and toe-tap the night away to award winning country artists including Adam Harvey, Raechel Whitchurch, Camille Trail and Neil Murray all performing on the outdoor stage under the stars. 

Laura Races & Rodeo

Saddle up and place your bets, the Laura Races and Rodeo is an action-packed weekend for the whole family to enjoy. Watch jockeys vie for first place on the outback track as they put their skills and steeds to the test, and round it all up with a show of ringers, stockmen and rodeo riders from all around the country. If you’re looking to join punters and racing enthusiasts in the small town of Laura for some annual horse sports, this is one event not to miss.

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