Blog Post

Christmas in Cairns and Port Douglas 2021

TNQ Writer

Whether you’re heading to Cairns for the holiday season or you’re a local looking for some festive cheer, here’s what’s on for Christmas in Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Cairns. Palm trees are juxtaposed with twinkling snowflake lights, the decorations have been dusted off and the kids are counting down the days until Santa Claus arrives.

Whether you are looking for Christmas day lunch in Cairns, or are looking for whats on at New Year, pop on your Santa hat, blast Mariah and get ready to discover what’s on for the 2021 festive season in Tropical North Queensland.

Christmas Lights

Nothing says tropical Christmas like the esplanade lagoon tree

Cairns Esplanade Christmas Tree Lights Switch On

Christmas celebrations don’t get more tropical than the annual Christmas tree lights turn on at the Cairns Lagoon. Don your bells and Santa hats and be merry and bright with festive music, carols, dance performances and a Santa meet and greet. Then feel festive and tropical in equal park with a wander down Christmas Tree Alley, featuring over 30 palm trees decorated by local schools and community groups.

When: 1 December – entertainment from 4:30pm, lights switch on at 7pm
Where: Cairns Lagoon Plaza
Totally Workwear Christmas Lights on The Move 2021

Grab the whole family and ride, walk, skip or scoot to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Decorate your ride with lights and spread some cheer on the 6km Esplanade loop or 16km Christmas lights house tour.

When: 9 December
Where: Fogarty Park
Hit FNQ Cavalcade of Lights

Cairns’ ultimate Christmas light event is back for 2021! Dress up your car and join a cavalcade of vehicles for a tour of the best Christmas light displays in Cairns.

When: 10 December
Where: Cairns Show Grounds
Christmas Lights Interactive Map

The Cairns Post is compiling an interactive map of the best Christmas lights in Cairns and surrounds. The map will be released on December 3.

Markets & Shopping

Not started your Christmas shopping? Keep it local and head to Christmas Markets, local markets or locally-owned shops.

Christmas Markets in Redlynch Valley

Get into the spirit with Christmas Markets in Redlynch Valley featuring Christmas Carols, food and face painting.

When: December 4 4PM- 8.30PM
Where: Xavier Herbert Recreational Park
Twilight at Limberlost

Head to Limberlost for late night shopping for all the green thumbs in your life! Bring your dog for a pet photo and enjoy entertainment, live music, giveaways and more.

When: December 2 5.30-7.30pm
Where: Limberlost Nursery, Freshwater
COUCH Christmas Market

Browse over 160 stalls of local handmade crafts and food and beverage stalls. Entry is a gold coin donation with proceeds supporting the COUCH Wellness Centre.

When: December 12 8am-2pm
Where: Cairns Showgrounds


Carols in Cairns 2020

Carols by Candlelight

This years Carols By Candlelight will be virtual for a second year running due to the uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions. The pre-recorded video featuring 28 local acts will screen on December 19.

When: 19 December
Where: Online
Holloways Beach Christmas Carols

Head to Holloways Beach on Saturday 4 December and sing along to your favourite Christmas carols. There’s fun for the whole family including amusements, facepainting, entertainment, food stalls and a visit from Santa himself.

When: 4 December 5pm- 9pm
Where: Syd and Jane Granville Memorial Park, Holloways Beach
Joy to the world: Cairns community carols

Warm up your vocal chords and sing along to some of your favourite Christmas carols at the Cairns Showgrounds, finished with a fireworks display.

When: 12 December 5pm-9pm
Where: Cairns Showgrounds
Christmas in the Cane

Get festive in Gordonvale at Christmas in the Cane. Walk through a real life Bethlehem and enjoy fun activities, rides and fireworks.

When: 12 December 3pm-8pm
Where: 42 Crossland Road, Gordonvale

Shopping Centres

Cairns Central Shopping Centre

Head to Cairns Central from 17 November to 24 December for a meet, greet and photo with Santa.

Smithfield Shopping Centre

Santa will arrive at Smithfield Shopping Centre on November 24 and will be available for photos until December 24. Pet Santa photos and sensitive Santa will also be available.

Mt Sheridan Plaza Shopping Centre

The interactive Santa photo experience will run from November 27 to December 24 from 9am-2pm.

Christmas Entertainment & Theatre

Handel’s Messiah- A Christmas Celebration

In many countries, a performance of Handel’s Messiah is a Christmas Tradition. A massed choir, talented soloists and a highly accomplished orchestra will flock to CPAC on December 5 for an incredible performance of Handel’s Messiah conducted by Stella Massey.

When: 5 Dec 1pm-2pm
Where: Cairns Performing Arts Centre
Dancescapes the June Vale Dancers Presents Christmas in Candyland

Join five sisters as they get pulled into a real life Candyland board game in a colourful dance adventure.

When: 10-11 Dec
Where: Cairns Performing Arts Centre

Christmas Lunch in Cairns

Accompany your Christmas lunch with some of the best views in Cairns at Rocco

Have a cruise-y Christmas on Spirit of Cairns

CC’s Bar and Grill by Crystalbrook

Eat, drink, be merry at CC’s Bar and Grill by Crystalbrook. Settle in for a three-course shared menu taking inspiration from some traditional festive favourites, all served with a sophisticated CC’s twist. $149 per person, including a glass of Perrier Jouet ‘Grand Brut’ on arrival.

Flynn’s Italian by Crystalbrook

Buon Natale! Experience an Italian Christmas in the tropics at Flynn’s Italian by Crystalbrook. Dine with friends and family with stunning views across the Coral Sea while you enjoy a delicious Italian-inspired four course menu. $129 per adult with a glass of Moet & Chandon on arrival, $109 per teen (11-17 years), $69 per child (5-11 years), four years and under free. View children’s menu (5-11 years) here.

Pullman Cairns International

There’s no such thing as overindulging on Christmas Day and Pullman Cairns International has three different Christmas day dining options; a Christmas lunch and dinner in Coco’s Kitchen and Bar and an adult’s only seafood extravaganza in the Bluewater Rooms.

Cairns Colonial Club

Family fun is on the menu at the Cairns Colonial Club. The Christmas Day Luncheon includes 3 courses and a choice of an alcoholic and non alcoholic drink package. The kid’s have their very own kids menu (including the very festive option of chicken nuggets) and tickets include access to resort facilities, including the main lagoon pool.

Dundees on the Waterfront

Head to the marina for a three course Christmas Day lunch at Dundees for $135pp including Bon Bon’s.

Spirit of Cairns Dinner Cruise

Take to the Trinity Inlet for a cruisey Christmas with Spirit of Cairns. Indulge in a three course set menu and retire outside to the spacious decks for the salty air of the Trinity Inlet.

Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns

If the kids fancy a meet and greet with Mr Claus himself, head to the Shangri-La The Marina, whose Christmas buffet and 3 hour drink package comes with live roaming entertainment and gifts from Santa for children 12 and under.


Enjoy a succulent 3-course menu with your choice of entree, main and dessert, plus amuse bouche, bonbon and complimentary cocktail at Vivaldis.

Novotel Cairns

Head to Novotel in Cairns city for a bottomless seafood feast with local fresh prawns and oysters, hot and cold options, salads and desserts. Includes a 3 hour beverage package and kids under 12 enjoy a visit and gift from Santa.

Rydges Esplanade

Treat the whole family to a Christmas to remember at Rydges Esplanade with a shared grazing style lunch served to your table.

Pullman Reef Hotel Casino

Head to the Urchin’s Ballroom at the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino for a buffet with all the trimming and a 2.5 hour beverage package. Kids can enjoy an activity room and kids age 12 and under will receive a gift from Santa.

Christmas Lunch in Palm Cove & Northern Beaches

See Santa by the seaside

Pullman Palm Cove

The whole family will enjoy the gourmet 3 course plated lunch on offer at Pullman Palm Cove. Adults can indulge in a 3 hour deluxe beverage package, whilst the little ones will enjoy a visit and gift from Santa. $199 for adults, $119 for teens, $69 for kids

Peppers Beach Club & Spa, Palm Cove

A Christmas lunch overlooking Palm Cove beach is on offer at Peppers Beach Club and Spa. Tuck into hot and cold seafood, plus all of your Christmas favourites accompanied by a 3 hour beverage package. There will be a visit from Santa, with gifts for all the children. $179 for adults, $119 for teens, $69 for children 5-12, $20 for children 0-3


Christmas Lunch in Port Douglas

Christmas in paradise awaits at Port Douglas

Pullman Port Douglas

Indulge in a poolside Christmas Day lunch at Pullman Port Douglas featuring entertainment with Lady Valiant, gifts from Santa for the kids, a beverage package for adults and a sumptuous buffet for all. $215 for adults, $125 for teens, $79 for children 4-12, free for children under 4.

Sheraton Grand Mirage

The iconic Sheraton Grand Mirage is pulling out all the stocks for Christmas Day, including a premium seafood buffet, live music from Kiki Courtidis and a 2.5 hour beverage package. $275 for adults, $175 for teens, $99 for children


Christmas day on the Great Barrier Reef

Have a Wally jolly Christmas on Sunlover Reef Cruises

Photo by Sunlover Reef Cruises

Swap a winter wonderland for an underwater wonderland on the Great Barrier Reef and spend your Christmas Day exploring one of the seven wonders of the world.

Sunlover Reef Cruises

You won’t be lonely this Christmas on a trip with Sunlover. Head out to the Outer Barrier Reef to their Moore Reef pontoon for four hours of snorkelling, a glass bottom boat tour, semi-sub tour and more. If that alone isn’t enough to make you feel like a big kid at Christmas, they also have a waterslide swirling from the top of their pontoon. Sunlover also serve a sumptuous tropical buffet lunch in partnership with Master Chef Guest Judge Nick Holloway from NuNu Palm Cove. The menu showcases local flavours and includes Coral Sea prawns and sticky ginger caramel chicken.

Fitzroy Island

Have a very happy holidays and stay on an island paradise for Christmas. Fitzroy Island resort serves up Christmas with a side of sunshine, offering a Christmas buffet at Zephyr Restaurant for both lunch and dinner. The kids can enjoy a visit from Santa before jumping into the big blue and snorkelling over colourful corals right off the beach.

New Year's Eve

The Esplanade comes alight at the annual New Year's Eve Fireworks

Cairns Esplanade

Say sayonara to 2021 with literal bang on Cairns Esplanade. Catch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks at the family friendly time of 8.30PM and at midday to kick off the new year with an explosion of colour.


While You’re Here

Keep the festive fun flowing and explore the iconic attractions of Tropical North Queensland.

cairns esplanade
Cairns & Northern Beaches
16 things to do your first time in Cairns

If ever the statement “so much to do, so little time” rang true of a destination, Cairns would be it. With the Great Barrier Reef in its front yard and the Wet Tropics rainforest out the back, aside from your bathers, time is the best thing you can pack for a visit to Tropical North Queensland. If it’s your first time in the North Queensland capital, start with these 16 things to do in Cairns.

Read more
Emerald Creek Falls
Tropical North Queensland
20 waterfalls near Cairns

Mighty mountain ranges and Wet Tropics Rainforest create the optimum environment for a myriad of extraordinary waterfalls. Fall in love with these 20 waterfall wonderlands only a short drive from Cairns.

Read more
AJ Hackett
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Adrenaline-fuelled adventures near Cairns

So you’ve tackled Tropical North Queensland’s best mountain-biking trails, or conquered all the highest peaks and now you’re looking for your next adrenaline-inducing activity? From bungy jumping to jet boat rides, here’s some new ways to get your adrenaline racing.

Read more
Musgravea Track swimming hole
Tropical North Queensland
Dive into Tropical North Queensland’s swimming holes

If you’ve been shredding the region’s mountain bike parks, exploring its wilderness trails or simply ambling about on two wheels and need to reinvigorate tired muscles, set your compass for these amazing spots.

Read more
Great Barrier Reef
10 Great Barrier Reef Experiences for Adventure Seekers

While most people come to the Great Barrier Reef for postcard-perfect swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving in the real-life World Heritage-listed aquarium, there’s plenty of ways to experience the reef and not all involve getting wet. Choose your own Tropical North Queensland reef adventure with this adrenaline scale ranging from sunset sails to vistas served at speeds of up to 200km per hour.

Read more
Ellis Beach
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Guide to Cairns Beaches

A chain of relaxed seaside villages lay just north of Cairns, each boasting their own unique features. Find out more about each of Cairns’ beaches and which tickle your fancy.

Read more
mount quincan crater retreat atherton tablelands
Atherton Tablelands
7 great reasons to head to the Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands are the kind of place you want to take at your own pace. Jump in a car and head inland to tick off these must-do experiences.

Read more
Rex Smeal Park
Port Douglas
Things to do in Port Douglas

Don’t let its flop and drop reputation fool you, there are many things to do in Port Douglas. From hunting with Traditional Owners & exploring the Great Barrier Reef, to river floats & wildlife parks. Here’s how to spend your time in Port Douglas.

Read more
Cairns Adventure Group white water rafting
Tropical North Queensland
7 Rainforest Adventures in Tropical North Queensland

From mild to wild, there’s endless opportunities for rainforest adventures in Tropical North Queensland.

Read more
Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome
Cairns & Northern Beaches
Ideas for a rainy day in Cairns with kids

Kids restless and suffering cabin fever? Let them release that pent-up energy by ziplining over a crocodile, exploring underwater coral gardens or venturing through the Southern Hemisphere’s largest butterfly sanctuary.

Read more