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 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.