Tropic Weekender: Our guide to the best events and things to do in Cairns

Tropic Weekender is back, and it's a special one with Chinese New Year events taking place right across the week in Cairns. 

Cairns Summer Sounds also kicks off with Ocean Alley on Friday night, while you'll also find local live music at the Tanks and the Edge Hill Bowls Club. 

There's also markets to explore, food events, cinema and a Polynesian party. 


Lunar New Year

Today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger! CADCAI, the Cairns & District Chinese Association Inc, will light up the Esplanade tonight, with a colourful display of dragons, lions and traditional performances.

It starts in the Night Markets food court at 6.45pm, before the convoy travels towards the Esplanade Lagoon and wraps up around 8pm.

The Cairns Court House is also housing Lion Tales, an exhibition by three local artists tasked with celebrating the Lunar New Year and sharing the local Chinese community’s stories. It’s on display until 12 February.

Piccolo Cucina is also taking on a new cuisine tonight, offering a special Chinese New Year dinner. $80pp includes canapes, three courses and drinks, with the CADCAI performance taking place on the restaurant’s front at 7.30pm.  

To keep the food festivities going, head to Miss Chief this Thursday evening for the bar’s monthly Yum Cha Emporium. Eight plates of dumplings and other Asian-inspired eats, alongside a glass of wine or a beer, costs $55pp.

Golden Boat’s Chinese New Year Banquet on Sunday evening is another cause for celebration, with dishes like sesame prawn toast and crispy pork on the menu. $68pp, 6.30pm arrival.

Thursday 5 February

Aloha – the Benson Hotel’s Hawaiki Tiki Thursday is here! Featuring Polynesian live music by Waha & Alexi Grey from Flaming Nights, as well as Tiki-themed cocktails and boards. 6 to 9pm. Free entry.

Friday 4 February

Surf rock group Ocean Alley is in town to launch the Cairns Summer Sounds, a series of live music shows taking place at CPAC over February. Friday’s show will also be the first of the band’s national tour. You can also catch them on Saturday night, 7.30pm start. We hear tickets are nearly sold out!

More live music can be found in Edge Hill with Karl S. Williams & Tessa Devine filling Tank 5 with soulful blues and folk tunes. 7.30pm start, tickets essential.

Nick Atherton, another local blues muso, is also playing at the Edge Hill Bowls Club from 6pm.

The Cotton Club is tonight presenting Priday Night, Cairns only free LGBT+ event. This weekend it features DJ Benny & DJ Es, and of course, great drinks. You can find the event at the CBD club on the first and third Friday of every month.  

Saturday 5 February

The Gordonvale Cottage Markets  are on this weekend, as per the event’s first Saturday of the month schedule. Browse a huge collection of local stalls from 7am to midday.

Tune in to watch the Taipans battle the Brisbane Bullets in the Nissan Arena, 4.30pm start. The match screens on Kayo and Foxtel.

No need to wait until October for quality German fun. Oz-toberfest is kicking off at the Cairns German Club this Saturday, featuring all the usual suspects like Oompah music, steins and bratwurst. 4pm till late, free entry.

Sunday 6 February 

This Sunday, Unseen Cinema is set to screen One Second – a drama set during China's cultural revolution. 4.30pm start, BCC Cinemas in Earlville.  

Wine aficionados may like to head to La Fettuccina this Sunday, for the second instalment of the Wine Wars. Five Australian wines chosen by Ross Stevens of The Conservatory Bar go up against five Italian wines selected by John Japp of La Fettucina, with guests to choose which take the cake. $100pp also includes antipasto plates. 4.30pm start, Aussie and Italian themed dress-up highly encouraged!