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

There's now no denying what time of year it is, so to shimmy in all the festivities we have a bunch of Christmas events all weekend long. JUTE's young talent is on full display with help from Overall Arts, and we have comedy at the Tanks with The War on 2023 wrapping the year up in a messy little bow.

Paramour Cabaret is back for one night only, James R. Thomas is hitting the stage at Elixir, and Rock'n'Roar4 Paws is in Mareeba this time to raise funds for the Mareeba Animal Refuge.

Don't forget to check in on our Cairns and Tablelands market guides, there are a few on this weekend to get amongst. Plus our Guide to art exhibitions and events dives deep into the local scene.

Wednesday 29 November

ATYP's acclaimed Fresh Ink National Mentoring Program, nurturing emerging writers, runs annually from April to December across Australia. In partnership with JUTE for its Queensland leg this year, participants in Cairns have honed their skills with mentor Kathryn Ash. The culmination of their efforts, the ATYP Fresh Ink Showcase is a 30-minute play presented at a live reading.

Friday 1 December

After over a year, Paramour Cabaret is back on stage for one-night-only. Join Sylvester Valentine and his talented team for a night of classic and new acts. Dinner and a show deal's are already sold out, but there's still time to catch the show, and no doubt some debauchery. 

Experience the satirical chaos in Paper City, the epitome of political correctness, until a corrupt government greenlights an environmentally disastrous mining project. Witness the hilarious consequences unfold as Koalazilla emerges. Written by Keziah Warren with Amber Grossmann and directed by Amber Grossmann, this uproarious play is performed by the talented senior acting graduates of JUTE Actors Studio, on Friday and Saturday.

To mark World AIDS Day and raise awareness, there is a Candlelight Vigil at Munro Martin Parklands. Come together to reflect, remember, and look to the future. This important event is part of a collection of vigils being held across the state, including in the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. 

Saturday 1 December

Head to the movies for an adrenaline-packed event celebrating the history of freeride mountain biking thanks to Cairns Adventure Films. Witness jaw-dropping stunts, mind-blowing tricks, and the fearless riders pushing the limits. Screening at Event cinemas, Cairns Central.

Cheer on the Taipans at their upcoming home game as they face off against the Brisbane Bullets. Support the team and check out the full schedule of home games.

The Council Christmas Tree will be lit up, kicking off the festive season. To mark the occasion, everyone's favourite blue heeler Bluey, and little sister Bingo will be putting on three free live performances of their special Christmas Show. The lights will be switched on at 7pm, followed by the announcement of the Christmas ecard competition winners.

Head to Freshwater Xmas Festival, a free family event celebrating community. Enjoy food vans, market stalls, a licensed bar, live music, children’s activities, face painting, tennis, and more. Hosted by Freshwater Tennis Club, the event features up to 50 stalls, including local crafts.

Saturday 2 December

The War on 2023: Annual Comedy Gala features top Australian satirists like Mark Humphries and Charles Firth dissecting the highs and lows of the year through one-liners, sketches, and musical comedy. A must-see with non-stop laughs, it's a hilarious take on politics, current events, and the absurdities of modern life.

Starry Night Cinema brings you the latest classic, Barbie, unlike anything you've seen before. Grab your mates, and pack a picnic for an insightful night out. Nick's Souvlaki Food Truck is also onsite for a feed.

Pole Play Studios presents their end of year showcase, In Your Wildest Dreams. Explore limitless possibilities with a display of pole and burlesque dancing, where the boundaries are set to fade away, and dreams come to life on stage.

The Cairns Potters Club is hosting their annual Christmas market. Explore the wonderful creations by club members, and kids can enjoy clay play activities. The festivities kick off at 8 am. 

Presented by Turning Pointe Dance Studios, Ballet to Broadway features two acts set to get you in the festive spirit. Act 1 is The Countdown to Christmas, where dancers bring the joy and spirit of Christmas to life, building anticipation for the holiday season. Act 2 transforms the stage into Showtime on Broadway, offering a spectacular tribute to the world of musical theatre.

Experience an intimate evening of songs, stories, and soundscapes with James R Thomas and special guests at Elixir. James is performing his upcoming album Movement in its entirety.

Sunday 3 December

Rock'n'Roar4 Paws is raising funds for the Mareeba Animal Refuge this weekend at Bosca's, Mareeba. Enjoy live music, food, and the company of furry friends at this pawsome event, all for a good cause. Whether you're a cat lover or a dog enthusiast, join for a good time and show your support for our four-legged pals.

Unseen Cinema is screening Last Film Show. The Indian film is about a 9-year-old boy living with his family in a remote village in India discovers films for the first time and is absolutely mesmerised. Showing in Gujarati, with English subtitles.

Get amongst a hands-on Beginning Beekeeping Workshop at the club apiary in Edmonton, featuring five hives. Jackets and hive tools are provided but personal bee suits can also be worn.