While our Southern friends are stoking the fireplaces and pulling their novelty jumpers out of storage, Port Douglas is ramping up for balmy days of tropical perfection and endless sunsets over the Coral Sea. There’s something in the air at this time of year – the taste of paradise on the horizon, garnished with good times and grooves.
Yup, it’s that time of year again where we celebrate and promote the very best Tropical North Queensland has to offer – the sea, the sun, the abundance of fresh produce, the talented local artists, musicians and performers. Port Douglas Carnivale is a celebration of our laidback lifestyle, all while being entertained by incredible talent. It’s time to party in paradise!
While the big weekend is the 20 - 22nd May, events start taking place from as early as the 6th May. With events ranging from family-friendly to adults only, how ever will you choose? Here’s a run-down of our top picks.
Friday May 20th, 12.30 – 5.30PM
Hands up who doesn’t love a long lunch? (*crickets*). Kicking off the Carnivale celebrations is the hugely successful event favourite, The Longest Lunch. Cool breezes through your hair, ocean views accompanied by local produce and excellent drinks to get the weekend started, The Longest Lunch is back this year by popular demand, returning to its original home at the Marina. Local restaurateur superstars are collaborating together, utilising the best available local produce to bring guests a truly FNQ experience. Serving up a delicious and delightful afternoon of gourmet treats, there's also entertainment by Spiegeltent performers, cool tunes by DJ Bart, and MC'd by Darren Lyons.
Friday May 20th, 5.00PM
From 5PM, the main drag of Macrossan Street gets all dollied up for the sights and sounds of live music, street performers and the official opening of the Carnivale weekend, the Port Douglas Carnivale Street Parade. This year’s theme is Tropical Wonderland, so pop on your very best Hawaiian shirt or Carmen Miranda fruit hat, and practice those dance moves. The parade, with creative floats from local businesses, kicks off at 6.30PM followed by a spectacular fireworks display at 8PM.
Saturday 21st May, 9.00AM – 3.00PM
Grab your spade and bucket and head down to the iconic Four Mile Beach for Family Beach Day and show off your sand architecture skills. Sand sculpting competitions with some EPIC prizes, market stalls, face painting, beach hockey, a sky bejewelled with hundreds of kites, Salsa lessons in the sand, make up this day not to miss. Kites Queensland will also bring their huge Monster Kites to Four Mile Beach and take over the sky!
Saturday May 21st, 5.00PM – Late
This year, Tropic Rock is turning back the clock and celebrating the times when things were just that little bit simpler and life seemed less complicated. Not so much an 80’s theme party, but it might as well be, Tropic Rock brings you two of the greats of the era and arguably some of the most popular songs ever sung, to the stunning surrounds of Rex Smeal Park for a Carnivale Party you’ll never forget.
So dress up, bring your sense of fun and get ready to party in paradise with the greatest tribute acts in the country. Not one, but TWO high energy party bands that will faithfully deliver all the classics you know so well. So join us under the stars and surrounded by palms as we let our hair down and party with the best, The Australian INXS Show and Its My Life - The Bon Jovi Story.
Sunday 22nd May 12.00 – 8.00PM
Seafood and the tropics are a love affair that go together like Queen Bey and J-Z. You’re going to want to wear stretchy pants as Port Douglas Carnivale welcomes back the Seafood Extravaganza – an afternoon on the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina boardwalk snacking on oceanic delights, straight of the back of the boat, all washed down with a sloop or two from Hemingway's Brewery. Entertainment for kids and live music make this an afternoon for everyone to enjoy.
May 6th – 22nd (see program for show times)
Like stumbling drunkenly into a 19th-century bootleg salon, the Wonderland Spiegeltent transports you to a world of aural decadence steeped in the darkest of blues and lusty, busty entertainment. The famous Wonderland Spiegeltent, one of few extraordinary and hand-sewn pavilions left in the world originally used as travelling dance halls, bars and entertainment venues, are the hub of night time entertainment over the Port Douglas Carnivale festival.
With a variety of circus-inspired shows for the family and the more late-night risqué adults only cabaret and burlesque, the Spiegeltent shows are a decadent blend of sensational acrobatics, operatic cabaret and tongue in cheek comedy. A non-stop celebration of the bewildering, the astounding and the downright sexy, these are shows not to miss.
Saturday 21st May, 12 noon - 6.00PM
Whether you're a newbie to the delights of juniper or you've been distilling your own Mother's Ruin in an unused bathtub for years, take a journey of gin discovery with the first-ever FNQ Gin Fest as we indulge in a fantastic celebration of all things gin, presented by Hemingway’s Brewery.
The FNQ Gin Fest brings together six local distilleries, many of them award-winning (and all of them ridiculously tasty). Celebrate craft gin and distilling, introduce yourself to new gins you probably haven't discovered yet, and enjoy tasting samples in person from the array of exhibiting distillers. The FNQ Gin Fest is also enriched by fabulous food trucks, satisfying all cravings and munchies.
If you want to fill your tropical days with more than just the pool bar menu, Port Douglas Daintree region has a jam-packed events calendar to keep you keen. For the foodies, make sure you've packed your stretchy pants for Taste Port Douglas in August; Port Shorts Film Festival is widely considered the best little film festival this side of Cannes (not to be confused with Cairns), and for the adventure lovers, The Cairns Airport Adventure Festival is sure to get the adrenalin pumping. Whatever your passion, you’ll find something to excite you in Port Douglas Daintree.