Tropical Events Worth Travelling For

Whether you're a local having a staycation or you’re a guest visiting our fine tropical climes, one thing's for sure: you won't be bored from a lack of culture, entertainment and events throughout the year on your tropical holiday. With everything from blockbuster festivals, live music, indigenous art and dance, captivating sporting events, carnivale-inspired circus and world-class films, Port Douglas and Daintree is the place to look at when pulling out your highlighter to mark off all those extended public holiday annual leave times.

If you're someone who travels for entertainment and a rollicking good time, you might want to book those flights now. This is an impressive line-up of our Top 6, with plenty more yet to be confirmed. Hop to it.

Port Douglas Carnivale Via Fb


WHEN: February 14–17, 2020

WHERE: Check website for event locations in Port Douglas

It’s not called Queens-land for nothing you know. Port Douglas celebrated its very first LGBTQI+ Festival in February 2020. The inaugural Port Douglas Hot & Steamy Festival took place from 14 – 17 February 2020 as a precursor to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The line up of weekend events was certainly impressive – from showcasing local restaurants through to taking full advantage of the wide range of exceptional event spaces, teamed with entertainment from world-class cabaret performers and DJs, this was one weekend that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. The festival returns next year from February 19-21st 2021!

Rainbow edit


WHEN: Event postponed

WHERE: Port Douglas Yacht Club

If you know the difference between heeling and a keel or a jib and jibe, then this event is for you. The Quicksilver Port Douglas Race Week invites all yachts, especially those that like a little race, for a week of sailing, food and fun. Taking place in one of the best sporting playgrounds nature could provide, the Port Douglas Raceweek regatta is held over five days and includes racing around the stunning Low Isles and Snapper Island as well as some technical racing off Four Mile Beach. And like all good regattas, it’s finished off with a most excellent closing event at the Port Douglas Yacht Club.

Photo credit: Adventures of a Sailor Girl: Nic Douglass


WHEN: Event postponed

WHERE: Check website for event locations in Port Douglas

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. Celebrated over one jam-packed weekend, expect to see the very best of what the tropics has to offer – a twilight street parade, lashings of good food and good wine, talented local and national musicians, comedians and cabaret, acrobats and adult circus performers, a Saturday beach party and a seafood festival with snacks straight off the back of the boat.


WHEN: July 17–August 4, 2020

WHERE: Check website for various event locations around Cooktown

Just a little north of Port Douglas Daintree is the historical town of Cooktown, most famous for being the spot where Captain James Cook docked the Endeavour for repairs in 1770 after giving the ship a nasty run in with the Great Barrier Reef. During this repair time, botanist Joseph Banks discovered over 200 new species of plants, and young artist Sydney Parkinson was the first British artist to portray Aboriginal people from direct observation and interaction.

Cooktown 2020 is a three week festival of events showcasing 250 years of shared history between Indigenous and Non-indigenous. The region’s art, culture, history, food and botanical and marine beauty are amongst the highlights, in conjunction with an opportunity to visit the HM Bark Endeavour replica. The first weekend is Reconciliation Rocks (July 17 – 19) featuring some of the region’s most well—known musicians including Troy Cassar-Daley and Busby Marou, alongside language workshops and storytelling; the Cooktown Discovery Festival (July 24 – 26) celebrates the arrival of the HM Bark Endeavour replica and includes a re-enactment and a regional produce showcase; and the closing weekend, the Endeavour Festival (Aug 1- 4) includes the Cooktown to the Cape Boat, Fishing and Marine Environment Expo, fish markets and a farewell the the HM Bark Endeavour replica.

Cooktown Expo 2020
Photo credit:


WHEN: August 9, 2020

WHERE: Starting at Mount Molloy, finishing in Port Douglas

Triple R (formally known as RRR) is Australia’s oldest point to point mountain bike event (and arguably the very best looking!). Celebrating 30 years this year, the Triple R coincides with eh 4-day Reef to Reef MTB race - riders can choose the 51km Endurance or the 36km Classic race option with both including a descent of the infamous Bump Track and finishing with the same dash along Four Mile Beach into Port Douglas, a refreshing beverage and a huge birthday party! This visually spectacular race dominated with three diverse terrains is adventure at its best. Most definitely one for the adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies!

Triple R MTB Race
Photo credit:


WHEN: October 15-17, 2020

WHERE: Rex Smeal Park, Port Douglas

The Ports Shorts Film Festival is back for 2020 and ready to blow the socks off viewers with a series of short films from both local and international film makers. The (other) best bit? The Port Shorts Film Festival will be staged under the stars in Port Douglas’s own Rex Smeal Park, overlooking the Coral Sea and the Daintree Rainforest as the sun goes down. Legendary Australian actor Stephen Curry (The Castle), Wolf Creek Executive Producer Matt Hearn and AFI nominated screenwriter Kier Shorey (Blurred) will be tagging along for the ride as official ambassadors, hosting the event and mentoring a series of masterclasses for up-and-coming film makers.

Port Shorts Film Festival Port Douglas
Photo credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

But wait, there’s more! Some additional notable mentions to pop into your diary include:

  • New Year’s Day Cape Tribulation Beach Races (January 1): Don your dinosaur suit and place a bet on your favourite T-Rex to cross the line along Myall Beach in Cape Tribulation, with all raised funds going to the Rural Fire Brigade
  • IRONMAN Cairns (event postponed): An extraordinary race of endurance, this sporting event attracts athletes from all over the world to swim, ride and run their way alongside one of the great natural wonders of the world.
  • Targa Great Barrier Reef (September 4–6): The world’s largest, longest and hardest tarmac rally event, racing along the iconic Great Barrier Reef Drive.
  • The Crocodile Trophy (October 16–24): The world’s most iconic mountain bike stage race! Eight days of rainforest trails, bushland tracks and river crossings, finishing on the breath-takingly beautiful Four Mile Beach.
  • Port Douglas Marlin Challenge (November 7–10): Anglers from all over Australia and the world come to Port Douglas to undertake the challenge of fishing for one of the ocean’s greatest prizes, the Marlin.

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