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What Music Festivals Are in Cairns?

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Tom Linkins
Updated Mon 27 Feb 2023

Three people silhouetted by sun, having fun

The most popular music festivals that visit Cairns are The Grass is Greener Festival and Tablelands Folk Festival. The Grass is Greener has been running since 2016 and is centred around alt-indie rock and electronic beats, hosting musical guests like Boo Seeka, Sticky Fingers, Wafia and Ocean Alley in the past. Tablelands Folk Festival is a little more low key, family friendly and, well, folksy. Expect to hear acoustic ballads and brassy jazz sets by the likes of Aussie national treasures Hello Tut Tut, The Barleyshakes and Tuck Shop Ladies. 

Not only are the Grass is Greener and Tablelands Folk Festival less than 65 kilometres apart, but they’re also usually held one weekend after the other. So for hardcore music lovers planning to holiday in Cairns, October is a great time to swing by and get jiggy wit' it.

Where is the Grass is Greener held?

Girl in festival outfit surrounded by greenery

Each year, around late October, the Grass is Greener Festival welcomes music lovers to the Cairns Showgrounds for a day of good times under the North Queensland sun. The festival organisers say the Scott Street Gate is the best point of entry for patrons, where access is admitted at midday. Although there are a few shady chill-out zones where you can take a break from the UV, don’t forget to pack a hat, sunnies and sunscreen! 

Where is Tablelands Folk Festival held?

Woman in festival hat looking off into distance

Tablelands Folk Festival is held in the village of Yungaburra (about an hour from Cairns) in late October. The three-day festival sees over 50 acts dole out captivating music, poetry, storytelling and circus and theatre performances. Tablelands Folk Festival is much loved by the local community and has been bringing smiles to the faces of its patrons since 1981. Not only does it provide an enchanting opportunity for folk and jazz lovers to immerse themselves in their favourite beats, but also connects patrons with the natural beauty of the Far North. Surrounded by ancient and World Heritage-listed rainforests, Tablelands is an absolute feast for the eyes as well as ears.

Fun and affordable accomodation in Cairns

Man and woman loving life at hostel

After you add up transport, tickets, booze and cute outfits, music festivals can end up getting somewhat spenny! But don’t worry, Cairns is a backpacker hotspot, meaning there are plenty of tried-and-true, world-class, cheap as chips hostels in town. Not only are they hella affordable, but they’re chock full of fun-loving guests and communal party areas, so there’ll be no shortage of people to pre-game with as you get ready for a killer day of music. 

Seriously, we're talking an average of about $20 to $30 a night. Of course, that's in a shared dorm, but shared dorms are where all the fun is. Check out Freedom Hostel, Cairns Central YHA, Summer House, Global Backpackers, Travellers' Oasis, Bounce, Mad Monkey and Gilligan's for the best bang for your buck. If sharing's not your thing (no judgement here), most of these hostels have private rooms running for around $100 a night.

What to do in Cairns while you're here

Diver throwing shaka signs underwater

Make the most of your musical getaway and take advantage of being based in Cairns for a few days. There's so much to see and experience in this sun drenched land where the reef meets the rainforest, from close encounters with cuddly creatures to to aquatic adventures on the Great Barrier Reef

One simply cannot come to Cairns without embarking on some sort of Great Barrier Reef expedition. Be it a sailing trip, a sunset cruise, snorkelling or diving, this is one wonder of the world that cannot be missed. Why? Because this is the only place in the world where you can still see dugongs in the wild, it's where Nemo, Marlin and Dory live, and it's one of the most complex and breathtaking ecosystems on the planet. 

Of course, there's just as much to do on land as there is at sea, like getting a taste of authentic local Aboriginal culture, cuddling koalas and hand feeding kangaroos, and copping a close encounter with one of the world's deadliest creatures, the saltwater crocodile

If you're in town for the Tablelands Folk Festival, why not fully immerse yourself in the surrounding splendour of the rainforest with Barefoot's day tour to Atherton Tablelands' Millaa Millaa Falls, Lake Eacham, the Crater, Dinner Falls and Joesphine Falls? This is the best and most convenient way to cross a load of stunning waterfalls and swimming oases off your list in one hit.

Chat with our local travel legends or call us at (07) 4082 7470 for more tips and tricks for making the most out of your Cairns getaway!

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