Blog Post

Christmas in Cairns and Port Douglas 2023

Kevin the cassowary

TNQ Writer

Whether you’re a Christmas wanderer in Cairns or a local on the hunt for festive fun, unwrap the yuletide delights in Cairns, Palm Cove, and Port Douglas. It’s the season to be jolly, after all!🎄🌴

Cairns is turning up the Christmas heat! Imagine palm trees mingling with sparkling snowflake lights, decorations reclaiming their festive swagger, and kids eagerly counting down the days until Santa’s grand entrance.

Whether you’re scouting for the perfect Christmas day lunch spot in Cairns or plotting your New Year’s escapades, throw on that Santa hat, blast those festive tunes, and brace yourself for the festive spectacle awaiting you in Tropical North Queensland in 2023. It’s time to jingle all the way!

Christmas Lights

Nothing says tropical Christmas like the esplanade lagoon tree

Cairns Esplanade Christmas Tree

Head to the iconic Esplanade through December to see a tropically decked out tree. The Christmas Tree lights will be switched on at 7pm by the Mayor.

When: 1st December
Where: Cairns Esplanade 

Pullman Cairns International- Tree lighting

Make your way to Pullman Cairns International for this year’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony! The festivities start at 5 PM, and the official lighting is set for 6 PM on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. Everyone is welcome, and enjoy a special performance by the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir. Plus, it’s a free event!

When: 28th November
Where: Pullman Cairns International 

Christmas Carols

Joy to the World community carols and fireworks

Head to Cairns Showgrounds for Christmas carols, fireworks and food.

When: 2 December, 5pm-9pm
Where: Cairns Showgrounds

Gordonvale Christmas Carols

Embrace the festive season at Norman Park and give your vocal cords a work out. Enjoy a merry go-round, stencil face painting, nativity and more.

When: 3 December, 4.30pm-7.30pm
Where: Norman Park, Gordonvale

Carols in the Park

Grab your picnic blanket and chairs and head to Munro Martin Parklands for the “tropical sparkle” themed extravaganza.

When: 17 December, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Where: Munro Martin Parklands


Christmas Markets

Christmas Pottery Fair

Join Cairns Potters Club for a chance to see the marvellous creations from the members, along with engaging clay activities for the children and the availability of refreshing cold drinks for purchase.

When: 3 December, 8am-2pm
Where: 28A Grove St, Cairns

The Pier Markets

Get ready to dive into The Pier Markets—a bustling fiesta filled with art, craft, giggles, and smiles.

When: 12 December, 8am-2pm
Where: The Pier Shopping Centre

Shopping Centres

Cairns Central Shopping Centre

Head to Cairns Central from 18 November to 24 December for a meet, greet and photo with Santa.

Smithfield Shopping Centre

At Smithfield Shopping Centre, catch Santa for photos until December 24. And yes, even your pets can strike a pose with Santa! In addition, sensitive Santa will also be available.

Mt Sheridan Plaza Shopping Centre

Enter Santa’s newly vamped garden at Mount Sheridan Plaza for a festive photoshoot like no other! Pose with Santa for the classic snapshot, or mix it up with a second set in the garden—Santa not included. Plus, every little one booking a session walks away with a FREE GIFT and a MAGNET FRAME courtesy of Santa himself!

The interactive Santa photo experience will run from November 27 to December 24.


Bookings are essential for all Santa photos.

Christmas Lunch at Crystalbrook Cairns

Christmas views don't get much merrier than those from Rocco

Crystalbrook Riley

Celebrate Christmas at Crystalbrook Riley and be wined and dined this festive season. The Paper Crane Christmas Day Buffet has decadent seafood, Christmas trimmings and a three hour beverage package. Plus, there’s entertainment for the whole family.

Or have a cold Chrissy in the aircon in the Banquet Room with locally sourced seafood, carvery, salad bar and three hour beverage package.

Crystalbrook Bailey

Join CC’s Bar & Grill for a delightful experience as they present a three-course shared menu infused with the essence of traditional festive favourites, all with a touch of sophistication and the unique CC’s twist.

Crystalbrook Flynn

Have a buon natale at Flynn’s Italian and savour a delightful meal with friends and family, against the backdrop of breathtaking Coral Sea views. Indulge in a delectable four-course Italian-inspired menu accompanied by a three-hour beverage package. Christmas Day and gift yourself stunning views across the Coral Sea.

Boardwalk Social

Join Boardwalk Social for a jolly twist on Christmas Day. Delight in a variety of fresh, local seafood on ice, crisp salads, a hot selection of Christmas classics with all the trimmings, and, of course, a sweet finale with delectable desserts.

Christmas Lunch in Cairns

Pullman Cairns International

There’s no such thing as overindulging on Christmas Day and Pullman Cairns International has three different Christmas day dining options; a Christmas lunch and dinner in Coco’s Kitchen and Bar and an adult’s only seafood extravaganza in the Bluewater Rooms.

Cairns Colonial Club

Family fun is on the menu at the Cairns Colonial Club. The Christmas Day Luncheon includes 3 courses and a choice of an alcoholic and non alcoholic drink package. The kid’s have their very own kids menu and tickets include access to resort facilities, including the main lagoon pool.

Dundees on the Waterfront

Head to the marina for a three course Christmas Day lunch at Dundees for $150pp including Bon Bon’s.

Spirit of Cairns Dinner Cruise

Take to the Trinity Inlet for a cruisey Christmas with Spirit of Cairns. Indulge in a buffet menu and retire outside to the spacious decks for the salty air of the Trinity Inlet.

Oak and Vine

Celebrate the festive season from the breathtaking rooftop restaurant at Oak & Vine. Round up your friends, family, or colleagues and relish in your preferred 2 or 3-course festive menus, all while basking in unparalleled views of the shimmering coastline.

Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns

If the kids fancy a meet and greet with Mr Claus himself, head to the Shangri-La The Marina, whose Christmas buffet and 3 hour drink package comes with live roaming entertainment and gifts from Santa for children 12 and under.

Novotel Cairns

Head to Novotel in Cairns city for a bottomless seafood feast with local fresh prawns and oysters, hot and cold options, salads and desserts. Includes a 3 hour beverage package and kids under 12 enjoy a visit and gift from Santa.

Rydges Esplanade

Treat the whole family to a Christmas to remember at Rydges Esplanade with a Christmas buffet lunch with seafood and all the trimmings.

Pullman Reef Hotel Casino

Head to the Urchin’s Ballroom at the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino for a buffet with all the trimming and a 2.5 hour beverage package. Kids can enjoy an activity room and kids age 12 and under will receive a gift from Santa.

Christmas Lunch in Palm Cove

See Santa by the seaside

Photo by Mark Kolbe for Tourism Queensland

Pullman Palm Cove

The whole family will enjoy the gourmet 3 course plated lunch on offer at Pullman Palm Cove. Adults can indulge in a 3 hour deluxe beverage package, whilst the little ones will enjoy a visit and gift from Santa.


Christmas Lunch in Port Douglas

Christmas in paradise awaits at Port Douglas

Pullman Port Douglas

Indulge in a poolside Christmas Day lunch at Pullman Port Douglas featuring entertainment with Lady Valiant, gifts from Santa for the kids, a beverage package for adults and a sumptuous buffet for all.

See this list for more restaurants that are normally open on Christmas Day for lunch.

Starry Night Cinema

Embrace the opportunity to make this Christmas season extraordinary with a magical evening under the stars at the Cairns Botanic Gardens! Starry Night Cinema is excited to present the screening of the beloved classic, Love Actually.

Whether you bring a picnic basket filled with your favourite treats or indulge in our on-site delicious food options, let the enchanting ambiance of the Gardens elevate your movie-watching experience, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Christmas day on the Great Barrier Reef

Have a Wally jolly Christmas on Sunlover Reef Cruises

Photo by Sunlover Reef Cruises

Swap a winter wonderland for an underwater wonderland on the Great Barrier Reef and spend your Christmas Day exploring one of the seven wonders of the world.

Sunlover Reef Cruises

You won’t be lonely this Christmas on a trip with Sunlover. Head out to the Outer Barrier Reef to their Moore Reef pontoon for four hours of snorkelling, a glass bottom boat tour, semi-sub tour and more. If that alone isn’t enough to make you feel like a big kid at Christmas, they also have a waterslide swirling from the top of their pontoon. Sunlover also serve a sumptuous tropical buffet lunch in partnership with Master Chef Guest Judge Nick Holloway from NuNu Palm Cove. The menu showcases local flavours and includes Coral Sea prawns and sticky ginger caramel chicken.

Fitzroy Island

Have a very happy holidays and stay on an island paradise for Christmas. Fitzroy Island resort serves up Christmas with a side of sunshine, offering a Christmas buffet at Zephyr Restaurant for both lunch and dinner. The kids can enjoy a visit from Santa before jumping into the big blue and snorkelling over colourful corals right off the beach.

Lizard Island

Head to Lizard Island to revel in the festive season with your nearest and dearest. At the resort, holidays mean indulging in top-notch dining featuring the freshest local produce, premium beverages, and a lively lineup of festivities.

Kindly note that Lizard Island extends a warm welcome to families with children aged 10 years and older.

Gifts that give back

Looking for a unique gift for a loved one? From animal adoptions, to eco certified tours, check out these gifts that give back.

New Year's Eve

The Esplanade comes alight at the annual New Year's Eve Fireworks

Cairns Esplanade

Say sayonara to 2023 with literal bang on Cairns Esplanade. Catch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks at the family friendly time of 8.30PM and at midday to kick off the new year with an explosion of colour.



While You’re Here

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