The epicentre of Australian cultural events
Twigs snap as stealthy dancers, decorated in zazi (grass skirts) and coconut leaf hats stalk an invisible foe, toting mini canoes and crafted sea creatures. The warup drum offers a slow bass, before the crescendo to a feverish pitch with a cacophony of screams as the foe is chased. It’s riveting, and this performance, by the Sea People of Cape York, is just one of many involving 20 communities and 1000 performers at the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival.
If you’re keen to be immersed in one of Australia’s most culturally significant events, this is one to mark on your calendar. It’s far more than just a dance festival; it’s a meeting of tribes, where new and old family members are reunited, make new acquaintances, and exchange and pass on family histories. Each community dances its stories, the way of keeping history alive in Indigenous oral traditions. And to witness the world’s oldest living culture being passed to a younger generation is awe-inspiring, a rare insider’s view to the baton-passing of time.
Celebrating their 14th anniversary in 2023 is the annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF). In years past it has featured sell-out shows, a three-day turnout of 50,000+ and record art sales underpinning its role as an all-inclusive cultural gathering and ethical marketplace. 2023 is the first year under new Artistic Director, Francoise Lane and has the theme “Weaving Our Future: Claiming Our Sovereignty”.
Other indigenous cultural events to mark on your calendar include:
Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival
Showcases the rich Torres Strait diversity of culture over four spectacular days on Thursday Island
NPA Culture Festival – Keep the Flame of Culture Burning
A four-day festival that travels between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities of Injinoo, Umagico, Seisia, New Mapoon and Bamaga
Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 – The Rising Tide
More information will be announced soon.
More Indigenous Experiences
Connect with culture in Tropical North Queensland.
8 unmissable Indigenous events in Tropical North Queensland
From Cairns to the Cape, you’ll find an annual program of Indigenous events that bring to life a culture 60,000 years in the making. Your ticket not only grants you entry, but a backstage pass to the stories and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Highlights of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) 2023
CIAF is one of Australia’s premier Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal art events including an ethical art market, cultural performances and more.
How to explore iconic landscapes with Traditional Custodians
Delve deeper into the iconic landscapes of Tropical North Queensland by visiting with Traditional Custodians.
An Indigenous perspective of summer in Tropical North Queensland
Throughout Tropical North Queensland, Indigenous seasons are celebrated differently than in western culture. Discover summer through the eyes of the Traditional Custodians of Tropical North Queensland.
Ways to connect with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cultures
Tropical North Queensland is the only region in Australia with two distinct Indigenous cultures, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Connect with these ancient cultures 60,000 years in the making.
Experience an incredible Aboriginal rock art tour
Discover what true connection to country feels like at a 20,000-year-old Aboriginal rock art gallery with Jarramali Rock Art Tours. Fly in via a scenic helicopter or jump in a 4WD with a Traditional Owner guide for the full overnight experience.
Reef Dreaming: Discover the Reef with Indigenous Rangers
As you discover the Great Barrier Reef, uncover the culture of the Traditional Custodians with personal interpretation by local Indigenous rangers on Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel.
5 Unmissable sights in the Torres Strait Islands
Between Cape York and Papua New Guinea, there’s a fascinating world of unforgettable adventures to be had. Journey to this culturally unique part of Australia and you’ll find vibrant Indigenous communities celebrating their strong connection to land and sea.
Beneath the Milkyway with Aboriginal Traditional Custodians
Moungibi (Burketown), a small town in the Gulf of Carpentaria with a population of fewer than 300 people, may surprise you with its depth of experiences – Indigenous-owned & operated Yagurli Tours offers a collection of tours run by the Gangalidda-Garawa Traditional Custodians.