Roll up! Roll up! Looking for the greatest show on Earth? Queensland has it covered, whatever your passion, be it the world’s most unique music festivals, including the most remote on the planet smack bang in the middle of the Simpson Desert; awe-inspiring elite sports and endurance trials, with swim legs across none other than the world-famous Great Barrier Reef; or a chance to rub shoulders (and boot scoot) with quintessential Outback heroes at the biggest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere. Add these to your bucket list…
Cairns Airport Adventure Festival (5-13 June 2016): Queensland has become something of a superhero on the world’s IRONMAN calendar, stepping onto the podium to host the Asia Pacific Championship through to 2018 (as part of the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival), as well as the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship on the Sunshine Coast in September. Organisers say the Cairns event looks set to become the most cosmopolitan in the world with one in five athletes coming from overseas, led by Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and the US. Reinforcing Queensland’s position as Australia’s Endurance State, Tropical North Queensland showcases a diverse multi-sport program of events as part of the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival, set against World Heritage-listed rainforest and reef, including arguably the most beautiful cycle course on the planet along the Captain Cook Highway. The festival also includes a chance for competitors to dive into the Great Barrier Reef (during the Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge and Quicksilver Reef Swim – Green Island) or experience the thrill of the gnarliest mountain bike trails on the planet (in the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge).www.ironman.com
Qantas Wallabies V England Rugby Test (12 June 2016): Don’t miss the first match of an historic three-Test blockbuster Down Under. It marks the first time in the century-old rivalry between Australia and England that the nations will meet in a three-Test series. Expect a sea of green and gold at this history-making match at Brisbane’s iconic Suncorp Stadium. www.rugby.com.au
Gold Coast Airport Marathon (2-3 July 2016): Pitted as Australia’s premier road race it’s hard to beat this course based on pure scenery alone. Held over the first weekend of July each year, the event boasts the first marathon in the country to hold an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label, placing it in esteemed company of the ilk of marathons in New York, Boston, London, Tokyo, Berlin and Chicago. For those keen to post a personal best, the Gold Coast course is renowned as one of the flattest and fastest in the world. The event, which attracts more than 27,000 participants – including an ever-increasing contingent from Southeast Asia, notably Malaysia and Singapore – covers a variety of races including the Gold Coast Airport Marathon itself, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, Suncorp Bank 5.7km Challenge, and Junior Dash 4km and 2km races. So well established is this event that 2016 marks its 38th year. www.goldcoastmarathon.com.au
Birdsville Big Red Bash (3-4 July 2016): Sure, Paris may have the Eiffel Tower, but Birdsville has Big Red. An iconic sand dune on the edge of the Simpson Desert in Queensland’s Outback that forms the backdrop to the world’s most remote (but not unplugged) rock concert. Travellers are embedding this authentic camping and concert gig firmly onto their bucket list to experience the thrill of a rock concert under the biggest star-studded skies in the world. The 2016 Big Red Bash includes a repeat performance by former Cold Chisel front man Jimmy Barnes, alongside Australian music royalty of the likes of Paul Kelly and The Angels. It’s also uber kid-friendly: around 600 children attend the bash, using the steep sand dunes to practice sand surfing on boogie boards, cardboard and the odd esky lid or two. Staged between two other exciting nearby Outback events – the Bedourie Gymkhana and Rodeo and the Bedourie Pig and Camel Races – the Birdsville Big Red Bash provides plenty of reason to take an Outback adventure like no other. They say you haven’t lived until you’ve seen an Outback sunset from the peak of Big Red. www.bigredbash.com.au
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (15 July 2016): The Tropical North Queensland city of Cairns is an ideal setting for this culturally important and vibrant art market. It’s considered to be the only art fair in Australia to welcome commercial art galleries and Indigenous art centres to sell and showcase works by Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Held at the Cairns Cruise Liner terminal, the event is framed by the waters of the Cairns Trinity Inlet, and rolling mountains and land of the Gimuy Walabura Yidinji people. The four-day fair features a vibrant program of events, exhibitions, dance and theatre. www.ciaf.com.au
Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo (12-14 August 2016): It’s pure poetry in motion, where the romance of Queensland’s Outback meets the grit of a mining town; east meets west, and man meets beast. The Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo is not only the richest rodeo in Australia, but also the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and it hails from a long history, with 2016 marking its 57th year. In the arena, witness the best of the best as they participate in saddle bronc, bareback bronc, bull riding, rope and tie, steer wrestling, team roping, ladies barrel racing, and ladies break-away roping. Professional rodeo clowns add to the adrenalin and excitement in the ring. Away from the arena, country and popular music acts, sideshow alley, and Fred Brophy’s boxing ring ensure there is never a dull moment in Mount Isa during this jam-packed weekend.www.isarodeo.com.au
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week (20-27 August 2016): It’s difficult to imagine a more picture-perfect destination than Hamilton Island for Australia’s largest offshore sailing regatta, which attracts spectators and yachties from around the globe. Inspired by the 1983 America’s Cup in Newport, Rhode Island, it took Hamilton Island developer Keith Williams and a small group to launch a race in the Whitsundays in 1984, which attracted a staggering 93 competitors. Now, as it clocks up more than 30 years, more than 200 yachts from Australia and around the world compete in this prestigious event, located in what is widely considered to be the playground of the world’s rich and famous. The week is supported by a vibrant calendar of onshore events, including the Wild Oats Ladies Lunch, Surf and Turf Dinner, Audi hole-in-one, and Audi Outdoor Cinema. www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au
Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (16-25 September 2016): Think London’s Chelsea Flower Shower, but super-sized. Now in its 67th year, Australia’s longest running floral show held in Queensland’s ‘Garden City’ isn’t just for green thumbs. It also celebrates locally-produced food and wine for which this Southern Queensland Country destination is renowned, alongside a popular entertainment program including live music and classic cars. The Grand Central Floral Parade forms the centrepiece of the 10-day event, staged to celebrate spring in all its glory in one of Queensland’s most fertile regions. www.tcof.com.au
Woodford Folk Festival (December 27 2016 – January 1 2017): It’s more fun than Glastonbury. Held over six days and six nights, this annual celebration brings together more than 2000 performers in 1536 shows. The packed program includes concerts, dances, street theatre, writers’ panels, film festival, comedy sessions, acoustic jams, social dialogue and debate, folk medicine, a children’s festival, an environmental program, art and craft workshops, circus performances, late-night cabarets, parades and special events including a spectacular fire event. Set on 200ha of land behind the tiny township of Woodford on the Sunshine Coast, the village of “Woodfordia” is home to 35 performance venues with festival streets lined with restaurants, cafes, stalls, bars, street theatre and parades. The eco-friendly site is also home to tree-filled campgrounds, butterfly walks, ponds and wildlife. Entering its 30th year, the Woodford Folk Festival attracts acclaimed national and international acts who draw in crowds of more than 130,000 over the course of the event.www.woodfordfolkfestival.com
Australian PGA Championship (1-4 December 2016): This esteemed golfing event on the Gold Coast hits a hole in one every time. Boasting a total prize pool of $1.75million, it attracts some of Australasia’s best golfers who compete at the RACV Royal Pines Golf Course. Consisting of the Green and Gold nines, the championship course boasts tight fairways, undulating greens and immaculately manicured swales, with each nine having its own distinctive challenges. If all that’s double Dutch to you, don’t worry. You’ll probably recognise the names of a few past champions including Greg Chalmers, Adam Scott, Robert Allenby and Peter Senior. This year, the tournament is hosting the first ever Kid’s Day in which children will have the opportunity to interact with the world’s best players, and hang out with Elsa from Frozen and Dreamworld’s Kenny and Belinda. www.championship.pga.org.au
BWF Sudirman CUP (21-28 May 2017): Badminton’s most prestigious international Gland Slam adds yet another feather to the Gold Coast’s elite sporting cap in the countdown to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. It marks the first time Australia has hosted the tournament in its 25-year history. More than 1500 of the world’s top players, hailing from 45 countries, will travel to Queensland for the event, expected to be televised to a global audience of more than half a billion people.
*101 reasons and more to start packing: these featured events offer just a taste of more than 116 events on Tourism and Events Queensland’s It’s Live! In Queenslandcalendar, showcasing Australia’s best live events staged in the best destinations. Visit www.queensland.com/events to discover all the action.