Christmas In Cairns – Party guide

Christmas in Cairns

Whether you chose to be here or got flooded in by monsoonal rain, Cairns is actually a pretty great place to spend Christmas. This post will cover the important bits that you need to know.

Christmas Weather In Cairns

It’s wet season, right in the middle of the most moist time of year. Don’t panic though, wet season also means it’s hot! Really bloody hot. Normal temperatures around Christmas in Cairns will be between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius. Which means you need to drink heaps to stay hydrated.

Chances are it will rain, so planning a BBQ in the park may not be the best idea unless you have a back-up plan with some solid shelter.

What Do The Locals Do At Christmas?

Cairns is a very transient place, meaning that the majority of people living here are actually not from here. Quite a lot of the locals will fly back to their families for Christmas meaning that the roads are nice and quiet.

The airlines are also aware of this, so you will see that flights to or from Cairns around Christmas are extortionately priced.

The locals that stay here either have their family here or do what we like to call ‘Orphan Christmas’. Orphan Christmas in Cairns is basically a party where many different cultures collide to produce some kind of Christmas themed piss up.

The best thing about Orphan Christmas is the food. It’s amazing to experience the food that different cultures use to celebrate. Orphan Christmas is normally full of backpackers and tourism workers, this is not a planned event you can buy tickets to. They are simply parties with friends. If you are looking for one, just ask around, someone will probably invite you.

On the other end of the life-line is the locals that have family here. These are the ‘grown-ups’, who enjoy a simple BBQ with the extended family on Christmas. Not much else to say about that really because it’s pretty boring.


Preparation is key. Bottle shops are generally closed on Christmas Day so you will need to plan your drinks in advance. To avoid the rush, you are best off going a few days in advance.

Ice for your esky can be grabbed at any service station on the day.

Which Pubs Are Open On Christmas Day?

Most of the pubs in Cairns will be open on Christmas Day after 10 am, though the government has put restrictions on serving alcohol. Below is my summary from the Australian Government Business website.

Christmas Eve

  • Bar closes at 12:00
  • Patrons must leave by 12:30

All gaming machines must stop at 12 midnight on Christmas Eve and may not start again before 10am on Boxing Day.

Adult entertainment venues

Adult entertainment is prohibited from 12 midnight on Christmas Eve and throughout Christmas Day.

Christmas Day


  • Alcohol can be bought with a meal
  • 1 hour before, 1 hour during and 1 hour after the meal
  • You will most likely only get one drink / hour


You are not permitted to sell takeaway alcohol on Christmas Day.

Adult entertainment venues

Adult entertainment is prohibited on Christmas Day.

Christmas Shopping

Do this early! Like everywhere else in the world, the shops get crazy busy just before Christmas. Cairns Central in particular will be a nightmare to find a park. Just because Cairns is a small city, don’t under estimate the amount of people that come out of the woodwork for Christmas.

We need to remember that Cairns is the shopping hub for Port Douglas, Mossman, Mareeba, Atherton, Malanda and Mission Beach.

Christmas Lights

One of my favorite things to do a couple of nights before Christmas is to drive around and see what the crazy people have been up to. There is no more festive way to do this than Christmas light chasing.

Many streets around Cairns will get all dressed up like a fossil fuel burning space ship for reasons unknown to me. While I certainly do not agree with the excessive consumption of power, the displays can be quite amazing.

To find out where the lights are, you will need to keep your eyes on The Cairns Post or Tropic Now. These are local online newspapers that will no doubt be competing to get the most comprehensive list.

Taxi and Uber

Forget it!!! Taxi’s charge a premium on public holidays and Uber will be surcharging like you would not believe!

Christmas In Cairns Summary

So what should you do? Make some friends, buy your booze and food early, plan a day somewhere easy to get to (Someone’s house is perfect). Then have a Bloody Merry Christmas! mate

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