Big names headline Festival 2018 program

Published: 01 Feb 2018

  • Festival 2018 will take place during the Commonwealth Games, from April 4 to 15.
  • Kate Miller-Heidke, Amy Shark and The Cat Empire among the visiting acts.
  • A live site will operate throughout the Games on the Cairns Esplanade, with events also at Munro Martin Parklands and various art galleries.
  • All events are FREE. Tickets are not required (except for Beginnings).

MUSIC, art and theatre will combine to showcase Cairns’ diverse cultural flavour when Festival 2018 shines a spotlight on the city during the upcoming Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The program for the 12-day free arts and cultural festival (April 4 to 15)  has been released today, featuring renowned Australian acts Kate Miller-Heidke, Amy Shark and The Cat Empire alongside some of the Far North’s favourite local acts.

Mayor Bob Manning said the program was among the largest ever presented by Cairns Regional Council.

“Part of the role of the Commonwealth Games is to showcase Australian culture to the world,” Cr Manning said.

“As an Event City for the Games, we have the opportunity to showcase our culture and our diverse local talent during what will be one of the biggest events ever to come to Cairns.

“There are more than 100 individual performances, activities and exhibitions taking place across the 12 days of Festival 2018, which coincides with the Commonwealth Games.

“There will be amazing local talent on display, along with some fantastic visiting artists who will no doubt draw audiences from across the Far North.

“This festival represents Cairns’ time to shine on a global stage.”

A Commonwealth Games Live Site will be established on the Cairns Esplanade, providing the venue for many of Festival 2018’s events.

“The live site will offer the best of both worlds,” he said. “All the sporting action will be shown live on big screens, while quality music acts, roving performers and interactive kids’ activities take place all around.

“There will be live music every night of the Games, including Kate Miller-Heidke and The Cat Empire – both of whom have proved popular with Cairns audiences – and the sensational singer-songwriter Amy Shark in her first Cairns appearance.”

Opening Night will feature live music by NightShift and Bullhorn, plus a spectacular fireworks display, prior to the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony being beamed live to the big screens.

“But the highlight will no doubt be a very special theatrical piece at Munro Martin Parklands that will involve more than 300 local performers,” Cr Manning said.

Beginnings is the musical story of Cairns, combining fact with fiction in a magical production that spans generations.

“It’s been written by some very talented local writers and features and entirely local cast,” Cr Manning said.

“While the performance is free to attend, it will be ticketed, as we expect a huge demand and space is limited.”

Free tickets for Beginnings are available from today via Ticketlink – visit or phone 1300 855 835. (Tickets are not required for any other event).

In addition to the live performance elements, six art exhibitions will be hosted across three venues, showcasing unique and thoughtful works by some of the region’s most accomplished artists.

The full Festival 2018 program can be downloaded from www.gc2018/festival2018 or pick up a hard copy from Council offices, Cairns Libraries branches and major shopping centres.


About Festival 2018:

Festival 2018, supported by the Queensland Government, is the multi-arts program for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) with 12 days of free performances, activities, public art and other family-friendly events throughout the Host City of Gold Coast and Event Cities Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville.

Festival 2018 is a globally significant celebration that will provide Queenslanders with unique and world-class participation and engagement opportunities.

The Cairns-based Festival 2018 program is presented by Cairns Regional Council with funding from the Queensland Government through the Office of the Commonwealth Games.



The stories of our history are traced through the generations with fact and fiction, song and dance all woven into an epic musical theatre experience for the whole family. A spectacular production made up of more than 300 people from our many talented community groups. Don’t miss this magical production that will in itself be a historic moment for Cairns.

This is a free event, however numbers are capped, so ple

Amy Shark

Since her hit Adore was voted number two in the 2017 triple j Hottest 100, Amy Shark has been systematically winning over the local and international music scene. Gold Coast born and bred, Amy has sold out multiple headline tours and has played the Australian festival gamut, including Splendour in the Grass, Groovin The Moo, and Laneway Festival in 2018. Amy recently took out the award for Best Pop Release and Breakthrough artist at the 2017 Aria Awards.

Kate Miller-Heidke

Armed with an incredible set of brand new arrangements and backed by a string quartet, Kate Miller-Heidke brings her classically trained vocals and alternative pop sounds to the Live Site. A multi-award-winning singer songwriter, Kate is renowned for a style that crosses contemporary pop, folk and opera. More recently, Kate has made forays into the world of musical theatre, composing the opera The Rabbits (2015) and, with collaborator Keir Nuttall, the music and lyrics for Muriel's Wedding: The Musical (2017).

Trade Winds

Enter the enchanting technicolour world of Polytoxic, where the traditions of the Pacific collide with the whims of pop culture. This stunning water-based collaboration between the innovative and imaginative team from Queensland dance-theatre company Polytoxic, with one of Australia’s most exciting contemporary Pacific visual artists, Samuel Tupou, is a magical performance for the whole family.


Do you have what it takes to complete a journey to the Commonwealth games? The determination to press on when the going gets tough? Persistence presents an interactive experience that will test your resolve. Created by KickArts Contemporary Arts and software developer and artist Clinton Freeman, this digital art installation is part spectator sport, part artistic adventure. Using responsive technologies, pre-registered participants will be tracked as they go through a series of challenges designed to test their persistence. The ultimate prize will be revealed!

Songs and Stories of Henry ‘Seaman’ Dan – by guest artists

Henry ‘Seaman’ Dan is truly an old man of the sea, having spent decades in the maritime industry as a deep water pearl-shell diver and boat skipper. Hailing from Horn Island, in the Torres Strait, Seaman Dan began his illustrious recording career in his 70th year and has since taken a full swag of ARIA nominations and wins, along with the hearts of the Australian music loving public. In a special presentation, Jimi Bani hosts an incredible line-up of musicians sharing Seaman Dan’s songs and the stories of his musical connection to Country, our region and our community.

Last updated: 12 February 2018