12 Great Barrier Reef Events to plan your next trip around

Are you trying to plan your next trip to the Great Barrier Reef and unsure where to start? Why not maximise your trip by tying in one of these awesome events from our Great Barrier Reef events calendar?

Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself with an endurance event, looking to get your sea-legs at a sailing event or just wanting to party, here are 12 Great Barrier Reef Events that you need to add to your social calendar now.

Accept the challenge – Endurance & Sport Events

Cairns Airport Adventure Festival – IRONMAN & Green Island Swim

When: 6-11 June 2018
Where: Palm Cove, Tropical North Queensland
What: Pack your gear, sense of adventure and head to Tropical North Queensland for the gruelling full-distance triathlon Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns – the main event of the nine-day multisport Cairns Airport Adventure Festival. Other events that you’ll need to refuel your tank for include RRR Mountain Bike Challenge, Hekili Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge, Quicksilver Reef Swim – Green Island, Cairns Post Bright Night Run and the child-friendly triathlon – McDonalds IRONKIDS Cairns.

Hamilton Island Endurance Series

When: Multiple dates – Stamford Financial Hamilton Hilly Marathon, 6 May 2018 | Great Whitehaven Beach Run, 24 June 2018 | Fujifilm Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim – 18 November 2018
Where: Hamilton IslandWhitehaven Beach, The Whitsundays
What: If getting fit and healthy was your New Year’s resolution, why not plan to also treat yourself with a holiday as well by participating in one of these Hamilton Island Endurance Series events:

Townsville Triathlon Festival

When: 17-19 August 2018
Where: The Strand, Townsville North Queensland
What: In Townsville ‘the Big Weekend’ of sport is far from sitting inside watching back-to-back Rugby League. The Townsville Triathlon Festival promises a program that is action-packed with nine events over three massive days including the Olympic Distance Triathlon, 1km Ocean Swim and Kids Try, proving this festival truly delivers something active for everyone.

 5 August 2018
Where: Townsville, Tropical North Queensland
What: Want to make the most of your trip to Townsville? Get a head start on the competition at the McDonald’s Townsville Running Festival. Take in spectacular views of Magnetic Island as you hit the ground running in five epic events along the coastline.

Great Barrier Reef Marathon

Great Barrier Reef Marathon When: October 2018
Where: Port Douglas, Tropical North Queensland
What: Challenge yourself with a number of running events set against gorgeous scenery during the Great Barrier Reef Marathon. Ease in by taking on one of the shorter, flat runs or if you’re up for it, you could tackle the 74km JCU Ultra Marathon through Mowbray and Kuranda National Parks. There will be hills and creeks to navigate! Fun!

Great Barrier Reef Swim – Heron Island

Great Barrier Reef Swim | Top 10 Great Barrier Reef eventsWhen: November 2018
Where: Heron Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef
What: For ocean swimmers, Heron Island offers a unique event that comes with its own set of challenges. Imagine swimming on the Southern Great Barrier Reef and trying to not get distracted by clownfish who want to say ‘hello’! Don’t worry, once the swim races and swim coaching clinics of the Great Barrier Reef Swim are complete you’ll have plenty of time to snorkel back around and say g’day to the marine wildlife.

Sail Away – Queensland’s Season of Sailing

Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing

Airlie Beach Race Week | Top 10 Great Barrier Reef eventsWhen: 9-16 August 2018
Where: Airlie Beach, The Whitsundays
What:  Every week of the year, Airlie Beach has its friendly, fun in the sun vibe down pat but during Airlie Beach Race Week you can expect that vibe to be maxed out! This is a colourful week of sailing all day and party all week with a non-stop entertainment program including headline musical acts, long lunches and a chock-a-block full social calendar that’s not to be missed.

AUDI Hamilton Island Race Week

Sailing,Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014When: 18-25 August 2018
Where: Hamilton Island, The Whitsundays
What:  Directly after Airlie Beach Race Week, report to Hamilton Island for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week for more sailing action with a foodie and fashion edge. Experience all the action aboard a luxury yacht or from the Yacht Club champagne bar and take the chance to explore the island and it’s fringing reef.

Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week

Magnetic Island Race Week | Top 10 Great Barrier Reef eventsWhen: 30 August – 5 September 2018
Where: Magnetic Island, Townsville North Queensland
What: More sailing! This time in sunny Townsville. For the non-sailors, Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week has a social calendar of fun activities to help you explore every inch of Magnetic Island while the sailors do their thing.

Celebrate the Reef – Festivals & Carnivals

Captain Cook 1770 Festival

1770 captain cook reenactment When: 25-27 May 2018
Where: Town of 1770, Gladstone on the Southern Great Barrier Reef
What: Want to know what Captain Cook was thinking after his ship, The Endeavour, ran aground on a Great Barrier Reef shoal? The highlight of the Captain Cook 1770 Festival is the re-enactment of Cook’s landing at 1770 to undertake ship repairs. Check out the markets, family-friendly activities, fireworks and this super cute coastal town while you’re at it.

Port Douglas Carnivale

Port Douglas Carnivale When: 25-27 May 2018
Where: Port Douglas, Tropical North Queensland
What: The Port Douglas Carnivale has been celebrating life in the tropics for over 21 years and 2018 will be no different. The carnival program is jammed with cultural events including the popular Family Beach Day and Carnivale “Wonders of the Reef” Street Parade and make sure you secure a babysitter for the shocking and slightly sexy La Soiree at the Wonderland Spiegeltent.

Whitsunday Reef Festival

whitsundayreeffestivalWhen: 2-5 August 2018
Where: Airlie Beach, The Whitsundays
What: Living in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef is worth spending four-days in celebration – don’t you think?! The Whitsundays answer to this is the Whitsunday Reef Festival. Airlie’s famous main street closes for the weekend to host two massive street parties featuring live entertainment plus you’ll get to enjoy the regions warm winter days while taking in specialty events like the popular Comedy Gala and Frocktails fashion show.

Mackay Airport Beach Horse Racing Festival

Mackay Beach Horse Racing Festival | Great Barrier Reef EventsWhen: August 2018
Where: Mackay Harbour Beach, The Mackay Region
What: Here in Queensland we have a quirky habit of hosting our horse racing events outside of the traditional tracks in favour of something a bit more exciting (and picturesque). The Mackay Airport Beach Horse Racing Festival is the coastal answer to the famous Birdsville Races in Outback Queensland. Other than a beach wedding there aren’t a lot of other reasons out there to frock up for a day at the beach.

What’s your favourite event on the Great Barrier Reef?