A whirlwind of colour and excitement twirled, marched and strutted down the Cairns Esplanade all the way to Fogarty Park to open this year’s Cairns Festival.
With about 3500 participants, the Grand Parade proved itself, yet again, among one of the city’s most loved events.Each year we have increasing spectator numbers. This year’s parade attracted an estimated crowd of 20,000, including many visitors to our beautiful city. 

The theme was ‘Shine’ and that’s just what the 85-strong line-up of walking, dancing, drumming and driving floats did with vibrant colours inspired by everything from the Great Barrier Reef to the rainbow flag for gay marriage equality. Cairns did what Cairns does best, expressing and embracing its diversity. Art, culture and community spirit were a big standout for me this year. 

Cairns is such a multicultural society. As I watched on from the Munro Martin Parklands, the effort put into recreating traditional costumes and dance was mind blowing. They were certainly loud and proud with some dressed head to toe in bells and chimes. Every group was so unique and the level of detail was impressive. One school in particular St Gerard Majella Primary School stood out. Each child on the float was dressed as something different, from dancers to artists and sports stars. Their objective was to come dressed as whatever it is they do best and whatever it is that makes them shine. 

Seeing how the youngest spectators and participants reacted to all the excitement was my favourite part of the event. It spoke of the overwhelming sense of community the parade evokes each year. Bringing the much-loved annual event to a close, fireworks lit up the night sky, capturing the undivided attention of thousands of tired little eyes with a spectacular display that could be seen from as far off as Barlow Park.