The Cairns Night Markets and Food Court have been a part of the Cairns tourism scene for more than 20 years. It was a temporary idea but its popularity initiated a growth from 28 to 100 vendors in less than a year. Now it is a bustling, contemporary market catering to tourists and locals. Offering something for shoppers, tourists, and food junkies, the Cairns Night Market is great evening entertainment in central Cairns.
The Cairns Night Market is the ideal place to pick up Australian souvenirs, whether they’re for you or for friends back home. With a range of stalls selling items from the typical plush toys and fridge magnets, to the unusual emu jerky and kangaroo skin wallets, there’s something for everyone. Make sure you take a good look around the entire market before making any purchases, as there is a lot of variety. Most stores offer similar products and it does pay to shop around.
The Cairns Night Market Food Court offers a diverse range of food options to suit every palate. The Food Court area has room for 200 people to sit comfortably, with large fans keeping everyone cool. Food options include everything from kebabs to delicious Asian cuisines, as well as an impressive range of fresh Australian seafood.
One thing that the Cairns Night Market has become quite known for is their range of cheap massage vendors. Many vendors operate separate stalls with one parent business. They are spread throughout the market offering massages for as low as $15 for 40 minutes. The massages are the cheapest you’re likely to find in Australia, but be aware of vendors adding extras without being clear to the additional costs.
Australian Made Products
A recent influx of Chinese and Taiwanese stallholders has led to an increase in the amount of imported Australian souvenirs on offer at the market. This includes popular items like Aboriginal art, demeaning the value of authentic products. To ensure that what you’re buying is authentic and legitimately Australian, look for the green and yellow Made in Australia stickers on the items. If you aren’t sure, ask at the Night Market’s information desk for tips on where to get local Australian souvenirs.
Cairns Night Market is very much a local attraction. However, the culturally diverse mix of stallholders means that it is one place where bartering acceptable. As many of the stores deal in cash only, shoppers might find there is some room to barter on a number of goods. That being said, it’s worth remembering that handmade artwork, particularly Aboriginal Australian in origin, are time-consuming to paint. So if great discounts are offered they’re unlikely to be authentic.
The Cairns Night Market is a great way to spend the evening, but what can you do during the day? Fortunately, there are a few major attractions nearby. This includes the Cairns Wildlife Dome, Cairns Botanic Gardens, and Rusty’s Market, which is open during the day on Fridays and weekends.
How to get to Cairns Night Markets
The Cairns Night Market is centrally located on the Esplanade, and street parking is widely available.
Take the 110, 111, 113, 120, 123, 130 or 131 buses. Alight on Abbot Street before the Shields Street intersection to reach the Night Markets.
Due to their central location, it’s easy to walk to the Cairns Night Markets from most places in Cairns. Simply head down towards the Esplanade until you see the signs.
On Friday 13th September 1991, Hayden Redfern and Elise Warring opened a contemporary open-air market venue in central Cairns. The market was inspired by similar international markets in South East Asia and Hawaii. It was a place for local stallholders to share their unique products, and to provide souvenirs for Cairn’s growing tourist market. They originally expected the Night Market to run for six months, and readied 28 stallholders to be involved. However, the market was unexpectedly popular. Before the 6 months was up, more than 100 retailers had applied to be involved. With this demand, they were able to bring the markets into a permanent setting. This made them regular with full-time stallholders, cementing the Night Market’s position as an iconic Cairns attraction.