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Cairns carols evening set to be a cracker

Cairns carols evening set to be a cracker

Cairns carols evening set to be a cracker

13 December 2020

Fireworks will light up the Cairns sky on Sunday 13 December as the finale to the Joy to the World carols evening at the Cairns Show Grounds. Illustration by Darryl Whitecross.

By Darryl Whitecross

The hastily organised Joy to the World carols evening in Cairns on Sunday 13 December could well be one of the biggest such events in the country this year, if not, Queensland.

Cairns Corps Officer Major Ben Johnson said an initial allocation of 1500 tickets was released – the maximum number for an event not having a COVID-safe plan – and they were snapped up quickly.

Because of the demand, Ben said he submitted a plan that was approved, which meant the 1500 maximum became 10,000. The moment the figure grew so did applications for tickets and quickly passed 2000. About 3000 were expected to pass through the turnstyles.

With no crowd attending the traditional and popular Sidney Myer Music Bowl Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne this year to safeguard public health, and the equally traditional and popular Carols in the Doman in Sydney, which was forced to move to a ‘COVID-safe venue’ [the Aware Super Theatre in Darling Harbour], the Cairns program has the potential to be the best attended in 2020.

Ben said it usually took several months to put together a carols event so, even though restrictions had eased, it was too late for the regular programs to be re-introduced “but we’re pushing ahead”.

The annual Cairns Regional Council Mayor’s Carols by Candlelight event and several of the smaller carols events around the city were cancelled earlier in the year because of the uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions.

Ben said many of the smaller events in Cairns relied on council funding to stage, but the council had “basically pulled all their funding” this year as it had thought the pandemic would have cancelled such events.

The Joy to the World carols night is to be held on Sunday 13 December at the Cairns Show Grounds, beginning at 5.30pm with pre-show entertainment and the carols program from 6.30pm.

Australian singer/songwriter Brendon Walmsley heads the list of performers on the program, along with other Cairns singers and traditional dancers. The Cairns Corps band is to join with Far Northern Brass to provide musical accompaniment to the carols. A pyrotechnic display is to finish the night.

The Army is playing a significant role in staging the event but Ben said it was being organised by the Cairns Christian Minister’s Network, of which he is the chairman, which has seen 14 churches take on a role at the event “which has not happened up here for a while”.

“God is doing some amazing things and we’re sort of hanging on for the ride,” Ben said. “We’re really excited about it. It could be one of the biggest Queensland events for Christmas.”

Cairns Show Grounds management has donated the use of the facility and other services have given significant discounts to allow Joy to the World to go ahead.

“When it all started happening, the council said: ‘There's no funding open but put in an application and we’ll see what we can do’. They’ve given us $8000 to make it happen.

“The community’s been crying out to do something together; for something to celebrate, so that's why the churches are doing it. It’s really raising the profile of the churches around town, which is good.

“I came up with the idea about seven weeks ago and the way everything’s fallen into place has really been ‘a God thing’.”

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