Queensland's geographical and cultural diversity is reflected in its festivals. From the far north to the west and the south, festivals form a significant part of the economic, cultural and social fabric of the State's towns and cities. Festivals can generate significant income for community groups and businesses. They are often run by volunteer groups, such as Rotary or Apex, or a committee of community members in conjunction with local government. Just as important is the opportunity festivals provide residents and visitors to celebrate together, reinforce community bonds and develop senses of community in a friendly, fun atmosphere.

Italian Festival, Ingham

Some Queensland festivals, like Ingham's Australian Italian Festival, celebrate a significant ethnic group, their culture, and contribution to the economic, social, cultural, and gastronomic enrichment of the region in which they settled. The Australian Italian Festival celebrates all things Italian, with Italian food, drink, and song, and floats filled with stereotypical Italian figures. However, the festival is for Australian Italians, and therefore has many ‘Australian’ events and performances as well, including Indigenous Australians, bush poets breakfast, a pub bus cruise of Hinchinbrook Shire, and a greasy pole climbing competition. This suggests that the festival has been carefully constructed to not only commemorate a major event in the town's history – the migration of Italians to north Queensland – but also to ensure that many communities of the Ingham region are represented and involved in one, all-encompassing event.

The Croc Festival, Weipa

Across the remote north of Queensland, a major festival of song and dance is held in indigenous communities each year. The Croc Festival, part of the Rock Eisteddfod group of festivals, was designed as an event to provide not only fun and entertainment, but also information and help to follow pathways towards self-fulfilment without drugs and alcohol. The Croc Festival began in 1998 in Weipa, and has been hosted on Thursday Island four times, the event has spread to the Northern Territory, northern Western Australia, western New South Wales and rural Victoria after the success of the Queensland event. The event has been credited with bringing Aboriginal culture to a wider audience, and providing motivation for young Indigenous children to attend school, highlighting career opportunities, promoting healthy lifestyles, and fostering pride and cultural awareness in Indigenous communities.

Warwick Jumpers and Jazz Festival

Other festivals commemorate Queensland's climate. Two examples of this kind of event are the Warwick Jumpers and Jazz Festival and the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. The Warwick Jumpers and Jazz Festival celebrates ‘all that is wonderful about winter’, and includes a different take on the cold Darling Downs winter, by placing jumpers – or ‘textile sculptures’ – on 80 deciduous trees in the main street of town. This festival makes use of the weather to promote a music festival with a special novelty feature, the jumper-wearing trees.

Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers

In Toowoomba, climate is celebrated in its displays of springtime flowers. The ‘Garden City’, as it is called in the region, holds an annual Carnival of Flowers in the last full week of September, and has done so since 1949. Floral floats, marching bands, and community groups begin the event with a parade, and visitors can attend the private gardens of Toowoomba residents and organisations, talk plants and gardening with the owners, as well as enjoy the carefully prepared City Council parks. The City Council offers enormous support by promoting the event as well as ensuring that the city's parks are in full bloom, with beautiful flowers and well-manicured lawns for the carnival.

Mount Isa Rodeo

The Mount Isa City Council offers support to their largest annual event, the Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo. Celebrating the outback, this major sporting event began in 1959. In 2007, the event moved from its home of Kalkadoon Park to a new, council-built rodeo arena and stadium, Buchanan Park. The event goes well beyond sport: the city centre is closed off to traffic, becoming a giant fairground with carnival rides, dancing, and entertainment. A Mardi Gras parade runs through the streets, and a Ute Muster is held on the rodeo grounds. The event is run by the local Rotary Club, and has donated more than $2.5 million to charitable, community, cultural, sporting and service organisations over the years. The centrepiece of the event is, of course, the Rodeo itself, with over $200,000 in prize money on offer, the ‘richest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere’.

In their own unique ways, these events perform the work of binding the community together, promoting positive outcomes for the region by building social capital by providing opportunities for volunteer work. These festivals also increase town revenues by drawing visitors to the town, celebrating either a local tradition, historical event, or an invented tradition that creates a focal point for the local community and for visitors. These events serve to demonstrate the diverse geographies, ethnicities, and histories of Queensland, from the sugar cane country's North Queensland Italians to Indigenous communities, from avid gardeners in fertile Toowoomba to the arid hills of outback Mount Isa.

The festival town: Gympie

Gympie has developed into a festival town (a town or city that hosts three or more annual festivals or events) over the past 100 years or more, hosting a very successful agricultural show since 1877, the historic Gold Rush Festival, which began in 1948; the National Country Music Muster (1982), and the Heart of Gold International Film Festival, the town's newest event, which began in 2006.

While most towns hold a Show, the Gympie District Show holds pride of place as the only non-Royal Show to have hosted the Australian National Showjumping Championships (twice), an important event for Olympic qualification. The Gympie Gold Rush Festival, originally called the Gympie Birthday Celebrations, is based on the story of the founding of Gympie – the 1867 discovery of gold in what is now the centre of town.

The Muster grew out of a celebration of local country music band the Webb Brothers, who in 1982 won their second Golden Guitar, and coincidentally were also celebrating the centenary of their family's farm, Thornside. It is now one of the major country music festivals on the Australian scene, and celebrated its 25 year anniversary in 2006.

The Heart of Gold International Film Festival, whose name is derived, in part, from Gympie's gold rush past, has been held in October, close to the date of Gympie's founding (16 October), but from 2009 was held in March.

This diverse range of festivals shows the ways in which this rural town is promoting itself as a desirable destination, based on its history, rural lifestyle, and picturesque country setting. This gallery of festivals is also a way of responding to the ‘rural crisis’ that has seen many rural areas face great hardships as a result of drought, service withdrawal, and population loss to cities. Other cities and towns that have transformed themselves into festival towns include Warwick and Charters Towers, each of which hosts at least four ongoing and long-standing festivals each year.