Thousands of Cairns residents have turned out to watch a field at Yorkeys Knob set ablaze as part of a local festival.

Children stood wide-eyed in awe as flames licked the sky and ripped through a cane field in north Queensland.

Once a practice commonly used by farmers, burning cane fields are rarely seen in the state’s far north these days.

But thousands of Cairns residents turned out to watch the spectacle on Saturday night when a field at Yorkeys Knob, north of the city, was set ablaze as part of a local festival.

Until about the 1990s cane was set alight to burn off the plant’s exterior, making it easier for farmers to cut the cane by hand.

Burning the cane was a tricky task and only those who were specially trained light the fires.

The practice became redundant with the introduction of machinery that could slice through the green plants.