With plenty of pluck, the Cairns Ukulele Festival has set out to beat a Guinness World Record.

More than 800 ukulele enthusiasts gathered outside a Cairns pub on Saturday July 2 in an attempt to break the world record for the largest number of people playing the instrument en masse.

The current record holder of “largest ukulele ensemble” is the London Festival which assembled 851 keen participants in 2009.

Hundreds of people congregated at the Cairns Courthouse Hotel to experience ukulele euphoria, armed with their instruments and the C Major and F Major chords required to play the upbeat calypso tune Iko Iko.Their goal was 1,000 players, but they were just 40 ukes shy of victory. It was the festival’s second attempt on the record in as many years: on the previous occasion there were enough bodies but not enough instruments to go round.

Mike Jackson spearheaded the Lanikai Ukulele Day this year after having played in the throng gathered for the 2010 event. He is astounded by the Saturday’s turnout. “The players seemed to come from everywhere — I counted participants from 18 countries and all Australian states and territories. Their ages ranged from 5 to 83, and their...