Bali’s 2020 calendar of events is marked by quite a number of artistic festivals that allow you to indulge in unique festivities. From arts and culture to music and sports as well as literary celebrations, we have rounded up Bali’s major events for you to take part in this year.
Held in the area of Suwat in Gianyar, this festival showcases various cultural performances, as well as fun games such as “Water War”, rice planting race, and ducks and pigs catching competition.
Aimed at boosting tourism in the Kintamani area, Balingkang Festival portrays the harmonious life in Balingkang, where Balinese culture (Hindu) and Chinese culture (Buddha) intertwine. Decorated Penjor bamboo poles will be erected along the main road in Kintamani, where carnival and cultural performances take place.
Denpasar will burst with colour as the island’s capital celebrates its 232nd anniversary this year on 27 February. Merriment will take place around Puputan Square, and a number of competitions as well as cultural performances and parades will also be held on this day.
On this day, the villagers of Munggu in Mengwi hold the Mekotek ritual. Known as ‘spear fight’, the ritual started in 1934 in the village of Munggu and real spears were used at the time unlike the blunt-ended wooden sticks that are used at present. The Mekotek sees two groups of male villagers as opponents attempting to force down the opposition cone of sticks which usually results in people being crushed below the collapsed cone of sticks.
The night before Nyepi, the Balinese celebrate their ‘New Year’s Eve’ with the Ngrupuk Parade. As a way to scare of demons and bad spirits, the Balinese Hindu will parade giant ‘Ogoh-Ogoh’ effigies along the road. The Ogoh-ogoh are demon like effigies, often inspired by Balinese and Hindu mythology.
The first day of the new Caka year on the Balinese calendar is marked with complete silence. Called Nyepi, on this day activities that involve pleasure, fire, and work are prohibited – even the airport is closed for 24 hours. On the streets, the odd stray dogs may wander past, but that’s about it.
Known as the kissing ritual, Omed-omedan is celebrated on the day after Nyepi (the silent day) to welcome the Caka new year. The single Sesetan boys are probably the happiest on this day, for they get to kiss the single ladies of their village without any consequences. Known as the kissing ritual, Omed Omedan is when the bachelors and bachelorettes aged 17-30 of Sesetan gather on the area’s main street. Divided into two groups (men vs women), they will take position and face each other; at a given signal, both sides will approach to the centre of the street, and male participants will pull and kiss (sometimes forcefully) the female participants while the rest of the villagers in the audience pour buckets of water over them. It is said to be a celebration of fertility.
The week-long festival takes many forms, from yoga, meditation, dance, martial arts and healing workshops and seminars; to full-day fairs and markets selling handicrafts, vegan food, clothing and gifts. A huge line up of world and spiritual music will hit both daytime and night concerts. Find their schedules, line-ups, special events and more information on their website.
International as well as Indonesia’s most outstanding chefs, restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, food photographers, storytellers, scientists and activists will converge in Bali for the Ubud Food Festival Presented by ABC (UFF). In its sixth year, the country’s leading culinary event will celebrate the nation’s diverse cuisines and exciting gastronomic scene with food lovers from near and far.
This East Bali event will highlight a variety of competitions, exhibitions and art and culture parade. Traditional Jukung wooden boat race using wind power will also be held to showcase the skills of the local fishermen.
This festival aims at promoting and conserving the traditional art and culture of North Bali.
Held by the village administration of Tibubeneng, Berawa Beach Arts Festival is known for its efforts to break the Indonesian Museum of Record (MURI) by holding a colossal Kecak (performed by thousands of dancers) in 2018, and the biggest stage ever constructed on a beach festival last year. At the festival you can expect to see music and cultural performances, art installations on the beach area, and much more.
Among the festivities is the famous Perang Pandan, or locally known as mekare-kare. This annual, age-old tradition is a colossal coming-of-age ritual, dedicated to God Indra, the Hindu god of war and the sky. The ritual sees friendly duels between all male villagers, who bout each other armed with a small rattan shield in one hand and a tied packet of thorny ‘pandan’ leaves in the other.
Bali Art Festival was first held in 1979 by the late Professor Ida Bagus Mantra. The main purpose of this festival is to preserve Balinese art, music, and literature, gaining a strong base for national identity. Now, combining emerging international arts with local culture, Bali Art Festival has become the creative event of the year with its parades, exhibitions, and workshops.
Located in front of the Ulun Danu Buyan Temple at Pancasari Village, Sukasada and Ulun Danu Tamblingan at Munduk Village, Banjar, Twin Lake Festival is aimed to introduce original Buleleng agricultural products – the name “Twin Lake” refers to Buyan Lake and Tamblingan Lake. The festival creates opportunities for visitors to try the seafood selection and locally grown exotic fruits. With its Bull Races Parade, traditional game Gangsing Competition, Fruit Arrangement Competition, and Handy Craft Exhibition, the festival offers entertaining ways to spend your time in Bali. The people of Buleleng perform traditional, unique sports at one of the events.
Makepung is one of the unique traditions stemmed from the agrarian life scene of the island, and is a widely enjoyed event in the regency of Jembrana, West Bali. The widely known race of water buffalos is a colourful spectacle and the racing course is about 2 kilometres. Here, the farmers and their buffalos come to race for honour, pride and the trophy, rather than for money.
After 6 successful years, the Ubud Village Jazz Festival (UVJF) returns again this year carrying the theme “Freedom of Expression”, welcoming many legendary figures from the Indonesian archipelago and abroad, who will come to perform and share their most recent arrangements with the public at Arma Museum Garden.
The 15th annual Sanur Village Festival (SVF 2020) aims to facilitate and develop the Sanur community’s creativity and achieve creativity and tourism synergy. The festival ranges from music festival and markets at night to exciting daytime activities like the traditional jukung boat races.
Held in the island’s celebrated Tirta Gangga Water Palace, Tirta Gangga Festival’s theme is always related to water and life. During the festival, the stage is built around the water garden, where amazing talents from the local villagers perform poetry, dances, and play music. The three-day festival is a mix of installation art, landscape painting, and theatre including creative competitions to encourage young people’s passion and talents. As part of Bali’s main attractions, Tirta Gangga Water Palace has a large square pool decorated with Buddhist gods and goddesses and an elegant, tiered Nawa Sanga fountain. The one-hectare property located on the outskirt of Amlapura in its well-known current state, was built in 1948 by the last king of Karangasem.
This three-day festival features cultural parade by the local youth community, art installation around the square Dirah pool, and Mebat competition. Visitors can experience the spacious park at the water palace and the festivity, relaxing by the grass while enjoying the performance.
The annual event that has cinephiles and movie buffs island-wide excited comes back this 24-30 September 2020. The Bali International Film Festival, also known as Balinale, celebrates its 14th edition as the oldest and longest running annual international film event in Indonesia, featuring a week’s worth of independent films, featuring talks by producers, directors, actors and more.
The festival, taking place on the popular area of Petitenget, will showcase music performances, traditional human puppets, yoga sessions, and traditional dance performances.
Held in Kalibukbuk and Kaliasem villages, Lovina Festival reflects the beauty of Lovina Beach with its sparkling black sand and breathtaking sunset. During the festival you can enjoy collaborative music performances, Bungbung traditional dance, puppet shows, cultural parade around the villages in Lovina, and even party at Kaliasem Beach. The festival highlights are the fireworks show and the cultural parade, where the local communities take part. It overall blends the beauty of nature and culture.
A unique festivity, Ketipat War is an annual event that was first held in 1337 by the villagers of Kapal village in Mengwi. Ketipat is a typical Indonesian rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves, and during this event the villagers throw the Ketipat at each other.
From humble beginnings in 2004, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) has evolved into one of the world’s most celebrated literary and artistic events – an annual pilgrimage for lovers of literature and conversation. Bringing together some of the world’s most powerful voices in a melting pot of artists, authors, thinkers and performers, the festival is a platform for meaningful exchange and cross-cultural dialogue. A place where artists and audiences alike can discuss shared inspirations, ideas and concerns, UWRF transcends cultural and geographical borders to create a truly global community.
Taking place in the peninsula of Nusa Dua, Nusa Dua Fiesta showcases traditional handicraft exhibition, art and musical performances from across the Indonesian archipelago, and culinary stalls. Other activities include beach clean up, along with competitions such as kids drawing and even selfie contest.
Across five days, UWRF delivers an eclectic program of events – from fiery conversations to intimate literary lunches, gripping live performances to hands-on workshops. This year, the festival celebrates its 16th year as Southeast Asia’s leading festival of words and ideas.
Different from the regular Makepung Race, Makepung Lampit is held in wetlands, where the pair of buffalos pulls the Lampit, or the wooden board, on muddy terrestrial. Inspired by the Balinese agriculture culture, Makepung Lampit signifies the gotong royong culture, where everyone is helping each other. In the villages, everyone is helping on the land levelling process to prepare for the harvesting season. This traditions initiates Makepung Lampit.
A festivity taking place at one of Bali’s most serene villages, Penglipuran Village Festival is a celebration of Balinese arts through cultural parades, traditional dance competitions, traditional cooking competitions, and many more.
The festival will showcase performances by the art community of Kutuh village, where Pandawa Beach is located. Food bazaar and live music performances will also take place during the festival, providing an alternative for those looking to spend the last days of 2020 on the beach.