From 27 to 30 October 2022, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) will take over Bali’s cultural capital for its 19th year running. There will be 150 storytellers — from writers and poets to activists and musicians — descending upon Ubud over the four days, all of whom will feature on over 50 panels, talks and performances.

But, does that mean one must be an avid reader to enjoy what the festival has to offer? Of course not, the events at UWRF go beyond the books and offers stimulating and entertaining events for all to enjoy.

Photo: Prema Ananda

What takes place at the UWRF, exactly?

The festival is comprised of a whole range of formats from panel discussions to literary lunches, long table dinners, walking tours, cocktail parties and performances. And, whilst the ‘stars’ of the festival are indeed authors and writers, it is the topics of conversation, the discussion on both local and global issues that they engage in, that makes this gathering so very interesting.

Whether you’ve read a novel or the latest hit biography is beside the fact; many of the panel discussions will cover intriguing themes, and the writers – whose very job it is to delve deep into an issue – share their expertise and findings with the audience.

Here are a few panel examples from this year’s Main Program list: ‘Rekindling Dormant Languages’ will discuss the the dangers of language extinction, in a time where half of the world’s 6,511 languages are considered endangered; ‘The Two Sides of the Wellness Issue’ which weighs up whether modern trends are commodifying true health experiences; and ‘Nuances of Cultural Appropriation’ will see a debate on what is appreciation and what is exploitation. The themes range from global politics (‘The War in Ukraine’) to local sociology (‘Bali, 50 Years of Change). 

The Main Program also caters to interests of budding and veteran writers to enthusiastic readers through industry-focused discussion. You’ll find insightful panels like ‘Travel Writing: Making Sense of the World’, ‘Writing as Catharsis’, ‘Women in Fiction’, to ‘The Power of Poetry’.

But even then the panel discussions are only one side of the festival. There are engaging workshops for those looking to immerse themselves in new experiences, including a ‘Cooking Class and Market Tour’ for those who want to familiarise themselves with local cuisine and ‘Batik Making’,Birdwatching with Darryl Jones’ and learning Balinese with ‘Bahasa Bali Breakfast’. Other special events include lunches and dinners, inviting participants to have dinner and dialogue with renowned authors and special guests.

Photo: IB Anggastya

At night, UWRF transforms into a spectacle of entertainment. Poetry performances light up the stage, local musicians pump up the atmosphere, screenings of independent movies are played to a captive audience. Food, drink and market stalls are open day and night for those who simply want to soak up the unique surrounds of this one-of-a-kind festival. It’s highly recommended that you browse through the Daily Schedule of programs on their website to see what piques your interest.

One Day and Four Day Passes are available for the festival. Use the promo code ‘NowBali22’ to get a 10% off your purchase online. Get your ticket now:

Edward Speirs

Edward Speirs

Edward, or Eddy as he prefers to be called, is the Managing Editor of NOW! Bali and host of the NOW! Bali Podcast. He enjoys photography, rural travel and loves that his work introduces him to people from all walks of life.