There’s no better way to immerse oneself in Balinese tradition and connect with its beautiful people than through unique and vibrant festivals, when the streets light up with smiles and Bali’s true spirit and traditions come alive. All year long, the island of the Gods plays host to an array of events ranging from traditional local ceremonies to international festivals. So, get your calendars, and start planning to catch these events.
Nyepi: Balinese New Year and Day of Silence
Nyepi means “to keep silent,” and that’s exactly what the whole island of Bali does for an entire day before starting the New Year. What’s the reason for the silence on Nyepi Day? Well, the myth goes that demons and gods fly over the island on that particular day of the year (the first new moon in March). And because it’s silent, they are fooled into believing the island is uninhabited, so they will pass by peacefully.
But before the silence, there are several beautiful ceremonies and intriguing rituals. Three to four days before Nyepi, Melasti purification ceremonies are held on beaches, lakes or another nearby source of water. Everyone dresses in traditional white clothing, carrying offerings, banners, and sacred items from the village temple. Then, the evening before Nyepi, things get very loud during the Ogoh-ogoh parade.
Locals parade these giant, papier-mâché demon monsters around the streets before setting them on fire to banish any evil spirits away. From 6:00 am the next morning until 6:00 am the following day, everything is silent. Everyone needs to stay indoors and be respectful of this sacred day. You can still watch a movie or relax by the pool, but that’s about it. And when the evening comes, be sure to look at the sky. You will probably witness one of the most magical starlit skies you’ve ever seen. It’s one amazing journey worth experiencing.
If you like yoga, music and dance, then get yourself to one of the most talked about holistic lifestyle festivals in the world. The BaliSpirit Festival takes place every year around March in Ubud, the spiritual center of Bali. Expect chanting, dancing feet, inspirational speakers and yoga classes for all levels, from absolute beginners to handstand lovers.
Ubud Food Festival
This three-day culinary celebration is on the calendar of every in-the-know foodie. You’ll be able to discover, taste and munch your way through the best of Indonesian cuisine. Expect live cooking demos, competitions, fine dining experiences by award-winning chefs, in-depth culinary conversations, workshops, food tours, markets and so much more.
JUNE – JULY – AUGUST
Bali Arts Festival
The month-long Bali Arts Festival is the perfect way to experience Bali’s fascinating cultural heritage. Everything from traditional dances, costume parades, exhibitions and musical performances are scheduled at the Taman Werdhi Budaya Arts Centre in Denpasar.
Bali Kite Festival
Now an international event, the Bali Kite Festival started off as an agricultural festival to thank the Hindu Gods for abundant crops and harvests. Between July and August at Padang Galak on Sanur beach, hundreds gather to pilot their traditional kites with wingspans of up to 11 meters and tail lengths of up to 240 meters—or even more!
Ubud Writers Festival
Every year, visitors flock to one of the most renowned cultural and literary festivals in Southeast Asia. The five-day event includes lectures, debates and talks with various Indonesian authors and some of the biggest names in the international literary scene.
With so many options, the only downside to Bali’s festival calendar is trying to decide when to visit. Good thing there’s no such thing as too many trips to beautiful Bali. For a getaway right in the middle of the festival action, book a stay at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach.