Bali offers an amazing array of religious festivals but there is also an impressive array of other festivals to delight you. Here are four of my picks that are well worth a visit.
The Bali Arts Festival (www.baliartsfestival.com)
The Bali Arts Festival starts in mid June and lasts for approximately a month. Based in the Taman Wedhi Budaya arts center in the eastern part of Denpasar in South Bali this festival is extremely popular.
It is a time where you can see a great variety of traditional crafts, music and dance.
If you can plan to be there for the opening parade in Denpasar, it is spectacular.
For ballet lovers the productions of Mahabharata and Ramayana are grand and should not be missed.
For many of the village musical and dance groups the Bali Arts Festival is the main event of the year and competition is fierce between the groups. If you do well here then your group or village is set for the year ahead.
There is a 6000- seat amphitheatre where some of the events take place making you understand the mass appeal for the culture of Bali.
Tickets can be purchased before the events and schedules can be found throughout south Bali, Ubud as well as at the tourist office in Denpasar.
Kuta Karnival (www.kutakarnival.com)
First held in 2003 this carnival was held as a celebration of life after the tragedy of 2002. The Kuta Karnival is now (almost) an annual event usually held in September or October.
If you wish to enjoy the evens of the Kuta Karnival check out their website for dates and events.
But you can expect to enjoy a whole array of parades, cultural shows, art competitions, beach-sport tournaments and lots more.
Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (www.ubudwritersfestival.com)
Usually held in October this festival brings writers and readers from around the world together especially those whose interest is Bali.
The 2010 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival is scheduled for 6-10 October and the theme is ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika : Harmony in Diversity’.
Take a look at their website especially if you would like to be a volunteer for this great event.
This may or may not be your cup of tea but non-the-less is interesting. Basically this is almost an anti-festival with the whole island shutting down for 24 hours.
It occurs at the Hindu New Year which can fall between March or April based on the Caka calendar.
2010 saw Nyepi falling on the 16th March.
2011 it will fall on the 4th April
2012 it will fall on 23rd March
This event starts at sunrise and continues for 24 hours. No planes can come or go, no vehicles can be used and no power source can be used either including fires, lights, television or Ipods.
Apart from hospitals and hotels no business can operate.
As a sign of respect nobody and that does include tourists must stay off the streets. Sneak out and you will be politely escorted back.
All in all Nyepi is a cleansing festival that is supposed to fool all evil spirits into thinking that the island of Bali has been abandoned and therefore will go somewhere else.
As daunting as it sounds this is a great time to be in Bali. On the eve of Nyepi there are wonderful ceremonies with the most amazing and beautiful offerings used to lure the demons out.
And the day of Nyepi offers you a real chance to chill out and relax.
I would urge you, should you be planning a visit to Bali, to include at least one of the above festivals.
Source: Bali and Lombok – The Lonely Planet