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Festivals and Events in Bali
Bali has a full calendar of festivals throughout the year. Here you will find information and a description of the events with links to their websites where available...
In Bali there are around 20,000 temples (Pura), each holding festivals (Odalan) at least twice a year. Many of Bali's festival dates are calculated according to the lunar calendar, or the Balinese calendar, Pawukon - a 210 day calendar originating from the Hindu religion.
Below are some of the major festivals and holy days in Bali:
Galungan: Ten day festival that takes place every 210 days to celebrate the creation of the universe and the victory of Dharma against evil Adharma. The last day of the celebrations, known as Kuningan, is also the most important and is the Balinese All Saints Day. The entrances to most houses are decorated with bamboo poles (penjor) with coconut leaves and flowers, fruits and other offerings.
Nyepi: Nyepi, (literally, day of silence) is strictly observed on the Island of Bali and is the Balinese new year Icaka, taking place in March or April. It is believed that evil spirits comes to Bali on Nyepi day and Balinese people believe that if it is quiet, evil spirits believe no one is on Bali and will go somewhere else.
The Nyepi day itself starts in the morning at 06:00 and lasts for 24 hours. Melasti takes place three days before Nyepi, with Balinese people walking in a parade to a source of water (most of the time to the sea) to purify the deities. Women bring offerings of flowers, fruits and cakes, and men bring effigies on bamboo sticks to temples. The day before Nyepi is Tawur Agung Kesanga, with a sacrificial ceremony at 12:00 to protect humans against underworld spirits.
Evening celebrations include a parade of ogoh-ogoh (giant monsters created by the local banjars symbolising evil spirits) in the streets.
During Nyepi day, shops are closed, and activities such as travelling and entertainment are prohibited. The airport and the harbours are closed and television broadcasting is stopped. Police and pecalan (community security patrols) are the only ones on the streets to ensure that people follow the rules.
Tourists are not exempt from these traditions and are not allowed onto the streets or beaches, and remain in their hotels or accommodation. Hotels in Bali are allowed to do a minimum for guests, including some cooking; usually there is no room service and guests are asked to be quiet and use lighting to a minimum. Many hotels offer Nyepi packages for locals and for foreigners with long stay visas (Kitas).
- For further information on Nyepi Day: Click here
Major Events in Bali
Bali Spirit Festival: Five day festival taking place in Ubud, celebrating cultural and spiritual diversity with yoga, dance and music events. The festival generally takes place in March.
Rotary Bali Charity Tennis Tournament: Annual tournament taking place in May since 1991. The aim of the event is to raise money for disadvantaged children in Bali. Matches take place at various hotels in Nusa Dua.
Biznet Bali International Triathlon: Held in Jimbaran in June. There are two different courses; an Olympic Distance Course with 1.5 Km swimming, 40 Km cycling and 10 Km running and a Sprint Distance Course 500m swimming, 20 Km cycling and 5 Km running.
Bali Arts Festival: One month festival held between June and July in Denpasar. The event features local, national and international artists performing traditional Balinese songs and dances. Highlights of the event include dance performances and parades, handicraft exhibitions, cultural events and food stalls.
Bali Kite Festival: Annual four-day event in July in Padang Galak close to Sanur Beach. The festival attracts tourists and kite flyers from around the world and features traditional giant kites. The kites, some measuring four by ten metres, are flown in competitions led by teams from the villages around Denpasar. The event has religious origins, with the intent to send a message to Hindu gods for an abundant harvest.
Bull Races: Bulls are ridden by jockeys around a one track course; races start around 07:00 every Sunday between July and October. The event also features a bull parade and food fairs. Held in Perancak, close to Negara in West Bali.
Sanur Village Festival: Inspired by marine life, this festival includes traditional arts, culture and dance performances, as well as music, water sports and a food festival. On Sanur Beach over five days in August.
Nusa Dua Festival: Themed festival, with a different theme each year and featuring dance performances and parades, handicraft exhibitions, art, drama and music. The aim of the festival is to highlight Bali's rich traditions and culture. The one-week festival takes place in Nusa Dua in August or September.
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival: Every October writers from Bali, Indonesia and from around the world gather in Ubud for this annual festival. Each year, the festival has a different theme and includes workshops, special events, book launches and a programme for children.
Bali International Jazz Festival: Jazz enthusiasts and performers from Indonesia and around the world get together for three days every November for this annual jazz event.