From colourful religious celebrations over TedX conferences to spiritual & artistic events, Bali has it all. If you’re planning a trip to Bali next year but not sure when, here’s your guide to all major festivals and events for 2016:
Chinese New Year – 8th February 2016
As Indonesia is home to a significant Chinese community, Chinese New Year (according to the Chinese lunar calendar) is celebrated around the country, but especially in Java and Bali. It’s traditionally the time of family reunions, Chinese-style parades, fireworks and welcoming the new year. Celebrations last for 15 days with beginning of the first day of the traditional Chinese calendar.
Where: mainly Denpasar and bigger towns
Galungan Ceremony – 10th February 2016
Galungan, along with the below mentioned Kulungan, are among Bali’s major and most important festivals. It marks traditionally ten days of festivities that celebrate the return of ancestors to Bali. Galungan symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The event is intensively prepared by families around Bali, usually starting at least three days prior. Everywhere around Bali, you can see beautiful decorated bamboo poles in front of houses, along with an array of offerings around.
Kulungan Ceremony – 20th February 2016
Kulungan is always celebrated ten days after the aforementioned Galungan and symbolizes the end of Galungan. Balinese families prepare special offerings on that day as this is believed to be the day when ancestral holy spirits will return to heaven.
Nyepi – Day of Silence – 9th March 2016
Nyepi is one of the most interesting festivals in the world and definitely worth experiencing as literally everything on the island comes to a complete halt. That means, no traffic, no shops/malls/restaurant/kiosks/eateries will be open, not even the airport operates. No motorized vehicles are allowed. In addition, no entertainment, no travels, no lights and electricity should be used at a minimum, all from 06:00 AM to 06:00 AM.
Nyepi is the New Year’s celebration or better, the Saka New Year. The date of Nyepi varies from year to year, as it follows the lunar calendar. The day prior to Nyepi is hugely celebrated on the streets with lots of colourful festivities and parades similar to carnival. Many groups showcasing their ogoh-ogohs, mystical creatures artistically created from bamboo frames. As travellers, you’re confined to stay at your hotel, however, you’re free to use all the facilities there. Local authorities patrolling through the streets to make sure everyone stays within their house / hotel, failing so will result in verbal warnings to monetary penalties.
Where: everywhere, Denpasar and Kuta are recommended.
BaliSpirit Festival – 29th March – 3rd April 2016
The BaliSpirit Festival is a big health oriented festival which takes places in Ubud, central Bali. Participants can choose from more than 200 workshops focused on meditation, yoga, spirituality & healing, personal transformation and dance.
Where: Ubud Tickets: from US$ 26 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ubud Food Festival – 27th-29th May 2016
Ubud Food Festival is a culinary adventure for everyone! This events showcases the best chefs from the regions, workshops, forums, markets, food tours and a lot more.
TedX Ubud – 28th May 2016
Ted talks are international conferences around business, innovations and personal development. The speakers are mostly a mix of local and international entrepreneurs and influencers of significant importance. The event lasts one full day with a networking party after the main event where you can meet many likeminded people. Get inspired with many new ideas for your business and life!
Where: Ubud Tickets: from US$ 45 (sales start in Feb. 2016) Contact: email@example.com
Saraswati – 25th June 2016
Bali celebrates Saraswati (Knowledge Day) once every 210 days. Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, wisdom, nature and art. This event is mostly celebrated by students, usually starting in the morning with prayers and offerings. Books are not allowed to be read during the day, people will only start reading books (mostly religious ones) at night and commonly in and around temples.
Bali Arts Festival – 11th June – 09th July 2016
An old saying says that every Balinese is an artist. Once you’re visiting Bali, you will quickly notice, that this saying is not an understatement. The Bali Arts Festival showcases various exhibitions and performances around Balinese art and culture.
Where: Denpasar Arts Centre, Denpasar
Bali Kite Festival – exact dates TBA
The Bali Kite Festival is an annual festival that takes place around the start of the windy season which is usually mid or end of June. There will be thousands of people with wonderful decorated kites flying around rice paddies and beach areas. Various competitions will be held throughout the festival.
Where: beach areas and rice fields
Sanur Village Festival – exact dates TBA
This annual event takes place around the end of August in Sanur and is filled with various events around culture, food, art and water sports.
Where: Sanur Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Makepung Buffalo Races – start from 12th July – 20th September 2016
This spectacular event takes places in Negara, northwestern Bali. Only the best buffalos are chosen to compete, whereat the buffalo’s horns will be painted and silk ribbons are places around the neck. Even if you’re not able to attend a race, chance are high that you can watch rehearsals.
Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – exact dates TBA, end of October/beginning of Nov.
The Writers and Readers Festival takes place everywhere around Ubud with several events, workshops and speeches around culture and storytelling.
Where: Ubud Contact: email@example.com
Christmas – 25th December 2016
As Bali is a melting pot of cultures, every major religion is equally celebrated here. Christmas is not celebrated differently from any other parts of the world, you probably won’t find any Christmas markets though.
Where: Denpasar, Kuta and bigger towns like Negara or Singaraja.
New Year’s Eve – 31st December 2016
Celebrating NYE in Bali is an awesome spectacle! Most people celebrate NYE around beach areas: restaurants and bars competing with each other by trying to offer the best entertainment possible, from live bands, over DJ’s to dance performances. It’s usually super crowded and hotel rates skyrocketing up to 1000% of their usual rates.