If you’re in Indonesia between 11th June and 9th July then take a plane, train or… rickshaw..! to Denpasar (the capital of Bali) for the 34th Pesta Kesenian Bali, aka Bali Arts Festival.
This colourful festival, which takes place over an entire month, is a unique extravaganza celebrating the passion and pride the Balinese have for arts, music, dance and history that are an integral part of their culture. It’s a big event – the opening ceremony, which is shown on national TV, will start with a cultural parade along the main streets of Renon on the afternoon of 11th June to which thousands of people flock from all over Bali. Then in the evening the festival will officially open at the Ardha Chandra, the main open stage in the Arts Center, which has a capacity of 10,000 seats.
Each day thereafter, the event begins at 10am with offerings of handicrafts and cuisine from each regency. There’s something for everyone and no corner of Bali goes unrepresented by its rich and diverse contributions in the form of music, dance, handicrafts and cuisine. In addition to traditional arts, the festival will also feature modern and contemporary arts, including a pop music concert, a modern theater competition, painting exhibitions, discussions and seminars. All performances will adopt this year’s theme of “paros paros” which means “togetherness” in Balinese.
The celebrations continue well into the evenings with nightly shows of traditional and contemporary dance and music at several theatre venues.
Famous masked dances originating from tribal villages are showcased and ancient classic stories retold.
Alongside trances from remote mountain slopes, forgotten or recently revived village dances, food and offering contests, classical palace dances, stars of Balinese stage, odd musical performances, you’ll find new creations from the dance schools of Denpasar, as well as contemporary choreography and dance companies from other islands and from overseas. Foreign art troupes from 12 countries, including the US, the Netherlands, Germany, India, Malaysia and Japan have confirmed their participation.
The first Bali Arts Festival was held in 1979 following the introduction of tourism over a decade earlier. It was decided that if tourism was to be accepted in Bali it had to remain within the parameters of “cultural tourism” and therefore tourists are very warmly welcomed; the vibrant atmosphere spreads all across the island and is enjoyed by both locals and travellers alike. For first time backpackers to Bali, it’s a fantastic introduction to the rich heritage of the spirited destination.
Apart from a few ticketed performances (for a nominal fee), entry to this daily event is free of charge – our favourite price!
Ready for the show