As a visitor, one cannot experience the true Bali culture without witnessing a festival firsthand. The Balinese festivals are truecolour and sound symphonies and genuine culture showdowns for both tourists and locals. As a province of Indonesia, the island of Bali accepts several official religions: Hinduism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism, and Confucianism. The Hindu Balinese make the majority of permanent residents from the island of gods.
One could say that with so many official religions, the whole year in Bali is full of holidays and festivals. And it really is, besides the fact that the island of gods is a holiday itself. For example, starting from January 1st to December 25th there are as much as 28 important holidays for the major religions in Bali. Among these, you’ll find some festivals in Bali that are well worth seeing during your Bali holiday.
Galunganis one of the longest festivals in Bali. It is held once every 210 days, marking the beginning of traditional Balinese religious ceremonies. During Galungan, the Balinese celebrate the dharma winning over adharma. The Balinese think that the ancestor spirits visit them during Galungan. The next time Balinese people will celebrate Galungan is September 17th, 2016.
Nyepi, also known as the “Day of Silence” in Bali, is, in fact, a Hindu celebration. It marks the beginning of the New Year or Isakawarsa. The Balinese are forbidden to light fires, work,have fun or eat during this day when the only locals seen of the streets are the watchmen. However, tourists can take part in TawurKesanga, a procession made one day before Nyepi, when colored giants called ogoh ogoh are paraded on the streets and then burned, to appease the gods.
If you are planning to visit Bali in June, you can enjoy another beautiful festival, full of color: Phi Ta Khon is the Balinese festival that takes place at the end of June, celebrating the spirits of the dead. Balinese youngsters wear colored clothes and masks. June is also the month when the Bali Arts Festival takes place in the capital city of Denpasar. This year, the Bali Arts festival kicks off on June 11th and lasts until te 9th of July. For those of you visiting Jimbaran or Kuta, there is also the Biznet festival, a modern series of activities and concerts, or Biznet Bali Marathon, when even tourists get the chance to register for the ironman-like trials.
The Kite Festival in Bali takes place in Padang Galak, close to Sanur Beach between July and October. Tourists can launch kites and see giant ones in action. The kite festival marks the windy season. Being mostly farmers and merchants before the invasion of tourists, the Balinese are also very fond of dancing and music.
There is one instrument, called gamelan, which makes traditional Balinese music sound apart. Among the ritual Balinese dances, Kecak (Dance of the Monkeys) is most well-known. It gathers elements from the SanghyangDedari tribal dances. Barong is another ritual dance, that only teen girls are allowed to practice.