Indonesia events guide
This Ancient annual festival starts off the packed Indonesian calendar. To give thanks to the sea, fishermen in their thousands come together to offer it gifts, including flowers, fruit, vegetables and buffalo heads. A highlight is the festival boat race, in which hundreds of brightly coloured wooden boats from across the nation race; a staged boat battle between competitors is also held.
Cap Go Meh Celebrations
The Chinese New Year is a big deal in Indonesia, given the number of ethnic Chinese who live in the country, and the historic trading relationship between China and Indonesia. On the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, in West Kalimantan, participants come together to get into a trance-like state, and undertake some unbelievable stunts; including sword swallowing and pushing steel wires through their cheeks. This is an unforgettable experience.
Bali Spirit Festival
Towards the end of March the island of Bali truly comes alive during the Bali Spirit Festival. Live dance and music performances from the country’s top performers are held, and traditional Balinese yoga and Javanese dancing are celebrated in all their glory. This event is the pinnacle of Bali’s annual events calendar, drawing crowds from across the world.
To dedicate blessings towards the traditional performing art of shadow puppetry, there are shadow puppetry events held regularly throughout Bali in April. This offers an opportunity to experience something a bit different and something typically Balinese. Alongside the actual shadow puppetry performances, offerings are made towards the equipment and skills involved in the theatrical art form.
Festival Teluk Jailolo
Hosted by the Regency of West Halmahera, this celebration of life and culture operates as a photo competition. Both professional and amateur travel photographers compete to take the best photos of the underwater world, beach and rainforest scenery, and local customs. Not only is it fun to take part, it also offers the opportunity to see some of the world’s best nature photographs.
Bali Arts Festival
A cultural treat for visitors to Bali during the latter half of the month of June; Indonesian and internationally renowned artists come together to showcase their skills and work. Art exhibitions, street troupes and contemporary dance shows round off the perfect introduction to the Balinese art heritage.
Manado Beach Festival
On the island of Sulawesi during mid-July, the city of Manado celebrates its foundation and history. Traditional Indonesian crafts such as doll making, puppetry and painting take place, alongside big music concerts and performances. One of the world’s largest diving competitions takes place in the seas around the island. Visitors are more than welcome to join in.
Lembah Baliem Festival
Since a government-brokered truce 20 years ago between West Papuan Dani, Yali and Lani tribes, the Lembah Baliem Festival has been held annually to symbolise the new-found peace in the Baliem Valley. This is a great opportunity to watch simulated battles between the tribes, with men throwing traditional poison-tipped spears, and running around in traditional tribal clothing, and Birds of Paradise head dresses.
Solo International Ethnic Music Festival
International musical acts and music aficionados come together for five days in September to celebrate all that is ethnic music. Local and international ethnic performers converge on the Dutch-built colonial Vastenburg Castle, in the central Javan city of Solo for the event.
To commemorate the 35,000 people who died when the Krakatoa volcano last erupted, a popular annual festival is held. The Lampung Mask Carnival, combined with dancing and singing by locals, offers a rare opportunity to experience a culturally unique carnival on an active volcanic island.
Jakarta International Film Festival
Much like its counterpart in Cannes, the Jakarta International Film Festival showcases some of the world’s best new films and top actors. This is a highlight of the Jakarta events scene and draws crowds from across the world. An ideal opportunity to buy new designer clothes and get all made-up with your friends.
In Tarakan, in North Kalimantan, an annual boat procession to the sea is held, commemorating Indonesia’s reliance on the surrounding seas. Brightly coloured wooden boats are pushed to sea by men dressed in their black silk garbs. A unique and interesting Indonesian event.