Let the Games Begin!

The government is pouring aid into a chosen series of festivals, in anticipation of Bali opening to international tourists, but happy to welcome domestic tourists, and YOU are invited. These art, culture, sports, and entertainment events have been talked up on every tourism website, but specifics are subject to change. I add my comments to help you schedule and choose.

Bali Cycling Marathon Series on now through 17 Oct. This is a series of cycling events for fixed gear bikes, mountain bikes, etc. The Independence Day ride should have wide appeal: participants age 17+ in any location on earth can register and, with a proprietary app, log their cycled coverage of minimum 42.2 kilometers (with 23 days to accomplish). Series culminates Oct 16 & 17 on a designated Nusa Penida track.   DPD Asita Bali is leading this series, but at press time, this site has the most complete info: https://www.loket.com/event/bcm2021allbikeseries  Instagram site @balicyclingmarathon has limited info, lots of photos of the races recently completed.

Bali And Beyond Travel Fair is a trade show for those in the travel business. Influencers and heavy hitters in the industry show up for this one. 8-12 June at the Nusa Dua convention center. Strict anti-viral hygiene. bbtf.or.id

Bali Art Festival June 12 – July 10 Perennial favorite of locals and cognoscenti, begins with a mindblowing parade. Free performances, exhibitions and competitions. Sometimes the only reliable schedule of performances is found on festival grounds, Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Centre. So it pays to visit at the beginning and make your plans from there. With the many simultaneous stages, there is always something to suit my interest at any given moment. Hot tip: check out the crafts people selling their creations from all over Bali. There are usually some true gems available for purchase.

Umabian Festival At this point it’s looking like June or July, but sponsor Pregina Art & Showbiz has not released anything at press time. Umbaian is a designated traditional village in Tabanan and Pregina is known for splashy star-studded music events.

Tabanan Amazing Race July: check social media on this name and for organizers Tabanan Hub, who are an alliance of businesses, charities and local leaders. Although I picture energetic participants running around Tabanan in a kind of cultural point-to-point scavenger hunt, all I can glean from sources now is its youth-oriented aspect and contingency as an interactive and partially virtual event. Aimed to bolster appreciation of the regency’s many cultural, agricultural and natural attributes.

Makepung Festival Buffalo Races July 15 through November 16, on an every-other-Sunday format. This is one of Bali’s most colorful and macho cultural traditions, and the long trip up to Jembrana regency is well worth it. Plan to stay the night before a race, as the games begin in the early morning. Photo ops galore, as the buffalo, the drivers, and their carts are beautifully dressed for the occasion. Binoculars and sun protection recommended. Look for different cup races such as the Regent Cup and Governors Cup. 9 events, 6 locations. Bonus Jegog (bamboo orchestra) side attractions. Check social media and tourism websites as July gets closer.

Ubud Village Jazz Festival, August 13 & 14. Privately organized by PT Ubud Vista Jafesindo, this ticketed event has normally headlined great international musicians and superb local acts on several stages. Diverse F&B booths make it an event to enjoy over a long evening. Popular with expats and locals alike. Most likely on the verdant grounds of the Agung Rai Museum of Art.

Tanah Lot Weekend II is slated for Aug 13 -15, with a splashy light display planned, modern and traditional dance performances.

Gianyar Layang-Layang Festival September; a spectacle of kite flying competitions, this year with children’s categories.   Belega Kites Club usually organizes these on Masceti Beach. Instagram: balacbelega.

Jatiluwih Festival Sept 21 Art & music. In the past, focal point is a stage set in the middle of some of Bali’s most breathtakingly beautiful paddies. Check social media for updates.

Nusa Penida Festival 4 or 5 – 8 October (sources conflict on start date). Entertainment is likely to be centered around a stage on Ceningan Island, with a focus on marine environment, so it includes beach cleanups and coral reef transplantation. What a great excuse to boat off to Penida and stay awhile! Sponsored by Klungkung tourism office, little info at press time. Search social media as date nears.

Arka Kinari performers at sea, photo courtesy Filastine & Nova

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 8 -17 October. This themed international festival of fiction and poetry, song, film, recipes, and history, is a hot ticket. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you may well be challenged. The guest list never fails to make news. Big names in literature surrender to Ubud’s charm, and activists enthrall us on a variety of topics. Many evening events are free and this year is likely to feature several satellite events outside of Ubud (I’ve got my fingers crossed for Arka Kinari, a multimedia musical happening of ecological discovery, staged on the eponymous pinisi at anchor near Sanur). Subscribe to the festival news at ubudwritersfestival.com. Alert: submissions of writing in a variety of categories are now open for publishing in the Emerging Indonesia Writers juried selection. Visit https://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/formulir-seleksi-penulis-emerging-2021/ if you are an undiscovered Indonesian writer or if you want to help a friend who is.

Pesona Nusa Dua Fiesta 22 – 24 October; promises to be glitzy and over the top. Body painted models have been featured in the past, as well as wine tastings, film showings, musical acts, and photography competitions. Currently touted as a drive-in festival. Goes by nusaduafiesta on social media.

Kerambitan Festival 22 – 24 October. Pasut Beach and Kelating Beach, Tabanan. Accent on sports, but you can bet there will be music and other performances and cultural demonstrations.

Karangasem Cultural Movement Carnival 28 – 30 October, is usually held at the grand old Taman Ujung, on the coast near Amlapura. Expect a unique Bali Aga focus. One year, this featured an epic genjek performance with a cast of thousands and a celebrity audience. Another year, environmental nonprofit groups had group games for children. Facebook has been the Carnival’s information site in the past. Great accommodation options nearby.

Denpasar Festival Currently penciled in for November – December, this has in the past included New Year’s Eve merriment. In and around Puputan Square.

Nusa Dua International Run is 28 November, with 5K 10K and 21K races beginning early enough to include sunrise from the Jembatan Bali Tol. Bank Mandiri has sponsored this in the past; no website up yet. Keep checking online for details.

Penglipuran Festival Dec 22 or 25 -30, depending on which government website you want to believe. Think green and clean for this tidy, truly manicured cultural village in Bangli.

The Pemuteran Festival and Buleleng Festival (which have been one single festival in past years) are being tentatively scheduled, without firm dates. Think beachy Lovina, scenic Gerokgak, marine-life-protected Pemuteran, and the city of Singaraja with its rich history of sea trade, and Arab and Chinese culture. Again, social media will reveal all at some point.


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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