Bali has a rich art scene that is rooted in its extensive culture and beliefs. Even though many of these traditional and unique art forms are now dying, there are events and communities that still relish the glory of traditional Balinese art. These arts not only flourish amongst this but also attract an ever-increasing number of international tourists with attractions like the Bali Arts Festival.
Bali Arts Festival is a month-long celebration of the traditional art forms and culture of Bali, Indonesia. This lets people from different parts of the world to converge in one place to share their ideas while immersing themselves in the traditions and history of Bali. The aim of the Bali Arts Festival is to preserve and develop the true or original essence of Bali, which seems to be dying out amongst the common masses.
In fact, in case you want to visit Bali to enrich yourself with the true and original vibes of Bali or learn about its history, the festival is definitely the best time to visit the island. You will get to experience everything related to the art and culture pertaining to Bali, and get a true idea of what the fascinating island of Bali actually is.
The island of Bali is an ancient island where local forms of pagan beliefs were widely p[ractised, and still are in the remote villages isolated from modern development. Hinduism then grew as a major religion in Bali, followed by Buddhism as well, and a blend of both make up the feel of the culture in Bali. Bali was also ruled by the Dutch and the Japanese for brief periods of time and they both left long-lasting impressions in the culture of Bali and its evolution. However, Hinduism is still the most predominant belief in Bali, and even the local language is a derivation of Sanskrit.
Visiting Bali feels like a world of Hindu beliefs parallel to those in countries like India, as if what the very same culture could’ve been in an alternate universe. It will feel very familiar yet very different at the same time, making it a very interesting experience.
Sadly, many aspects of this original culture are now fading away and being forgotten. However, this is the reason why participants in the Bali Art Festival perform and partake in the art events with all the more fervor, as they are fueled by the desire to preserve what is theirs and what they identify with. Since the festival is becoming more and more popular year by year, it is helping not only highlight the richness of this culture to the world but also boost tourism in Bali.
The festival, locally known as Pesta Kesenian Bali or PKB in short, takes place annually from mid-June to mid-July, attracting a large number of artists and tourists alike. It portrays the immense wealth of Bali in terms of its local culture through performing arts, dance, music, paintings, etc. Additionally, competitions and seminars take place pertaining to the same.
Besides the grand opening ceremony which is a carnival-like procession at Bajra Sandhi monument, all events take place at Taman Wardhi Budhaya Arts Center in Denpasar, the capital of the province of Bali. The arts center thus serves as the Bali Arts festival venue for each year. It is often commonly referred to as just the Bali Art Center.
The center has several art galleries inside, and open-air theaters and outdoor pavilions for art performances. These collectively serve as the Bali Arts Festival venue for all sorts of events. The structure of Bali Art Center is very exquisite in design in the style of local Balinese architecture as well, adorned with sculptures of local relevance. During the duration of the festival, the arts center is adorned with traditional decorations, handicrafts, carpets, etc. Its backdrop also serves as an excellent spot for photoshoots.
Bali Art Center is located on Nusa Indah street in Denpasar, Bali and has a nominal entry fee starting INR 30. However, there is no entry fee for the Bali Arts Festival at the art center. This is to signify Bali’s intention as a country to not monopolize on tourism for monetary purposes but instead use it as a means to amplify the glory of Balinese culture.
The Bali Art Festival starts off with a parade that passes at the Bajra Sandhi monument in Bali on day 1. It is a magnificent and beautiful structure surrounding by double-courtyards along its four sides built to commemorate and glorify the struggles of Balinese people throughout history. Considering the context of the monument and its relevance with celebrating the local culture and traditional art of Bali, the location aptly serves its purpose as the spot for these celebrations and art performances.
The parade includes local artists from all throughout Bali and even neighboring islands who showcase their talents and finest works of art. Performing troupes from in and near Bali form an integral part of the parade through their dances, rituals, etc. Traditional attires, drums, handicrafts, etc., make for the setting and feel of the parade. The government head and officials preside over the inauguration ceremony of the fest, as is the tradition since it first began in 1979.
In auditoriums: Screenings of films designed to document and tell the story of Bali culture and history take place in auditoriums set specifically for this purpose. These auditoriums serve as an introductory platform for international tourists before they delve further into viewing various performances and arts. This way, they are able to understand the context and significance better.
On-stage performances: Exquisite displays of traditional music and gamelan recitals occur on outdoor stages at the Bali Art Center. Puppetry shows are held, making use of puppets made in traditional Balinese style and using local materials. The center boasts of multiple stages, and each stage is reserved for each of specific types of performances.
In open-air amphitheaters: These amphitheaters host an assortment of performances and gamelan sessions, which involves people of all ages, including children. Many of these performances are ballet-like traditional dance forms that make use of local Balinese-wear, musical instruments and decoration items, and because of the amphitheater setting the viewers also often participate through the means of sing-alongs, etc., making the whole setting very indulging and engrossing.
Traditional food markets and art exhibitions are located all throughout the spaces, making them reminiscent of everything related to Bali and its rich history. The exhibitions pertain to handicrafts, paintings, literally and even photography. Flower garlands and arrangements can be seen through the Bali Art Festival venue. The Bali Art Festival 2021 is going to have bamboo and coconut decorations as part of the theme. During the festival, these spaces are where the crowds gather, making them very lively and active areas.
Since a lot of artists gather at the Bali Art Festival venue to share their work and ideas, it calls for the various types of seminars, competitions and workshops that take place here during the duration of the festival. The spirit of the participants is very friendly and open, and it is a very enjoyable experience whether you are taking part in them or watching them.
June and July are the hottest months in Bali, Indonesia, although the yearly temperature variations are minimal. Average maximum temperature is 27 deg C during this time, while the average lowest is 22 deg C. However, it feels way hotter than that because of excessive humidity at this time. Due to this weather in Bali, tourists are advised to wear light clothing Luckily, it doesn’t rain a lot unlike other months of the year, so they don’t interfere with the proceedings of the festival.
Bali has increasingly become a tourist hub for people from all over the world. In lieu of this, the Denpasar airport in the capital of Bali province, named as the Ngurah Rai International Airport, is host to flights from all international locations including all major airports in India. The airport is at a distance of 21 km from the Bali Art Center, which takes about 30 minutes to travel by road. Taxis are available from the airport at the rate of roughly INR 650. In addition, you can rent motorcycles to and from your accommodation. In addition, in case you have a query at any time, you could always ask the friendly locals about how to reach Bali Art Festival venue..
It is possible to reach Bali by road and sea as well, but these means are preferred only by those who especially prefer either road trips or ferry journeys because of certain inconveniences like requirement of visa for the countries you will be passing through. However, in case you are visiting only for the Bali Art Festival, you might want to take the most direct route rather than have to go through unnecessary junctions and complicate the transportation.
Bali has some of the most reasonably priced hotel accommodations available. However, since the Bali Art Festival attracts a large number of international tourists, pricing is often higher than usual. Because of traffic jams, hot weather, etc., it is a wise choice to choose a hotel near the Bali Art Festival venue, i.e., the Bali Art Center.
Examples of some popular and often-recommended hotels around Bali Art Center are Hotel Fairfield (~INR 3,000/night), Hilton Bali Resort (~INR 6,000/night) and the intensely exquisite St. Regis Bali Resort (~INR 49,000/night).
If you are on a budget trip, you could also consider looking for shared lodging or lodging at private non-hotel rooms which are readily available in Bali at around INR 500-600 per night. However, because of the rush and overcrowding, you might want to book your stay in advance. Hotels will often offer packages at this time as part of the Bali Art Festival tour.
Even though artists in general seek an audience for their performances, the art form itself can never die in essence. Artists at the Bali Art Festival are aware of that and hence the overall mood during the festival is that of celebrating and sharing of culture and ideas. Such a confluence of like-minded perspectives is always an enthralling experience for the ones taking part in it either by performing or by visiting.
Not only will you be able to find and understand everything that Bali is about at the Bali Art Festival, the general spirit of the place and the population will be resonating with the nature of the festival, painting your trip perfectly and completely to serve that purpose as best as it can.