Bali knows how to do summer right, and in no month is that more apparent than in August, where the Island of the Gods turns into a month-long festival celebrating everything from Indonesia’s independence to jazz music. And on an island where culture is already such a vibrant part of local life, August’s influx of festivals creates an even more radiant blur of colour, sounds, faces and celebrations that embody the Balinese holiday-friendly spirit. So dip in with us as we take a look at all that make up this hectic island month of August.
Ombak Bali International Surf Film Festival (6 – 8 August)
Bali is known for its world-class waves, and deservedly so, but for surfers and enthusiasts alike, once the sun drops down behind the horizon, there isn’t much more surfing to be done. Luckily, once a year, the Ombak Bali International Surf Film Festival (now in its eighth year) rolls through and dedicates three nights of surf bliss to those who are searching out their next tubular activity, or simply for those who want to drop in, have a drink, and catch some killer surf-related movies, artwork and music on the beach. Hosted by La Plancha in Seminyak, already a fan-favourite thanks to their cushy bean bags that line the beach, the free film festival will be held in the evenings from 6 to 8 August, and officially kicks off on Thursday evening at 7:30 pm.
The lineup this year features anticipated films like ‘Bulan Baru,’ a story of a band of wave-chasers seeking an elusive secret wave around Indonesia, ‘The Fisherman’s Son,’ an exploration of protecting the local culture and environment of Chile’s surf-happy coast, ‘Into the Sea,’ a journey by professional surfer Easkey Britton as she searches for waves in little-traveled Iran, and a number of others such as ‘Devocean,’ ‘Wave of the Winter,’ ‘The Wave I Ride,’ and ‘Bear Island.’
(More information on featured films and show times can be found on www.ombakbali.com/2015/)
Ubud Village Jazz Festival (7 – 8 August)
For the third year in a row, the Ubud Village Jazz Festival will make its way to Bali’s cultural heart in hopes of spreading good jazz music at the grassroots level. A cool jazz festival that focuses more on quality, intimacy, and connectedness than some of its other bigger and louder jazz festival kin, this festival features an eclectic mix of different jazz varieties, as well as artists from different areas of the world, to capture the true essence of what jazz is about.
Founded by a pair of two Indonesian musicians, the festival features a lineup with artists such as Indra Lesmana, Nial Djuliarso and the Kirana Big Band from Indonesia, Oran Etkin and Laura Brunner from the United States, the Julian Banks Trio and Alex Lahey from Australia, and the Miles! Project from Holland. The idea, according to its founders, was to bring a community feel to the ever-growing scene of jazz festivals, thus in 2013, Ubud Village Jazz Festival was born and received with acclaim as a culturally and musically mesmerising experience. Hosted at the Arma in Ubud, the event lasts for two evenings and features fifteen artists from a myriad of countries including Holland, Indonesia and the United States.
(More information on ticket pricing, schedules and concessions can be found on www.ubudvillagejazzfestival.com)
Jazz Market By The Sea (14 – 16 August)
Another jazz-influenced event that makes its way to the Island of the Gods is the Jazz Market by the Sea. Hosted at the beachfront garden of Taman Bhagawan in Tanjung Benoa, the event is similar to the Ubud Village Jazz Festival in that it brings together a local community of musicians that present a show that has a very communal feel. Featuring a number of Indonesian artists such as Raisa, Tohpati Bertiga, Kunto Aju, and Dialog Dini Hari, Jazz Market by the Sea this year will be focused on Indonesian heritage and culture, and will also feature culinary workshops that aim to promote the traditional Indonesian culture and flavour. With added cultural events and culinary exhibitions, this community-based festival goes a long way in broadcasting the thriving local jazz and cultural scene on the shores of one of the world’s premier island getaways.
The event lasts for three days from 2:00 pm till 11:00 pm and features a wide range of activities for both jazz aficionados and families alike. With swimming pools, grass seating areas, and the waters of Bali’s coast all a part of the event, it’s hard to find a better day, or days, out in Bali. Especially worth checking out are the neverending rows of local street delicacies and hand-made arts and crafts that can be found at any number of the colourful food stalls that also make up the event grounds.
(More information on ticket pricing, line-ups, and additional activities can be found on www.jazz-market.com)
Legian Beach Festival (14 – 16 August)
This festival, now in its eighth year, is a local celebration of Legian and all things Indonesian, Balinese, and ocean. Featuring a variety of the Indonesian foods, dances, and musics, this cultural celebration is also met with surfing competitions and festive pageantries that range from fashion to children to culture. While many who make their way to Legian spend most of their time window shopping and perfecting their sun-kissed skin, this festival is a great way for visitors to understand the local culture that is fading further and further back behind the boutique and bar frontage spaces.
(More information on the event can be found on their official Facebook page or you may contact the organiser by phone at +62 811 386 589.)
Indonesian Independence Day (17 August)
Indonesia will be celebrating it’s 70th year of independence on the 17th of August, and this day is often quite a sight to behold for visitors making their way to any of the archipelago’s stunning islands. Parades and games are commonplace in villages and cities scattered about the islands, and you will no doubt be treated to watching children and adults compete to win prizes while they climb greased posts (panjat pinang) that have gifts sat atop, compete in sack races, and proudly sing and wave the red and white flags that are the icon of this diverse nation.
As such, there is no central celebration as there might be in Jakarta, but Bali is sure to have a number of local parades and festivals that run wild through the streets of Bali’s beautifully shrouded countryside. Pull off the road, or even ask your concierge where might be best to take in this proudly celebrated day.
Sanur Village Festival (26 – 30 August)
Now in its tenth year, the Sanur Village Festival is another way for visitors to indulge in the local festivity scene. Hosted at the Maisonette area of Inna Grand Bali Beach, the Sanur Village Festival strives to bring together the heritage of Sanur’s coastal ways with a modern day-out feel. Featuring events like a coastal clean-up, a surfing competition, the Sanur Run (kids run, 5-kilometre and 10-kilometre runs), a painting exhibition and tending to the local coral, the festival orientates itself around the ocean, or that which has historically allowed Sanur to become prosperous.
Naturally and culturally oriented, this week-long festival is a great way for families and visitors to get into touch with the natural side of Bali that is so often ignored in some of the bigger cities. And because the festival is in its tenth year, or dasa warsa, as it is termed in Balinese, you can be sure for some added surprises.
(More information on tickets, entrance and event scheduling can be found on www.sanurvillagefestival.com)
(Featured image: Taman Bhagawan in Tanjung Benoa is the site for the Jazz Market by the Sea, and features a number of open spaces for those looking for not just a musically-focused festival, but one that focuses on the traditional and cultural of Bali as well – Photo courtesy of Taman Bhagawan)