6 Uniquely Indonesian Festivals

Indonesia is often referred to as the sleeping giant of Southeast Asia, and rightly so. With more than 18,000 islands in its archipelago, there is an amazing diversity of what to see and do while on holiday here.

Modernization has seen development (some would say over-development) wash over Jakarta, while Bali’s tourism continues to enjoy a gradual revival after the horrible 2002 bombing. There is also the mountains of Bromo and the mythical Borobudur for those looking for an off-the-beaten path attractions, as well as more than 6,000 inhabited islands.

Not surprisingly, Indonesia boasts various festivals that are unique to their culture, reflecting the assorted races and traditions in different parts of the archipelago. You’ll find this diversity in the following list of 6 Uniquely Indonesian Festivals, ranging from celebrations of art, batik, to dances and ceremonies. If possible, you’ll do well to catch any one of these festivals during your visit to Indonesia!

Tuping Karnaval and Mount Krakatau. Photo credit - canonian_eos and flydime.

Tuping Karnaval and Mount Krakatau. Photo credit - canonian_eos and flydime.

Krakatoa Festival

An annual festival held in Lampung, the Krakatoa Festival is held to celebrate the volcanic island by the same name, Krakatoa. This famed volcano erupted violently as far back as 1927, some of which has resulted in newer smaller islands, named Anak Krakatoa (Child of Krakatoa).

During the festival, one can enjoy various performances such as the Tuping Karnaval (Lampung Mask Carnival), elephant procession as well as assorted dance performances from Lampung and its surrounding townships. The finale of the event is a trip to the volcanic island itself, still active but sleeping dormant for the time being!

Bali Art Festival. Photo credit - saylow's and simon.monk.

Bali Art Festival. Photo credit - saylow's and simon.monk.

Bali Art Festival

One of the largest annual celebration of art and culture in Indonesia, the Bali Art Festival is always, always crowded. It is a full month of daily performances, arts exhibitions and other related cultural activities during which the whole of Bali comes along to present its offering of dance, music and beauty.

This famed celebration offers various performances such as forgotten village dances, trances from remote parts of Bali, food, offerings and handicrafts, as well as new creations from Denpasar’s dance schools and contemporary choreography from national and international artists.

Solo Batik Festival. Photo credit - sarasha and Aming Sutanto.

Solo Batik Festival. Photo credit - sarasha and Aming Sutanto.

Solo Batik Carnival

From a long time ago, the tradition of Batik has always had very strong roots in Solo. This central Java town has even taken Batik as its icon and identity, an apt portrayal of a town known for its royal beauty and calm demeanor. The Solo Batik Carnival was held to reinforce this tradition, and further promote Batik in international and national scale.

The event is a combination of ceremonies, fashion shows and carnival, all of which using Batik as a constant theme throughout. There will also be a bazaar offering various Batiks and souvenirs unique to Solo for your perusal.

Solo International Ethnic Music Festival

Another recent offering in Solo is the Solo International Ethnic Music (SIEM) Festival, which focuses on performances and celebration of ethnic music. The event is a unique platform for collaboration between ethnic and modern music, local and international artists. The long list of performers includes artists from all over the archipelago, such as Minang, Riau, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Papua, Kalimantan, and even foreign imports from Japan, Australia, India, New Zealand and many others.

The gamelan, and Yogyakarta's Sekaten. Photo credit - Jungle_Boy and protectglasgow.

The gamelan, and Yogyakarta's Sekaten. Photo credit - Jungle_Boy and protectglasgow.

Gerebeg Mulud

In Javanese, gerebeg means a crowd of people and mulud refers to one of the month in the Javanese calendar. This event, also known as Sekaten, is to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. It is a day-long procession which sees two of the sacred gamelan (a Javanese musical instrument) transported towards the Mesjid Agung (Holy Mosque).

During the night there will be a street-side market in the north side of town to add to the revelries, a great spot to try various Javanese and Yogyakartan foods and hunt for souvenirs.

Papua Festival. Photo credit - jurvetson.

Papua Festival. Photo credit - jurvetson.

Lembah Baliem Festival

This uniquely Papuan festival traces its root in the belief held by the various local tribe that war is not only a conflict of power and interest, but also a symbol of fertility and prosperity. Since 20 years ago however, the local government has enforced peace between the warring tribes to prevent long-lasting vengeance and loss of life. So instead, the Lembah Baliem Festival was held to replace the war between the tribes.

As you can guess, the main event is the mock-war between the local tribes. Imagine more than 20 different tribes each with 30 to 50 people clad in traditional clothing, spears, bow and arrows and parang! There are also other performances and attractions, such as local traditional games, dance performances, as well as a cookout showcasing the local cuisine.

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Comments

49 Comments on "6 Uniquely Indonesian Festivals"

  1. Wanderluster on Mon, 14th Sep 2009 6:16 pm 

    Love the images and the bits of information on each festival.

  2. Sangeeta on Wed, 6th Jan 2010 7:11 am 

    how to go to bali from mumbai? which is good hotel near scenic place?

    sangeeta

  3. Nik on Tue, 23rd Mar 2010 7:26 am 

    Bali has an international airport, so you can check any of the major airlines. Some of them has direct flights to Bali, while some others would have you transit at either Singapore or Jakarta.

  4. hiphopwealth.net » Blog Archive » Riyadh’s 3 Side Trips You Can’t Miss on Fri, 9th Apr 2010 2:13 pm 

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  6. samiyosami on Tue, 27th Apr 2010 4:45 am 

    come and join The 20th Krakatoa Festival on July 24-25, 2010
    agenda : Cultural carnival, traditional song & dance contest, Fam trip, Tour Krakatoa.

  7. Trillium on Mon, 17th May 2010 3:53 am 

    I’m from Indonesia. Thanks for this articles. I love it. 😀

  8. Mens Gemology Info Blog – Seminyak, Bali’s Fashion District on Sat, 22nd May 2010 1:57 pm 

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  9. shroffi on Tue, 29th Jun 2010 3:05 pm 

    Hope more articles on lodging average 3 to 3 star ratings,food(esp on halal food),plus average daily activities which tourist should indulge in.

  10. shroffi on Tue, 29th Jun 2010 3:08 pm 

    also keen to to knw more on quiet,relaxing beach areas with average budget plus great views.

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  13. ngeTrip.com - 6 Uniquely Indonesian Festivals on Fri, 24th Sep 2010 3:42 am 

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  14. indonesia tourism info on Fri, 8th Oct 2010 8:49 am 

    nice articles, indonesia have so many tourism place and you will make all known by foreigner :)

  15. Desna Arifa on Tue, 19th Oct 2010 2:09 am 

    Dear Nik,

    Thanks a lot, This is a very great article. What a lovely way to promote Indonesia. I love Indonesia more and so proud to be a part of it.

    Regards, Desna

  16. Seminyak, Bali’s Fashion District on Fri, 19th Nov 2010 8:50 pm 

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  17. Endang on Wed, 15th Dec 2010 4:33 am 

    Proud to be Indonesian, proud to know someone who can promote the beauty of Indonesia in such an interesting way.
    Anyone who wants to go to Solo, Indonesia, to see Solo Batik Carnival or to enjoy SIEM, you may contact me. I ll be glad to be your host, for free.

  18. Benjamin on Wed, 15th Dec 2010 8:52 am 

    I love SOLO!!! the cultural city with friendly people!!

  19. eko triyanto on Wed, 29th Dec 2010 1:49 am 

    good culture in Indonesia, lets go to see it.

  20. Much. Khoiri on Fri, 14th Jan 2011 11:59 am 

    So wonderful, fantastic.

  21. Alfin Eko Partono on Fri, 14th Jan 2011 1:28 pm 

    I’ve recorded a small part of art and culture of Indonesia. Visit my website: http://jualfotogambar.yolasite.com/
    I wait for you there!

  22. mara on Sat, 15th Jan 2011 10:44 am 

    indonesia is a beautiful country!
    I’M PROUD OF IT!
    thanks for the article , Niko

  23. Eko Witono on Mon, 17th Jan 2011 8:21 pm 

    1. Karnaval Batik Solo masih kalah unik dengan Karnaval Jember, karena relatif lahir belakangan.
    2. Mengapa Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta tidak dimasukkan dalam kategori Anda, pada hal sejajar dengan Festival Kesenian Bali?

  24. rasty on Tue, 18th Jan 2011 10:13 am 

    culture of indonesia is very good…. sebagai putra bangsa, kita patut bangga. namun tidak cukup hanya dengan mengagumi…. and,.., the question is what should we do?…. this is our first duty as young generation of indonesia…. keep our culture well, jangan sampai “dicuri” orang luar lagi… (rasty, AL KAUTSAR)

  25. sandra on Mon, 14th Feb 2011 3:55 pm 

    like this, i love to be an indonesian….

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  27. jason mraz on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 7:20 am 

    indonesia is so beautiful .. you must coming here???

  28. dedy on Sun, 20th Feb 2011 3:06 pm 

    i love the vary culture of Indonesia,i love being Indonesian, but I do hate corruption and bribery in this country

  29. dinda indana on Tue, 8th Mar 2011 6:54 am 

    You forgot to mention Tana Toraja Festival. It should be mentioned here too.

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  31. RICHO on Fri, 18th Mar 2011 12:55 pm 

    waw it’s a litle part of indonesia, you must visit my birth place of PACITAN iam SURE!! you’ll found a miniature of atlantis cave, beach, mountain etc. you can meet friendly pupil here lets visit PACITAN!! if u have’nt enough money you can rest a day in my home its okey :)

  32. chuchu on Mon, 21st Mar 2011 6:49 am 

    it’s very amazing, n i proud for all in indonesia,…

  33. Eng-ta on Fri, 1st Apr 2011 2:25 pm 

    O yeah, we do have so many beautifulness in Indonesia.
    Everybody should come here to prove it!
    I was live in Solo for 6 years before, and felt in love to this city. It’s a small city but unique, full of tradition, cultural, and tasty food! We even can surround the city in a day by using a bicycle! I am myself ever did it.
    Thanks to Nikolas for your report.

  34. andy on Fri, 22nd Apr 2011 12:14 pm 

    saaaaaadaaaaaap….

    😀

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  36. sigit bro smk warureja on Sun, 1st May 2011 5:33 am 

    tegal bro…don’t forget.there are many places to visit like guci in foot slamet mountain. and you can also visit to gunung gajah,its hill has unique shape like elephant.and etc….let’s visit to indonesia!

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  40. Jojo on Tue, 4th Oct 2011 6:38 pm 

    Grebeg Maulud is not only in Jogja but also in Solo :)

    here are some pics of it in Solo :)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ariaman/sets/72157623428683969/

  41. Partono on Mon, 17th Oct 2011 2:44 pm 

    BIntan Paradise Island..

    hi all not only @ Bali we have Bintan to make our relaxing natural place in indonesia. closely to Singapore and malaysia only 45 minutes by Ferry. Come and lets try to enjoy here…
    pls call me if need assistant….

  42. ochi on Mon, 24th Oct 2011 10:10 am 

    mengapa Festifal Kesenian Yogyakarta dan Jogja Java Carnival tidak dimasukkan?? JJC sudah diikuti peserta mancanegara juga..

    FB = JOGJAKU

  43. BaliExplorerInformation on Tue, 25th Oct 2011 3:20 pm 

    Omg Guys Pretty sure Only Bali is the Greatest Place In Indonesia :)

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  49. zikry on Tue, 1st Dec 2015 11:01 am 

    yeee bagus beud

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