The legendary Bali Arts Festival, or Pesta Kesenian Bali is the biggest annual arts and cultural festival in Bali normally held in the middle of the year. The monthly-running event presents daily performing arts, exhibitions, and night market.
Entering its 40th year, Bali Arts Festival takes place on June 23rd until July 21st. Open to public, no entrance fee, and offering many amusing activities from morning to evening, it always attracts thousands of visitors.
The theme of the year, Fire, the Spirit of Creation has been decided to explore the idea of the heat energy that is expected to revive the spirit of people and to preserve the wealth of Balinese arts and culture.
The activity is divided into several stages, all take place in Taman Werdhi Budaya Arts Center Denpasar. A parking fee of IDR 5.000 is charged if you park your motorbike around the venue.
The parking lot leads to the market area, where you can find the entrance. The entrance and the exit are the same narrow gate where it gets so full especially at night. When it gets too crowded, you can take the entrance and exit from the main gate of The Arts Center.
A magnificent and festive parade usually opens Bali Arts Festival, and in this year, it was officially opened in Bajra Sandhi Monument, Renon. The longstanding cultural celebration brings out more than 200 groups of local talented artists and performers representing 9 regencies in Bali, as well as from various regions in Indonesia and some collaborations with international artists from Japan, South Korea, China, and Peru.
During a month, you can enjoy many traditional and modern shows everyday from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. Five to ten different shows are presented each day, taking place at different venues in Taman Werdhi Budaya Arts Center complex. Most of the stages are open and making it easier for visitors to hop from one stage to another.
The entertainment ranges from musical shows, dances, colossal drama, gambuh (the ancient form of Balinese dance drama), theatre performances, to puppet shadowplays.
Among the shows was Balinese modern theatre performance titled Tragedi Karma Bumi (roughly translated as The World’s Karma Tragedy) by Sanggar Tepisiring, Mengwi, Badung, in Ksirarnawa Hall on the top floor of the exhibition hall. The story line was set in a palace, exploring evil that dominates the society, focusing on greed, power, and envy. Even though the theatre was presented by traditional Balinese performers, it was performed in Indonesian.
The biggest stage of all, The Ardha Candra Amphitheatre hosts performances that potentially attract thousands of audience. One of the shows was the most popular form of gamelan orchestra in Bali, Gong Kebyar Parade, that requires about 25 musicians playing the bronze instruments.
Another open stage in the front of Kriya Hall showcased shadow puppet theatre Wayang Kulit Babad, a play based on a Balinese historical story. This one was performed by Kuta Kumara Agung Group, representing Badung Regency.
Balinese dance opera performance Arja is known for the performers’ unique style of singing and haunting tones, and emphasizing on jokes that makes it a musical comedy-drama.
The whole daily schedule is displayed all around the venue. Here's the 2018 Bali Arts Festival online PDF schedule http://www.disbud.baliprov.go.id/files/subdomain/disbud/BAHASA%20INGGRIS.PDF
Bali Arts Festival exhibition takes place in a hall in the center of Taman Werdhi Budaya Arts Center complex. This is where brands showcase their creations such as Balinese style jewelry, bags, sandals, shoes, traditional fabrics (batik and endek are among of them), home decor, wooden furniture and crafts, to incense sticks and aromatherapy. You can also learn the series of Indonesian rupiah’s banknotes at the counter of Bank Indonesia, the central bank of the republic.
Get a caricature of yours by Balinese caricaturists here!
A mini theatre has been designed to watch free documentaries about Bali. You should come and try this for free!
Enrich your culinary experiences with the best bites of Balinese delights.
The go-to for the hungry visitors, Bali Arts Festival’s culinary festivities offer Balinese iconic delicacies: babi guling (suckling pig), pork satay, chicken and duck betutu (highly seasoned and spicy dish), be genyol rice (another pork dish), pork soto (soup), lawar (a mix of spicy veggies, coconut, and meat), serombotan (mixed boiled vegetables), and many more.
Sweet treats of traditional desserts and drinks are worth to try. Among them are klepon (rice cakes filled with palm sugar), daluman (green jelly with coconut milk), cendol (palm sugar syrup, worm-like jelly), and herbal drink loloh.
The market, most lively after dark, consists of lanes of vendors selling a great variety of cheap goods and foods. A huge attraction for locals, the market is always flocked. There are plenty of items to shop, from fashion, homewares, toys, to electronics. Food stalls are in every corner, making it easy for visitors to grab some chips, ice creams, juices, and other snacks while hopping from one lane to another. When shopping and eating are not your thing, the market has some games, too! Typical games you can find at Indonesian night markets are here, and it’s fun to give it a try.
The amusement park in the market becomes the highlight, satisfies the kids, teenagers, and even adults, who enjoy a vibrant ferris wheel, a giant swing, and many other attractions. The playground keeps everyone happy for hours!
If you are in Bali or planning to have a Bali trip in July, don’t miss the cultural experiences in Bali Arts Festival. It’s a wonderful fiesta to enjoy traditional arts, local food, and cheap shopping!