A new festival – just what we need
I moved to Ubud, Bali in 1999. It was a thriving community of artists; painters, wood and stone carvers, silversmiths and batik crafts people. Whenever anyone talked about a festival it related to the Hindu religion – Galungan, Kuningan, Nyepi, cremations, tooth filings, and weddings. The community was small, the religion and culture strong and tourists came here to enjoy the cultural trappings. Visitors purchased sarongs, sashes and even kabayas so they could enter temples and participate in celebrations. Life was simpler and unrushed. I was younger.
Change is inevitable and Ubud embraced the growth in tourism; even encouraged it. The Hindu lifestyle, with its constant obligations and ceremonies continued, and the demands of the growing tourist numbers were fitted in around it. The community of artisans survived and flourished, but many residents here developed new ways to separate tourists from their holiday money.
First it was the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival. Over more that a decade itt has grown and flourished and is touted as one of the best literary festivals in the world. The yoga, healing and spirituality crowd needed to be catered to and The Bali Spirit Festival began. What about the Jazz enthusiasts? They too needed something special and The Ubud Jazz Festival kicked off. And we all like to eat, so this year we had the inaugural Ubud Food Festival.
In other locations across Bali there’s also a Kite Festival, Arts Festival, Film Festival, Gourmet Food Festival, and a Spa and Wellness Festival. There’s no shortage of festivals, but of course there’s always room for more.
This weekend sees the first ever Bali Vegan Festival. No doubt it will be well attended, but you won’t spot me in the crowd. I’ll be at home wondering what new festival will spring up in the months and years ahead. Will it be, ‘The Ubud Tattoo and Piercings Festival’, or ‘The Tarrot, Tea Leaves and Seers Festival’ or ‘The Diving into Delicious Desserts Festival’? Yes, I could do that last one.
What are your ideas for a new festival?