Culture + Style

Four Bali Music Festivals with Staying Power

Following the ins and outs of Bali’s festival scene requires ninja-level research skills —and not only because festivals are fickle, and festival-goers even more so.

The hot and steamy — or, more importantly, hot and ashy — volcano action in northeast Bali has been hard on the island’s fragile music scene. While palm-fringed beaches, taut-bodied bikini queens and slick shorefront clubs continue to draw big-name DJs, the island’s festival scene has quieted.

Yet there’s no need to panic. If music’s your thing, here are four Bali music festivals that have gone the distance, laughed in the face of the volcano, and should still be here next year.

bali music festivals
A performance at the Spirit Festival. (Photo: Arley Mardo)

Bali Spirit Festival

Ubud, capital of woo woo for Bali, if not all of southeast Asia, achieves Ubudian nirvana at the Bali Spirit Festival each spring. Technically, Bali Spirit is a yoga festival, with healers, yogis, ecstatic dancers, martial artists and alternative therapists setting up their stalls and tending their chakras over the course of a week.

Yet music and dance are a major element of what gives Bali Spirit Festival its, well, spirit, and the lineup for the nightly concerts is impressively diverse. Expect everything from EDM to folk, sufi to shamanic, reggae to rock, and performers from as far afield as Chile and Serbia, plus fire dancers, hoop artists and acrobats.

bali music festivals
Traditional performances at the Spirit Festival. (Photo: Arley Mardo)

Soundrenaline

One of Indonesia’s biggest music festivals, Soundrenaline takes over south Bali’s GWK Cultural Park each September for a couple of days. Music fans flock from across the archipelago to hear the very best homegrown talent, plus artists from across southeast Asia and the odd Western Hemisphere name, as well.

Indonesian artists run from Jakarta rock bands like Naif and Kotak to Bali grunge act Navicula and Yogyakarta alt-rockers Sheila on 7. International acts are startlingly diverse, and veteran rockers like Limp Bizkit or Bloc Party might perform alongside the mellow strains of Thai artist Phum Viphurit.

bali music festivals
Groove to the Ubud Village Jazz Fest. (Photo: Courtesy of Ubud Village Jazz Fest)

Ubud Village Jazz Festival

Held at the ARMA arts complex each August, the Ubud Village Jazz Festival pairs a deep deck of local talent with an adventurous blend of overseas performers. Expect everything from a 30-strong Big Band performance to Latin, fusion and bebop.

You might see French duo Insula performing their bewitching blend of Arabic tradition, Caribbean groove and jazz improv, or you might hear the mellow sounds of blind Indonesian jazz pianist M Ade Irawan. Either way, the intimate setting inspires.

bali music festivals
Listen to the smooth sounds. (Photo: Courtesy of Ubud Village Jazz Fest)

Sunny Side Up

A truly international festival, Sunny Side Up has drawn the likes of Mark Ronson, Azealia Banks, Ellie Goulding, Disclosure and Flight Facilities — and they’re adding art installations to the cultural mix.

Potato Head Beach Club is the host for this summer music festival set amid the palms and sand of downtown Seminyak. Live acts, with a focus on hip-hop and rap, mingle with the club’s trademark sunshine beats, as partygoers knock back cocktails and shake their thang in and around the infinity pool.

Wake Up Call

Party in paradise with Wake Up Call, a multi-day music festival exclusively for Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) and Marriott Rewards® members. The festival experience gets a luxe upgrade as we take over W Bali – Seminyak — getting members closer to the music with insider access. Festival passes are included with your room, so book now to join the party.