18 Indonesian Festivals to Witness the Colors and Traditions of the Nation

When you think of Indonesia, you always think of beautiful beaches and lush greenery, colorful clothes and delicious food, mesmerizing dances and inspiring music; However, this is a multicultural country with a rich tradition. Throughout the year, Indonesia celebrates various festivals, making it an enchanting tourist destination throughout the year. Let’s take a look at Indonesia’s 16 best festivals to experience the true culture:

Rambu Solo – Sending the Dead to the Hereafter

This is more of a tradition than the “festival” itself. Rambu Solo was observed by the Toraja people in southern Sulawesi in the Indonesian highlands. This is a funeral ceremony designed to send the spirits of the dead to the afterlife. This includes many interesting funeral ceremonies performed by families to alleviate their own misery after death. There are some processions like mo paulo (bringing the corpse to the cemetery). Tourists can visit and watch what happens. Traditionally, buffaloes are sacrificed because it is believed that buffaloes will guide spirits to the afterlife. Rambu Solo is usually held in July to September each year.

Nyepi – Silent Day in Bali

This festival is dedicated to the Balinese New Year. Although the date changes each year, it is usually celebrated in March. “Silent” translates to “day of silence” and includes fasting, meditation, and prayer. Usually on this day, the lights are turned off (or dimmed), travel is reduced to a minimum and no work is done. In fact, one day a year Bali airport is practically closed. In some villages in Bali, ogoh-ogoh (bamboo statues and demon cloth) are made to symbolize negative things, which are paraded around the ceremony before being cremated at local cemeteries. In India, Nyepi is celebrated as a Ugadi festival.

Fishing Festival at Bau Nyala – The legendary Fishing at Nyala

Every year in February or March, hundreds of people flock to Lombok to attend the Bau Nyale festival. Its name is taken from the word “bau”, which means “catch”, and “nyale” – a kind of sea worm. The legend of this festival in Indonesia is associated with the myth of the princess Mandalika, who drowned in the waters of Lombok while trying to avoid marriage by reincarnating into the form of a flame (worm -like fish) to return every year. These charming fish only appear in Indonesia during those months, and the locals catch them with great enthusiasm. Worms (usually fried with banana leaves) are said to make energetic men and beautiful women like princesses.

Baliem Valley Festival – a fictitious war between Papuan tribes

This Indonesian festival is unique to the Papuans, a group of islands in the eastern province of Indonesia. This includes demonstrating war because war is believed to be a symbol of prosperity and fertility. More than 20 tribes in Indonesia gathered for the two -day festival. In addition to imitating war, traditional dances are performed with traditional Papuan music called piton. Pig walking is also quite common all this time. The Baliem Valley Festival takes place in August.

Dieng Cultural Festival – Gimbal Hair Shaving Ceremony

In Central Java, children from the Dieng plateau have an impressive genetic structure. After reaching puberty, their naturally straight hair begins to form dreadlocks. When this happens, they wait until August each year to shave their hair in an elaborate ceremony that is the heart of the Indonesian Dieng Cultural Festival. This gimbal hair cutting ritual is traditionally known as ruwatan anak gombel. Along with the ceremony, traditional paper lanterns were launched into the sky and puppet shows were arranged. At this time, Java is alive and tourists are having fun enjoying the exciting atmosphere of the island.

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Vesak (Vesak) – Observation of the life of the Buddha

An important Buddhist holiday not only in Indonesia but in all countries with Buddhist communities, Vesak celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. In India it is called Buddha Purnima. It happens on a full moon day in early May, though it is sometimes celebrated in June as well. In Indonesia, monks, pilgrims and devotees travel from the Mendut temple to Borobudur in Central Java, carrying holy fire from the village of Grobogan and holy water from the Jamprit spring. After reaching Borobudur Temple, they circled the temple clockwise three times before receiving blessings from the temple teacher. Then they launched a paper lantern into the sky, symbolizing the enlightenment of the universe.

Pasola – festival of Sumba knights

Every year, western Sumba hosts the Pasola Indonesia Festival which takes place in February or March each year. This is a knight festival where participants ride without a saddle and attack each other with wooden spears called hola. In fact, the word “pasola” comes from the word “hola”. According to legend, the festival was held to help the head of Waiwan village forget the grief of his wife who left him for the sake of a new lover. It started as a festival of bloodshed knights, but today is more like a staged battle. Pasola is celebrated by the people of Sumba to ensure a bountiful harvest.

Galungan is an Indonesian festival celebrating good over evil

Galungan is a Hindu festival in Indonesia that is closely related to Diwali in India. Although the dates of the two festivals are different, they are both celebrated to express gratitude to God, cast out evil spirits, and invite ancestral spirits back to Earth into the family home. Galungan celebrates the victory of good over evil. Throughout Indonesia, the streets are decorated with bamboo poles called penjor from which offerings hang (usually rice, bananas, and coconuts). In the days leading up to Galungan, pigs or chickens are sacrificed at parties and family members are visited. The end of Gulangan is called Kuningan, which is widely celebrated at Pura Sakenan, followed by rituals and dance performances.

Independence Day – Indonesia’s Independence from the Netherlands.

Formerly a Dutch colony, Indonesia became an independent country on August 17, 1945. Every year this day is celebrated with confidence throughout the country. In the capital Jakarta, a parade was held in front of the President at the Presidential Palace. People often fly flags in their homes. Competitions and friendly races are held in towns and villages, such as sack races, mine pulling, and traditional pole climbing called piñat pinang. Another unforgettable competition is eating kerupak, a crunchy Indonesian snack hung on a high rope. Competitors compete to complete the dangling snacks, with the addition of hand wraps tied to the back!

Bidar Boat Racing – Independence Boat Racing

This holiday in Indonesia is celebrated in conjunction with Independence Day. The action took place in Palembang in southern Sumatra. Large hardwood boats are built year -round to race on this special day. It can be from 20 to 30 meters in length, decorated with bright colors and patterns. The boats are powered by nearly 70 riders, including captains and gong fighters. Watching this skillfully crafted boat race across the waters of the Musi River is an amazing sight!

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Idul Fitri – The main Islamic holiday

In countries with a significant Muslim population, Eid al -Fitr (also called Lebaran) is an important holiday in Indonesia. This is a national holiday. All employees receive a mandatory pay rise, and special discounts and gifts are available in -store today. Traditionally, the workers (especially workers) return to the village and return to the village is called mudik or return to the village. This is evident in Jakarta and Bandung. It has become a habit for children to give small amounts of money in colorful envelopes. The family spent the day together, having a party consisting of dishes such as lemang, dodol, sambal, and biscuits.

Cap Goh Meh – Lunar New Year in Indonesia

Indonesia also has a significant Chinese population, so the Lunar New Year is widely celebrated. The Cap Go Meh Festival in Indonesia usually takes place in March, 15 days after Lunar New Year, the day of the full moon. Noise and celebrations take place in Indonesia’s major cities, with lantern parades, food festivals, and even a traditional lion dance called barongsai. It is believed that the gods themselves descended to Earth for Cap Go Mech. The streets are full of dragon dancers, paranormal and palmists, and sensation seekers notorious for self-mutilation. Some of the best places to visit this festival are Semarang and Bogor in Java, Singkawang in West Kalimantan, and Kermaro Island in South Sumatra.

Krakatau Lampung Festival is a celebration of the eruption of Krakatau mountain.

This Indonesian festival is held in the province of Lampung. It is meant to commemorate the eruption of the Krakatau volcano in 1883, which had catastrophic consequences for the island: more than 70% of the island was destroyed, and a layer of volcanic ash hung in the sky almost a year later. He dumped volcanic ash, which spread 4,500 km towards New York and Norway. The festival started in 1991 as a way to celebrate the island and the province of Lampung coming to life in this life. It is held from June to October each year and consists of exhibitions, cultural events, and even volcano tours.

Yadnya Kasada – Offering for Mount Bromo

This festival known as Kasada is celebrated by the people of Tengger in East Java. Based on the Hindu lunar calendar, this Indonesian festival is held every year on the 14th of the month of Kasada. According to local legend, the childless couple was blessed by the gods with 24 children after praying on Mount Bromo on the condition of sacrificing their 25th child to the volcano. Some versions of the legend show that the couple refused, and a volcano erupted, carrying the child. Every year, locals and tourists climb Mount Bromo and sacrifice goats, flowers, vegetables, and even money. Other brave people went up to the crater to get these items, remembering the offering as a sign of good luck.

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Jember Fashion Carnival. Fashion, luxury and abundance of color in the streets of Jember.

Jember Fashion Carnaval, officially called a “carnival” (like Brazil’s popular festival), takes place in east Java. Inspired by fashion week held by designer Dinand Fariz in 2002. In 2003, the first carnival consisted of a parade of dancers in luxurious costumes. This takes months of preparation with hundreds of volunteers and thousands of participants, ranging from kindergartens to the general public. The parade is usually in the form of a 4 km long runway and includes a fashion show. Jember Fashion Carnival takes place every August in the city of Jember.

Secaten – Celebration of the Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad SAW in Java.

Derived from the Arabic word “syahadatain”, Sekaten is an Indonesian festival celebrated in Java to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. It all started with Sultan Hamengkubuwan I trying to promote Islam in the region, and the festival started as a festival that only invited to learn more about the religion. It has evolved into a festival of traditional ceremonies, cultural performances, and a popular week -long night market. Special dishes are prepared for sekaten, such as savory shogo (regular rice cooked with coconut milk, peanuts, shrimp and chili) and gugungan (glutinous rice with beans, vegetables, peppers and eggs). This dish symbolized the success and abundance of the Javanese kingdom, and the people spread this dish on their farms in the hope of a good harvest. Others bring home food for their families.

Tomohon International Flower Festival

The Tomohan International Flower Festival was first held in February 2006. At the festival held in Tomohan near the capital Manado in the northern province of Sulawesi, bright and colorful flowers adorned Tomohon. The highlight of the festival is the parade, where many cars are decorated with colorful flowers from all over the country and even neighboring countries. Participants came from all over the region, as well as several neighboring countries. In addition to the parade, there are also various arts and culture programs that highlight the local culture.


The Mappanretasi Festival, held in the province of South Kalimantan, is celebrated mainly by fishermen on the coast as a mark of respect to God and their sea. Offerings are given to the sea and for blessing give offerings from the sea to the fishermen. The deal is for a month, the offer includes fruit, rice, and even grilled chicken.

Of course, these are just a few of the many beautiful festivals in Indonesia. On your next trip, be prepared to immerse yourself in the local traditions of this incredible island holiday.