Festival in Indonesia

Being a diverse country of origins and religions, Indonesia has a good mix of cultural events, ceremonies and festivals. Come and experience the Indonesian festivals all year round, as you can see you will never be short of choices.

Having a population of more than 230 million people, even the ‘minorities’ of people will have large enough celebrations. Here you can find for religious events from Muslims, and then Buddhists, Christians, and the rest of more local festivals, ceremonies, or arts and cultural events, some celebrated by the nation while most unique to local areas or regions.


Nyepi, literally means “Day of Silence, is the day of the Balinese New Year, commemorated every Isaawarsa (Saka new year) base on Balinese calendar, therefore changes every year but generally in March. On this day you will find everything is closed in Bali as it is a day of fasting and meditation. But on days preceding to it, you will see people of Bali scrubbing clean the status on Gods, pray,hold ceremonies and various other rituals. Read more on Nyepi in Bali Festivals.

Nyepi, Balinese New Year @ Indonesia
Nyepi, Balinese New Year. Photo by mattspong

Toraja Funeral Ceremony

At Tana Toraja, you may observe their famous Toraja Funeral Ceremony. The Toraja people, who lives in the highlands of South Sulawesi, do elaborate and fascination funeral rites to send the spirit of the dead to the after-world in order to prevent misfortune on the deceased family. Usually, between July to September, Toraja from all over Indonesia will return to celebrate these annual funeral rituals.

-> See Top 5 Things to do in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Toraja Funeral Ceremony @ Indonesia
Toraja Funeral Ceremony. Photo by Arian Zweger

Baliem Valley Festival

This Baliem Valley festival unique only to the Papua people, tracing its root in the belief, held by the various local tribes, that war is not a just a conflict but also a symbol of fertility and prosperity. Celebrated in August, the main event is the mock-war between the local tribes, with more than 20 different tribes, each with 30-50 people, clad in traditional clothing, and fighting gears. There are also side performances and attractions of local traditional games, dances, and local food showcase. It is a vibrant and unique celebration in the Baliem Valley of indigenous culture.

-> Read Guide to Baliem Valley, Papua (Irian Jaya)

Baliem Festival, Indonesia

Baliem Festival. Photo by Carsten ten Brink

Kesodo (Kasada) Ceremony

Hundreds of thousands of Tenggerese will gather at the famous Mount Bromo, an active crater in East Java, Indonesia, during August. Asking for blessings and another year free of eruptions, the people will present offerings of rice, vegetables, fruits, animals, and other local produce to the God of the Mountain.

-> Read the Guide to Hiking Mount Bromo


During February or March, Pasola will be celebrated in various locations across East Nusa Tenggara. Every year there will be an announcement on where and when the celebration will be held. It is one of the most exciting Jousting Festival, well known around the world, where people on horseback without saddles will throw spears (know as hola) at each other to unseat the opponent. It is a traditional Sumba ritual sport to keep the spirits happy and to bring a good harvest.

Waisak @ Borobudur, Indonesia
Waisak at Borobudur. Photo by pwbaker

Waisak (Vesak)

In commemoration of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Gautama Buddha, the Indonesian Buddhist will usually observe this special day sometime during the full moon of May / June. During Waisak in Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument in the world, the day will be grandly celebrated by thousands of monks and pilgrims. Centred at the three Buddhist temples is the ceremony of walking from Mendut to Pawon and ending at Borobudur.

-> See Guide to Borobudur Temple Compounds


This important Hindu festival in Bali, it is celebrated for the coming of the gods and the ancestral spirits to dwell in the home of their descendants. During this festival, Hindus will drive off evil spirits with incantations and firecrackers, while express gratitude to their Gods by inviting them down to earth by celebrations of offerings, dancing and new clothes.

Galungan @ Bali, Indonesia
Galungan at Bali. Photo by Photo by Carl Ottersen



Follow from the fasting, the Muslims will end it with a huge celebration for three days following it.

Eid al-Fitr

This is when the Muslims commemorate birth of Prophet Muhammad, with week-long festival of gamelan performances and parade of floats.

Independence / National day

The Indonesians will celebrate their Independence day on 17th of August, and this is their biggest national festival. Usually, there will be a grand parade before the President in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

Independence Day in Jalan Jaksa, Jakarta, Indonesia

Independence Day in Jalan Jaksa, Jakarta. Photo by Graham Hills


Despite being only 8% of the population who are Christian, it is still a significant amount of people with it being a famous festival and a national holiday in December. Here you will find the usual Christmas celebrations of markets and shops selling gifts and accessories while many places organized party and celebrations.

Specific places in Indonesia festivals:

Jalan Jaksa Festival

At the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, you may at least find a festival worth a visit. It usually takes place in July / August, where you can find the street closed to all traffic and replaced with food stalls, craft workshops, street artists and musicians. You may try food from all kinds of Indonesian specialties while immersed in the rest of the art shows like traditional martial art combat or Betawi orchestra. You may also find batik making workshops in the midst of it all. Jalan Jaksa is also a popular place to stay in Jakarta *.

Festival Teluk Kendari

In April, there will be partying and dragon-boat races in Sulawesi’s Kendari Bay.

Bidar Race

In August, you can find lots of vivid bidar (canoes) race in Sumatra’s Sungai Musi.

Bali Arts Festival

Largest annual celebration of art and culture in Indonesia, with a full month (between June-July) of daily performances, arts exhibitions, dances, food and other cultural offerings. Read more about this famous Bali Arts Festival. It is important to search for a cheap Bali hotel a couple of months before this festival since they will increase their rates a few weeks to a month before.

-> See Where to stay in Bali

Bali Arts Festival @ Indonesia
Bali Arts Festival. Photo by Pandu Adnyana

Yogya (Jogja) Arts Festival

In June – July, you will find shows and exhibitions in the Java’s cultural capital Yogyakarta.

-> Read Top 10 Things to Do in Yogyakarta

Krakatoa festival

This annual festival, held in Lampung, to celebrate the volcanic island called, you guessed it, Krakatoa. There will be performances, elephant procession and various dances in the town with the finale of the event is a trip to the active volcanic island itself.

Bau Nyale Fishing Festival @ Lombok, Indonesia
Bau Nyale Fishing Festival at Lombok. Photo by kenken31

Bau Nyale Fishing Festival

In February or March, hundreds of people will rush to Lombok to catch a glimpse of the first nyale (worm-like fish) at the huge fishing festival. The indigenous Sasak people of Lombok will commemorate a mythical princess who had to drown in these waters to escape a politically arranged marriage. This festival is held at the same time with the season of these worm-like fish, where they are caught and eaten roasted in banana leaves with much enthusiasm.

Related articles:
Bali Festivals
Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar, Bali
When to Visit Indonesia
Top 10 Must Visit Places in Indonesia


Author: Rachel

Fascinated by Indonesia, Rachel hopes to bring the best Indonesia Travel Guide to independent travelers so that they can enjoy what Indonesia has best to offer. Being an independent wanderer herself, Rachel knows what it takes to make a good, fun-filled yet responsible independent traveling. So let’s join her to discover wonderful Indonesia together. Google+

3 thoughts on “Festival in Indonesia”

  1. This was very helpful for me to learn about the festivals in Indonesia, because I am doing a report on it and this helped me a lot thanks you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.