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The BaliSpirit Festival: A Divine Celebration of Yoga, Dance, and Music

by Lystia Putranto

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Happening annually in March, the BaliSpirit Festival is an experience like no other in the world. With spring nearly around the bend, yogis around the globe are rejoicing because the yoga festival season is almost here! 

What is The BaliSpirit Festival? 

If you have been following the On & Beyond The Yoga blog for a while, you may have read our post a couple years back about this festival held yearly in Ubud, Bali.

Started in 2008, you’d be surprised that the very first festival only took 3 months to put together! This event was a dream come true for its three founders; ‘Dek’ Gunarta, Rob Weber, and Meg Pappenheim. Together, they seek to create a festival that embodies a celebration of yoga, music, and dance. 


Balinese children playing music at Bali Spirit Festival

Image credit: BaliSpiritFestival.com


As you may recall, back then, the tourism industry in Bali was far from fully recovered from the bombing incidents that occurred in 2002 & 2005. Powered by their love of Bali and their passions for yoga, dance, and music, they decided to work together to create an annual event that will help to attract foreign visitors back to the ‘Island of the Gods’ – specifically to the beautiful hills of Ubud. 

Suffice to say that their hard work paid off as in 2016 alone, the BaliSpirit Festival was able to successfully attract 7000 visitors from 50 countries worldwide – including travelers from all over Indonesia, its host country.

What’s more is that in nearly a decade, the festival, along with its partners, has raised more than US$ 100,000 for worthy causes and outreach initiatives. And in addition to supporting existing programs, The BaliSpirit festival operates its own annual local outreach programs: ‘Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV & AIDS’ – an HIV & AIDS awareness campaign as well as ‘Bali ReGreen’ – a reforestation initiative. 


BaliSpirit Festival – The Opening Day


As this was my first time attending a yoga-focused festival, I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect. I was surprised to find out that this 8 day & night string of events was actually not held in one single venue but many venues across Ubud. That said, the entire opening day festivities which started at noon on Sunday, March 19th was held in one of the festival's main venues, the tropical Bhanuswari Resort & Spa.

The venue was quite far from the center of Ubud and normally a bit difficult to get to (if you’re not a local). However, since we had hired a car (and a local driver), we were able to get to our destination without a hitch.

That said, festival goers also have the option of catching the spirit festival shuttles which picked up its passengers from 4 locations around the area – making it a convenient choice for those who prefer to opt out of hiring a car (many chose to do so as parking spaces were limited). 


Bali Spirit Bridge


We arrived just before the doors open and were immediately impressed as to how ‘green’ and well-decorated it was. The grounds were lush and pristine. More importantly, the whole ambiance felt very welcoming. We knew right off the bat that we have a wonderful day ahead of us. 


Yogis at Bali Spirit Festival

Image credit: AroundDeGlobe.com


Instead of checking out the event’s schedules, we decided that it would be best for us to scour through the venue to check out all that the festival had to offer and play it by ear. It was then that we found out a yoga & meditation workshop was already in progress at the festival’s healing hut pavilion. Around 80 participants attentively followed the soothing guidance of the world-class instructor for an invigorating session before wrapping up by embracing each other with warm hugs.

This workshop is one of the many that were being held for the next 8 days. Lucky for us, quite a few of them are beginner friendly. However, those who are looking for a challenge need to worry as there are also plenty of classes on offer specifically geared for advanced practitioners too. 


Image credit: Bali Spirit Festival


Once the class concluded, we found ourselves feeling hungry. We soon went on the hunt for the festival’s food area where selections of both local and international dishes were abundant. Though we had a fairly late breakfast, it was difficult to resist all the delicious (yet healthy) food that tantalized our eyes and taste buds – so we enthusiastically decided to dive in. Resistance, after all, was clearly futile. 



Within the food area, there were also plenty of stalls offering eco-friendly goodies – from bamboo bicycles to eco-conscious clothing and accessories, it was a great one-stop shop for anyone who is on the lookout for some of Bali’s top environmentally responsible brands. 


various eco-friendly brands were on display at the festival


After spending a bit more time spent exploring the festival, we decided ‘park’ ourselves for a little while at the ‘Coco Love Stage’. This cozy area is where various music performances were being held throughout the day. You’d be interested to know that over 20 local and international musicians participated in this year’s celebration.

From folk music to rock, all types of soulful genres were also represented in the festival’s line-up. For the next couple of hours, we had an amazing time listening to awesome performances, striking up insightful conversations with strangers from all corners of the globe and relaxing under the stage’s strikingly colorful tent. 


Image credit: Bali Spirit Festival


Before long, the clock strikes 6 PM which signaled the start of the festival’s official opening party! As the sky slowly turned to pitch dark, out came the bright lights which signaled that it was time for us to dance the night away. And so we did. 

They say that a ‘Sunday well spent brings a week full of content’. Well, I can genuinely attest that this particular Sunday was a day well spent indeed. Namaste.


Oka Collective performing at Bali Spirit Festival

Image credit: UbudParadise.net


Looking to experience the BaliSpirit Festival first-hand this year? Be sure to jot down the dates as the festival will be happening from Mar 24 to Mar 31, 2019! Don’t want to wait? Why not sign up for a yoga retreat in Bali instead? 

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