What is The Bali Spirit Festival?
If you have been following BookYogaRetreats.com’s blog for a while, you may have read last year’s post about this festival held once a year 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.
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 Bali Spirit 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 Bali Spirit 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.
Bali Spirit Festival 2017 – The Opening Day
As this was my first time attending a yoga-focused festival, I wasn’t entirely sure on 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 Ubud – 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).
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.
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.
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 look out for some of Bali’s top environmentally responsible brands.
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.
Before long, the clock strikes 6 PM which signaled the start of the festival’s official opening party! As the sky slowly turned 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.
Image credit: UbudParadise.net
Looking to experience the Bali Spirit Festival first-hand next year? Be sure to jot down the dates as the festival will be happening from April 1st – April 8th, 2018! Don’t want to wait till next year? Why not check out Bali Spirit’s awesome yoga retreats?