Free Bali Photo Map

Indigenous Celebration in Bali

“This incredible 3-day Indigenous Celebration staged in Bali May 11-13. 2018 can be viewed on line. Your unique password will be sent via registration”

How do we celebrate culture? One way is to gather and honour traditions and rituals and share with an audience through storytelling, dance, music and visual arts. By bringing these elements together, a spirit of unity and inclusion can evolve in its own way inspiring an elevated platform of shared understanding. Based on this principle, the Indigenous Celebration will burst onto the stage on May 11-13 in Ubud, Bali.

The Indigenous Celebration is an augural event and will be Bali’s first gathering of indigenous people from such a wide range of regions, across the Archipelago from the Gayo people from Aceh, and including 34 tribes all the way to Papua. Bali was chosen to hold this event, as it is a sacred island and Ubud, being the heart of culture on the island, the most befitting locale; an ideal place to hold this festival of such cultural importance.

Initially, the festival was to focus on traditional village dances but, based on feedback from participants, it has now expanded to include many more people and activities. Now, Indigenous tribal leaders are coming, along with shaman, musicians, writers, storytellers, tattoo artists, and youth leaders. In all, there will be over 200 contributors from seven countries, including for example an Aboriginal group from Australia and a Maori group representing various New Zealand tribes.

The co-founder, David Metcalf, is a New Zealander and a long-term resident of Bali. Sometimes dubbed an accidental anthropologist, he has spent many years of his life supporting Indigenous communities in Indonesia.

Explaining how the festival came about, David says, “I am a photographer and have had the honour of meeting many tribes and traditional leaders here in Indonesia, from Aceh to Timor. This diverse country with its 17,000 islands is a photographer’s dream. I have also had a passion for cultural photography and documentary filmmaking over many years and felt the need to bring it all together in some way. On a personal level, that is exactly what this festival has achieved”.

“I handpicked the 34 Indigenous tribes coming to the Indigenous Celebration, having visited many of them several times. Many of the 200 Indigenous artists and performers coming to the festival hail from far-flung rivers, villages and communities. Most have never been to Bali. They are all very enthusiastic about being part of it and have helped with the planning. Them being here in Bali to share common ground is my life’s dream.”

To stage the event, David joined forces with Emmanuel Shinta, the founder of Ranu Welum Foundation. This organisation based in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, promotes culture, humanity, environment and the rights of Indigenous people. A key aspect of its role is working through media and using a blend of new and old ways to mobilise young Indigenous people, especially Dayak (Indigenous people of Kalimantan).

Shinta explains, “This festival is an opportunity to honour the culture inherited from our ancestors, and to celebrate our identity as the first people of the land, with all the wonderful gifts that we possess. Seven Dayak groups from different areas of Kalimantan will come. I am so proud that Dayak people, who used to be labeled jungle people or scary headhunters, are now leaders in the Indigenous youth movement, to be recognised by this country and an international audience. This is the time to give room for Indigenous people and to accept us, not only for the beauty of our culture but also for our struggles. It is time to walk together with other Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in a spirit of unity and collaboration. Through this event we hope to forge even closer links between young people and the wise ones; the older generation who hold so much knowledge, which is often buried away and could potentially be lost forever if we are not careful. We simply cannot let that happen.”

Many of the groups coming to the festival will include a mix of younger and older people, and this will encourage sharing of culture across generations. I also am so happy to see more young Indigenous leaders rise with incredible power to build their communities and preserve their culture. This stage is all for them.

Indigenous Celebration will be staged at The Arma Museum & Resort. According to David, “One of the highlights on the Arma stage will be the Sunday night mass collaboration. We have provided opportunities for all the Indigenous performers to practice together and they will combine their talents on the closing night. This will be a unique opportunity to see Maori on stage with Dayaks, Bataks and others. It will be something never done before, and will be something the performers and the audience alike will never forget”.

In addition to performances over three nights, workshops will be held during the day, including weaving demonstrations, tattooing, traditional dance and music classes and author talks.

Following the festival, there is a cultural educational event at the Green School on May 14-15. This will provide the opportunity for local young people to learn from the elders attending the festival. Schools from all over Bali have been invited.

For those unable to attend, streaming is available, and the Indigenous Celebration will be beamed across the world via By registering now you can watch it either live on May 11-13, or later at your convenience from anywhere and everywhere.

Indigenous Celebration is a non-profit festival. Any money left over from the ticket sales and sponsorships will be donated to registered Indonesian not-for-profit organisations working to preserve the culture and environment of Indigenous communities.

Story by Stephanie Brookes

Indigenous Celebration

11-13 May 2018 at The Arma Museum, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Unify. Collaborate. Connect. Celebrate. Honour. Inspire. Share.

David Metcalf:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social Media

Most Popular

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

Alaska Photography Tour September 10 – 21 2022

8 Participants + 2 Guides Mark Rayner and Dave Metcalf For me, my relationship with Alaska began in my bedroom in Wellington, New Zealand listening to John Denvers music about the grandeur and beauty of this great land. I became quite obsessed with the place, reading


A guest review & blog on Banyuwangi Java Trip Oct 2020 Mt. Ijen – You Beauty! Posted on October 29, 2020 by Heather This morning the group successfully traipsed to the top of the Ijen Crater, and three of us managed to get about 2/3 of the way down

Weaving your way through COVID – Bali style

Published Garland Magazine (17 July, 2020) Story by Stephanie Brookes – Stephanie Brookes writes about Pejeng Kangin, a resilient weaving village in Bali outside Ubud, Indonesia, that offers a “pay forward” scheme to buy works that help them survive the lockdown The weavers of Bali