Nyepi, March or April
Galungan & Kuningan, varies
Indonesian Independence Day, 17 August
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, October
Bali Arts Festival, June to July
Shortly after New Year's, a calm comes over Bali as the holiday hordes (did half of Australia really drop by or did it just seem that way?) go home and the island regroups.
The rainy season pours on and the island starts to hum again after the January pause following the holiday high season. Accommodation bargains abound at this time.
As the rainy season comes to an end, there's a lull in the crowds – this is low season for tourism, especially around Nyepi when even many non-Balinese flee the silence.
Nyepi (Day of Silence)
Bali’s major Hindu festival, Nyepi celebrates the end of the old year and the start of the next. It’s marked by inactivity – a strategy to convince evil spirits that Bali is uninhabited so they’ll leave the island alone for another year.
For the Balinese, it's a day for meditation and introspection. The rules are more relaxed for foreigners as long as your don't leave your residence or hotel. Nyepi is actually a fantastic time to be in Bali – there are colourful festivals the night before, and there's something inspiring about being forced to do nothing.
The islands dry out after the rainy season and there's a small but noticeable uptick in visitors. This is another month when insiders recommend visiting.
Bali Spirit Festival
A hugely popular yoga, dance and music festival from the people behind the Yoga Barn in Ubud. There are more than 100 workshops and concerts, plus a market and more; tack on one of the pre- or post-retreats or other events to get more mileage from the experience. It’s usually held in early April but may begin in late March.
This is a great month for visiting. It’s not high season but the trails are drying out for hiking and the rivers are still high for rafting. The annual rains have stopped, although downpours can happen at any time.
The airport is getting busier, but much of what makes May a good month to visit also applies in June. Crowds of surfers and sun chasers descend upon the Bukit breaks.
Bali Arts Festival
This is the premier event on Bali’s cultural calendar. Based at the Taman Wedhi Budaya arts centre in Denpasar, the festival is a great way to see traditional Balinese dances such as the legong, gambuh, kecak, barong and baris, as village-based groups compete fiercely for local pride. Held mid-June to mid-July.
After August, July is the second-busiest month for visitors to Bali. Don’t expect to have your pick of places to stay, but do plan to enjoy the energy of crowds on holiday.
Bali Kite Festival
In south Bali scores of kites soar overhead much of the year. Often huge (10m-plus), they fly at altitudes that worry pilots. There’s a spiritual connection to their flight: it is believed the kites urge the gods to provide abundant harvests. During this festival the skies fill with huge creations.
The busiest time on Bali sees an ever-increasing number of visitors each year. Book your room and tables far, far in advance and expect crowds.
Indonesian Independence Day
Celebrated across Indonesia, 17 August is the day Indonesia's independence from the Dutch was declared in 1945. Flags fly high and you'll encounter legions of school kids marching with great enthusiasm on Bali's main roads. Traffic is snarled (as it is days before for rehearsals) and lots of fireworks are shot off.
The exact names and sponsorships change every year but you'll find top international surf contests being held throughout August down at Padang Padang Beach. Peak tourist season coincides with peak wave season.
For many, September is a sweet spot for tourism. The August mobs are gone, yet it's still not overly rainy or hot. The best places to stay and eat aren't booked up months in advance.
The skies darken more often with seasonal rains, but mostly the weather is pleasant and the islanders bustle about their normal business. Outside of Ubud, crowds are few.
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival
One of the country's premier literary events, this festival hosts scores of writers and readers from around the world in a celebration of writing – especially that which touches on Bali. Each year there is a theme and famous authors whose works address the topic attend.
It’s getting wetter, but not really so wet that you can’t enjoy the islands to the fullest. Crowd-wise, this is usually a quiet month, which means you can find great accommodation bargains.
Visitors rain on Bali ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays. Most hotels and restaurants are booked out and everybody is busy; in the south, the energy can seem manic.
Galungan & Kuningan
One of Bali's major festivals, Galungan celebrates the death of a legendary tyrant called Mayadenawa. Celebrations culminate with the Kuningan festival, when the Balinese say thanks and goodbye to the gods.
Every village in Bali celebrates Galungan and Kuningan in grand style, and visitors are welcome to join in.
The 210-day wuku (or Pawukon) calendar is used to determine festival dates. Dates for future Galungan and Kuningan celebrations are as follows:
5 Jan & 3 Aug
19 Feb & 16 Sep
29 Feb & 26 Sep