As we are Secret Bali Life we thought we would put together a guide to the secret side of the island, some of the events and happenings, that whilst they are hugely popular with the local Balinese community, tend to go under the radar for most people who visit or live here.

When people go in search of the ‘real’ Bali they tend to go and look for temples, waterfalls, secret beaches and so on, which is of course extremely worthwhile and rewarding most the time, (as long as you don’t arrive two minutes after 5 coaches of Chinese tourists) but we have picked out 5 happenings you would only discover through word of mouth or having an eagle eye!

From sports to music and everything in between here are some magical things you could and should discover for a very special and genuine Bali experience!

The Bali Arts Festival is an event that attracts tens of thousands of attendees every year and takes place in the incredible grounds of the Denpasar Arts Centre. It usually takes place over 4 weeks in June and July and showcases daily performances taking in all the traditional aspects of Balinese culture including music, dance, theatre, cuisine and more.

Whilst we said we would tell you about the secret bali, and this is traditional dance and performance, there is something very different about traditional performances when they are being done for their own people rather than going through the motions for tourists. It’s hard to explain but this is how it was done for hundreds of years, passing down the tradition to the next generation, it has a totally different energy to it, and you can see it in the crowd and the families in attendance as well as the performers. Even the vast numbers of people in attendance just adds to the whole experience and impact of the proceedings. Trust us, you have to go and check it out!

Entrance is free but the experience is something you will never forget. Balinese families come in their hundreds every day and night during the festival to come together and celebrate Balinese culture. The setting is truly something to behold particularly the main amphitheatre in the Arts Centre grounds, which is surrounded by several other equally impressive outdoor performance spaces, a professionally equipped theatre, huge food court and an indoor retail space where you can buy anything from Balinese jewellery to instruments all priced for the local community so if you are looking for a bargain… that’s the place to go!

Whether you love football or not this is DEFINITELY an experience worth making the effort for, to see a real side of contemporary Bali. Bali United are one of the top teams in Indonesia, at time of writing they are currently top of the league, and have a great stadium in Gianyar that holds over 20,000 of their fans.

The football may not be up there with the standard of their European counterparts, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. The Bali United fans sing and jump like true ‘Ultras’ waving huge flags non-stop for about an hour before kick off and long after the final whistle has blown. To say they are passionate is an understatement! We went along recently and it was truly something to behold, the stadium does sell out though so try and get to the ground early (buying tickets in advance is not easy) but the atmosphere will keep you entertained for sure!

Makepung is the name of an event that takes place around Jembrana in West Bali, featuring racing buffaloes. This is a serious series of events with regional events leading up to provincial finals, known as the Jembrana Regent’s Cup and the Governor’s Cup, respectively. Using wooden sleds and driven by farmers the races are a whirlwind of energy and colour as these buffalos and their riders tear around specifically designed circuits.

The evening is often as festive as the major racing day that follows, being filled with art performances and public entertainment. The races kick off early in the morning and generally run for about 5 hours. Taking place between July and November on Sundays you will also witness music, dancing, buffalo fashion shows and more, definitely worth looking into!

Many of you will be familiar with Nyepi, the day of silence, for those that are not it is a 24 hour period where if you are on the island you have to stay in your villa, or a hotel, and can not go on the streets, and must be silent in darkness with no lights, TV or internet and so on, reflecting.

Often people are like greyhounds out of a trap the day after Nyepi heading to beach clubs, bars and restaurants making up for valuable party time lost but may we suggest next time you try something a bit different and head to Banjar Kaja Sesetan in Denpasar to witness Omed Omedan, also known as the Kissing Ritual!

A 100 year tradition, after a period of prayer all the boys and girls of the village are separated to two sides of the street and under the supervision of Hindu elders are encouraged to come together and grab someone to kiss, and the villagers surround them and if anyone is getting too ‘involved’ they pour buckets of water over them to cool things down!

It is all in good jest and is often seen as an opportunity for couples to get together and form a relationship if they like someone from the village. So if you fancy a giggle and a real spectacle then this is for you…

Being a music centric online magazine its only right and proper that we chose a music event but this is one that despite attracting thousands of people every year, for half the price of most big scale events on the island at just 375k IDR for a 2 day pass and offering dozens of bands including two huge international acts performing is not one that is on most peoples radar.

Soundrenaline’s line up is like a who’s who of Indonesian musicians and bands spanning several genres from pop to rock and everything in between, blues, soul, grunge you name it you will find it.

And they always have at least one major western band, usually from the 90’s, which is an era that Indonesian’s have had a longstanding love affair with. This year are no exception with Primal Scream (below) and Suede both headlining.

If you want to check out a genuine live music festival and the opportunity to discover many of the biggest Indonesian bands past and present then you HAVE to check out Soundrenaline. It actually takes place this weekend at GWK and is over 2 days with a glamping option for a full weekend experience!