Want Some Fun and Relaxation? Enjoy These Top Public Holidays in Indonesia!
If you want to enjoy a country at its best, then these holidays in Indonesia make for a great time to visit. There’s often a festival atmosphere out on the streets day or night! The local towns and villages turn out for some big celebrations that are awesome to be a part of.
A Holiday for all Religions
Indonesia is a predominantly Islamic country, and many of the holidays are linked to the Muslim calendar. It’s also a multi-cultural society however so expect to see celebrations for Chinese New Year (Imlek), Balinese Hindu New Year (Hari Raya Nyepi) and even Christian Christmas as well. Something for everyone!
Galungan dan Kuningan, the Celebration Holiday
If you’re lucky enough to be in Bali for Christmas then congratulations! On both your choice of holiday destination and also your chance to be involved in the Galungan festival! Balinese traditions tell of the 26th December being the day that ancient spirits come down to earth for a day of celebration and enlightenment. It marks the victory of light over darkness and is an upbeat event, with temples lighting lamps and holding special prayers. The local homes boasting bamboo poles with edible offerings hanging off the end.
Best in: Bali
Date: December 26th
Cap Go Meh, the Lantern Festival Holiday
A celebration with Chinese origins, the Lantern Festival is linked to the Chinese lunar cycle and tends to fall in either February or March each year. Expect lion dances around the Chinese temples and troupes of local dancers winding through the neighborhoods wearing ornate dragon costumes and traditional dress. There’s plenty of music, color and general mayhem on the streets!
Best in: Jakarta Chinatown
Date: The 15th day of the Chinese New Year
Labor Day, the workers’ holiday
In common with countries like Thailand, Indonesia celebrates Labor Day in May each year. This is a celebration of workers’ rights and is a chance for the population to take a breather and have a well-earned rest from the daily grind. In Indonesia it’s a relatively low-key affair but you’ll often find shops and offices closed, so your only option is to head to the beach and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere!
Best in: the whole country
Date: May 1st
Independence Day, the Whole Country’s Holiday
Each year, this proud country celebrates the date that it gained independence from the Netherlands, its old colonial ruler. This isn’t just an administrative holiday, however. There are community parties, athletics events, neighborhood meals out on the streets and a whole host of music and art events organized to mark the occasion. If you want to blend in with the locals then how about eating a few traditional ‘krupuk’ crackers and joining in with the tree climbing festivities?!
Best in: Jakarta, Kuta, Kupang
Date: August 17th
Muharram, the New Year holiday
Rounding off our calendar of Indonesia’s best festivals is Muharram, or Muslim New Year. This is a predominantly religious festival so is a good one to experience if you’re interested in the traditional side of Indonesian culture. Visit the mosques to hear Koranic verses being recited and the prayer halls to observe special services of commemoration and remembrance. Unlike New Year in many other countries, Muharram is more a time of reflection than it is of parties, and the country takes on a very calm and peaceful air.
Best in: Sumatra
Date: around the start of September, depending on the Muslim calendar
Holidays in Indonesia are a Great Way to Experience the Country
Whether you’re in the country for the parties of Cap Go Meh or the reflection of Muharram, these holidays are a great window into Indonesian life. Throw yourself into the spirit of the day and enjoy!