Go Indonesia :: Extravagant Cultural Festivals In Indonesia

Indonesia is a country with cultural diversity spreading across the archipelago. From traditional cloths to art performances, every region has unique style and tradition. From many, cultural festivals become the inviting pieces that escalate curiosity. Here are some extravagant festivals that worth to attend.

  • Pacu jawi of West Sumatra is the trilling cow race held at the end of rice harvest season as a celebration and expression of gratitude to God for the yields.
  • pacu-jawi


  • This cow race is commonly held at Tanah Datar Regency and Limapuluh Kota Regency. Traditional cow race is actually common in several parts of Indonesia. In Bali, the tradition is called makepung while Madura has karapan sapi competition. What makes pacu jawi different is the dramatic setting of muddy rice field track to make the attraction very exciting to watch.
  • Grebeg mulud of Yogyakarta is yearly tradition of Yogyakarta Sultanate to celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad at the 12th day of Mulud in Javanese Calendar.
  • grebeg-mulud-of-yogyakartagrebeg-mulud-of-yogyakarta


  • This is actually the main event of Sekaten, a weeklong festival with series of ritual and fair at the Northern Square of Yogyakarta. The main star of grebeg mulud is gunungan, a mountain model made from various vegetables, fruits, sweets, and more foods to symbolize prosperity. Gunungan will be carried by Sultanate guards through several ritual processions that ended at the square where people are free to get the foods. The most exciting part of grebeg is when the people fight over the foods. People will do anything to get even a small food that most of the people believe it as sacred object. Grebeg tradition is also held by Surakarta Sultanate and Demak regularly.
  • Pasola of Sumba is traditional bloody game held as a ritual before rice planting season to increase land fertility.


  • The game is two groups of people riding horse throwing wooden spears to the opponent. The objective is to make the spear hit bare flesh of the player until the blood spilled to the ground. For people of Sumba, the spilled blood is meant to fertilize the land. Before pasola game, people of Sumba commonly go to the beach to pray and sacrifice a black cock to get the sign whether pasola game should be held or not. They will get the answer from the look of the cock’s heart. The rite will continue by collecting colorful sea worm and the ultimate pasola game.

There are much more cultural festivals in Indonesia. Many festivals are held based on lunar (Islamic) calendar and regional calendar such as Javanese calendar and Balinese calendar so tourist need to check the date for specific year.