The only requirement at the 2019 Ubud Writers & Readers Festival was a 1- 4-day pass, open-mindedness, and the willingness to listen. If you met those requirements then you too were amongst the 150 writers, artists, thinkers and, activists who traveled to Ubud from all corners of the world to share their stories and ideas with this year’s theme, karma. For five days a variety of subjects were shared through book readings, poetry, discussions, and even debates surrounding personal, global, local, political, and environmental issues. The stories and concerns that were shared were informative, heartfelt, disturbing, sad, and funny. Through these stories’ commonality was born, a sense of openness filled the room which eventually led to either self-realization, a discovery, or a reminder. You could feel the energy in the air, you could see new ideas flow from the story tellers mouth to their listener’s minds, and you may have even heard something that caused you to rethink your own beliefs. The place was full of life and for the next 5 days, this small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean became a global center stage for anyone with a voice. A universal arena where one could express themselves with whatever medium they felt was possible. This was their chance to be heard with hope of planting seeds within their listener’s minds. A place where thinkers voice their thoughts with hopes of starting a global ripple effect, a pebble landing in the center of a pond, where one’s dreams start to take shape and bond.
The opening of the event started with a 4 pm workshop,” Writing for the healing”, followed by a film screening, a gala opening, and then a writer’s dinner party with live music, arts, and a “Women of Words Poetry Slam”. The next morning the doors opened earlier at 8 am where writers and thinkers started their day right with a nutritious Indonesian breakfast at one location and a cooking class at another location followed by a welcoming festival before the day started.
The list of activities, performances, and events fulfilled every visitors’ expectations and beyond, including the children and youth, from “Building your own Superhero” to a discussion on karma and kindness. Check out their rundown of events here.
Some people sat through every event they could while others visited museums, Monkey Forest, and other nearby attractions only returning to the events they had interest in. Two separate locations gave visitors a convenient alternative to filling up their eventful day. Numerous local vendors were present throughout the festival including street food, clothing boutiques, natural products, arts and crafts, jewelry, and a couple of alcohol brands.
The last day of the festival started with early morning yoga at 7 am, a herb walk at 8 am, a long list of events until 9 pm and, closed with a farewell night party and special event | “Stories by The Sea”‘.
I can honestly say, I loved everything about this festival, the organization, the events and every participant. Everything was on point, everyone played an equally important role, especially the helpful and friendly volunteers, the security who kept everything peaceful, the police that smiled, the Ubud fire department who kept their shiny red fire truck on standby, and the medical emergency team that was present. Everyone responsibly voiced themselves, keeping their cool throughout political and religious discussions and with zero military presence. Good karma was most definitely present at this festival. The only things missing? a tent, campfire, marshmallows, and the option to tell stories throughout the night along with a one week pass vs. a 4-day pass. This was by far one of the most meaningful and more important festivals that I have attended in many years. I would recommend to all who are reading this to attend the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in 2020, becoming more aware of what’s happening in the world directly from local sources and continuing to learn from one another’s culture through stories.