Held annually in Ubud, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival has become Southeast Asia’s largest and most renowned cultural and literary event.
The 16th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) is just around the corner. From 23 to 27 October, the UWRF will bring together over 180 authors, artists and activists from 30 countries for five days of panel discussions, performances, book launches, art exhibitions and more. With this many creatives gathered in the same place, it’s the perfect opportunity for writers of all stripes to sharpen their literary abilities. From idea generation to the craft of writing to writing for performance, the UWRF Workshops cater for all writers in the audience.
Drawing inspiration from Hindu philosophies, the festival unveiled that this year´s theme will be “Karma”. It said that “for Balinese Hindus, Karma Phala is the spiritual principle that each action has a consequence equal in force, and similar in form. “As actions in their previous life affect their present, and deeds committed in the present affect their future, Balinese Hindus are aware their fate is not divine in origin, but in their own hands,” said UWRF founder and director Janet DeNeefe.
The UWRF also revealed that the artwork for this year was created by visual artist Samuel Indratma, one of the founders of Yogyakarta public art collective Apotik Komik.
Ubud was once many villages that have combined. Peliatan specialises in classical music; Mas in wood-carving, gold- and silversmithing. Gianyar has a textile market and Batubulan is home to stone carvers chipping volcanic rock into statues. The town boasts seven galleries and museums. The Agung Rai Museum of Art offers workshops on Balinese art and the Seniwati Gallery specialises in local women’s art. For contemporary work head to Pranoto’s Art Gallery, run by the Javanese artist Pranoto, who teaches life-drawing classes.
Balinese culture has always been connected to religious practice. For the first-time visitor the spirit of the place is ever-present: handmade baskets of coconut palm leaves, filled with flower petals, rice grains and incense, are placed in front of every shop and on the dashboard shared taxis.
About the event
The festival was founded in 2004 by Australian-born Janet De Neefe, after terrorist bombs ripped through the beach resort of Kuta, killing nearly 200 and decimating the tourism trade. It triggered Janet into action. Janet wanted the world to see that Bali could still move on after the bombings and, with this, she set off to set up the festival.
The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is a yearly pilgrimage for experts and lovers of the literary world, ranging from readers, authors, musicians and chefs. There are a number of workshops and classes held throughout the festival where writers can hone their skills and get feedback from experts in the field.
The main festival events take place on Jalan Raya Sanggingan, just 5 minutes from the Ubud town centre. Each year the program is spread out over a number venue including Taman Baca, Indus Restaurant and Neka Museum. But there are also a number of other events scheduled in and around Ubud.
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