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Experience Borneo's Best Festivals

It’s festival season in Borneo and I’m still buzzing from this year’s Rainforest World Music Festival set in the beautiful city of Kuching. So what better time than now to put pen to paper and help you to experience Borneo at its most vibrant by sharing the best festivals within the state of Sarawak. Borneo loves a good festival - so much so that Malaysia dedicated 2015 to 'The Year of the Festival.'

Borneo Ethical Adventures tours are designed to coincide with local festivals and events and here are some of my favourite, yet least-known festivals, in Borneo’s Sarawak. If you'd like to sign up for updates - click here.

1. Miri Country Music Festival, Miri  (February or March annually)

Miri Country Music Festival, Miri, Borneo

I'm a little bit proud of this one. Miri Country Music is the brainchild of Gracie Geikie, one of the most dynamic women I had the pleasure of meeting during my time in Borneo. It was also the very first local festival I attended and I felt a little out of my comfort zone as I arrived in Miri not knowing what to expect from Borneo's version of a Country Music Festival. But hey, I was dressed for country!

A checked shirt and a pair of boots - what more could a girl need to blend in? 

The raw enthusiasm of the crowd and the sea of chequered shirts and Stetson hats on a hot balmy night were as captivating as the location. Set in the hotel gardens of Park City Hotel, the festival enables you to enjoy the sun setting over the South China Sea and the wafting smells of Sarawak curry as you listen to national and international country artists. This two-day festival is still young with less than 3,000 avid country fans, mostly from South East Asia, grooving the night away. Attend once and you'll make new friends. Attend twice and you are practically a local! 

2. Rainforest World Music Festival, Kuching (Annually in July)

Rainforest World Music Festival, Kuching

The Rainforest World Music Festival takes place in Kuching annually and celebrated its 20th anniversary this month with an extra special line-up. The festival brings together world-renowned indigenous musicians and the finest traditional musicians from the jungles, rivers and beaches of Borneo. The result is a kaleidoscope of beautiful costumes, drums, feathers, instruments that you never knew existed, incredible dancing, some damned fine jungle cuisine and a finale that is NOT TO BE MISSED!  

Set against the magnificent back drop of Mount Santubong the festival includes workshops, in which you can learn more about the culture of Borneo's indigenous tribes and buy direct from some of the best artisans from across the island. Oh, and did I mention that Borneo Ethical Adventures’ Tour, The Road Less Travelled started in Kuching the very next day? Fancy that!

3. Bario Food and Culture Festival (Pesta Nukenen), Bario (Annually in August) 

Bario Food and Culture Festival (Pesta Nukenen), Bario, Borneo

I'm struggling to best describe this festival, as it's just so unique. Bario’s population of 2,000 is spread across 14 villages and swells to at least double each August for Bario Food and Culture Festival. Whether you arrive by the 16-seat turboprop plane or trek through the Bario Highlands, 1,000m above sea level, you'll be surprised by the all the action that takes place around the town square.

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