Skip to main content

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival

The Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival has been running for 18 years and is considered to be among the best music festivals in the world. It features ‘World Music’ which is not just a reference to the international line-up, but more to do with the musical genre that involves largely traditional styles of music and instruments, rich with ethno cultural signifance.

Set in the Borneon rainforest, the atmosphere on the festival grounds within the Sarawak Cultural Village is pretty astounding and couldn’t be any more authentic. Yes, you are actually in a tropical rainforest. Within the cultural village you will find Iban longhouses, Bidayuh baruk, Penan huts and several more authentic structures. The setting is a great way to walk in the footsteps of the native people and see how and where they actually lived.



Add to that the truly talented performers who take such pride in breathing new life into fading traditions of their culture, and you’ve got yourself a truly unique experience that stays with you.

The Sarawak Tourism Board who have organized the festival, also go to great lengths to set up top notch sound systems so when you’re watching performers on stage in the middle of the forest, you get the full impact of the music.

This is no MTV. The music is stripped down – clear voices and pure sounds from old-fashioned instruments. Nothing cookie-cutter here either. It’s particularly fascinating to hear how differently sounds developed in different tribes and regions. And the festival does a great job of exhibiting that.

Really Good Fun!

Going in to this festival, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But after experiencing it, I must say I am completely impressed.

I was blown away by the music I heard, the cultural knowledge I gained and the fact that I got to enjoy all this in an actual rainforest. To be honest, I thought the daytime workshops would be little half-beat things to pass the time. Absolutely not. The workshops are probably the best part of the festival!

Plus, the crowd was very lively and enthusiastic without any sort of annoying chaos. Just to give you an idea, at one point during Culture Shot’s performance, the crowd broke out singing rasa sayang. It was awesome!

I can hardly wait for next year. Especially since the set of world musicians playing at the festival changes every year. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s a lowdown of what happened at this year’s music festival.


Leave a Reply