This year’s festival season in Bali starts with the spectacular Bali Barong Festival 2016, which is a series of events celebrating the mythical being that protects the island and its forests.

The Barong is an ancient mythical creature that comes in 5 different shapes: the lion, the dragon, the serpent, the boar, and the tiger. Of the 5, the lion is the most popular and well-known, with its domineering and towering figure, often shown in costumes with a height twice that of an adult human being.

The Balinese consider the Barong as the King of the Spirits, representing Virtue and Goodness. The creature is also the very symbol of the protective spirit of the islands.

The festival is a celebration of all the different incarnations of the Barong, presented in various events such as Barong dance competitions, art exhibitions, a photography exhibit, as well as a presentation of the art of Makendang, which is accompanied by traditional Balinese percussion instruments.

This year’s theme is called, “Regeneration in Competition,” which focuses on the island’s focus in preserving traditions for future generations. The festival will be held for two days from January 22 to 23, 2016, at the Art Center Cultural Park in Denpasar.

Among the highlights of the festival is the Barong Dance, which depicts the battles of the lion Barong against Rangda, who is a wicked queen set to bestow evil and disaster upon the villages of Bali. It is considered to be the island’s most sacred dance and represents the struggles between good and evil while also showing the complexities of the relationship between people and the supernatural world.

The lion Barong or also known as Barong Ket is a sight to behold – often decorated with the most intricate of carved leathers and hundreds of sparkling small glass mirrors placed strategically around the costume.

A festival not to be missed, discover Bali and its rich spiritual and cultural heritage with the Bali Barong Festival 2016.

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