Three Days of Music in the Forest

Rainforest Music Festival

For three whole days every year locals and visitors to Sarawak are transported to musical, cultural and culinary bliss. The Rainforest World Music festival features an eclectic range of performances by renowned international artists – as well as other entertainment and refreshments. Known as one of the most unique music festivals throughout the world, the Rainforest World Music festival draws music enthusiasts from across the globe to enjoy captivating rhythms in one of the world’s most spectacular places.

How the festival started

The Canadian world music instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch co-founded the festival with the head of tourism in Malaysia Robert Basiuk, traditional arts supporter Edric Ong and his film producer brother Edgar Ong in 1997. Eric Ong was the president of the Society Atelier of Sarawak, the organisation responsible for the initial planning and finance of the festival before handing over the reins to the Sarawak Tourism Board. After the board took control of the festival it grew very quickly. The first couple of years saw around 400 attendees, but by 2013 the festival had more than 22,000 world music enthusiasts and brought in a whopping MUR37 million (equivalent to over $10 million). With this kind of response in attendance and revenue, there must be something special about the festival.

Eat, drink, play, listen and explore

From dawn until dusk it is all about music and culture at the Rainforest World Music festival. Interactive workshops and interesting lectures on ethnic musical styles are alternated with demonstrations and jamming sessions where everybody musical can participate. Mini concerts are held throughout the day to whet the appetites of party-goers for the evening performances. To keep energies up food, snacks and drinks are for sale – including beer and wine. Other entertainment options include exploring the colourful and interesting local culture and experiencing henna tattoo art, local fabric arts and other fascinating stalls. To keep the memorable moments of the festival safe and sound, festival memorabilia is available. This includes souvenirs from Sarawak and CDs by the musicians and bands that are performing at the festival.

What music can be expected?

Performers from many countries around the world make the festival interesting and diverse. The calypso beat of 1drum.org, an eco-drum ensemble from Malaysia will fascinate and entertain. The local Sarawak group Bisaya Gong Orchestra brings the magic of 19 metalphone instruments played by a minimum of nine musicians. From New Zealand, Horomona Horo expertly blends traditional Maori music with modern techniques. Another trans-cultural musician is Stephan Micus from Germany. Stephan uses numerous traditional instruments and his voice to create haunting melodies. There is also Son Yabu from Cuba, Talago Buni from Indonesia, Ryuz from Japan, Blackbeard’s Tea Party from England and many more.

An ideal location

The festival is held in the Sarawak Cultural Village, known as a living museum where the traditions of the local Sarawak people have been reproduced with great attention to detail and authenticity. The rich culture of the Sarawak region is also celebrated at the festival with traditional craft and art stalls and mouth watering local dishes like Kolo Mee, Midin (wild fern) and the famous Sarawak Laksa on offer. Located at the foot of Mount Santubong, Sarawak Cultural Village is enveloped with lush tropical rainforest and brings an authentic ambience to the music festival that is not to be missed.

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