Ubud, Bali’s jungle town, is known for its rolling hills and intricate temples—and for being the region’s cultural heart. While dance and art take centre-stage here often, since 2004, Ubud also hosts one of the Southeast Asia’s premier literature festivals. The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival started as a response to the 2004 bombings in the Bali hills, and has evolved to including some of the best speakers across the world. In its 16th iteration, the festival is from October 23 to 27 this year, and will host over 200 speakers from 30 different countries, participating in a mix of 150+ events.
Last year’s edition saw an audience of 25,000 come together to participate in panels stemming from feminism and harmony—including the #MeToo movement taking the world by storm. Apart from literary heavyweights Hanif Kureishi and Fatima Bhutto, speakers included Indian activist Gurmehar Kaur, authors Tishani Doshi and Anuradha Roy, and Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of beloved Nelson Mandela.
This year’s theme is “Karma.” The speakers, too, are reflective of the geo-political movements of the world, and encompass Iranian-American religious scholar Reza Aslan, feminist firebrand and New York Times contributing opinion writer Lindy West, Chinese-American author Jenny Zhang and Kurdish-Iranian scholar and journalist Behrouz Boochani, who is currently incarcerated and will appear via video conference. Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, celebrated British food writer Yotam Ottolenghi and BAFTA-winning hip-hop artist and social entrepreneur Akala are the other prominent panellists to watch out for.
Check the full program and additional details at http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/. Day-wise passes start from AUD 150/Rs 7,200.
Lubna Amir is Assistant Digital Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She travels in the search for happy places (which invariably involve a beach) and good food. When she’s not planning her next escape, you can find her curled up with a book or researching recipes.