Bali is set to go into lockdown as the island celebrates entering in the Balinese Hindu year of 1939.
This is a celebration like no other. Locals and visitors to the island are not allowed on the street or even outside of the resort. Lights are dimmed to virtually nothing and the airport is closed.
Unlike most party people, the Balinese will not be hitting the bars and clubs but go into a 24-hour period of reflection and meditation. Some will even fast for the 24 hours of Nyepi.
Here is a survival guide to March 28.
Nyepi is taken seriously and visitors to the island are expected to respect this tradition. The local Pecalang – or security forces – roam the streets during the 24-hours of silence and anyone found flouting this lock down will be put into the village lock-up.
On March 26 observe the huge flocks of ex-pats and people in the know as they leave the island behind them and head to the lights of for Lombok and its surrounding islands.
During Nyepi people, cars, bikes and all forms of transport – including airlines – are forbidden from leaving their homes. Yes, the airport is shut down.
Hotels, resorts and villas are expert at handling this time of year and looking after the thousands of surprised guests who had no idea about this unusual festival of silence.
Resorts lavishly decorate the ballrooms and light pathways with romantic candles. While pools and hotel grounds are still busy during the day as evening falls indoor movies are cranked up for the kids and huge dinners are executed to perfection. Silent sunset cocktails are pretty spectacular and many resorts have night sky lanterns ready to set on fire and cast into the night. Buy one and make a wish for the year 1939 – you will never experience a New Year’s Eve quite like this.
Nyepi night skies are amazing since the island has almost no ambient light. Expect dazzling stars like you may never see again. Shooting stars are a highlight.
If you remain in Bali just enjoy the day off sight seeing, beach clubbing and sipping sundowners.
Swim or soak in the pool, hit the hotel gym, check in for a magical massage and eat a lavish lunch then relax into the evening.
Before the lock-down, Bali goes through a frenzy of extraordinary ceremonies in the led up to the day of silence.
Be sure to watch the parades that take place across the island on the evening of March 27. For many months the Balinese have spent an enormous amount time making huge and horrific creatures called Ogoh-Ogoh. They are made of wood and steel covered in papier-mache and fabric. They represent evil spirits and some are hugely funny and include pigs with selfie sticks and blue haired men with multiple long dangling breasts and glowing red eyes.
The Ogoh Ogoh are paraded through the streets escorted by kids making as much noise as possible with cymbals and pots and pans. The idea is to attract evil spirits and when the parade is over many of the Ogoh Ogoh are set on fire and burnt to the ground to rid the village of evil for the year ahead.