Event Review: Air Festival, Bali

Image credit: Duncographic.

Bali is best known for its waves, babes and laid-back culture. This dreamy tropical paradise is also home to the annual Air Festival, a three-day music and lifestyle gathering that usually takes place on the idyllic island of Gili Air. Running its fourth year, the festival explored a new location in Bali – La Brisa Beach Club.

Air Festival was a truly special event, and really stood out from many other festivals that I’ve attended. For one, its location was highly accessible, set on the famous Echo Beach in central Canggu. The festival also highlights the values of comfort and sustainability, and it was clear that every last detail was thought out beautifully. This was my first time attending a high-end festival, and it did not disappoint.

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The venue, priding itself on these values, is constructed entirely out of recycled fishermen’s wood. Palm trees and various rock-pools (seven, to be exact) surround an open air area that connected the two stages. Additional chill-out areas were decked out with plush couches and daybeds. There were also two stocked bars that served everything from beer to Kombucha cocktails. It was like stepping into a fairytale, and I felt like a princess. Impressively, even at the bar we were given bamboo straws with our drinks instead of plastic ones!

Blissful Bali afternoons meant that we were graced with a whole lot of sunshine. On Friday afternoon, the festival was introduced by a traditional Balinese Ceremony and Opening Ceremony to give us a little glimpse of Bali’s culture. Spoilt for choice, attendees could either hang out by the pools, at the beach, on the dancefloor or participate in the many workshops that were on offer. From ‘Pirate Booty Yoga,’ to cacao ceremonies and sound healing sessions, the Awan Stage was the place to be during the day, with stunning ocean views and the sound of waves to soothe the spirit.

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Despite the unpredictable tropical weather, those who were on musical duties really brought their game. The two stages were set to accommodate a uniquely different experience. Every evening, the Awan Stage was opened with a Cacao Ceremony to set the space for the night’s festivities. The array of incredible acoustic performances, bands and downtempo DJ’s that played here really made all my time spent here a blissful experience. Even when the rains came on Saturday night, the music went on, with the kings of downtempo, Brian Hartman, Estray and Walker, continuing to grace the crowd with their melodic sounds.

On the other hand, the Air Stage was where the party was at. Friday afternoon saw a dose of some of the best tech-house going around with Dave Dinger and Bas Ibellini, but it was at night that this stage came truly alive. The hand-crafted decorations included a massive holographic kaleidoscopic light that glittered up the entire dancefloor with prisms of rainbow light.

I found myself at this stage for the majority of Saturday night. It all started when I curiously ventured here during Riccardo Who?set, where there were about five people dancing in the rain. Everyone (including the DJ himself) looked like they were having the time of their lives despite the torrential downpour. The second I got involved, I never left, and watching that dance floor progressively fill up with people was a moment I’ll never forget. Next up was Sylvie Foret & Ray Zuniga, who absolutely nailed it with their funky tunes. Hands down, their set took the cake for highest festival vibes.

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On Sunday afternoon, Air Stage was opened by one of Berlin’s finest, Christopher Schwarzwalder. If that wasn’t the first sign of a great day, I don’t know what was. True enough, the hours of the day flew by into time for another incredible night. Rampa, followed by Blond:ish, got the crowd moving, and the energy during their sets was tangibly electric. Then, I headed to Awan Stage to support Melbourne’s own Moontide. The stage was packed full as he took us on a musical journey with his uplifting live set that combined tribal and instrumental elements. Taking us into the morning was Martha Van Straaten, who kept the vibe going with her signature slow grooves, even bringing some old-school tunes into the mix for the epic sunrise.

It was a weekend that I will always remember. There was sunshine, thunderstorms, sunrises that coloured the sky purple and a magical full moon. What can I say? There’s nothing like a festival in the tropics… And I’ll definitely be back.