Rumble in the Jungle: Rainforest World Music Festival

20th-22nd June 2014


The Rainforest World Music Festival is a commemoration of the artistic diversity and indigenous cultures of the numerous islands of the archipelago in Malaysia, as well as the Southeast Asian neighboring countries. Set in a tropical rainforest backdrop, come to the world’s most unique music festival. The natural surroundings provide the perfect scene for the diverse range of ethnic music played at the festival.

The festival is held at the Sarawak Cultural Village. The national park is situated deep in the jungles of Malaysia. Try trekking to the location for added excitement (and a bit of a challenge!)  The ethic themed festival is organized by The Malaysia Tourist Board, which was founded in 1997. Since then, the festival has developed into an exploration of the cultures of Southeast Asia. The tourists who come to this village to attend the festival enjoy listening to a unique range of instruments and music localized to the region; the nose flute, boat lute, jaw harp and other exotic instruments. There are also opportunities for cultural education on site using the mediums of art exhibitions and story telling sessions

Many events have been organized over the past years along with the annual music festival. This includes the Folk Art Forum which talks about the economic sustainability and cultural exchange for folk artists. They also address issues relating to the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar. Craftsmen were able to demonstrate and sell their wares at this time. Its the best opportunity to pick up a souvenir from your travels.

This Rainforest World Music Festival continues for three days with music workshops in the day, craft and cultural displays, foods stalls and concerts held on the main stage every evening. The audiences present on the weekend are close to 30,000! Different types of music ranging from traditional to contemporary and world fusion are performed here. While you can hear a lot of electric instruments as accompaniments, they also emphasize on traditional acoustic. Musicians from far and near including Sarawak are present during the festival.

The festival owes its founding to world renowned Canadian instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch, who felt the need to explore traditional music. But it was the heavy marketing of the tourism board that made the festival so popular, and brought it to the forefront of Asian culture.

The festival takes place 35 km to the north of Kuching in the Sarawak Cultural Village at the bottom of the Mount Santubong. Many mini concerts and workshops are held every afternoon and performances are held in the evenings. Nearly 15 to 20 bands take part in the festival.

Visitors can relax and attend any workshop or watch musicians perform. Workshops are help in traditional houses while audiences can watch performers play on the same floor and converse with them. Artists do not mind engaging in conversation with the audiences and discussing various topics with them.

In addition, there are a lot of food stalls available on site that offers visitors to sample traditional Malaysian dishes, as well as other specific for Asian cuisine specialties. Keep in mind, that even though the alcohol consumption was allowed for a number of years, currently it is restricted due to official complaints received recently.

The festival is among the top 25 world music festivals according to Songlines Magazine, a feat they achieved four years in a row. There are varying ticketing costs depending on day passes, although tiet prices for 2014 have not yet been announced. The 2013 prices act as a guide, with an adult one day pass costing RM120, and a three day pass costing RM330. Children’s tickets for a one day pass are RM 60, and a three day pass is RM160.