Strawberry Fields Festival

Strawberry Fields Festival is a three-day music and arts festival looking to welcome up to 8,000 audio and experiential visitors to the tree-lined Murray River banks, with art installations, music, workshops and food to keep your mind fresh.

Huon Valley Midwinter Festival: Wassails, Bonfires and Storytelling

It can get pretty cold in southern Tasmania in the winter – so why not have a festival with dancing round a bonfire, drinking cider, singing and evoking ancient spirits? The Huon Valley MidWinter Festival will scorch your blues away, for sure.

3 Reasons to Travel to Borneo Jazz 2018

Sarawak’s homegrown jazz stage is set to introduce acts from Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan, in addition to Asian musical favourites. Mallika Naguran tunes in.

MIRI, 2 May 2018. Jazz fans can look forward to a full three-day musical extravaganza at Borneo Jazz in Miri, Sarawak. The 13th annual edition of the jazz festival will be held from Friday 11 May to Sunday 13 May 2018, organised by Sarawak Tourism Board for 13 years now.


But three things are different this year. First, there’s a change in venue. Borneo Jazz will be held at the Coco Cabana, Marina Bay – bigger, better with more room to sit, dance and walk around by the seaside of Miri town.

Next, the programme is arranged by the folks behind No Black Tie of Kuala Lumpur. The festival director Evelyn Hii is the founder of the famous jazz club that has seen a healthy stream of visiting famed musicians pass through, placing jazz prominently on the Malaysian map. Incidentally,  Hii was born in Sarawak.

Third, it will be a three day event for the very first time. Borneo Jazz typically features recognised musicians from local and international jazz scenes over two days, and this year will be no different all through a mega weekend, from Friday to Sunday. Around 30 bands or acts can be enjoyed through if one gets the entire festival pass.

A wide repertoire of jazz genres can be expected at Borneo Jazz 2018 with international acts from Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan along with Asian jazz greats. Check out the programme here.

Performers at Borneo Jazz 2018

Borneo Jazz 2018 will have high energy and versatile performers with internationally acclaimed artistes such as the Swiss-French ensemble Chris Stalk Quartet, Italian vocalist Cecilia Brunori, Chinese saxophonist Gaoyang Li, multi-talented Polish artist Grzegorz Karnas, Cuban band Havana Social Club featuring Lazaro Numa.

 Elvira Arul at Borneo Jazz 2018

Elvira Arul at Borneo Jazz 2018

Acclaimed Asian performers include Jeremy Monteiro, Singapore's 'King of Swing'; Az Samad, a guitarist, composer, and educator who has recorded with Flaco Jiménez and Max Baca; KL’s own soul queen Elvira Arul; and the iconic Michael Veerapen.

Jeremy Monteiro will be leading the 18-piece Jazz Association of Singapore Orchestra (JASSO) on Friday night.

Jazz vocalist Cecilia Brunori will entertain on Sunday night. Cecilia Brunori’s repertoire of performances ranges from performing at festivals in Italy including one of the largest jazz festivals in the world, Umbria Jazz Festival.

She is currently working on an album with a well-known jazz pianist and composer, Danilo Rea.

Every night, post concert, a jam session will be held. Especially on Saturday, following Havana Social Club’s gig at 11:45 pm, make your way to the jam venue at 1 am to mingle with the performers.

What has not changed about Borneo Jazz is its outreach programme, where aspiring musicians can learn the basics of jazz musical instruments from professional musicians.

Watch and listen to the winning Borneo participants of the Borneo Jazz Talent Search on Sunday. 

So there you go, these are the three reasons to go to Borneo Jazz 2018. Do you know of any more? Add them here by leaving a comment!


While You Are At Borneo Jazz 2018…

The Festival includes night performances with sitting and dancing areas and a wide lawn for night picnics surrounded by arts, crafts and food stalls.

As a resort city, Miri offers a wide range of accommodation from international class hotels to budget inns, good beaches and dozens of lively restaurants, pubs and bars.

Visitors going to this cosmopolitan city of Miri can visit the Lambir Hills, the historical Niah National Park located just an hour or two away respectively. Check out the Piasau Nature Reserve and the reforestation story by jazz musicians.

And if you are a scuba diver, the dive sites in the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park beckons. The nearest dive site is a mere 15-min away, just off the coast of the city.

For more information, visit the Borneo Jazz website at

Fly to Kuching or Mulu for other true Sarawakian cultural and adventure holidays.




Dark MOFO 2018 : The Winter Solstice in Tasmania

The winter solstice marks the shortest day in winter, and the time to slaughter greedy animals and hoard stocks of grain. Tasmania’s MOFO organisers have changed things slightly and organised an invigorating swim instead. In freezing waters. In the dark.

i Light Marina Bay 2018: Plastic Waste Reinvented as Art

Singapore’s signature light art festival will run from 9 March to 1 April 2018 with sustainability as a major theme. The showcase of 22 local and international light art installations will take place in Marina Bay and Esplanade Park.

Picture This Festival – Short Film Contest on Sustainability

Sony Pictures Television Networks And The United Nations Foundation Launch The Picture This Festival For The Planet To Showcase Emerging Filmmakers. Submissions For Films To Promote Sustainable Development Goals Close on 30 April 2018. 

Environmental & Social Responsibility at Singapore Writers Festival

Environmental & Social Responsibility at Singapore Writers Festival

From eco-poetry, social consciousness to civic imagination in the midst of dystopia, the Singapore Writers Festival had poets, writers, illustrators, filmmakers and literary critics come together to deal with urgent global and contemporary issues.

Environmental Commitment of Rainforest World Music Festival

From tree planting, recycling to food waste composting, Sarawak's headliner Rainforest World Music Festival is demonstrating commitment to reducing environmental impacts. A commentary by Mallika Naguran.

Having announced that it would “green the festival”, Sarawak Tourism Board began tree planting in 2010 that soon became a yearly affair. This typically involves getting participating musicians and members of the media to plant coastal seedlings or mangrove saplings in sensitive areas such as the Kuching Wetlands National Park under the guidance of local forestry department.

Commercial companies such as Shell and Petronas typically chip in as sponsors. At times we were asked to wear sponsor caps when posing for photos before getting our hands and feet muddy.

The Board has in the last two years moved on from mere tree planting (some called it green washing) to countering carbon emissions and waste management. I could not be happier, having frequently suggested and even proposed to assist with the greening of the festival since 2008. At media conferences, I posed questions to the organisers on the festival’s environmental impacts, not necessarily to put them in a spot but to urge responsible actions.

 Musicians and media of RWMF get into nature conservation at Kuching Wetland National Park in Sarawak, as part of the festival's environmental commitment.

Musicians and media of RWMF get into nature conservation at Kuching Wetland National Park in Sarawak, as part of the festival's environmental commitment.

I recall us journalists being horrified when an organiser beamed in responding to my question that the waste generated at the festival were not a problem at all as they were all sent for incineration, recyclables included! How things have changed.

A clear vision is needed to induce sustainability within the festival’s DNA instead of the current band aid treatment.

Why is it important to green RWMF? Borneo’s famous world music festival takes place within the forested area of Santubong and by the South China Sea - two areas with different ecosystems. Considering the scale of deforestation that has already taken place primarily due to the growth of oil palm plantation, Sarawak needs to safeguard its amazing wildlife that can only survive with natural habitats.

Moreover, hosting a mega event that draw 15,000 to 20,000 festival-goers yearly over three days have huge impacts in many ways – from the amount of energy, water and food consumed to the amount of waste generated (solid, liquid, non-recyclables), plastics manufactured (made from oil, chemicals and poison creatures when dumped in the forest or sea), to greenhouse gas emission (causing global warming).

Caution has to be made, however, on face value ‘green’ options. For instance, the use of shuttle buses to transport people from Kuching to Santubong is wonderful as it reduces car population and carbon emission. But powering up such shuttle buses with biofuel (a 2016 initiative) may not be a good idea. By avoiding fossil fuel, RWMF could indirectly encourage deforestation, fire-related carbon emission and land conflicts due to the use of palm oil in the fuel mix.

Sustainability is not confined to materials though. The social aspects of running a festival are integral to uphold local traditions, cultures, art and talent. This aspect is well taken care of as the venue of the festival itself—the Sarawak Cultural Village—epitomises the lifestyle of Sarawakian tribes at the various ethnic longhouses.

On top of that, booth spaces are allocated for local craftsmen and social entrepreneurs, including upcycled materials; Biji Biji handcrafted bags are made out of car seat belts, which are fashionable and friendly to Mother Nature.

New Measures to Tackle Waste

A new initiative seen in 2016 was the dealing of waste at the festival grounds—a first since RWMF began 19 years ago. Malaysian social enterprise Biji Biji was engaged to handle waste management, which involved the placement of bins for recyclables and food waste, the sorting of solid waste types, and public awareness.

 The Rainforest World Music Festival turns food waste into compost with the help of student volunteers.

The Rainforest World Music Festival turns food waste into compost with the help of student volunteers.

Along with 24 student volunteers, they collected waste bins for segregating, weighing and processing. Some of the food waste (195kg) was turned it into layering compost that went to a farmer in Kuching, while others (135kg) went to a worm farm. Under a partnership with Worming Up, food waste was fed to worms, which got plumped up with the fresh protein, and in turn fed to farmed chickens that end up on dining tables. Circular economy in action!  

Still there were problems in executing the plans, mostly by stallholders not fully understanding the need to segregate waste and by festival participants dumping waste in wrong bins. This meant that a greater amount of waste could have been saved from the landfill. This setback could be better handled if there were opportunities to educate stakeholders well in advance.

The Way Forward

Still, other areas need attention. Importantly, a clear vision is needed to induce sustainability within the festival’s DNA instead of the current band aid treatment. Comprehensive strategies should support this vision, tackling the full range of impacts in a number of ways—creative beyond conservative—with defined outcomes. The official website is also a good medium for education and to urge festival goers to act responsibly while having fun.

Will RWMF get greener on its 20th anniversary in 2017? “For this year, we have plans to work with our City Council for the simple reason that we want the involvement of the locals in this state event. Last year’s start on waste management was an eye opener and we were happy with the results. This also attracted the interest of the international community,” said Angeline Bateman, Events and Corporate Relations Director of Sarawak Tourism Board.

Bateman hits the nail on the head by seeking to engage communities in making RWMF greener. After all it would be in the interest of Sarawakians to have safe, healthy and ecologically vibrant places to live in. Making public sustainability plans and asking for feedback are good for transparency and community involvement. These are steps that ought to be taken before RWMF can sufficiently command fame as a responsible, world-class festival.

The writer is Gaia Discovery publisher and sustainability consultant. Photos by Mallika Naguran and Biji Biji.

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Culture, Nature, Social Enterprise at Rainforest World Music Festival 2016

Tai-Chi, Yoga, Fitness & Culture - Highlights of Rainforest World Music Festival 2017

Sarawak’s headliner tourism attraction – the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) – will include Tai-Chi, yoga, and other health and fitness activities. Music tourism. Cultural Tourism.

RWMF 2017: High-energy Abavuki and Kelele Bands from South Africa

Singapore, 5.6.17. South African bands Abavuki and Kelele will be performing at the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) on July 14 to 16 this year at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

This year will be the 20th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival since its humble beginnings in 1998 in Kuching, Sarawak. It will be an all-day event spanning three days, beginning with daytime mini sessions and ending with grand nightly performances. 

The festival’s presents music with roots and identity in the traditional and cultural content and the vastness of the world’s cultural and ethnic diversity in the art of music and dance.

The festival holds evenings of concert performances over on two outdoor stages, the Jungle and Tree Stages, which will alternate without any breaks with around 20 bands, each one distinctly unique from each other and yet playing seamlessly after another like a quilt stitched together, or a string of beads on a line, creating an incredible experience for the audience.

The indoor Theatre Stage is used for smaller chamber-style performers, giving a more intimate and classical feel for a seated audience. In the day, the mini sessions alone, which are held throughout the festival grounds in the traditional houses and halls of the Sarawak tribes.

This year, two strong South African authentic renditions by Abavuki and Kelele will take stage at RWMF.

About Abavuki

Abavuki, which means ‘Wake up, early birds!’ in the Xhosa language, provides energetic and multi-instrumental performances which mix traditional rhythms of the South African people as well as more modern styles of kwaito, samba and jazz.

Founded in 2001 and based in Cape Town, Abavuki’s high-energy afro-beat music reflects their optimistic outlook on life, music-making and the resilience of the South African people. Their albums are Decade, Live in China and African rhythms.

Watch this high-energy and highly rhythmic band perform Pata Pata at Afrkafestival.

About Kelele

Kelele is a minimal-instrument band with their voices as the focal instrument.

Keeping traditions alive with their melody and harmony, Kelele maintains the age-old African oral tradition of storytelling through song, passing on history, folktales and lessons in life over generations.

The melodic storytelling will be accompanied by these traditional instruments - the mbira dzavha dzimu (the finger piano), the uhadi (the traditional bow instrument of the AbeXhosa people), the umrhubhe (another bowed instrument) and the talking drum of the Nigerian Yoruba people.

South Africa is a country on the southernmost point of the African continent, with a multi-ethnic population with diverse language and culture.

Watch Kelele perform The Lion Sleeps Tonight, a track written in 1939 that was later popularised by The Lion King. Also known as Wimoweh, the song was first composed in Zulu. Original composer: Soloman Linda with the Evening Birds.

About RWMF2017

This year marks the 20th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival and will kick off with three days of all-day entertainment. The nightly open concert performances take place on two stages. During the day there will be musical shows that are more intimate and demonstrative where audience can join along using various creative expression. 

Here is the full performer lineup of the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017.


  • Achanak (India / UK)
  • Abavuki (South Africa)
  • At Adau (Sarawak)
  • Ba Cissoko (Ginuea)
  • Bitori (Cape Verde)
  • Calan (Wales)
  • Cimarron (Colombia)
  • Didier Laloy + Kathy Adam (Belgium)
  • Dom Flemons (Usa)
  • Hanggai (China)
  • Huw Williams (Wales)
  • Kelele (South Africa)
  • Okra Playground (Finland)
  • Pareaso (Korea)
  • Radio Cos (Spain)
  • Romengo (Hungary)
  • Spiro (UK)
  • Svara Samsara (Indonesia)
  • Taiwu Ancient Ballads Troupe (Taiwan)
  • The Chipolatas (UK/Australia)
  • Ilu Leto (Sarawak)
  • Sarawak Cultural Village (Sarawak)
  • 1511 O Maliao Maliao Dance Troupe (Malaysia)
  • Lan E Tuyang (Sarawak)
  • Tahiti E (Tahiti)
  • Saing Waing Orchestra (Myanmar)
  • The Paradise Bangkok Morlam International Band (Thailand)

Meet the performers in the interactive workshops that take place in the afternoons. What’s more, there will be health and wellness activities, food and craft markets, and traditional games. Sarawak Cultural Village, the venue of the festival, is popularly known as the ‘living’ museum which takes up a sprawling 17 acres of land at the foot of Mount Santubong, roughly 35km north of Kuching.

Watch what typically happens at the Rainforest World Music Festival, presented by Gaia Discovery.

How to get to Sarawak Cultural Village

Where to Stay during RWMF 2017

Festival tickets and updates are now available online or from the ticketing agents listed at, with pre-sale prices available until July 13.

RWMF is organised by Sarawak Tourism Board and supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia and Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia with Malaysia Airlines as presenting sponsor.

Natural Foods vs GMOs & Health at Ubud Food Festival

Food source and its impacts are as important as using consumer power to influence food ethics. Such views make up the political hot potatoes at Ubud Food Festival 2017, reports Kayti Denham for Gaia Discovery.

Bali, 15 June 2017. This year’s Ubud Food Festival, delicious as always, entertaining as ever, had an underlying current to it that was as pervading as that secret ingredient that chefs never share. In surprising and unsurprising ways, things were getting political.

Diana Von Cranach is a well-known face on the Bali food circuit, with her beautiful Northern Bali retreat Puri Ganesha Villas, her pioneering of raw food rijsttafels and her vision and provision of rawfoods and indigenous spices. Known as one of the island’s colourful and kind eccentrics, she brings a flash of beauty and laughter to any gathering and smiles abound. As it was with the panel The Language of Spices, accompanied by three other presenters, Helianti Hilman, Manjunath Mural and Arif Springs their discussion on the history of the Spice Trade was fascinating, what made it more so was Diana’s dire warning at the end.

The act of eating is very political. You buy from the right people, you support the right network of farmers and suppliers who care about the land and what they put in the food.
— Alice Waters - food crusader and activist

In a clear voice, she implored the audience to support the diversity of natural foods by signing up to Sum of Us – a popular public advocacy network to protest the Monsanto’s acquisition by the giant corporation Bayer. Monsanto has already wreaked havoc with its product Round Up and this latest merger could see the unregulated use of pesticides in the mega production of genetically engineered crops. Diana warned that if we do not act now, the ability to access natural foods, food produced without some form of interference will be greatly diminished. In a world where many struggle to survive the idea of ever available, viable crops may seem like a dream come true, the reality is that it has a far, far darker side.

 Handcrafted cheeses with local flavours such as durian at the Ubud Food Festival 2017

Handcrafted cheeses with local flavours such as durian at the Ubud Food Festival 2017

That side was presented by Tri Sutrisna, an emerging star of last year’s festival, in Artisanal vs Artificial an interactive tasting workshop that highlighted the work of his Balinese farming cooperative Wanaprasta. This cooperative now represents hundreds of Balinese farmers and produces fine charcuterie and cheese products using traditional and creative applications of process ( including his amazing durian cured cheeses!! ) and pitted these productsagainst the ‘commonly found’ supermarket products.

 Tri Sutrisna shares the spirit of farming and healthy food movement in the cooperative Wanaprasta of Bali.

Tri Sutrisna shares the spirit of farming and healthy food movement in the cooperative Wanaprasta of Bali.

The workshop began with a presentation on the production methods that began benignly enough, yes, we understand that a chicken that lives in the open air is going to have a better life than one in a coop, but what was revealed is not just that your average chicken for consumption is cooped up, it is also dosed to its blind eyeballs on drugs, pumped with chemicals and contained in a way that is cruelty in the extreme.

The list of ingredients that go into chickens, pigs and cows developed for meat is scary. Never mind the antibiotics, think for a moment about the chlorine baths and the bleaches to make that meat smooth and e.coli free and then imagine this, supermarket seafood is being fattened by the use of a suspected neurotoxin Sodium tripolyphosphate. It got a little mind boggling so it was something of a relief when Tri turned to the practical aspect of his presentation and invited us to try for ourselves the obvious benefits of eating well-cared-for life stock and naturally processed cheeses.

It was not strange that by this time no one was helping themselves to the alternatives of frankfurters, bacon and chicken nuggets that Tri had brought along to offer in contrast.

Politics of another nature was also in the air when Dylan Jones of Bo.Lan spoke to Gaia Discovery of the much-protested recent decision of the Thai Government to clean up the street food stalls of Bangkok’s inner city. Dylan had caused a little controversy in his adopted home city when his comments in the press were interpreted to be going against the fandom that surrounds the ubiquitous trade in street cuisine. Rather than being against it, he implied, that with regulation street food could be better, healthier and yes, while street food is a huge part of Thai daily life, shouldn’t it at least have the opportunity to be a healthier part, a cleaner part and more nutritious part?

Dylan explained that many of the ‘street food vendors’ are no longer actually making their food, rather they are buying it bulk, prepared from larger ‘wholesalers’ , cutting corners on costs to keep prices down and taking the quality down with them. This was cause for reflection what if by protesting the regulation of street food entire cities are being surreptitiously fed horrendous amounts of unregulated drugs and chemicals by a power crazed despotic leader - and that kickstarted a bleak dystopia where citizens become zombies without a voice, mute and unprotesting leading meagre lives of unclear meaning in urbanised industrial estates providing only the means for others to gain power, wealth and global dominance.

A nightmare of gargantuan proportions loomed, so to better the view a visit to the cocktail class was in order. And there under the stage lights was the most charming, non-verbal political protest of all. The young men of Locavore’s Night Rooster were wearing especially made t-shirts that noted their support of the recently jailed Governor of Jakarta.

Solidarity is in the kitchen… thank you Ubud Food Festival!

About the Ubud Food Festival

Founded in 2015, the Ubud Food Festival is a three-day culinary adventure that celebrates the archipelago’s rich culinary heritage and the entire spectrum of its food industry, from farmers and producers to world-class chefs and restaurants.

Ubud Food Festival is a major annual project of the Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati, with a vision of enriching the lives of Indonesians through community-building and cultural programmes.

Photos by Kayti Denham.

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How Sarawak Reforestation Gets a Boost From Musicians

Mallika Naguran represented Gaia Discovery in joining Rainforest World Music Festival musicians at planting new mangroves at the ecologically-sensitive Kuching Wetland National Park that has a sad history.

Culture, Nature, Social Enterprise at Rainforest World Music Festival 2016

From recycling to upcycling, Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 showed its commitment to lower environmental impacts while staging higher musical and social impacts on fans. Mallika Naguran hangs out at the event to bask in the festivity and deliver this report.