Baliem Valley Cultural Festival is the oldest festival that performs Papuan art and culture for 27 years. It is held in Jayawijaya, Papua. As we know, the natural beauty of Papua has always been the main attraction for nature lovers. Similarly, the uniqueness of Papuan art and culture that has always been an attractive tourist destination.
The main attractions of Baliem Valley Cultural Festival is the re-enactment of tribal war. It is commemorated as one of the cultural tradition of tribes in the Highlands Region that has long been abandoned. The performance of tribal war re-enactment is represented with various background stories of tribal war and beautified by traditional costumes, accessories, ornaments, body paints, dance and musical instruments.
The festival is also enlivened by a lot of attractions and competitions such as traditional dances, Bakar Batu (steam pit cooking and feasting) attraction, Noken weaving Competition, pig race competition, Papuan traditional mouth harp performance — Pikon’s competition, Papua traditional flute — Witawo’s competition, Papua traditional game called Sikoko and Puradan, and carnival of decorated vehicles that can be participated by young to elderly Papuan people.
Noken weaving competition is interesting because is it is a unique hand knitted bag made from tree roots or tree barks. The most unique character of the Noken is its way of using it. Noken is not draped over the shoulder or being carried by hand, but it’s being draped on the head. Noken has been acknowledged by UNESCO as an “intangible cultural heritage”.
Another attraction that is no less interesting, there are two competitions that can be participated by tourists which are the traditional archery competition and traditional spear throwing competition. Many tourists have been found enjoying and fully immersed in the experience of Baliem valley cultural festival with these competitions.
Baliem Valley Cultural Festival is not only enjoyed by Baliem Valley residents but also by all Papuan people from 40 districts in Jayawijaya. Contributions are also made from several dance studios from districts like Yahukimo, Lanny Jaya, Tolikara and Yalimo with their diversity of traditional clothes and accessories.
This festival has become very famous among foreign tourists. A wide variety of vehicles and hotel accommodation has been prepared for the tourists, and it is no surprise for the people of Wamena to welcome tourists who annually come to attend this Baliem Valley Cultural Festival.
Department of Cultural and Tourism of Jayawijaya has made this festival as an annual government program. This was done for highlighting and preserving the cultural diversity of Hubula tribe — the origin of unique customs and local knowledge that has always been held in high esteem as a form of tribute to their ancestors. In addition, this festival has developed a creative economy based on the performing arts, accelerating the development and management of tourism areas, speed up the development of information and communication access, rapid development of transportation access, as well as increasing the number of tourists and investors nationwide.