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Makepung: An Annual Colorful Bull Race Dedicated to Celebrate the Harvest!

Makepung: An Annual Colorful Bull Race Dedicated to Celebrate the Harvest!

The town of Negara is part of the island which is normally best known for being that last town before reaching the west exit of the island, Gilimanuk Port. West Bali is within the area of Jembrana regency, which over the years has made its efforts in improving the promotion of region's tourist attractions, surf spots and unique features it has to offer.


One of the things that Negara is famous for is this particular kind of race which involves lots of style (and without a doubt also freestyling!), bright colored ornaments, and.... lots of bulls! So many bulls, that you've most probably never seen that many bulls all hanging out in the same area at the same time. It's almost like the official annual bull and farmer gathering, but no, there is a better way of putting it; the iconic traditional celebration of Makepung, the bull race.

Negara is the only region on the island which has this bull race known as Makepung in their list of festivities. And though there are other areas in the Indonesian archipelago which also hold bull race festivals as part of their local tradition, the rules, style and all details of Makepung are simply different from any others.


Makepung is held each year to celebrate and give thanks for the harvest. The jockeys, who are almost exclusively farmers, are elegantly dressed and each bull is decorated with colorful ornaments, wooden bells and painted horns. They put on a parade, presenting their horned mounts to a cheering crowd of connoisseurs before the race. The jockeys steer bulls, hitched in pairs to a chariot, around a dirt track of about half a mile. The winner is not necessarily the first or the fastest as style is deemed very important too.


One of the details on the itinerary of this festival that's always there is the ‘jegog' traditional gamelan along with the Jegog dance performed by the local young girls from the area.

Every year, this harvest inspired celebration attracts hundreds of people from around the region. However the number of tourists coming to this event is still considered pretty rare, while this race is actually awesome in the way that it is quite different from most Balinese traditions, and that it also has a hint of a Javanese touch in it! That acculturation makes perfect sense considering Java is just a 45-minute ferry ride away!


Negara is over 90 kilometers from Denpasar; making it an approximate of 3 hours driving through the busy road leading to the Bali - Java port. Keep in mind that the roads leading up to this area is filled with huge trucks and buses that are on the most aggressive mode that you might have seen in Bali. But to experience West Bali is totally worth the drive!


The races are held early in the morning, thus your best option would be to drive west the evening before, and stay overnight. While you can't count on checking yourself in to fancy hotels, you will definitely manage to find a decent accommodation not far from the venue!


The biggest upcoming event is the Bupati Cup (Bupati translates into Regent) which will be held on Sunday, August 14, 2016, at the Kaliakah Village Circuit. There are several smaller events leading up to the Bupati Cup, and the dates can be checked out on the West Bali Regional Government website, on

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October, 2017
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