Attracting audiences in excess of 30,000 people annually, The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in Sarawak is one of the largest music festivals in Malaysia. With a program that includes music workshops, cultural displays, craft displays, food stalls and main-stage evening concerts; RWMF is definitely not to be missed if you’re travelling in the region during the summer months.
Founded by Canadian Randy Raine-Reusch, Robert Basiuk (the former head of the Sarawak Tourism Board), and the dynamic duo that are the Ong brothers (Edric and Edgar) in Kuching in 1997, the festival has attracted World Music notables like Tarika Be, Ross DalyJoey Ayala, Shooglenifty, Inka Marka, Rajery, Black Umfolosi, Huun Huur, Cynthia Alexander, Te Vaka, Namgar, Peatbog and the Faeries. Despite recent increases in security and speculation that the event has outgrown its current location (hopeful fans have been turned away at the gate on several occasions), RWMF was named one of the Top 25 Best International Festivals by Songlines Magazine in 2011.
This year’s program includes Malaysian acts like Zee Avi, Hata, Rhythm of Borneo, Samuel Dass & Prakash and Diplomats of Drum. The traditional, nomadic musical act known as Khusugtun represents Mongolia, and the multi-generational group Le Trio Joubran promises to make Palestine proud. Other noteworthy acts include the French brass band La Zikabilo, the Spanish percussionists Oreka Tx and the extraordinarily talented Czech group, Cankisou.
The best way to take advantage of all that the festival has to offer is to purchase a three-day pass (July 13-15).