Probably the most anticipated festival in Sarawak, The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2022 is an annual music festival that brings people together in the world of music.
Held for three consecutive days from 17 – 19 June, RWMF 2022 gives you all the best experiences with music workshops, cultural displays, art and craft displays, food stalls, and exciting evening concerts.
Musicians from around the world gather at our beloved state of Sarawak to display and share their passion, from traditional music from Sapeh (a traditional lute) to contemporary music with bands.
RWMF has been awarded the festival 25 of the Best International Festivals for six consecutive years from 2010 to 2015.
We had the greatest opportunity to volunteer as fellow Sarawakians and Kuchingnites for The Rainforest World Music Festival 2022.
History of RWMF
The idea of RWMF was proposed by a Canadian musicologist after witnessing a great performance of Sape, a traditional lute played mainly by the Kayan and Kenyah people of Sarawak in 1997.
The first festival happened in 1998 after being approved by Sarawak Tourism Board with a total of 300 people.
Located in the Sarawak Cultural Village which is a 45-minute drive from town, first-time visitors are able to experience and learn about the history and culture of Sarawak.
Our cultural village showcases many traditional houses for both overseas and local visitors to enjoy their time and stay.
Our favourite traditional house is most probably the traditional Iban longhouse which allows us to observe traditional practices by a local practitioner. They are also very passionate to introduce their lifestyle and culture to every visitor.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, The Rainforest World Music Festival 2022 is now a major annual event, holding more than 20,000 people locally, from other Malaysian states and even abroad!
This family-friendly event prides itself on providing the best hospitality and unique workshops for everyone’s enjoyment.
This was definitely our most highlighted event of 2022 as we got to volunteer with HAUS KCH – an art collective organisation and creative hub that focuses on “spotlighting” the best potential of our local artists.
Although we have experienced the awe of RWMF in the previous years, being a part of such a festival gave us more than just happiness and satisfaction; it gave us fulfilment.
Even by means of getting up before 7am, having breakfast along the way, and the pain of finding a parking spot; the end result was all worth it!
Our volunteer at the HAUS KCH booth changed many perspectives, even as a local. The close-knit relationship of the arts community in Kuching puts a bright smile and a proud heart.
Located just opposite the arts and crafts area, we were put in charge of selling second-hand books and merchandise made by local artists.
We were met with this amazing scenery for three consecutive days. The soft chirping of insects, the live music during the day, the wide smiles of every passer-by; the reminiscence still takes us back to those days.
The crowd definitely overfilled on the second day, being it a Saturday and the start of a weekend. We met many people from different cities, from the city of Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and England.
We were overwhelmed by the passion and warm smiles of everyone as we enjoy our time at the festival.
From an aunty at the hawker stall, a jewellery designer at the crafts booth, a security guard making his rounds, to a volunteer of the festival management; it was truly an event to be remembered.
What can be improved
As much as we would like to say the event was perfect, it still has some downsides. The number one frustration is probably the ban on volunteers at the main stage.
This came as a shock to us as we were all promised free admission for music performances as our reward for being a part of this festival. Instead, we were held back at security and were requested to leave. That was the first day.
Many volunteers complained and voiced their disappointment to the management. Despite that, we had hoped that the ban would evoke for the second and third day. Alas, it did not.
We were still not allowed to enter the main stage. We took a bit of advice and sneaked inside for a mere glimpse of one performance before leaving with a heavy heart.
On our last day, we were finally allowed access to the main stage, thanks to access bands given to us by our friends, and partied our hearts out before the end of our weekend.
The live music performance ended at the stroke of midnight with all musicians bowing on stage. The encore and screams were endless. We joined HAUS KCH at the after-party on a beach at Damai Central.
Our feedback to the event management is definitely to elevate the rules and regulations equally to management and volunteers so we do not get different information and cause confusion.
They should also maintain the promise of allowing volunteers to participate in the live music performance which has been done for the past 25 years.
The transportation to the event also needs some improvement. Although we commuted by car, we received much feedback from other volunteers and visitors regarding the inconvenience of bus transportation into Sarawak Cultural Village. Some volunteers were also asked to pay a hefty amount.
We understand the tradition of holding the RWMF in Sarawak Cultural Village which gives the best stay and space for every activity. We do not want to request more parking lots, but it is a necessity.
To end our weekend volunteering experience, there were no regrets. All the sweat and body aches were worth every bit.