Solo together with Yogyakarta are the two main centres of Javanese culture and tradition. Thanks to ISI - Institut Seni Indonesia, Solo’s well-known art school and Taman Budaya Jawa Tengah, the local art centre, there is a very rich cultural life in Solo. Mainly for dance, traditional and contemporary, Solo is leading in Indonesia.
Carnivals - Thanks to the personal mission of Solo's former mayor Jokowi, who rebranded and promoted Solo as "The Spirit of Java", a Javanese culture and heritage centre, batik capital, and tourist-friendly city, there are regular special themed, very colourful carnivals along Jl. Slamet Riyadi; like the Batik Carnival and Wayang Orang Carnival.
Art performances can be seen at:
Taman Budaya Jawa Tengah, Jl. Ir Sutami 75, Kentingan
Teater Besar ISI Surakarta, Jl. Ki Hajar Dewantoro, Kentingan
Unfortunately their PR is not that professional, so sometimes it is difficult to know when performances are taking place – best is to follow “Agenda Solo” on Instagram or to drop in from time to time and see the posters at the black board in front of the theatre at Taman Budaya.
Museum Danar Hadi show casts an exquisite private collection of 10 000 plus Batik pieces, antiques and modern. A must see for every enthusiast of the traditional art of hand made batik, Jl. Slamet Riyadi 261.
Museum Tumurum In this private Museum founded and sponsored by Sritex you can find a small but exquisite collection of modern Indonesian Art. Entry is free but you have to make an appointment in advance, Jl. Kebangkitan Nasional No.2/4, Sriwedari (www.tumurunmuseum.com)
Traditional Dance - Every Wednesday morning from 9:30 until about mid-day the dancers of Soeryo Soemirat, the classical Javanese dance school that is part of the Mangkunegaran palace, rehearse Javanese court dances in the Pendopo accompanied by the meditative sounds of the royal gamelan orchestra. The palace is on Jl. Ronggowarsito. It has three entrances, one from the west, east and south. The Pendopo is in the central courtyard; you cannot miss it. Watching the dance rehearsals is free and open to anyone. If you are interested in a guided tour of the palace; there are English, German, Dutch and Japanese speaking guides available who will show you around for a small fee.
Festivals - Every two years is the Solo International Ethnic Music Festival and alternating the Solo International Performance Art Festival, both are 3 to 4 days long art events featuring local and international programs. Information and schedules will be broadcastet through FB and Instagram.
Wayang Kulit – once a month, on malam Jumat Kliwon according to the traditional Javanese calendar, there is a Wayang Kulit performance at the Pendopo of Taman Budaya. It starts at 9:00 PM and goes on until around 4:00 AM the next morning. Note: malam Jumat Kliwon means that the event is on the evening before, as traditionally the day already starts at 6:00 PM in the evening!
Wayang Orang – is the traditional theatre showing scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana using human actors instead of shadow puppets. There are performances on Monday to Saturday at 8:00 PM at Sriwidari Park along Jl. Slamet Riyadi.