Wonderfruit is Thailand’s game-changing celebration of music, art, and ideas
Returning to The Fields at Siam Country Club in Pattaya for its fourth annual outing this December, Wonderfruit is variously described as: one of Asia’s biggest music festivals; a food fiesta; a salute to cutting-edge art and design; an all-out rager; a smashing wellness retreat; or an offbeat family getaway (depending on whom you ask). And that suits its founder and organizer, Pranitan ‘Pete’ Phornprapha, just fine.
Festival attendees, termed ‘Wonderers’, may come for myriad reasons, but Pete’s main aim for the four-day outing is to build awareness around sustainability.
“Today, we’re inundated with so much information on environmental issues that it can cause even the best-intentioned person to feel stuck on how to proceed,” he says. “By infusing innovative ideas into familiar themes like music, art, and fashion, we hope to show how living with a positive impact on our surroundings can actually be fun and easy.”
The ambitious project includes building sensational structures and stages that use renewable and recycled materials, pledging a plastics-free place, and maintaining onsite farming and water filtration systems to provide free water, biodegradable cups and bottles—all of which makes Wonderfruit a net carbon-positive event.
But how, I ask, as my skeptical mind conjures up the image of a trash-strewn landscape post party; a party attended by 10,000 people not just from Thailand but the world over! While Pete and his team agree that the event itself isn’t 100 percent emission-free, they spend significant time and effort, even hiring a third party consultant, to accurately determine the festival’s overall carbon footprint and work to minimize and offset it, whether it’s investing in a bioreserve in Borneo, or planting trees in Myanmar through an innovative cryptocurrency developed in conjunction with Swiss fintech company Lykke. It’s esoteric stuff, and I can’t pretend I understand it all, but Wonderfruit promises plenty of workshops for even laymen like me to be educated and, better yet, engaged.
However, the mind enriching stuff is subtly folded into the layer cake, and the immediate attraction is, of course, the cream that lures the cats—Wonderfruit’s fantastic lineup of live music. Pete and his partner, Montonn ‘Jay’ Jira, take this to another level and offer not a pop music platform, but rather a bona fide base for discovering phenomenal global acts that fly just shy of the mainstream radar. Performers such as singer-songwriter Izzy Bizu, and indie rock band Wild Beasts come to mind, not to mention the much anticipated hip hop artist Roots Manuva and veteran techno DJ Richie Hawtin, among others. Award-winning British sensations Rudimental and Lianne La Havas are acts that have graced the Wonderfruit stage in prior years, and while some names on the upcoming roster are unfamiliar to me, they’re fast becoming my playlist favourites.
Wonderfruit is the place to discover new music, an idea furthered by the fantastic Intermission project run by Howie B—legendary producer to the likes of U2 and Björk—who auditions and develops bands from Thailand and gives them a platform in between the bigger names.
Another of the festival’s pillars is culinary, and this year sees the return of crowd favourites Morimoto and Straight Otta Thonglor, with a curated range of celebrity chefs and street food vendors also holding court. Children are also welcome to attend Wonderfruit and ‘Camp Wonder’ is their dedicated venue, which by deliberate design is kept separate from higher octane offerings like the late night party pavilion ‘The Quarry’, designed by renowned Marvel artist Adam Pollina.
This unique celebration of life with its pioneering pursuits takes place from December 14th to 17th, so pack your fruit-themed fashions, book a tent or an RV, and join the party that promises to overhaul the planet, one Wonderer at a time.
By Rianka Monkha