Wonderfruit Signals Major Growth in Thailand's Fest Scene
It all started with the pillars. As the festival came together in 2014, organizers at Wonderfruit made the conscious decision to structure its vent around six pillars: Arts, Music, Farm to Feasts, Health & Wellness, Talks & Workshops and Natural Adventures. As a multi-sensory experience, the festival benefits greatly from this socially conscious focus, and as a result, emerges as a destination festival in Thailand – the motherland of destination travel for backpackers and expats alike.
An hour south of Bangkok, Pattaya is an interesting choice of locale considering its less-than-savory reputation amongst Thai locals. However, once we passed through handcrafted wooden archways to enter the grounds, it was a different world, a feast of tasty sights and sounds. You would've had to be staring at your feet to not notice the impressive attention to detail: Nearly every structure was bedecked in charming strings of lights, bright local Thai patterned fabric (especially the Soi Stage), and conscious efforts to include sustainable materials.
Earthy production design paired with a well-curated roster of interactive experiences brought the six pillars to life. When we weren't taking in excellent sets from Submotion Orchesta, Electro Guzzi, Com Truise, and The Lucent Dossier Experience (Mos Def would have made this list, but had a last-minute cancellation), we were sitting benchside at the Wonder Feasts, scarfing down the culinary art offered up from chefs Bo and Dylan of Bo. Lan, learning how to hoop and spin poi at the Samui Circus Camp tent, get a haircut at the barbershop, or learning about textile cultures and fabric dyeing traditions inside the Artisan Market.
For the less hedonistically inclined who require a break from days on the lake and late nights in The Quarry, there was ground running with Team Farang, climbable structures and ping pong in The Playground, and Camp Wonder, with face painting and obstacle courses specifically for the kids. Never crowded, the fest was set up to let us amble at our own pace between performances and activities. Thankfully, there was no being herded like cattle from crowded stage to crowded stage, and, despite a lack of shade, chill zones were strategically built around the grounds to enjoy on your way to the next workshop or speaker series.
As big ideas behind festival culture in Thailand continue to develop, these were some of our favorite pictures from the festival.