By Thanita and Kanin Phuvanatnaranubala
December winds are bringing in the annual blossoming of Wonderfruit, the music and art festival in Pattaya, Thailand. From 14th-17th December, The Fields of Siam Country Club is transforming into a living playground for musicians, artists, and attendees alike.
But what makes this playground unique isn’t just the spectacular aesthetics of the site, the wide array of awe-inspiring music from all genres by local and international artists, or its eco-conscious approach to one of the best party weekends in Asia. Rather, it is the palpable positivity and revolutionary energy that the Wonderfruit team brings to the event, and their passion which seeps into the creative and welcoming community it attracts.
Curious as to how Wonderfruit came to be, and what Wonderers can expect this year? In this exclusive interview with FestivalSquad, the Wonderfruit team shares their origins, efforts to create sustainable environmental impact, and much more.
FestivalSquad: How did the first Wonderfruit come about?
Wonderfruit: The spark for Wonderfruit came in 2012 when our founder Pete was working on the environmental project, THINK EARTH, which advocates social responsibility and sustainability. It struck him that a festival will be a great medium to promote these pressing issues, as everyone can relate to arts, music and having fun. If we can tie a sense of social consciousness to it, then it will be positively disruptive, and worth doing. That’s why when you come to Wonderfruit you’ll see structures made from sustainable materials, workshops about composting, talks on generating zero waste, and much more.
FS: What kind of community do you want to create in Wonderfruit?
W: Community is really important to us. Wonderfruit is our platform and we use it to bring together a community of socially conscious creative people who are interested in making a positive impact.
FS: With going green being the concept of the festivals for the past years, banning plastic bottles and such, how has Wonderfruit impacted the environment so far and how important it is for Wonderfruit to encourage eco-conscious?
W: In our first two years, we made biodegradable water bottles available for all guests and insisted our food vendors use recyclable plates. We use a water filtration system throughout the site, pumped from a natural lake. We used natural and recyclable materials in our build, to create structures around The Fields. We also made a social and artistic statement with our venue Farm Stage, which was decorated with rice from local farmers’ yields. Also, we offset the event’s carbon emissions by investing in Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park in Myanmar.
This December, we’re going a step further by banning single-use plastics and offering incentives for Wonderers who use our stainless steel reusable cups. We’re encouraging our vendors to compost their food waste and not only are we planting a mangrove tree for every drink bought during “Tree Hour”, but we’re creating an art piece that will track our collective progress during the event. Our environmental journey so far will be available for everyone to explore in the Sustainability Pavilion.
FS: We feel Wonderfruit has such unique “sound” with bands from all sorts of genres. How do you select the bands for the festival?
W: Festival founders Montonn and Pete work with director Jason Swamy on music curation, and the direction they’ve established is that the music should be unique and diverse, not necessarily relying on headliners. They have a formula which tries to strike the right balance of bands, DJs and other acts all on the right stages. It’s the hardest part of the programming, for sure.
FS: What are the things you can only see – or the strangest thing you’ve seen/heard of – at Wonderfruit?
W: At Wonderfruit, anything goes, so there’s plenty of things you’ll see and experience there that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
FS: What are some new things we can look forward to this year, or what do you look forward to the most?
W: This year, we have almost all new content across our six pillars – Music, Arts, Family, Farm to Feasts, Talks & Workshops, Wellness & Adventures. Returning items — like the Solar Stage designed by Gregg Fleishman last year — will be evolved for this year. The Farm is being developed by Thailand Young Farmers, to become FARMacy: they’re growing organic, remedial plants for Wonderers to explore and discover the healing power of nature. Scratch Talks is also looking really exciting for December, with some incredible speakers, from Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes to Dianna Cohen – the co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition.
It is no wonder (pun intended) that Wonderfruit has become such a phenomenon in not only Thailand, but also Asia’s festival scene. As the team is breathing life into The Fields of Pattaya’s Siam Country Club, Wonderers from across the world are preparing for a weekend of eye-opening and extraordinary experiences. Care to join our community this 14th-17th December? Get your tickets here