by Thanita Phuvanatnaranubala
Photos by Renata Landolt
An empty golf course in Pattaya, Thailand, blossoms to life once a year to host Wonderfruit: a celebration of music, arts, sustainability, and all other magical things. This year, Wonderers gathered from across the globe to fully ’Live, Love, Wonder’ in this zero-carbon weekend.
Wonderfruit is half an hour from central Pattaya, and is drivable, taxi-able and bus-able from both Pattaya and Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. Wonderers can set weekend headquarters in the general camping ground, treat themselves to a boutique tent, or rock up in an RV. There’s also a shuttle service from central Pattaya, for those staying in one of Pattaya’s beach-side hotels.
THINGS TO DO
Though Wonderfruit is a 4-day festival, the experience fully kickstarted Friday. There was plenty to explore in the Fields: awe-inspiring sculptures and interactive art pieces dotted across the ground, and while wandering you could end up painting bits on a collaborative canvas, or making dreamcatchers.
Or listen to sounds of nature at WonderRoost.
At Thailand Young Farmers’s project FARMacy, you could make your own remedial scented inhaler: a personalised mixture of nice-smelling herbs with medicinal properties. It’s a perfect pick-me-up perfume for the hangovers you’re sure to get over the weekend.
Living Stage was the grand main stage, where great local and international acts started from late afternoon. As the sun set, crowds gathered at Solar Stage, a cozy chill-and/or-party space with climbable structures, huge hammocks/trampolines for lounging, and plenty of ground for dancing. But the party kicked off hardest 10 minutes walk away from the main ground at The Quarry – an oasis of rave, with majestic flower designs and mesmerizing light projections. Here, world-class DJs and their hypnotizing beats took Wonderers into the night, before they wandered back at sunrise for more at Solar Stage.
Everyone’s gotta eat, and Wonderfruit offered a range of freshly cooked local, international and fusion foods. Once fuelled, you were free to explore the ‘arts’ side of the festival with painting, carving, screen-printing and ceramics workshops, or join the party already starting at Forbidden Fruit. Those looking to work up a sweat or wind down the soul entered Wonder Garden, the health sanctuary for wellness ventures such as yoga, massages, and healing breathing.
At Farm Stage and Rainforest Pavilion, local and international pioneers inspired Wonderers with talks on diverse topics, from sustainability to cryptocurrency. At Wonder Salon, fashionistas were scouting out the boutique shops or getting their game face(paint)s on. Beyond the big stages, which were fun business as usual, Shack Fruit offered a tranquil corner where diverse live acts played in an intimate atmosphere.
If you’d rather explore the festival on wheels, you could grab a majestic horse-bike for joyride. If you fancied some really good food, join the banquet at Theatre of Feasts, where acclaimed chefs delivered special set menus just for the festival. Wondering how you’re contributing to society? Explore the sustainability pavilion to see Wonderfruit’s environmental impact so far.
There are many beautiful and comfy bars to lounge in, and many delicious, rare traditional Thai drinks to try. Those wanting a complete Thai experience later merged at Molam Bus, where local bands played traditional Thai folk/country rock. And if you’re looking for more places to dance, you’re welcomed at ALTN8, where LED light shows and dance/electronic DJs joined forces to create the ultimate party experience.
Wonderfruit’s biggest charm is its openness to music of all genres interesting. From local pop star Singto Namchok wooing the crowd with classic hits, to Richie Hawtin hypnotizing the night with nonstop house beats, here are some notable mentions from the Fields this year:
Rasmee: The soulful songstress’s powerful vocals, backed by her playful stage presence and funky traditional Thai instruments, got the audience dancing, chanting, and all else in between.
Stoic: This local Thai folk/post rock band’s epic instruments, thoughtful lyrics and sad cello drove home the transcendent realization that life is pain but life is beautiful.
Roots Manuva: Roots and his crew got us all jumping with fun stage antics and a swagger-filled performance, breathing old school hip-hop to life.
Nerve: Jojo Mayer’s amazing drums led the mesmerized audience through a jazz/electronica journey. The set was at times dancey, at times intense, at times transcendent, and always awesome.
So what brings faces, old and new, to Wonderfruit each December? Maybe it’s the intriguing mix of amazing music. Or the burst of creativity, seen in everything from epic stage designs to the activities on offer. Maybe it’s the uniqueness of music, art, sustainability, ideas and cultures colliding to form a one-of-a-kind experience.
Wondering if you should join this year? Wonder no longer. Limited pre-early bird tickets are available now until 10th January. Get yours here.