It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Wonderfruit, the annual Thai festival held in the fields of Siam Country Club Pattaya that celebrates art, music and conscious living. After attending the last installment and interviewing founder and creative director Pete Phornprapha, it seemed like the festival couldn't come quick enough. The four-day event finally took place over the weekend and I'm glad to report that it didn't disappoint.
While the passing of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej affected some acts and attendance numbers due to the postponement from December to February, the Wonderfruit team made up for any changes with a round-the-clock schedule of activities, art, food and entertainment. There was also a Wonderfruit app, which came in handy for planning and tracking last-minute changes.
Music played at almost every hour of the day, blasting out from various stages, sound installations and even the food and fashion vendors, who hosted live acts and DJs for an all-rounder experience. Besides dancing, there were plenty of activities to awaken the body, from having a gong bath to practicing yoga and martial arts. Many opted to slather themselves in body art and face paint, while others used their body as a tool for art by taking part in a breast-casting and painting workshop.
Here's why you should make Wonderfruit part of your festival calendar:
1. Festival fashion never fails Festival gear has become synonymous — for better for worse — with Native American headdresses and kimonos, but we have to give props to punters who stand out in style. We love saluting the brave and the bold who express their personal style in fringe, feathers and (faux) fur, as well as mothers who pass on their savviness onto their little ones.
2. There's something new to learn everyday With lessons in pottery, how to live a zero waste lifestyle or painting spirals as a meditative practice, there were plenty of opportunities to learn something new or unleash your creativity at the multiple workshops and talks that happened throughout the day.
3. Discovering Thailand's creative force In the words of its founder, "Wonderfruit isn't a music festival". The music is more of a response to the overall atmosphere they intended to create. Being Thai, a fair amount of the lineup featured Thai artists performing a range of musical styles from rock to traditional folk songs and electronica.
4. It's a feast for the appetite Some of Bangkok's most popular and trendy F&B outlets like Cocotte, Gaggan and Rocket were on board to serve their signature favourites alongside straight up Thai street food. Variety is everything — you could take your pick from banquet style multi-course feasts, food trucks and kitschy street stalls.
5. There's a little bit of home Singapore represent! Besides the 700 guests who flew in from Singapore (the second largest nationality of attendees after the Thais), we had several Singapore-based DJs doing us proud on the Wonderfruit lineup, including Shigeki, Dodgy Yamamoto, Zig Zach, Maurice Simon, KFC and Cats On Crack.
6. Art installations are major Serving as inspiration, Instagram background and navigation points, the art installations change depending on the time of day. In a nod to sustainability, most were made of recycled materials.
7. Spectacular sunsets to write home about One of the best parts of Wonderfruit is its natural beauty. With sunsets and sunrise points abound, there were opportunities to witness a majestic start and end to each day. With the moon hanging low and bright in the sky, I initially mistook it for one of the festival's art installations.
8. If you like to dance hard, journey to The Quarry A 10-minute walk away from the main grounds is where you'll find the Quarry, home to the heavier side of electronica at Wonderfruit. Dark, pulsating and encircled by trees, you can dance into oblivion, pulled further into an other-worldly rapture by the fire and performance artists who moved around the dancefloor.
9. Retail therapy made it complete To me, Thai fashion designers are the leaders in the region when it comes to colourful, creative and expressive fashion, reflected in the curation of stores at Wonderfruit/ The array of accessories and clothes made it simple for guests to go from staid to parade with one swift outfit or headdress change.
10. Solar Stage hosted the best parties While every stage or tent had its own look, feel and programming, many of the best parties this year took place at the Solar Stage, which held theirs at sunset, kicking things off again from 4am till well after sunrise. Adding to the atmosphere this year were the light projections and tiered level pyramid staging, which allowed party goers to groove and hang off all sides, welcoming the sunshine.
Wonderfruit Festival took place in Pattaya, Thailand from 16 to 19 February 2017.