Now on its junior year, the Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand has already made its unique brand of merry-making—ecological, sustainable, and above all, fun. Down to its musical line-up, arts and lights installations, food, and outdoor activities for groups and families alike, the organizers’ meticulous curation earned them a spot side by side the Glastonbury Festival in United Kingdom, Roskilde in Denmark, Coachella in United States, and Malasimbo Festival here in the Philippines. It’s been coined as the first “Lifestyle Festival in Asia,” and definitely a trip worth going to.
Held annually in Pattaya, one may not expect an eco-friendly festival in the heart of the country’s “sin city,” but a after 30-minute cab or shuttle ride from downtown, lays a tropical beach town with sprawling hills where the festival is set. For four days, the green fields of Siam Country Club are filled to the brim with art, food, activities, and, of course, music.
If it’s going to be your first time in the festival, expect an overall simulation of the senses. And if it’s going to be your first time in a lifestyle festival, don’t expect a rowdy set-up and do away with earthly debauchery. If anything, Wonderfruit is an unexpected treat.
More than anything else, Wonderfruit is a call to arms. The whole festival coalesces into creating a sustainable and eco-friendly environment. Organizers pledged to invest in Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, a rich ecosystem in Indonesia, with the help of those who will participate in the event. Unlike other festivals, no plastics are allowed inside the grounds. There will also be numerous talks from sustainable innovators all over the globe, including social entrepreneur Paula Miquelis with her talk “How to Turn Garbage into Gold,” Eddie Agamos of Tao Philippines, and David Gaveau, who will teach us a thing or two on how our purchases contribute to deforestation. Each station promotes strong awareness on how we destroy the planet, and in turn, how we can save and nurture what we have left.
Intricate sculptures and towering architecture outline the whole festival. In Wonderfruit, you can literally point and shoot. Each space is engulfed in different themes actualized by world-class artists. From stages inspired by Thailand’s own cultural sites to interactive “rainforest pavilions” that lets you experience the sounds of the Sumatran rainforest, the festival itself has paved way to a unique art exhibit. Of course, no Wonderfruit is complete without visiting “The Quarry,” the underground destination where DJs all over the region are set to perform. The giant architecture has become the event’s landmark, being the scene where festival guests enjoy the after-hours under incredible lights, bamboos and leaf formations.
Feast over the “Theatre of Feasts.” Even the festival’s banquet hall is an eye candy. The “Theatre of Feasts” is strategically located at the highest point of the fields so festivalgoers can enjoy the view of the Pattaya sunset over their meals. The place to eat is as satisfying as what to eat, as banquets are prepared by the likes of David Thompson of Nahm (formerly named Asia’s No. 1 chef), Gaggan Anand of Gaggan (Asia’s Best Restaurant for 2015 and 2016) and award-winning mixologist Shingo Gokan (owner of Speak Low in Shanghai). If communal eating doesn’t suit your taste, stalls scattered all over the grounds offer an array of gourmet and street food—all inspired by Thai cuisine with a twist. Marcel’s will be serving Thai food with Parisian magic, while Morimoto’s will be incorporating its Japanese roots. Authentic pizza from Peppina paired with Rocketfruit’s drinks is a must-try. Don’t forget Thyme if you’re into European cuisine.
Immerse yourself in Thailand’s great outdoors. What makes Wonderfruit different among other festivals are the different activities one can indulge in aside from the music. Festivalgoers can try parkour with Thailand’s famous free runners, Team Farang. You can bike the trails of Pattaya’s fields with an amazing biodiversity as backdrop. There is also a bowl ramp from OVERSTAND available for art lovers and skaters. And if you’re looking for more thrill, one can hitch a ride with Pilot George and his team in an exhilarating flight in their mini aircraft. For yoga enthusiasts, numerous meditation and healing workshops are waiting—all these under the tropical sun.
It’s a family event. Wonderfuit goes back to the principal ethos of festivals. More than assembling bands and putting up scaffolds for lights, it brings an experience built on sustainability, relationships, and exploration. In the grounds, it’s common to see children on body paint while enjoying a storytelling or a photography walk. It veers away from the usual orgy of drugs happening in the craze and daze of festivals, and actually promotes the opposite. The four-day pilgrimage promotes camaraderie than exclusivity, biodiversity over monoculture.
And of course, the music. The genre-bending lineup caters to diverse musical taste. To be exact, there will be 31 performers coming from nine different countries with Jess Connelly, Lustbass, and Red-i representing the Philippines. Be it jazz, house, electronic, techno, RnB, hip-hop, rock, reggae, dub or indie, audiophiles will have their fill.
If you’re worried about accommodations, there are specific locations where participants can camp and, of course, glamp (glamorous camping). Some hotels outside Siam Grounds are also in partnership with the organizers, so those who prefer a room can enjoy a discount. Groups can also pitch their own tents in the grounds or park their RVs.
Don’t worry about being in isolation, as basic amenities are provided. There will be first aid assistance, lockers for valuables, drinking water refilling stations, charging stations, ATMs, parking, and a general store for other needs. See you guys there!