Chonburi Province, a two-hour drive south of Bangkok and the site of the Wonderfruit Festival. Courtesy Wonderfruit Festival.

Dec 15 2014

“Wonderfruit” Extravaganza Offers Thai Twist on the Campover Music-and-Arts Festival

by Brian Mertens

Pop music festivals have long served as a pillar sustaining Thailand’s scrappy art scene, giving artists an ever-needed way to reach new audiences, earn income and experiment beyond gallery venues, often in collaboration with local deejays and musicians.

Now an extravagant new event will raise the local ante in terms of variety, funding, curatorial direction, audience breadth and international reach. Billed as “a journey through the arts,” the Wonderfruit Festival is a three-day outdoor bacchanalia being held on December 19–21 in the foothills of Chonburi Province, a two-hour drive south of Bangkok.

Shaping up as Thailand’s retort to the Burning Man festival of the United States or the United Kingdom’s Secret Garden Party, Wonderfruit branches beyond music and visual art to include film, theater, design, bamboo architecture, street food, high-end dining, wine-tasting, artisan cocktails, a farmer’s market, organic gardening, crafts workshops, lectures and even activities for kids, all with an emphasis on sustainability and “soulfulness.”

The art will include installations by noted Thai names such as Wit Pimkanchanapong, Rukkit, Sudsiri Pui-Ock, Lolay and Worapong Manupipatpong. International contributors include sound artist Kanta Horio from Japan, comic-book artist Adam Pollina of the US, and Shrine On, a Los Angeles-based creator of monumental towers assembled from salvaged materials.

Tents installed for visitors of Wonderfruit Festival, 2014. Courtesy Wonderfruit Festival.

A nighttime outdoor cinema will screen highlights from film festivals around the world selected by leading curator Gridthiya Gaweewong. Architects Malina Palasthira and Duangrit Bunnag will equip the site with eco-friendly buildings, installed with green furniture by designer Dr. Singh Intrachooto.

Musical offerings run the gamut from rock, house, EDM, reggae, punk, ska and blues to Thai country sounds and the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. The international acts include Little Dragon, Woodkid, Fat Freddy’s Drop, De La Soul, Chet Faker, Jose Gonzalez, Hercules & Love Affair, Nick Mulvey, The Gaslamp Killer, Hugo and more, in addition to local favorites like Paradise Bangkok Molum International Band, Yellow Fang, T-Bone, Apartment Khunpa and Stylish Nonsense. Caterers include world-laureled names like David Thompson of Nahm, and Singapore’s Burnt Ends.

Wonderfruit is the brainchild of Pranitan “Pete” Phornprapha, the socially entrepreneurial scion of an automotives tycoon, and is co-led by Jo Vidler, director of the Secret Garden Party. Profits from the festival will be donated to charitable causes. On-site accommodations range from do-it-yourself campsites to safari tents with air conditioning and personal butlers.

Poster for Wonderfruit Festival, 2014. Courtesy Wonderfruit Festival. 

More details of the festival are available on the Wonderfruit website.