All photos: Benjamin Suomela
Avid festival goers around the world need to direct their attention to Southeast Asia; the magic, promise of sustainability, music and arts diversity and intimacy that Wonderfruit brings is like no other festival. Creatives, foodies and anyone who appreciates all that is weird and wonderful need to listen up because this lifestyle festival is designed (and grown) for you.
Picture this; an intimate gathering of a few thousand revellers descend upon a festival, sprawled across acres of fields in the province of Chonburi in exotic Thailand. Adorned in patterns, sequins and feathers as far as your eyes can cast themselves, attendees with open minded attitude share the same ultimate goal to lose yourself in whatever moment they find.
Upon entering the bamboo-woven tunnel of wonder it was as if by magic that the concerns of the initial strict entry process faded away – along with any sense of reality. Sprawled out before us was nothing like you’d expect to see in the middle of a field in Thailand; event tents and stages laid across the field resembled several alien spaceships, illuminated by by an array of coloured lights.
With tent names like “Forbidden Fruit”, “Goddess Camp” and “The Playground” (just to name a few), Wonderfruiters are asked to tap into their inner child, be open to the world of all that is ‘forbidden’ or embrace inner beauty. They housed performances such as interpretive dances like the hypnotising 7-Deadly Sins performed by Edge Playmaker, drum circles and interactive workshops such as those that teach participants to make joint hammocks together promoting community and self sustainability with SC Asset. The food served up by internationally renowned chefs in the Theatre of Feasts pleased the sea of food-orientated attendees, such as Bo.Lan who served a delicious modern Thai feast.
Then came some musical highlights from both the expected and unexpected. Submotion Orchestra’s powerful combination of ethereal and entrancing vocals (though a stand-in, she did magnificently) and beautifully orchestrated band of horns, synth and drums sent shivers throughout audience members at the Living Stage on Friday. There was some confusion when Japanese solo live electronic artist Anchorsong took the place of Com Truise without any real warning but both took it in their stride and did a great job with their unique, experimental different brand of beats.
Rajasthan Roots added colour and energy to the Living Stage on Saturday and got the crowd bouncing (and hula hooping) to authentic folk music with a twist, adding a hint of blues and even performing a tribute to John Lennon with a Rajasthan inspired version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.
A wander down to the Quarry which was tucked away deeper into Wonderfruit’s secret jungle any time past 10pm and you’d be drawn in by some of the deepest techno, house and electro beats that kept people on their feet in a euphoric haze until sunrise. Hardcore ravers kept it moving even more with some not making it back to their tent at all as the centrally located Solar Stage was the perfect foreground to compliment Thailand’s wonderfully hazy sunrise and didn’t switch off until 9am.
While this might sound like something that could be found at other festivals it would be difficult to deny that the energy of the type of people it attracts is wholly different. Do other festivals offer the opportunity to be ordained as a Latter-Day Dude Priest by the Church of Dudeism or take the biggest leap in love by securing your vows and marrying? Do other festivals welcome families and children with open arms, allowing the kids to take part in free-running and crafts in the day then allowing their parents to put on their raving boots on at night until sunrise?
Wonderfruit Festival’s slogan “Live.Love.Wonder” probably needs a few more words added to the chain to truly capture in Thailand offers a magnificent 4-day experience that blends the arts, music, wellness and food. Then again, with ‘wonder’ being in the name itself the only way to truly experience the magic is by leaving the worries found beyond the bamboo walls of the festival behind and letting the wonder encapsulate you too.