The Beautiful Gifts of Thailand’s Wonderfruit Festival
It was no surprise that I felt a wave of comfort rush over me as I walked through the festival gates with the Thailand air wrapped around me like a warm, welcoming hug.
It’s been a few days since I traveled 8,000 miles across the world, chasing a sense of adventure and a love for newer, intimate festivals. Life working its magic, it seemed that every person I engaged with in Asia was attending Wonderfruit Festival. Accumulating new friends along the way only built up the hype for this music, arts, and food festival that’s been igniting the land of Pattaya for three years now. Planes, boats, taxis, and Ubers later, the distance excited us international festival-goers but also had no impact on our sense of belonging. Why wouldn’t we feel at home in a new world sprinkled with beautiful souls, colorful art structures, enchanting music, and thoughtfully curated stages?
It’s where we belonged.
The boutique festival successfully mixed Asian and Western culture to serve up the perfect eclectic cocktail garnished with a touch of Euro flair. From the people who made up the small community to the music to the decadent food to the décor, every aspect embodied this cultural blend to make Wonderfruit a ripe picking for all.
The SCRATCH FIRST team curated local clothing designers and award winning chefs for the markets to support the richness of Bangkok. The lineup was a healthy representation of native artists such as the jammyAll Thidsa Band and international hybrid bands like Bangkok New Quartet and Junun Featuring Shye Ben Tzur & The Rajasthan Express. Well renowned UK DJs like Norman Jay Mbe and YokoO kept the grooves going with a festival staple: house music. Ladyboys and dragon dance costumes celebrated the native culture. The festival also had an ecological mindfulness, a borrowed concept that is thankfully growing in popularity at Western festivals. Utilizing the opportunity of this likeminded community being together, they scheduled in talks about environmental causes and artists that create with recycled materials. Overall, the festival looked, felt, and tasted like a more vivacious and multi-cultural home away from home.
As we followed the music across the festival grounds, pops of Thailand temple-like colors brightened up the natural earth, capturing our attention.
Vibrant hues of the oriental rugs in cozy, shaded sanctuaries to the painted Dancing Muntjacs art structure by Joel Stockdill added local cultural flavor. The ornate stage designs to the beautiful Wonder Kar art car that paraded around the grounds, (a brainchild of Wonderfruit’s creative designer Adam Pollina), all dazzled in our eyes. Art structures candy coated the dry land in all the right areas – just when you thought you found the best chill-out cove, you could see another intriguing area sparkling in the distance. No detail was overlooked as shade structures housed antique furniture and matching seat cushions, making mini five-star resorts along your path to rest your dancing feet.
But it wasn’t the art that was the most beautiful… it was the community. Take the friendliness of an intimate festival crowd and add in a dose of the polite, kindhearted culture of Thailand, and you get the uplifting spirit of the Wonderfruit family. Compliments flew in the air so naturally and thoughtfully as if like butterflies landing on your heart. Positivity radiated off of everyone’s soul and lips, seemingly even without the influence of substances. Smiles and meaningful conversations were exchanged as you bumped into recognizable faces each day at the festival. Everything – music, art, friendship – was served to us as gifts.
The communal favorite gifts to unwrap were Saturday’s sunset and Sunday’s sunrise sets. The massive blood orange sun marked the times of day where everyone would gather together by the Burning Man-esque Solar Stage on the mini playa of Wonderfruit. Norman Jay Mbe lifted our energy with soulful house tunes, every track seemingly outdoing the next as we partied in pink skies transitioning into the electric glow of the night. Every minute there seemed to be an entertaining addition to our dance circle: fire dancers lit up the beach, matching costumed performers meandered between us, a lineup of percussionists marched through the crowd, and a small prop plane circled above as we climbed to the pinnacle of the central art structure.
Sunday’s sunrise set spun by YokoO greeted us with our last blissful morning where everyone’s night attire and leftover glitter shimmered in the new light. Many people stood honoring the sun and showing appreciation for the new day. Others continued dancing from the brisk weather into the Thai heat, Singha in hand and necessary sunglasses on. And all looked grateful for the experience, unfazed by any reality of time, just focusing on living in and breathing in the moment.
Wonderfruit is a cultural feast for all the senses – an unique cultural offering to the locals and a refreshing energy to the travelers. As we soaked in the warmth of the Thailand people and festival atmosphere, we were left on a high, only able to say a big and final…
Khob khun ka!