The sights and sounds of Wonderfruit, a rising music and arts festival in Thailand

Paolo Abad

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

The sights and sounds of Wonderfruit, a rising music and arts festival in Thailand
Or, how you can still have a blast while being part of a change-making event. Let’s take a look, in photos and videos, at what makes this festival stand out

PATTAYA, Thailand – By day, Pattaya, an hour or so away from Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is a picturesque and laid-back beach town. It’s as if the tranquil, azure sea invites you to abandon all worries.

Far from being backwater though, the city’s roads bustle with the rumbling of scooters and songthaews, or pickup trucks converted into mini-buses. Tourists flock to its beaches and temples. A huge shopping mall and hotel skyscrapers are a stone’s throw away from its iconic crescent bay.

BUSTLING BEACH TOWN. Pattaya, just an hour away from Bangkok, is highly urbanized yet laid-back. Tall hotels, condominiums, and a shopping mall can be seen across its skyline.

SANCTUARY OF TRUTH. This gigantic, all-wood structure by the sea is a top tourist destination in Pattaya. It’s not exactly a temple dedicated to one faith – Lonely Planet calls it “a visionary environment: part art installation, religious shrine and cultural monument.” It has been under construction since 1981, thus construction rigs and scaffolding are visible.

At night, however, Pattaya is awash with the glow of neon lights, like a Vice City of sorts. The bars flanking its streets come to life with the chatter of hostesses and tourists – those who have clearly come to the city for more than sightseeing.

But about half an hour away from Pattaya’s urban center, at the Fields at Siam Country Club, an incredible arts and music festival just on its sophomore year pitched camp: Wonderfruit. (READ: Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand: 8 fantastic things to see and do).

SOI STAGE. The crowd lounged on a languid afternoon in front of the Soi Stage, where solo, regional, and homegrown acts usually played. Its psychedelic chinoiserie drapery serving as adornmnent and backdrop was stunning even in the evening.

Even with its out-of-this-world Coachella and Burning Man-esque vibes, Wonderfruit chose an unlikely setting – all the more making it the new, bright, and shining example, as it seeks to veer away from mere spectacle and revelry.

The festival took place a few days’ shy of Christmas, from December 17 to 21, 2015, but the weekend whizzed by like a dream.


Dance on a mission

On verdant meadows and rolling hills, Wonderfruit stands like a village from a fantasy. 

Tents, bamboo pavilions, and colorful flags dot the landscape. Sculptures out of recycled materials take the shape of fantastic beasts. At the center of the festival grounds, a creek flows.

MOMMAM. This creature, a lookalike of No-Face from the animated film Spirited Away, stands sentry in front of the Healing Village, where various workshops take place.

BLOSSOM POETICA. Inspired by the scrap metal toys of his childhood, French-Laotian artist Aligna sculpted aluminum cans and other discarded materials into a beautiful tree and a flower field.

Festivalgoers, clad in garb as comfy or as bohemian and outlandish as can be, flocked to the Thai countryside for a party that went on all weekend.

While the sun was high up in the sky, they gathered under tents, where they did yoga, meditated, made crafts, listened to inspiring lectures, and took part in all sorts of innocuous things.

CREATIVITY UNLEASHED. People took shelter from the scorching sun under tents where workshops were held. Here, participants paint pictures of themselves.

CRAFTY HANDS. Some folks also learned to create their own accessories and handicrafts. Here, they learn to weave dreamcatchers.

HEADIS. A game that originated in Germany, Headis is a hybrid of table tennis and football.


YOGA OF BASS. Some took the chance to do yoga set to electronic music.

FREE RUNNING. Parkour masters Team Farang teach the kids the basics of leaping over obstacles. Photo courtesy of Wonderfruit


There was a lot of quality grub and booze that weren’t just grab and go – like bare sustenance before another live music set. We could do an actual food trip at the festival if we wanted to.

Some folks from Bangkok’s hip, cosmopolitan dining scene set up stalls and food trucks. One corner of the grounds had traditional Thai cuisine, and another had dried, crunchy insects as snacks for brave festivalgoers.  At the Theatre of Feasts, top chefs like Gaggan Anand, and duo Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones (of Bo.lan) served up scrumptious banquets.

SPOILED FOR CHOICE. Food trucks, stalls, and pop-up restaurants were spread over the festival grounds. Clearly, one would never go hungry at Wonderfruit.

THEATRE OF FEASTS. Festivalgoers wind down in the evening for amazing epicurean delights served up by Bangkok’s top chefs.

Across the sprawling fields, there was indeed plenty to do. Almost everything we needed was in one place – kind of a self-sufficient commune, but this was absolutely no ‘70s hippie-esque gimmick. 

From the get-go, I saw that Wonderfruit was determined to come up with something progressive.

People from diverse cultures all over the planet gathered at Wonderfruit as a community that celebrated the arts, and the art of living a good life. Going by a few thousands, these festivalgoers already posed a challenge for distributing and using resources, making Wonderfruit akin to what indie magazine Mr. Wolf describes as “a microcosm of the real world’s challenges in promoting sustainable development.”

ENPHERIA. This dreamlike chill out spot designed by Zieght was lit by pulsing lights, which was strangely relaxing.

One of its founders, Pete Phornprapha, told Vice Media’s Thump that the festival was conceived from the idea of “responsible celebrating.” He said, “There’s a very clear purpose to what we’re doing. […] Our intention is to merge social responsibility with the dance music movement.”

DRUM CIRCLE. Participants let their spirits loose to the beats.


HOWIE B. Festivalgoers attended various lectures by industry stalwarts like prolific music producer Howie B in this photo.

As more festivals with superstar headliners pop up around Asia, Wonderfruit poises to be the beacon of fun-meets-social-responsibility in the region. It has anchored itself on an ethos of eco-friendly and sustainable living, and a flourishing creative community. 

With initiatives such as the organic farm at the center of the grounds – whose harvest goes straight to feast tables, or the on-site water filtration system where we could refill biodegradable bottles, the festival was clearly committed to concrete action and making a difference.

FARM TO FEASTS. Festival goers picked some fruits and veggies from the on-site organic farm. The harvest also went straight to the Theatre of Feasts, where Bangkok’s top chefs like Gaggan and Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones (of Bo.lan) cooked multi-course dinners. Photo courtesy of Wonderfruit

24-hour party people

The party had to go on under the scorching sun and throughout the breezy tropical nights. So, it needed the perfect soundtrack.

Underground producers, avant-garde instrumentalists, Thai folk acts, and indie rock bands were on the eclectic but well-curated bill. Admittedly, the lineup was mostly left field, but it “never got too ravey, nor too-cool-for-school indie hipster,” in the words of Pulse Radio’s Henry Johnstone.

It takes an open mind to get the most of something like Wonderfruit. It’s also rewarding to widen one’s horizons by watching live music – a mind-altering experience that’s way different from what you can get from YouTube or Spotify. 

We looked forward to the headline acts playing at the main Living Stage, designed by Coachella and Burning Man artist Joel Stockdill, whose two colossal phoenixes soared majestically above the proscenium. 

Submotion Orchestra impeccably melded unlikely bedfellows: the deep, throbbing bass lines of dubstep with the smooth trumpet solos of jazz. The result was utterly spellbinding, with some help from a Basement Jaxx collaborator, the phenomenal Sharlene Hector, while the band’s regular vocalist Ruby Wood was away.


The Faint’s stick-it-to-the-man, synth-laden punk rock certainly stood out among the Wonderfruit acts. The way they shredded on those guitars and keyboards kept the mood electric and high-octane.




The Lucent Dossier Experience had a few old tricks up their sleeves, but they were much more than an ordinary circus troupe. Donning otherworldly costumes, this performance art collective defied gravity and amazed the crowd with fire shows and dance – creating something magical and sensual at the same time.





Jon Hopkins was absolutely something else live. He and renowned light artist Chris Levine wove something mesmerizing and unforgettable in their iy_Project. Colorful lasers pierced the air and undulated hypnotically – the motions reflecting Hopkins’s lush, cinematic piano sounds, punctuated by vigorous techno beats.





Rhye’s bluesy stylings – Mike Milosh’s wistful vocals, plus the melancholy of the cello and violin – were just dreamy. The duo, composed of Milosh and instrumentalist Robin Hannibal, gave everyone a dose of the feels.



Blonde Redhead navigated the intensity of their early days’ post-punk sound, and the somber, shoegaze-y art rock of their more recent outings. Kazu Makino’s haunting, Björk-esque vocals with Amedeo Pace’s moody croon, kept the crowd transfixed.

Just a short walk from the main stage, the Soi Stage played host to influential electronic acts as well as up-and-coming homegrown and regional musicians. Punters huddled around this fabulous setting, raring to discover some new tracks.

Here, I managed to catch prolific Los Angeles beatmaker Daedelus who played a set that was just mind-blowing. He conjured rich and dense soundscapes, and was really into it with his animated and twitchy motions. Plus, it was awesome to see the mythical Delaydelus, an instrument of his own making, in action.


Techno is usually associated with mixers, synthesizers, and the like. But Austrian three-piece Elektro Guzzi, a self-styled analog techno “tanzband,” got festivalgoers on their feet with just their guitar, bass, and drums.

Tarsius did the Philippines proud at Wonderfruit. The electronic duo, composed of Pedicab frontman Diego Mapa on the decks and Radioactive Sago Project drummer Jay Gapasin, definitely gained some new fans in Thailand.

By the time they went into overdrive with the ultra-catchy track, “Deathless Gods,” some festivalgoers, who were just casually passing by the area, joined the crowd to have a little dance.

D e a t h l e s s   G o d sTarsius @ Wonderfruit

Posted by Paolo Abad on Sunday, 20 December 2015


I was also able to see Roscius at the Forbidden Fruit tent, where a substantial crowd was grooving to his so-called “world minimal disco” music.



Past midnight, some festivalgoers trekked a dirt path that led to a virtually hidden dance stage: The Quarry. In this surreal and trippy setting – a clearing in the woods, they transformed into party animals and raved until daybreak, as DJs from around the globe took to the decks.

Even as the sun rose over the Solar Stage, top electronic acts like Viceroy and Goldroom were still playing, and the crowd there seemed to be still pretty gung-ho.

24-HOUR PARTY PEOPLE. DJ and producer Goldroom played a set from dawn until sunrise at the Solar Stage, and clearly, the party had no signs of abating. Photo courtesy of Wonderfruit  


Even as the dust has long settled – with the hardcore festivalgoers reeling from their hangovers and sore feet – the sights and sounds of Wonderfruit remain indelible.

The experience was nothing short of magical. It was like exploring a small town where you get to meet really amazing individuals: the shopowners manning the food stalls, travelers and backpackers from all corners of the globe, the wise teachers heading the workshops, or even the hospitable locals (with their friendly, soft-spoken greetings of “sawadee khá”).

Going beyond hype, the festival has focused on a clear-cut vision. Even if we steer away from the jargon of sustainable development, it actually still all boils down to building a community – in all its abstract and creative beauty. A killer music and art lineup, tasty food, and eco-friendly initiatives, of course, support this cause.

Even in its early years, Wonderfruit is already shaping up to be a titan of the festival scene this side of the planet. Other music festivals better take a page from Wonderfruit’s book: that festivals can be so much more, and that they can take up a noble cause. –

All photos by Paolo Abad/Rappler, unless otherwise stated

Paolo Abad is a film/television editor and motion graphic designer. He is also a self-confessed concert junkie. Follow his Instagram for live music @outoftunephoto

Note: This writer was part of a trip sponsored by Third Culture Music and Air Asia.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI


Paolo Abad

Paolo Abad writes, edits, and shoots for a living. He is one of the founding partners of the online radio platform Manila Community Radio.