More than just a music festival, Wonderfruit, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary, has become a symposium to celebrate sustainability and creativity, with activities spanning arts and crafts, wellness journeys, culinary experiences and more. We chatted with founder Pranitan “Pete” Phornprapha ahead of the event, which takes place December 14-17.
How would you describe Wonderfruit to a first-timer?
It’s a diverse, multicultural, hedonistic, mindful four-day celebration of art, music, food and ideas that will inspire you to go out and have a positive impact on the world. Not only is it action-packed with incredible artists from all over the world, it¹s a community of like-minded, creative innovators making changes.
What is the festival offering this year that¹s new, for those who’ve been in years past?
This year, we have almost all new content across our six pillars: Music, Arts, Family, Farm to Feasts, Talks & Workshops, Wellness & Adventures. And returning items like the Solar Stage, for example, which last year was designed by Gregg Fleishman, will be evolved for this year.
The Farm, as another example, is being developed by Thailand Young Farmers this year, to become FARMacy. They¹re growing all sorts of organic, remedial plants and Wonderers will be able to explore and discover the healing power of nature in our on-site dispensary. I’m also excited to see all our sustainable initiatives come to life in The Fields and for Wonderers to learn about our journey in the Sustainability Pavilion.
Which of the lesser-known acts are you really excited about?
I can’t wait to catch Side Effect – they’re a really exciting rock band from Myanmar. They’re very outspoken about the political situation and their music and attitude really reflects that.
Which are your favourite festivals around the world?
It¹s the cultural festivals that I find really interesting everywhere. Obviously, we have lots in Thailand, especially in the northeast – there’s the Rocket Festival for making merit, and Phi Ta Khon, which is like a parade of “ghosts” in huge masks.
What’s your strategy when it comes to planning a festival for Thailand, but with a significant international audience?
This biggest challenge is both communicating not only what Wonderfruit actually is, but also introducing the idea of a festival in Thailand. Exposure to camping festival culture is limited and it needs lots of encouragement here, but our neighbours in the region tend to have more experience with the idea, so it’s balancing those two messages. To set the scene here apart, we need to think differently from other festivals and our strategy is to dig from the vast resources of cultural and creative talent we have on our doorstep.
Much has been made of Wonderfruit’s dedication to sustainability. Why was that important to you?
It¹s the most important factor. Our ethos of encouraging, developing and innovating creative solutions for sustainability informs everything we do, from our structures to our waste management. So the whole experience hinges on that. When we first came up with the idea for Wonderfruit, it was because we wanted to find a way to promote awareness of and democratise environmental issues and make them accessible by tying a sense of social responsibility into something fun like a festival.
What’s on your Spotify playlist now?
Songhoy Blues, Wild Beasts and Huun-Huur-Tu.